14 January 2017
In the Mahabharata, Ekalavya was the son of Hiranyadhanus, who was King Jarasandha's army commander and leader of the Nishadhas. He approached Dronacharya to teach him the arts of war, especially archery. Deeply hurt by Drona's rejection, Ekalavya didn't give up his ardent desire to master archery. He once stayed hidden in the forest while guru Drona was teaching the Kaurava and Pandava brothers, after they left for the ashram, Ekalavya collected the mud on which Drona walked, as a symbolic gesture of wanting to follow his foot-steps. Later he went into the forest and made a statue of Drona under a tree. He began a disciplined program of self-study over many years. Eventually, Ekalavya became an archer of exceptional prowess, greater than Drona's best pupil, Arjuna. He accepted the statue as his guru and practiced in front of it every single day.
One day when Drona and his students were going out into the forest, Arjuna saw a dog that was unable to bark due to an amazing construction of arrows in and all around his mouth. This construction was harmless to the dog, but prevented the dog from barking. Drona was amazed, but also distressed: he had promised Arjuna that he would make him the greatest archer in the world. Drona and his students investigated, and came upon Ekalavya. Upon seeing Drona,Ekalavya came and bowed before him.
Drona asked Ekalavya where he had learnt archery. Ekalavya replied "under you, Guruji", and showed Drona his statue while explaining what he had done.
Drona then reminded Ekalavya that to truly be Drona's pupil, Ekalavya would have to pay guru dakshina (Offering to ones teacher). Ekalavya offers to do anything for Drona. Drona stoically asks for the thumb from Ekalavya’s right hand. Hesitant at first, Ekalavya cuts off the thumb and presents it to Drona.