Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guru Dakshina - A pound of flesh

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 In the epic Mahabharata , Dronacharya is a Guru of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Soon Arjuna becomes his favorite student because of his hard work and dedication. Dronocharya believes that Arjuna has the potential to be the best archer of the times. In the meantime Eklavya who belonged to a tribal caste did not have the privilege to be trained in the art of archery. Nevertheless determined he makes a clay replica of Dronacharya and worships him and becomes an expert in archery.

Learning of his skills ,Dronacharya is so determined that nobody can come in the way of Arjuna's success he asks Eklavya for his Guru Dakshina. His Guru Dakshina is Eklavya's right thumb. Since Eklavya respects and thinks of Dronacharya as his guru, he cuts off his right thumb and offers it to his guru. Now even though Dronacharya had never taught Eklavya he still makes a demand of Eklavya's "pound of flesh".    

I remember as a child as I listened and enjoyed the great stories from the Mahabharata , but this particular story left an impression on my mind. Even as a child I thought it was so unfair that the Guru who should have known better shows favoritism and discriminates as to who should be worthy of his training and who should never even dream of being an expert . At the same time it shows Eklavya's unconditional love and respect towards his Guru who just offers his thumb and ends his dream of being the best archer ever.

Guru Dakshina

Eklavya asked his mom in despair,
"Why can't I learn from the great Man itself ?"

His parents tried to reason with him but in vain,
"We cannot match up with the heirs of this land"

Dronocharya can impart his great knowledge to them,
but you my poor child will just have to wait.

Eklavya is still determined and sadly exclaims,
"I will still learn from the great master, no matter what it takes !"

He goes to the forest and sculpts a statue of clay. 
He worships the statue and respectfully says,
"You are my Guru Dronacharya itself".
I'm ready to learn and there's no time to play.

His love for archery sees no night or day.
He practices and practices no matter what people say.

Dronocharya is so happy with his shishya Arjuna
and thinks nobody can surpass the skills that he has.

Unless one day he's amazed by a perfect display, 
 A wild dog who was disturbing the peace and quiet ,
his mouth was sealed by arrows so perfect. 

Who could the great archer be, is his query
It's me my dear Guru and its your knowledge that I just displayed.

Dronocharya thinks quick,
In this great land , there can only be One great archer,
That title belongs to his favorite one.
How dare this tribal prince shatter my dreams,
He must pay a price for his great misdeed.

Dear Eklavya, since I'm your Guru
How about my Guru Dakshina for the skills you just learned ?.

Ask me anything since I regard you as my Guru
How about your right thumb, that's what I desire.

Eklavya bows down to his Guru,
Cuts off his right thumb and offers his Guru Dakshina.

This is my entry to " The fifty-2 weeks of 2013 Project". This week's theme is " A pound of flesh".


  1. Thanks for bring back the memories. With time I had forgotten the characters who are an epitome for their deeds

  2. Ah, this is a perfect example of a pound of flesh! I'd forgotten about Ekalavya.

  3. Beautiful passage - didn't know so deeply the mythology. Good one!

  4. Very beautiful! Indeed such sacrifices are rare and that sets such epic heros apart from others.