We will discuss 3 things in this untold story of Eklavya.
- Background of Eklavya
- Eklavya and Dronacharya
- How did Eklavya die?
1. Background of Eklavya
Eklavya was the son of King Hiranyadhanu and Queen Sulekha of the Nishadh clan. Some texts say that he was Krishna’s cousin as he was the son of Devashrva, brother of Vasudeva. In his childhood, Devashrva lost him in the forest and he was later found by King Hiranyadhanu.
His real name was ‘Abhidhyumn’ while people used to call him ‘Abhay’. But as he was an extremely focused and bright student in his early days, his teacher changed his name to Eklavya. Apart from this, he was married to a Nishadh girl Sunita. She was the daughter of a friend of his father.
Nishadh folks mainly live in the Jungle and lead their livelihood by hunting and gathering. Hence, archery is an essential skill for them to survive. Moreover, Eklavya was trained by his father and a Guru of his own clan.
King Hiranyadhanu was the chieftain of Jarasandha and had fought many wars for him. He later died fighting in a war from Jarasandha’s side. Because of this, the responsibility of the Nishadh clan came on Eklavya’s shoulder at a very young age. He was a good warrior but to shoulder these responsibilities and protect his clan from invasions he needed to enhance his skills. Hence, he decided to learn from the best Guru of that time; Guru Dryonacharya.
(There is another story which says that he wanted to learn archery and went to Dronacharya after taking permission from his father. Some also says that his Hiranyadhanu sent him to Dronacharya on suggestion of sage Pulak)
2. Eklavya and Dronacharya
Eklavya reached Aashram of Dronacharya where he conducted his classes. He then met with Drona and presented his wish to learn from him. After pondering for a while on the proposal, Drona refused to teach him saying that he teaches only Kshatriyas and Brhamins and not Shudras. Stunned by this, Eklavya felt humiliated as even though he was a prince he was being discriminated for his caste.
After that, he left the Ashram and went to the forest. But, this humiliation did not discourage him. Instead of giving up, he built an idol of Drona which he worshiped as his teacher, and started practicing on his own.
Eklavya with Drona
Days went by, one day Eklavya was practicing archery when a dog started barking incessantly. To the extent that it became tough for him to even focus. Infuriated by this, he threw 7 arrows at once in the mouth of that dog in such a way that it silenced the dog without injuring it.
This dog was later discovered by Drona. Looking at it, Drona was confident that this level of archery cannot be performed by an ordinary man as even his favourite student Arjuna could throw only 5 arrows at once. He then asked his students to find out the person responsible for this. After putting some effort in the search, he discovered Eklavya and came to know about his abilities so he went to meet him in person.
2.2. Drona’s Gurudakshina
Upon Drona’s encounter with him, Eklavya behaved humbly and gave all the credit to Drona saying that it was him only who had taught him this skill. Drona sensed the situation and asked Eklavya to give the thumb of his right hand as Guru Daxina. Even being well aware of the importance of the thumb, without sparing even a second Eklavya chopped it off and presented it to Drona.
Despite losing his thumb Eklavya improved his skills and was able to wield a bow even without it. (It is also considered that Eklavya is the father of modern archery as it does not require a thumb)
3. How did Eklavya die?
After the demise of Hiranyadhanu and giving up his thumb to Dronacharya, Eklavya joined Jarasangha’s army.
Krishna killing Eklavya
We all are aware of the feud between Yadavas and Jarasngha. In addition to this, Jarasangh was frustrated by his repeated defeats from Krishna and his Yadava dynasty. In the meantime, he was blessed with Eklavya in his army. Jarasandha had immense faith in Eklavya’s warfare skills so he asked him to fight for him against Yadavas. Bound by the loyalty of his lineage, Eklavya couldn’t differentiate right from wrong and jumped into the battle. Even with his four fingers he showered the Yadva army with bolts and proved himself to be catastrophic to the enemies. After a huge massacre, Krishna himself was forced to come to the battlefield. He then deceived Eklavya and killed him in the end.
Apart from this, Eklavya had a son named Ketuman who fought for kauravas in Kurkshetra war. He was later killed by Bheem.
Read the story about how did Arjuna get Gandiv?
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