Story of Passionate Learning and
Attitude Alters Everything
We have seen in our last episode “Success at personal or professional level will inevitably derive from three characteristics: attitudes, competencies and knowledge. Most people pay an excessive attention to the knowledge component while neglecting the development of competencies and attitudes. Make sure you are focusing on all the three components; it is the best strategy in the long run”.
Attitude is the most important of the three, but competency & knowledge cannot be ignored. We will now see the story of an individual who learnt passionately and mastered the skill of his choice against impediments, though his chosen guru refused to teach him. I am talking about the story of Ekalavya from Mahabharat, Story of passion for learning, determination and a never-say-die attitude.
Perfect story of Attitude, Competence & Knowledge
Eklavya was the son of Prince Devashrava, the brother of Kunti and Vasudev, which means he is the cousin of Lord Krishna and the Pandavas. According to Harivamsha Purana, Eklavya was abandoned by Devashrava when he was just a small child, upon the advice of saints.
Eklavya was abandoned in a forest and was found and adopted by Vyatraj Hiranyadhenu, the chief of the Nishadas.
Eklavya was fascinated with archery from an early age. Once Pulak Muni saw Eklavya’s passion and confidence in archery and advised his father, Nishadraj Hiranyadhanu to put Eklavya under the tutelage of a guru so that he could master the art. As advised, Hiranyadhanu took Eklavya to Guru Dronacharya with a request to take him under his tutelage.
Distance Learning of Archery
But Dronacharya refused to teach Eklavya as he had earlier promised Bhishma that he would not teach anyone other than the Kuru princes. Eklavyaa did not give up.
He stayed with Drona as his servant. Ekalavya’s work was to collect the arrows used by the princes and put them back in the log, an arrow boy. He used to hide himself behind a tree and keenly watch the training being imparted to the princes and practice the lessons later when they were away, (short) distance learning.
One day all the princes returned early when Ekalavya was still practicing his archery lesson. Duryodana saw this and reported the same promptly to the guru. Dronacharya got angry and asked Eklavya to leave his cottage.
Virtual Learning in archery
Disappointed but determined to continue his learning, Ekalavya stayed in a tribal settlement in the forest. He made an earthen idol of Guru Dronacharya in front of his hut and started learning archery by taking inspiration from the idol. If the passion and focus is there, one can learn from an idol as well. Due to the focus, practice and devotion, he soon became an expert in archery.
Once Guru Dronacharya took the Pandavas and the Kauravas on a hunting practice. He had a dog with him which went a little farther. The dog reached where Eklavya was practicing. Seeing Eklavya and his bow, the dog started barking and the barking disturbed his focus. Eklavya sent seven arrows around the mouth of the dog without harming the animal so that it would stop barking. The dog went back to the guru in that state.
Drona and Arjuna inspected the dog and concluded that it must have been the handiwork of an expert in archery and he must be nearby. Arjuna got jealous and asked Drona “Gurudev, you said that there would be no other archer equal to my competence, but I find someone better than me. I do not know this knowledge”.
Drona searched and found Ekalavya practicing archery in front of his statue and appreciated him for his mastery of the art. Dronacharya himself realized that Eklavya’s archery skills far surpassed that of Arjun.
Dronacharya then demanded his fee, Guru-Dakshina, from Ekalavya. With deep reverence for his teacher, Eklavya prostrated before him and offered to give him anything he desired. Dronacharya asked for his thumb keeping in mind his promise to Arjuna to make him the best in the world. Without an iota of hesitation, he drew a knife and cut his thumb. Dronacharya, moved by this gesture, blessed him for his devotion.
Is Drona’s demand a deceit? This is a much-debated subject of discussion in Mahabharat. I will come to that later as that could deflect the subject of our current discussion, passion for learning and never say die attitude.
Even losing his thumb did not deter Eklavya. He started practicing with his remaining fingers. He became a great fighter through sheer practice and faith in his ability. He became renowned far and wide for his exceptional ability and his dedication towards his teacher.
Learnings on the story of passionate learning will continue in the next episode…
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