Ekalavya, who is shudra(lower) by caste is a bright, enthusiastic and brave boy having great desire of learning the art of archery from Dronacharya. He lived near the ashram of Drona where pandavas and kauravas are taking lessons in various arts. He had dreamed for learning art of archery under Drona but he was not accepted as disciple as he was shudra. On coming to know that there is no opportunity for him, he was disappointed.
Even then Ekalavya is strongly determined for learning archery. There are no boundaries for his determination and eagerness for learning. One day Ekalavya installed a clay idol of Dronacharya near his house and worshipped it as his Guru. Every day in the morning, evening and at night he prayed in front of that idol and took self lessons in bow and arrow. He is talented, concentrated and determined in selflearning. Soon he had made a miracle he acquired very good knowledge in bow and arrow. He became an expert, skilled person in art of archery.
One day, as it happened, Acharya Drona and Arjuna were passing near the hut of Eklavya. It was pleasant and peaceful afternoon and people were taking rest. But the tranquility and silence was broken by constant barking of a dog. Eklavya did not like this, and therefore, he shut the mouth of the dog with an arrow. Dronacharya and Arjuna were surprised to see the dog with his mouth sealed with an arrow.
Naturally the curious Arjuna asked his Gurudev as to know who could have done this delicate job. Even Dronacharya was amazed and knew the archer must be exceptionally skilled artist. They decided to trace this skillful fellow and reached the spot where Eklavya was practicing wonders with his bow and arrow in front of the clay image of Drona. It took no time for Dronacharya to understand the situation. He realized that Eklavya was superior to Arjuna in some respects.
Guru Dronacharya loved Arjuna very much and Drona’s favorite student is also Arjuna. So he gave his word of making Arjuna as the best archer on earth. But on seeing Ekalavya, Guru Dronacharya feared that he might not keep his words of making Arjuna the best. For a Guru or King keeping the word is much more important then his life. He thought for a while and came to a decision of removing Ekalavya from the competition. Dronacharya went to see Ekalavya and asked him who his Guru was? Seeing Dronacharya he was excited and overjoyed. Ekalavya said that he worshipped Dronacharya and he was his Guru. He attributed all his success to Guru Dronacharya. Guru Dronacharya was pleased with the dedication and loyalty of Ekalavya but to keep his words he had no choice. So he accepted Ekalavya as his disciple and requested for GuruDakshina.
Ekalavya was overwhelmed to see Dronacharya had accepted him as his disciple. He had promised Dronacharya that he will try utmost to give his GuruDakshina. This is the pathetic scene or tragic incident into play.
Guru Dronacharya said that he was pleased with his respect and loyalty for Guru. But Dronacharya demanded a heavy prize from Ekalavya, he asked Ekalavya’s right thumb as his fees for GuruDakshina. Everybody there were stunned on listening to Guru’s unusual and cruel demand. For an archer asking to give his thumb is almost equivalent for asking him to give his life.
But Ekalavya was happy for being his dream fulfilled that is being accepted as disciple of Dronacharya. In order to keep his promise without any protest Ekalavya cut off his thumb and placed at the feet of Dronacharya. Even Gods praised his great sacrifice. Though it had a unhappy ending, because of Ekalavya’s sacrifice it became a legend.