The Thumb

Hiranyadhanu was the king of Nashua. Hunting was the main occupation of his people, as they were trials. Ekalavya was the only son of Hiranyadhanu. It was his ardent desire to learn the art of archery from Dronacharya.
So, one day he travelled to Hastinapur and witnessed Drona teaching the Pandavas and the Kauravas – the art of archery. Ekalavya went straight to Drona and requested him to include him among his disciples. Drona questioned Ekalavya about his caste and creed. And he turned down the request on the ground that he taught only the Kshatriyas. Disappointed, Ekalavya returned to the forest. He then made a statue of Drona in mud and installed it at the place where he usually practised archery. Everyday he prostrated before the statue and practised archery. His concentration was so high that he could gained mastery over archery and acquired immense knowledge about it.
One day, Drona took his pupils to the forest to teach them hunting. It was the same forest where Ekalavya practised archery. Inside the forest Drona observed bow marks on the tree barks indicating archery practice. Just then, a hound standing near Drona started barking. Within a moment the hound’s mouth was covered by seven arrows. Drona was astonished to find that someone had used his bow in the right direction and the exact place just by listening to the barking sound. Drona was therefore very curious to know more about this archer who had even excelled his own disciples.
Arjun who was standing next to Drona was baffled. “I will ensure that none can equal you in archery,” was Drona’s assurance to Arjun. But was he teaching someone else secretly wondered Arjun.
Both Drona and Arjun went in search of the archer. They saw Ekalavya and introduced themselves to him,, Ekalavya was delighted. He felt as if he had found a treasure and putting down the bow, prostrated before his Guru. Drona was immensely pleased. He asked Ekalavya, “Son! You are an excellent archer. Who is your Guru?”
His guru was right in front of him. But instead, Ekalavya took Drona to the statue and said, “Sir, my Guru is none other than Dronacharya; an expert archer and an unparalleled warrior. I have prepared his statue out of mud and imagining his physical presence, I practice archery”, replied Ekalavya in a humble voice.
Drona then recalled Ekalavya’s earlier request to teach him archery. He instructed the boy to exhibit his talent. Ekalavya obeyed his instructions and
demonstrated his skill with the bow and the arrow. All the princes present there were astonished with his skill.
Drona too could not believe his own eyes. He admired the achievement by a tribal. He called Ekalavya to come nearer and said “Son! I am Drona, I am the Guru you are talking about. Since you say that you learnt it from me, shouldn’t you pay me my Gurudakshina?*”
Ekalavya in reply said, “Respected Sir, I am at your bidding. Whatever you want, I will gi v e 11 to you. ”
Drona wanted to impair Ekalavya’s capability to use the bow and the arrow. This would also remove any challenges to Arjun’s supremacy over the skill. He therefore said, “Ekalavya, cut your right thumb and offer it to me as your fee.” * Gurudakshina : – fee offering to the teacher
Ekalavya realised Drona’s intentions, but without any hesitation, he chopped his right thumb and willingly offered it to Drona.
Drona was immensely pleased with Ekalavya’s devotion and after complementing him about this, returned to the palace along with his disciples.

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