Ekalavya - The Great Indian Warrior
|An animation on Ekalavya by "Rajshri"|
Mahabharat the epic of India is held with high esteem in Hindu society. The mythological characters written some thousands of years ago show the various dimensions of human life and how to find the path of eternal happiness.
Ekalavya is one of the mythological figure of Mahbharat. He shows the power of knowledge. His story testifies the role of teacher in everyones life. He is a great archer, his skill at archery has no equals. He attained such skills not from the guru(the teacher), but from the guru's statue. He proved ' where there is a will there is a way - and once taken a way it is either do or die ' .
Ekalavya was a prince of tribals (Nishadas/Bhills). His father the king of the tribes dies in some war. He want to see Ekalavya as King with unparllel skills at archery, so that he can can save the people of tribe from any external agressions, however formidable the enemy may be. From childhood Ekalvya's physical and mental strengths were amusing. All his collegues are no where near him in any field.
Once Drona's wife and his sun were travelling through a forest. When Drona's Son akshadhama goes to bring water for his mother, she will be attacked by the robberers. Then Ekalavya who is passing by saves them, and save some great manuscripts which they were carrying. When aswadhamma returns and get to know what happened, he was very thankful to him. But Ekalvya just says it is his duty to save the passers by and speaks like a pious man. Aswadhamma gets ammused how come a tribal speak such highly.
Days Pass by and to fulfill his father's dream, Ekalvya goes to get training from Dronacharya. At the time Drona was giving training to Kauravas and Pandavas . When Ekalvya approached Dronacharya, to take him into his disciples, he denied. He denied stating that being an official tutor to the kings he can't train other lower castes. Arjuna was also jealous at this pious man.
Getting denied , Ekalavya has got nothing to do in his life. He wanders around. He don't want to return to his Kingdom with empty hands. He want to learn archery and that too from Dronacharya. He makes an idol of Drona from mud and starts meditating infront of the idol, inspite of rains, thunder storms... Impressed by his dedication, Saraswatiji( The Goddess of Knowledge and wisdom) Blesses him. From that moment, he was able to hear from the statue what Drona used to tell to his disciples Arjuna and others. He practiced there and soon acquired such a skill that no one can challenge him. He gets many astras like Shebda Bheri(sound killer) ...
He then returns victoriously to his kingdom. One day pandavas go for hunting near the tribal village of Drona. First they let a hound to find out the preys, so that they can hunt. Ekalvya gets annoyed and sends the astras on to the dog and the arrows are perfectly shaped on its mouth and it was unable to bark, but the dog has got no found. When the dog comes back to the pandavas, they were suprised to see the skill of the archer who attacked it. Then all pandavas on finding it is Ekalvya tries to attack him. But Ekalva's skill at archery makes all like puppets.
The Pandavas then, having made themselves acquainted with everything connected with him, returned (to the city), and going unto Drona, told him of that wonderful feat of archery which they had witnessed in the woods. Arjuna, in particular, thinking all the while, of Ekalavya, saw Drona in private and relying upon his preceptor's affection for him, said, 'Thou hadst lovingly told me, clasping me, to thy bosom, that no pupil of thine should be equal to me. Why then is there a pupil of thine, the mighty son of the Nishada king, superior to me?''
On hearing these words, Drona reflected for a moment, and resolving upon the course of action he should follow, took Arjuna with him and went unto the Nishada prince. And he beheld Ekalavya with body besmeared with filth, matted locks (on head), clad in rags, bearing a bow in hand and ceaselessly shooting arrows therefrom. And when Ekalavya saw Drona approaching towards him, he went a few steps forward, and touched his feet and prostrated himself on the ground. And the son of the Nishada king worshipping Drona, duly represented himself as his pupil, and clasping his hands in reverence stood before him (awaiting his commands). Then Drona addressed Ekalavya, saying, 'If, O hero, thou art really my pupil, give me then my fees.' On hearing these words, Ekalavya was very much gratified, and said in reply, 'O illustrious preceptor, what shall I give? Command me; for there is nothing, O foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas, that I may not give unto my preceptor.' Drona answered, 'O Ekalavya, if thou art really intent on making me a gift, I should like then to have the thumb of thy right hand.'
Ekalavya, ever devoted to truth and desirous also of keeping his promise, with a cheerful face and an unafflicted heart cut off without ado his thumb, and gave it unto Drona. Even though all his are self acquired, he made Dronacharya his Guru and on his word he gave away all his acquired skills.
Ekalavya has been lauded by many Indians, including Adivasis, as a paragon of achievement who achieved great heights of accomplishment through his own self-initiative, to which the nobles of the Kuru house could only aspire through formal tutelage. Ultimately, however, the Mahābhārata does not settle these moral ambiguities, and leaves the tale open to speculation and discussion. It has also been suggested in mythology that Ekalavya later learned to shoot again using only four fingers.
Ekalavya scored victory in defeat! With the right thumb gone, he could no longer wield the bow effectively. But he would not give up easily. He continued his practice using his left arm and achieved distinction. He demonstrated that nothing could be a hindrance to a totally sincere pursuit. But he was constantly nagged by one worry. As a heroic person like his father, he had desired to assist the king of the land in times of difficulties and he could not fulfil this ambition.
It was the time when the Great War of Kurukshetra was being fought. Lord Krishna, supporting the Pandavas, was thinking about talented and heroic people who may join hands with Kauravas.
Ekalavya's father Hiranyadhanu had died in the service of Kaurava kings. Now it was possible his son might also assist Kauravas. Though he had lost his right thumb, he was still one of the world's greatest archers, as Krishna knew.
It is said in the Mahabharata that Lord Krishna, not wanting Ekalavya to assist the Kaurava army, killed him before the war erupted, and blessed him with eternal salvation.
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