February 24, 2007

Eklavya

We sometimes get carried away and blame the modern times for all the corruption, nepotism, favoritism and scheming, etc that we see around us. But, the bad has always walked step-in-step with the good since the early days of human existence. The following story from Mahabharata (one of the two epics of the Hindu religion) will illustrate this.

Dronacharya was a great warrior and a greater teacher. All the princes from various kingdoms were sent to his school for being trained in the crafts of war. His favorite student was Arjuna, whose devotion and skill with the bow and arrow was unmatched by any other.

One day, Eklavya, a tribal boy, came to the doors of Dronacharya and offered himself as a pupil. Dronacharya refused him admission because the school admitted only princes and students with noble birth. Eklavya did not lose heart and secretly observed the master teaching his students, and went back home where he made a statue of Dronacharya and practiced his art.

Many years later, one day, the princes chanced to pass by the forest where Eklavya lived. As Dronacharya was meditating, a dog was disturbing his concentration with insistent barking. Dronacharya asked his favorite student, Arjuna,, who had grown up to be a great archer, to silence the dog. Arjuna was following the dog when, all of a sudden, there was silence and the dog went running past the curious teacher and student, his tongue pierced with many arrows.

Dronacharya, as well as Arjuna, were amazed by the sight and wondered who the archer who had done that was. They did not have to wait long as Eklavya walked out of the woods and bowed down before the teacher.

“Who are you? Where did you archery?” Dronacharya asked with a smile. Beneath the smiling face was a worried teacher. He knew that though his pupil, Arjuna, was a remarkable marksman, he could never shoot an arrow like the man bowing down in front of him.

Eklavya replied, “Master, Don’t you recognize me. I came to your school and you sent me away because I was not of a noble birth. I came home and made a statue of you practiced my archery.”

Dronacharya was impressed but his love for his Arjuna was great and he could not let anyone be better than Arjuna.

During the times of this story, when a student completed his education, he paid his teacher fees, known as Guru Dakshina, at the end of his education.

“So you accept me as you teacher?” Dronacharya asked.

“Yes”

“I see your education is now complete and its time for my fees then”

“Any thing that my humble self can give you is yours for the asking” replied Eklavya.

“I want the thumb of your right hand,” the master said.

Arjuna, who was standing near the master, was stunned. He realized what his teacher was doing but he was helpless. Eklavya only smiled and took out a knife from his side, and cut off his thumb to offer to the master with a smile, fully realizing that without the thumb he would never be able to hold the bow like he had done all his life.
This way Dronacharya was able to make Arjuna the best archer in the world. Eklavya did not lose heart or his skill and still continued to be formidable bow-man. Things like these have happened since times immemorial, and though we wish for a utopian world where everything would be perfect and blemish-less, we should accept the world as it is, and do our best. Maybe, if required to, we should cut off the thumb and that too with a smile.

3 comments:

cooltopten said...

That was a really cool story(fable)

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