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Eklavya - A Self Taught Warrior

Eklavya – A Self Taught Warrior

Eklavya is the epitome of sacrifice and dedication and is a character who is known for his extreme skills. In modern terms, we can say that he is a self-taught warrior who learnt the skill of archery just by focusing on the statue of Dronacharya. Let us look at the life of this mighty warrior.

Eklavya was born as the son of a tribal hunter. Some sources even say that he was born to Prince Devashray – the brother of Vasudeva and Kunti, and thereby a cousin of Lord Krishna. He was abandoned by Devashraya and then adopted by a tribal hunter. Ever since his childhood, he was fascinated with archery and wished to learn the skills and train himself to be the best archer. He expressed his wish to his father. His father replied that it might be very difficult for him to learn the skills as they are from a lower caste and no Guru shall accept him. However, go ahead and try your luck, the father said and Eklavya went ahead to the Gurukul of Dronacharya.

Dronacharya enquired about Eklavya and asked him who he was. He told the truth. Dronacharya refused to teach him and he left Eklavya alone in the forest. Eklavya was disappointed but he did not give up hope. He took the mud on which Guru Dronacharya walked and made a statue of Drona. He then started his own lessons keeping Dronacharya in mind. Gradually, he learnt the art of archery all by himself and made sure that he hit the bull’s eye whenever he wished to.

One day, Guru Dronacharya and Arjuna were walking in the forest. A dog started barking ferociously and it would not stop barking. Suddenly, the dog was silenced and its mouth was covered in arrows. However, there was not a single drop of blood and the dog was unharmed. Guru Drona and Arjuna were so surprised to see this mysterious feat that they could not believe their eyes. Eklavya came forward and welcomed them. Guru Drona asked him where he learned these skills from. He confessed the truth and Guru Drona was blown away by the sheer dedication and skills of the boy.

Guru Dronacharya had given a promise that he would not let anyone be better than Arjuna in archery. After thinking some time and conversing with Eklavya, he asked Eklavya for a Guru Dakshina. Eklavya happily agreed and asked what Drona desired. Drona replied that he wanted the thumb of the right hand. Eklavya did not bat an eyelid and immediately gave away what his guru wanted. Arjuna was shocked on seeing this but he could not say anything. Guru Drona blessed Eklavya that he would be known as a renowned archer throughout the world and he would be considered the best student.

Later, Eklavya became a skilled warrior in the army of Jarasandha. Eklavya also launched an attack on the Yadava army where Lord Krishna fought him and eventually killed him.

This is the story of Eklavya- a student of sheer dedication and commitment towards his art and teacher. It is in his honour that even today, the archery is done with the index and the middle finger.

Click here to read about Shikhandi – The Voice Of The Marginalized.

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