Have you introduced your kid to the fables and other Indian stories that have been popular for ages? Do you and your kids have a bedtime ritual where you read out stories to them? Or does your kid prefer reading on her own and is always interested in new books? Do you only read out stories from a book or do you sometimes narrate a story to her as you may have read as well?
If storytelling is something you love to do with your kids, or if you would like to read out a new story to her, read on to and retell your little one the story of Eklavya and Dronacharya.
Eklavya Story For Kids:
Almost five thousand years ago, in the country of India, there was a boy whose name was Eklavya. His father was the tribal chief of the kingdom of Hastinapura. Eklavya was a very brave boy and was always honest and fair. Even though everyone who knew loved him, he was not a happy boy.
Soon his father noticed that something was bothering Eklavya. He would often find his son lost deep in thoughts, even though it seemed that he was doing something he was fond of doing. One day he asked his son, ‘Eklavya, why are you unhappy? Are you not interested in hunting? Why don’t you go ahead with your friends and enjoy?’
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Eklavya was quiet for a while, and then he said, Father, I want to be an archer and want to be tutored by the great archery tutor of Hastinapura, Dronacharya. His Gurukul is a place of magic, where he teaches simple boys like me and soon transforms them into brave warriors.
Eklavya’s father was quiet. So he said, Father, I know what you are thinking. We are from the hunting tribe, but I do not want to remain a hunter all my life. I want to be a fierce warrior. Will you please allow me to leave home and go and stay with Dronacharya at the Gurukul itself?
Eklavya’s father was worried. He knew that what his son dreamed of becoming would not be something easy. In fact, it could also be something he could never have. But he loved his son dearly and did not want to refuse his wish. So he blessed his son to be successful and sent Eklavya to the gurukul to learn from Dronacharya himself.
Eklavya set out for the gurukul and soon reached the space in the forest where Dronacharya was teaching archery to the princes of the kingdom of Hastinapura.
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In those earlier years, a gurukul was the most sacred place of learning. There were no schools or colleges, and a gurukul was the place where the teachers and the disciples live together. As Eklavya reached the Gurukul, he could see a few huts that were surrounded by some trees and had a yard that was meant for archery. Dronacharya’s disciples were practicing how to shoot arrows using their bows inside the practice yard. Eklavya was spellbound at the sight but he was still looking around for Dronacharya. Where could the teacher be? Would he be able to meet the best archer in the kingdom finally? Unless he could meet Dronacharya, it would mean nothing for Eklavya to be in the gurukul. Even as Eklavya was worried with these thoughts, his anxiety came to a stop as he spotted the teacher. Dronacharya was standing quietly near a tree. He was giving instructions to one of his disciples. The disciple, even though Eklavya did not know it at the time, was prince Arjuna, who was the third of the Pandava princes. Eklavya headed towards Dronacharya, and once there, he bowed down to the teacher.
Dronacharya was very surprised to see a stranger boy at the gurukul. He asked him ‘who are you?’
Eklavya replied, ‘I am Eklavya, and I am the tribal chief’s son. My father is the chief of the western parts of the forests of Hastinapura. I have come here to learn from you, so please accept me as your student and teach me how to be a master of archery.
But Dronacharya was not impressed. ‘Eklavya,’ he said, ‘if you are the son of the tribal chief, it means you are from the Shudra caste. It is the lowest caste of humans as per the Hindu caste system. I am a Brahmin, and as I am of the highest caste, I cannot teach you, who is of the lowest.
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Hearing this, prince Arjuna said, ‘He is a royal teacher. The king himself has appointed him as our guru, only to train those who are born of the royal family, like kings and princes, not Shudras like you. How could you even dare come inside the Gurukul? Arjuna was angry that Eklavya had disturbed his practice, and shouted at the boy.
Eklavya was shocked at the reaction. As the son of the tribal chief, he had never insulted anyone who was below him in standing. He looked at Dronacharya, expecting some words of encouragement from him. But the teacher remained silent and refused to speak, he made it very clear that he did not want to teach Eklavya, a shudra boy.
Eklavya was hurt by the injustice. ‘God never discriminated while imparting knowledge,’ he thought. ‘It is only humans who discriminate between one another.’
He went away but even though he was deeply sad, he knew he would never give up archery. ‘I am a shudra, but I am as strong as the princes that Dronacharya teaches. I just have to practice every day. Then I will become as brave and powerful an archer as the princes themselves he thought.
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Once back in his forests, Eklavya made a statue of Dronacharya and started practicing archery every day. He believed that the statue was real and that his teacher was watching and inspiring him. With regular practice, Eklavya soon became one of the best archers and was confident that he was better than even Prince Arjuna, Dronacharya’s best pupil.
One day while practicing, the bark of a dog disturbed him. He shot seven arrows in the direction of the dog’s mouth, without hurting him at all. The dog soon went away, with the arrows still in its mouth. The Pandav princes, along with Dronacharya, had come to those parts of the forest, and soon saw the dog. They were amazed and started searching for the person who had done this feat. They soon reached Eklavya.
Dronacharya asked him ‘You have an amazing aim, who is your teacher?’ to which Eklavya replied, ‘You are my teacher, I have learned from you.’
Dronacharya now remembered all about the boy whom he had sent away. He asked Eklavya what he meant, and he told the teacher everything that had happened. Arjuna was extremely angry, as Dronacharya had promised him he would be the best archer. Dronacharya was quiet too. Seeing Arjuna angry, he thought of punishing Eklavya.
‘If you consider me your teacher, you have to give me my Guru Dakshina.’ Eklavya was extremely happy and asked what his teacher wanted.
‘Give me the thumb of your right hand as your Guru Dakshina’ he said.
Everyone was quiet. Eklavya knew that without the thumb, he would never be able to shoot again. Taking out his knife, he cut off his thumb without any hesitation and presented it to Dronacharya.
The teacher was touched. He blessed the boy that even though he did not have a thumb, he would be able to shoot, and the world would know him as a greater archer than Arjuna.
We hope your little one enjoyed the short story of Eklavya and Dronacharya. Tell us how he reacted. Leave a comment below.
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