Monthly Archives: August 2010

Ekalavya gurudakshina to his teacher

Teacher and disciple – Drona and Ekalavya

Indian culture gives tremendous importance to Guru or the teacher. In Indian culture, Guru or a teacher is greater than father. Here is an Indian story of Ekalavya who epitomises the role of a shishya, or pupil.

Ekalavya and Drona

Ekalavya and Drona

In Mahabharata, Ekalavya is introduced as a young boy who wanted to study archery in the gurukul of Dronacharya.  This was during the time when the Pandavas and Kauraves were young and being taught by Guru Dronacharya in his ashram.

Guru Drona was the teacher for both Panadavas and Kauravas. Dronacharya only taught princes and therefore refused to become teacher Ekalavya as he was a member of a low caste.
After being rejected by Dronacharya, Ekalavya decided to do self-study with a clay image of Dronacharya which he built himself. He considered Drona as his teacher. Ekalavya respected and worshiped the image of Dronacharya and overtime he became an exceptional archer, matching Dronacharya’s student Arjun.
One day while Ekalavya is practicing, he hears a dog barking. Before the dog can shut up or get out of the way, Ekalavya fires seven arrows in rapid succession to fill the dog’s mouth without injuring it. Dronacharya, Pandav and Kaurav princes come to the “stuffed” dog, and wonder who could have pulled off such a feat of archery. Searching the forest, they find Ekalavya, who introduces himself to them as a pupil of Dronacharya.

Dronacharya tells Eklavaya, “Now that you have gained all this knowledge from me, wont you give me Guru Dakshina in return?” Ekalavya replied, “Of course, I will give you anything you want, just ask.” Dronacharya cruelly asks for Ekalavya’s right thumb, knowing that without a thumb Ekalavya can longer do archery.

Ekalavya, without hesitation cuts his thumb and hands it to Dronacharya. It’s said that one of the main reasons that Dronacharya asked for Ekalavya’s thumb was that he wanted to protect Arjun’s status as the greatest archer and he saw Ekalavya as a massive threat, as well as punishment to Ekalavya for stealing knowledge which wasn’t given to him.

While this stands in good stead for Ekalavya, who respected his teacher, but at the same time, this act puts a question mark on the teacher Dronacharya.

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Sandipani and Krishna

Gurudakshina – offering to teacher

Gurudakshina – importance of teacher

Teacher or Guru is given tremendous importance in Indian culture, The Guru or  teacher is greater than father in Indian culture. Though there are numerous incidents available depicting pupils who have sacrificed for their Gurus, many people do not know that Krishna was one such pupil who went to great lengths for his Guru (teacher).

Shri Krishna and his older brother Balram used to study at the ashram of Guru Sandeepani. Guru Sandeepani was their teacher. Once they graduated, it was time to leave the ashram and return to their kingdom of Mathura.
Shri Krishna approached his Guru Sandeepani and his wife and asked them what they want for Guru Dakshina. They turned him down saying, “What we want the most you can’t give us, so please don’t ask us”. Shri Krishna was not happy with the answer and told Guru Sandeepani’s wife to elaborate on exactly what the guru means. The Guru’s wife couldn’t control her emotions and started crying saying that many years ago their son got drowned in a sea while having a bath.


Sandipani and Krishna

Sandipani and Krishna

Shri Krishna promised them that he will go to the sea where he drowned and find him. Shri Krishna and Balraam go to the sea and find out that his Guru’s son didn’t drown but got caught by a demon called Paanchjanya”. Shri Krishna goes deep into the sea to find the demon inside a “Shankha” (conch). He killed the demon but could not find the guru’s son. He took the “Paanchjanya” shankha for himself which he used many times during battles.
Then He went to Yam Raaj (God of Death) and asked Yam Raaj about him. Yam Raaj said – “Here we get only souls not the bodies.” Shri Krishna said – “I want my Guru’s son back at all cost.” Yam Raaj gave him his Guru’s son. Shri Krishna and Balraam retuned to Gurukul along with Guru’s son and presented their Guru Dakshina to them. Guru and his wife were very happy to see their lost son coming back after so many years. Thus, Krishna paid his Gurudakshina to his teacher.