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Eklavya’s story is a little sub-plot tucked away in the tapestry of the great Indian epic, The Mahabharata. Eklavya was a tribal boy who desired to learn archery with all his heart. Dronacharya was a renowned tutor who taught the Kuru and Pandava princes. Eklavya wanted to learn under Drona but the latter was a teacher to the warrior class and turned the boy away saying that he couldn’t teach him. He went back to his forest, made a likeness of Drona and invoked his blessings before setting out to practise. Day in, day out- the arrows whizzed away searching and finding its mark as the tribal boy grew awesome in his skill.  The story goes that Drona was in the forest with the princes when they were stunned by a display of archery. The acharya’s keen eye saw the perfection in the targets and knew that this unknown boy would steal the thunder from his own favourite shishya. In the age old tradition of gurus, he asked for his thumb as gurudakshiksha since the boy considered him his teacher and Eklavya cut off the digit without a thought as payment to his teacher. The story of this tribal boy goes no further but I wonder what happened after. Did Eklavya continue and surpass his previous excellence in his passion, perhaps in the deep recesses of the jungle? I’d like to think so. There is something in his story that inspires, a sense of hope that one can strive and attain. I’ve been repeatedly going back to this story since the last few months and just realized that the pull of the story for me was that Eklavya had his teacher within. “Ishwara pranidhana” was the driving force behind his discipline and progress.

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