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Mahabharata

Mahabharata

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Published by: pavika on Apr 18, 2011
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DRONA, the son of a brahmana named
Bharadwaja, after completing his study of
the Vedas and the Vedangas, devoted
himself to the art of archery and became a
great master.
Drupada, the son of the king of Panchala,
who was a friend of Bharadwaja, was a
fellow-student of Drona in the hermitage
and there grew up between them the
generous intimacy of youth.
Drupada, in his boyish enthusiasm, used
often to tell Drona that he would give him
half his kingdom when he ascended the
throne. After completing his studies,
Drona married the sister of Kripa, and a
son Aswatthama was born to them.
Drona was passionately attached to his
wife and son, and, for their sake, desired
to acquire wealth, a thing that he had
never cared for before. Learning that
Parasurama was distributing his riches
among the brahmanas, he first went to
him. But he was too late as Parasurama
had already given away all his wealth and
was about to retire to the forest.

But, anxious to do something for Drona,
Parasurama offered to teach him the use
of weapons, of which he was supreme
master.
Drona joyfully agreed, and great archer as
he already was, he became unrivalled
master of the military art, worthy of eager
welcome as preceptor in any princely
house in that warlike age.
Meanwhile, Drupada had ascended the
throne of Panchala on the death of his
father. Remembering their early intimacy
and Drupada's expressions of readiness to
serve him, even to the extent of sharing
his kingdom, Drona went to him in the
confident hope of being treated
generously.
But he found the king very different from
the student. When he introduced himself
as an old friend, Drupada, far from being
glad to see him, felt it an intolerable
presumption.
Drunk with power and wealth, Drupada
said: "O brahmana, how dare you address
me familiarly as your friend? What
friendship can there be between a throned
king and a wandering beggar? What a fool
must you be to presume on some long past
acquaintance to claim friend ship with a
king who rules a kingdom? How can a
pauper be the friend of a wealthy man, or
an ignorant boor of a learned scholar, or a
coward of a hero? Friendship can exist
only between equals. A vagrant beggar
cannot be the friend of a sovereign."
Drona was turned out of the palace with
scorn in his ears and a blazing wrath in his
heart.
He made a mental vow to punish the
arrogant king for this insult and his
repudiation of the sacred claims of early
friendship. His next move in search of
employment was to go to Hastinapura,
where he spent a few days, in retirement,
in the house of his brother-in-law
Kripacharya.

One day, the princes were playing with a
ball outside the precincts of the city, and
in the course of the game, the ball as well
as Yudhishthira's ring fell into a well. The
princes had gathered round the well and
saw the ring shining from the bottom
through the clear water. But could see no
way of getting it out. They did not
however, notice that a brahmana of dark
complexion stood nearby watching them
with a smile.
"Princes," he surprised them by saying,
"you are the descendants of the heroic
Bharata race. Why cannot you take out the
ball as anyone skilled in arms should
know how to do? Shall I do it for you?"
Yudhishthira laughed and said in fun: "O
brahmana, if you take out the ball, we will
see that you have a good meal in the
house of Kripacharya." Then Drona the
brahmana stranger, took a blade of grass
and sent it forth into the well after reciting
certain words of power for propelling it as
an arrow.
The blade of grass straightway sped and
stuck into the ball. Afterwards he sent a
number of similar blades in succession
which clinging together formed a chain,
wherewith Drona took out the ball.
The princes were lost in amazement and
delight and begged of him to get the ring
also. Drona borrowed a bow, fixed an
arrow on the string and sent it right into
the ring. The arrow rebounding brought
up the ring and the brahmana handed it to
the prince with a smile.
Seeing these feats, the princes were
astonished and said: "We salute you, O
brahmana. Who are you? Is there anything
we can do for you?" and they bowed to
him.
He said: "O princes, go to Bhishma and
learn from him who I am."
From the description given by the princes,
Bhishma knew that the brahmana was
none other than the famous master Drona.

He decided that Drona was the fittest
person to impart further instruction to the
Pandavas and the Kauravas. So, Bhishma
received him with special honor and
employed him to instruct the princes in
the use of arms.
As soon as the Kauravas and the Pandavas
had acquired mastery in the science of
arms, Drona sent Karna and Duryodhana
to seize Drupada and bring him alive, in
discharge of the duty they owed to him as
their master.
They went as ordered by him, but could
not accomplish their task. Then the master
sent forth Arjuna on the same errand. He
defeated Drupada in battle and brought
him and his minister captives to Drona.
Then Drona smilingly addressed Drupada:
"Great king, do not fear for your life. In
our boyhood we were companions but you
were pleased to forget it and dishonor me.
You told me that a king alone could be
friend to a king. Now I am a king, having
conquered your kingdom. Still I seek to
regain my friendship with you, and so I
give you half of your kingdom that has
become mine by conquest. Your creed is
that friendship is possible only between
equals. And we shall now be equals, each
owning a half of your kingdom."
Drona thought this sufficient revenge for
the insult he had suffered, set Drupada at
liberty and treated him with honor.
Drupada's pride was thus humbled but,
since hate is never extinguished by
retaliation, and few things are harder to
bear than the pangs of wounded vanity,
hatred of Drona and a wish to be revenged
on him became the ruling passion of
Drupada's life.
The king performed tapas, underwent
fasts and conducted sacrifices in order to
win the gratified gods to bless him with a
son who should slay Drona and a daughter
who should wed Arjuna.

His efforts were crowned with success
with the birth of Dhrishtadyumna who
commanded the Pandava army at
Kurukshetra and, helped by a strange
combination of circumstances, slew the
otherwise unconquerable Drona, and birth
of Draupadi, the consort of the Pandavas.

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