God will teach you11

Inspired by Arjuna’s peerless archery skill at a royal competition, Ekalavya approached Arjuna’s archery teacher, Dronacharya. “Sir, sir, venerable sir, will you please teach me archery? I want to become just like Arjuna. I have such tremendous admiration for Arjuna. Will you teach me archery?”

Dronacharya replied, “Yes, I will teach you. But please tell me who you are.”

The young man said, “My name is Ekalavya and my father is the chief caretaker.”

Dronacharya looked disturbed. “Oh, you come of a very low family. I am sorry, but you have to forgive me, I cannot teach you.”

The young man protested, “High caste, low caste! You are such a learned man, such a man of wisdom, and yet you are saying things like this. I was born in a low family, but if I do good things — great and mighty things — will it not compensate my birth?”

“You are speaking like a true philosopher, and let me say that I admire your philosophy. It is not your fault that you came into a low caste family. And if you have aspiration and determination, then naturally you are bound to succeed.”

The young man said, “That is what I am saying. It was my fate. What can I do if I was destined to take birth in a low caste family? But if, with my aspiration and determination, I do something great and good, will it not please the world? Will it not please God?”

“Yes, certainly it will. I appreciate your philosophy. I see eye to eye with you. But I cannot fulfil your desire. I cannot teach you. You try! With your heart’s aspiration and your unfaltering determination, you try. You will succeed one day, my boy. Of that, I assure you. If I do it, the Brahmins and my friends will all hate me. They will throw me out of society. I am an old man. At this age I don’t want to be thrown out of society. So, make no mistake, I fully agree with your philosophy, but I am telling you that I am unable to fulfil your desire. You can call it my weakness or anything you want, but society is made like that. It has its own way of thinking. I do not want to be the one to justify it. I don’t want to go into the reasons why the Kshatriyas and the Brahmins should not and must not mix with lower caste people. That will be a very long story, and it will be a painful one for you. So I don’t want to tell it. You please go, and with your own aspiration and determination you will succeed.”

Sorrowfully, the young man turned towards home. When he came upon his father, who had been waiting for him, he said, “Father, you were right. This old man will not teach me. Caste, caste, caste! Father, why were you born in a low caste?”

“What could I do,” his father said. “My parents brought me into the world as I brought you into the world. Did I know I was going to take birth in a low caste family? Son, if we love God, then God will always please us and fulfil us. So if you want to learn the skills of archery, pray to God. God Himself will teach you.”

“Yes, Father,” Ekalavya said, “You are right. I have faith that because of my devotion to Dronacharya, God will definitely teach me.”

GIM 91. 23 January 1979