Eklavya's dakshina of his right hand thumb to his guru
Ekalavya (English: एकलव्य, ékalavya) is a character from the epic The Mahābhārata. He was a young prince of the Nishadha, a confederation of jungle tribes (Adivasi) in Ancient India. He was offered as the son to Vyatraj Hiranyadhanus by Narayani Devi and possessed powers given by Bhumi devi. Ekalavya aspired to study archery in the gurukul of Guru Drona.
Eklavya is called as one of the foremost of kings in the Starbharata Yajna where he honours Yudhishthira with his shoes. Though he didn't have his right thumb, he was noted as a very powerful archer and warrior. He is said to be a great friend of Duryodhan. He brought Krishna's son to the court of Hastinapur when he kidnapped Duryodhan's daughter.
Deeply hurt by Drona's rejection, Ekalavya still didn't give up on his resolute will to master archery. He once stayed hidden in the forest while guru Drona was teaching the Kaurava and Pandava brothers, after they left to the ashram, Ekalavya collected the mud on which his Guru walked, as a symbolic gesture of want to follow his knowledge and foot steps, later he went into the forest and made a statue of Drona under a big old well grown 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 to 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. Readily, Ekalavya offers to do anything for Drona. Drona stoically asks for the thumb from Ekalavya's right hand. Hesitant at first, Eklavya asks for Drona to confirm the command; Drona harshly does so. Smiling, Ekalavya cuts off the thumb and presents it to Drona.
Later life and death
Later, Ekalavya worked as an archer of King [Jarasandha]. When Jarasandha planned to besiege [Mathura], he was aided by Eklavya who was a skillful archer. Eklavya also helped Jarasandha and Shishupala by chasing Rukmini while she eloped with Krishna. After Jarasandha's demise, Ekalavya sought to avenge him by campaigning to destroy Kuntibhoja and every Yadava in Dwarka. During the attack, he was slayed by Krishna. According to some legends Eklavya survived his battle against the yadavas and somehow reached the court of Duryodhan and was greeted by the prince. He is also said to have made Eklavya the king of all forests in hastinapur. Eklavya became a close friend of the crown prince. He was killed by Krishna who broke his skull from a rock when he tried to kill his son Samba under the order of Duryodhan.
In Indonesian legend, in a former life Ekalavaya was king Phalgunadi, killed by Drona and reborn as Dhrishtadyumna to avenge the killing. In this version, Arjuna gets his name Phalguna from Phalgunadi. Ekalavya's famous and chaste wife Dewi Anggraini was always faithful to Phalgunadi, even after his death and despite Arjuna's proposals of marriage.
There is a Eklavya temple (Hindi: एकलव्य मंदिर) temple in honor of Mahabharata fame Eklavya in Khandsa village in Sector 37 of Gurugram city in Haryana state of India. As per folklore, this is the only temple of Eklavya and it is the place where Eklavya cut his thumb and offered to guru Drona.
In honor of Eklavya, Government of India runs a Ekalavya Model Residential School (EMRS) model residential school scheme for Indian tribals. Ekalavya Award is awarded by Government of Karnataka for the outstanding performance in sports.
In Popular Culture
- "Eklavya Honouring Yudhishthira". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Eklavya—Foremost of the Kings of Rajasuya Yagna". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Eklavya—A Powerful Archer and Charioteer". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- A. D. Athawale. Vastav Darshan of Mahabharat. Continental Book Service, Pune, 1970
- Dowson, John (1820–1881). A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. London: Trübner, 1879 [Reprint, London: Routledge, 1979] Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India
- Locals want tourist circuit developed for the Guru - April 2016