Eklavya’s Gurudakshina

Children you all know who Guru Dronacharya was ? He was the royal Guru (teacher) of the Pandavas and Kauravas. He used to teach military arts to the princes. Once, a boy named Eklavya asked Guru Dronacharya, “Gurudev, will you teach me the art of archery?” Ekalavya aspired to study archery in the gurukul of Dronacharya, the greatest known teacher. Dronacharya was in a dilemna as he had promised King Bhishma that he will teach this art only to the princes. Evlavya was not a prince, so Dronacharya was reluctant to teach him and he duly conveyed his refusal to Eklavya.

Deeply dejected by Dronacharya’s rejection, Ekalavya returned home. However, he was determined to master the art of archery. So, he went into the forest and prepared a clay statue of Guru Dronacharya. He accepted the statue as his Guru and practiced archery in front of it every single day. After practicing for years together, Eklavya eventually became an exceptional archer.

Once Guru Dronacharya took the Pandava and Kaurava princes to the forest for practicing archery. A dog was also accompanying them. The dog wandered away from the place of practice and deep in the forest, came across Eklavya and started barking at him. Disturbed in his practice by the dog, Eklavya fired seven arrows in the dogs mouth with such caution and skill that it stopped his barking without injuring the dog. The dog returned to the place where the princes were practising. Dronacharya was amazed to see the dog’s state. He was wondering how such a feat could be achieved. Dronacharya and his students investigated, and came upon Eklavya, practicing archery. On seeing Dronacharya, Eklavya was filled with joy. He bowed down to him.

Dronacharya asked Eklavya, “Where did you learn archery?”. Pointing towards the clay statue, Eklavya replied, “Under you O Guru.”

Dronacharya was upset. He had promised King Bhishma that he would make Arjun the finest archer in the kingdom and he knew that his promise would be broken now as Eklavya had surpassed Arjun in that skill.

Dronacharya said to Eklavya, “You made my statue and learnt archery accepting it as your Guru. But you did not offer me my Guru-dakshina”. Eklavya replied, “O Guru. I am ready to give whatever you ask for.” Dronacharya replied, “Give me your right thumb as my Guru-dakshina.” Everyone was startled on hearing this. However, without a moment of hesitation, Eklavya cut his right thumb and gave it to Guru Dronacharya.

Filled with emotions, Dronacharya blessed Eklavya, “Son, as I have promised Arjun he will be the best archer. However, as long as this universe exists, you will be known all over the world for your faith and devotion unto your Guru.”