Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ekalavya – A teacher's learning?

Guru Dronacharya was the Raj guru or the Guru to the royal family. He taught various skills to the Pandavas and the Kauravas and Drona’s talent as a guru spread far and wide.Ekalavya, the son of Hiranyadhanus, wanted to learn the skills from the master. He approached Dronacharya and Drona himself was very impressed by young Ekalavya’s sincerity.

He enquired about the boy’s lineage and found out that he was the son of a Nishada(local tribe) King. Deep down Drona knew that the young boy, in time will outdo his royal pupils and rejected Ekalavya on account of his tribal parentage.

Undeterred by Dronacharya’s refusal, young Ekalavya made a statue of his Guru in clay and practiced archery every day.

After a few months, Drona, accompanied by the Pandavas and the Kauravas reached the forest where Ekalavya lived. One night when they were camping in the forest a dog was barking incessantly, disturbing the sleep of the campers. Being a new moon day the night was pitch dark and none of the pupils dared to go out into the forest to shoo the dog away.

Suddenly the barking stopped. The Guru and his pupils came out and what they saw made them speechless. Arrows were shot in the dark which precisely had stitched up the dog’s mouth.

Arjuna, the Pandava prince, who excelled in archery, asked Dronacharya how such a thing could have been done in this darkness. Drona replied that this skill was known as ‘Shabdha Bhedi’ or shooting arrows precisely by tracking the sound.Curious to find the archer the campers walked in the direction of the sound. They came to a halt when they saw a young, dark lad, who upon seeing Drona, fell at his feet.

Dronacharya recognized the boy to be Ekalavya and asked him who his Guru was. The boy showed the clay statue of his Guru and a clever Drona asked the boy to give him Guru Dakshina (the fees, in kind, that one pays to the Guru).

Ekalavya gives his thumb as a dakshina to his Guru...

As his Guru Dakshina Drona demanded the boy’s right hand thumb finger. Without a moment’s hesitation the boy cut his finger and placed it at the feet of his Guru.Later on, in the Mahabharata war, Ekalavya is killed by Lord Krishna and his son is killed by Arjuna.

In this story, the learning, I guess was for the great Guru Dronacharya. Later on in the Mahabharata there is a recording of Drona advising his son to throw open the doors of education to all, irrespective of caste or lineage.