Arjuna inspires Ekalavya1

The young Pandavas and the young Kauravas used to learn archery from Dronacharya. Dronacharya was the supreme archer and everybody admired him not only for his skill but also for his lofty spiritual height. He taught the young Pandavas and the young Kauravas with utmost concern and love and instilled into them character, strength and manly vigour.

There came a time when the young Pandavas and Kauravas had to sit for an examination. In actuality, it was more a display of prowess than an examination and everybody was given the opportunity to show his capacity.

The grand winner was the third Pandava, Arjuna. All the people who had come to watch the events appreciated and admired Arjuna’s matchless precision and expertise. Among the spectators were an old man and his son. The son was so deeply moved by Arjuna’s capacity that he said to his father, “Father, I want to become an archer like Arjuna. I admire him so much.”

His father answered, “Ekalavya, there is nothing wrong in that, my son. You practise hard and you will also be a fine archer.”

“But how can I practise archery? I have to learn it first,” reasoned the son.

“Agreed. You have to learn.”

“But who will be my teacher? I wish to have Dronacharya as my teacher!”

“No son,” the father said. “He will not become your teacher. We come of a low caste, so how will he become your teacher?”

But his son insisted, “What is low caste, what is high caste? I see he is a very kindhearted man.”

The father said, “Yes, he is kind-hearted, but when it is a matter of teaching low caste people, he won’t do it. He will only teach the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. I tell you, we are Sudras, so he cannot teach you.”

The young man was very sad that he would not get Dronacharya as his teacher. On the way back home, he suddenly said to his father, “No, I am going to ask Dronacharya all the same. Who knows, perhaps he will teach me. So Father, you go home. I will come back alone.”

His father said, “All right, you go if you must, but let me wait for you here. You go and see.”

After his son had left, the father said, “How inspired my dear Ekalavya has been by the matchless Arjuna! I can clearly see that because of his aspiration and determination, my son is destined to become a great archer, whether Dronacharya agrees to teach him or not. It is only a matter of time.”


  1. GIM 90. 23 January 1979