12- Drona- the invincible Brahmana!
Updated: Apr 9
Rishi Vaishampayana narrated the story of Kuru race princes’ learning- the science of arms, first from Guru Kripacharya and then from Guru Dronacharya. King Janmejaya had asked, ‘O venerable Rishi! Who was Drona? What were his achievements? And why he was bestowed upon the learning of Kuru Princes by Pitamaha Bhishma?’ King Janmejaya was curious to know all about Guru Drona. Rishi Vaishampayana was overwhelmed with joy! He said, ‘O descendent of the Bharata race, you deserve to know the lineage of the great Guru Dronacharya.’ Listen to me———- Bharadwaj was a great rishi. He lived near the sacred river, Ganga. One day, Rishi Bharadwaj intended to perform Agnihotra ( a type of yanga). He sent messages to the other great ascetics and went to the Ganges to perform ablution. [Agnihotra- Agni means fire, hotra means healing]. Bharadwaja was a learned rishi. He knew the benefits of this sacred Yanga. It reduces stress, brings clarity of mind, and leads to improve overall health. When the Agnihotri fire is burnt, it is not just energy from the fire but subtle energies are generated and spread over the atmosphere by fire- much healing energy emanates. When Vedic Agnihotri is performed- the Agnihotri smoke gathers the particle of harmful radiation in the atmosphere and on a very subtle level, neutralizes the radioactive effect. A magnetic field is created which neutralizes negative energy and reinforces positive energy. It is just like an antidote for all the problems. The benefits of all the Yangas are scientifically proven. And the modern scientists agreed to it]. While performing his ablution, there he was beheld by the beauty of a beautiful Apsaras- Gritachi who had come there to take her bath. Afflicted with desire, his vital fluid was dropped. But he held it in a Drona (a vessel). Thus, the wise Drona was born in that vessel and recognized as the son of Bharadwaja. He was not born in a woman’s womb! Prishata- the king of Panchala was a close friend of Rishi Bharadwaja. He had a son named- Drupada. Prince Drupada came to the hermitage of Bharadwaja to learn the Vedas and Vedangas and the science of arms too. Thus, the deep intimacy between prince Drupada and Drone grew up like wildfire! They both studied together. Drupada, in his boyish enthusiasm, used to tell Drona that he would give him half of his kingdom when he would ascend the throne! In due course of time, Drona acquired all the knowledge very quickly and became an expert in Vedas, Vedangas, and also the science of arms. He had expertise in archery. After the death of his father, Drona continued to dwell in the hermitage and followed in ascetic austerities. When King Prishata died, mighty-armed Drupada ascended the throne of Panchala. Time passed away, and Drona married Kripi, the granddaughter of Gautama rishi. He was blessed with a son named Ashwatthama. Drona did severe penance so that his son would become as valiant as Lord Shiva. Once Drona heard about the retirement (Vanaprastha) of Lord Parashurama after giving away all his wealth to the Brahmanas. Being desirous to obtain some wealth, he went to meet Lord Parashuram. But, by that time Ram had already given all his wealth to others. Thus, Parashuram offered him to take either his body or his weapons. Drona humbly asked him to give all his weapons with the knowledge of hurling and recalling them. Happily, Ram said, ‘Be it so.’ After receiving all the weapons, he also learned how to use them. But poverty was always with him. Once his son Ashwatthama cried for cow milk to drink. But, Drona was unable to give him cow milk because of his poverty. At first, he was not interested in material wealth and thus became poor. Seeing the pitiful condition of his only dear son, he felt bad. He tried his best to fulfill his son’s desire but every pursuit became futile! The cunning friends of Ashwatthama fed him Pistaudaka misleading him as cow milk. Deceived by his friends, out of innocence Ashwatthama yelled joyfully, ‘O I have drunk cow milk!’ And he started dancing! His friends started laughing mischievously. Drona was deeply touched by his condition! ‘Fie to you, Drona! Fie to your poverty!’ Drona mumbled himself. He then recalled his friendship with prince Drupada during their childhood days. Desiring to get some wealth for his family, he went forward to Panchala. By that time Drupada became the king as his father had died. After reaching Panchala, Drona went to the royal court of king Drupada. Recalling their friendship, Drona addressed, ‘O Drupada, consider me as a friend.’ Engrossed with power and wealth, Drupada frowned, ‘O Brahmin! How dare you address me as your friend?! Are you insane? How come on this earth, there would be any friendship possible between a beggar and a King?! A vagabond with a Sovereign?! The poor cannot be a friend of the rich. A coward with a hero? The friendship exists only between two equally situated posts, either in wealth or in prowess! How can you be my friend?! I do not know you, I do not remember what I promised you. Yes, if you want, I can give you food and shelter for one night.’ Being humiliated by King Drupada, Drone left his palace and vowed to take revenge on him! He desired to get a place at Hastinapur. So he took shelter at Kripa’s house in Hastinapur, who was his brother-in-law. One day, the Kuru princes were engaged in a game (ball) on the outskirt of Hastinapur. While playing, the ball slipped and fell into a well. They tried their best to recover the ball but all their efforts went futile. Suddenly, they saw a darkish-colored Brahmana purify himself with Agnihotra. They requested him to help them. Drona said, ‘O princes, shame on your Kshatriya prowess. And the same for your skill in arms. Being born in a noble race, how is it that you can not recover the ball?!’ The princes remained silent. Drona slipped off his ring and threw it into the dry well. The ring fell on the ball. Using his divine mantra, he used a handful of Ishikas (long glass) as a chain of arrows. The first arrow successfully pierced the ring and the ball too. He then pulled the ball and the ring. The boys stood watching, struck with wonder! They were amazed! The princes humbly said, ‘O best of twice-born, who are you? We had never seen the such wonder and command us how can we render our service to you?’ Drona asked them to go to Bhishma and describe him his (Drona’s) likeliness and skill. He would tell you, who I am! Princes then ran to Bhishma and narrated the whole incident and about the Brahmin. Bhishma smiled saying ‘O, it is the great Dronacharya.’ Bhishma went out of the city to receive the great Brahmana. When Bhishma approached his offer, Guru Dronacharya elaborately explained the friendship that grew between him and king Drupada and how he was humiliated by him in the recent past. He said, ‘O Bhishma, thus insulted by Drupada I was filled with wrath! I have the wish to be the preceptor of royal princes.’ Grandsire Bhishma was delighted. Humbly he said, ‘O Brahman! Feel free to hear. Unstring your bow and accept these princes Kauravas and Pandavas as your disciples. O Lord, teach them the science of arms. O Gurudev, you are the lord of whatever wealth, kingdom, and sovereignty we have! Enjoy everything as much as you wish. All are at your command. We have obtained you with our good luck.’ Thereafter, Bhishma gave an excellent quarter to Drona and the preceptor was adored by all of them. From that day onwards, Dronacharya became the preceptor of all the princes of the Kuru race. One day the preceptor said, ‘O noble princes! I have a particular desire in my heart. Promise me truly that you will accomplish it when all of you become skilled in arms.’ Hearing his words, all the princes kept quiet. Arjun was the only one who vowed to accomplish it. Though Guru Dronacharya gave equal instructions to all, Arjun became the foremost among all in lightness and skill. From that, Drona was convinced about the prowess of Arjun! Drona loved his only son Ashwatthama more than his own life! Once, Dronacharya taught his son alone some superior methods of using arms in the absence of his disciples. But, somehow Arjun could gain that knowledge- Varun's weapon easily. Even he became superior to Ashwatthama in Archery. Seeing great devotion to arms of Arjun, Drona asked the cook secretly not to give food to Arjun in the dark. On a certain day, when Arjun was taking his food, the burning lamp was extinguished because of the wind. But, he continued eating in the dark due to habit. Thus, he thought of practicing with his bow at night. Hearing the twang of his bowstring in the night, Drona came to him. Embracing him, Drona said, ‘O Parth! I shall make you to that by which there will be no bowman in the world who will be equal to you!’ ********* One day, all the Kuru and Pandu princes with the permission of their preceptor set out for hunting. A dog was also with Pandavas. When the princes were roaming around the jungle, the dog also wandered around alone and came to the Nishada prince. Seeing his dark color, and matted hair on his head, the dog began to bark aloud. Being disturbed by his practice, the Nishada struck seven arrows into the mouth of the barking dog. The dog came back to the Pandavas and all the princes were astonished when they saw the dog stop barking and being shielded by arrows. At last, after a thorough search, they reached the Nishada prince. When they asked about him, he said his name- was Ekalavya. He told them how he was dejected by Guru Dronacharya being a low cast born child, but he made a statue of Guru Drona in clay and learned all the science of arms. After coming back to Hastinapur, Arjun with grief went to Guru Drona secretly and described the wonderful feat shown by the Nishada prince. As Drona promised Arjun to be the unbeatable archer in the world, he went to Ekalavya and asked for his right thumb as his Guru Dakshina(remuneration)! This showed his partiality towards Dhananjay. Drona was greatly impressed by Arjun’s concentration, devotion, and determination. Thus, he gave Arjun special knowledge of the divine Astras. He loved Arjun more than anyone! Even, he gave the mantras to invoke the super-powerful Brahmastra but warned him not to use it with any ordinary warrior! Even, Arjun surpassed Drona’s expectations in numerous challenges! When the Mahabharata war began, being duty-bound Drona fought for the Kauravas but strongly condemned Duryodhana for exiling the innocent, virtuous Pandavas. After the fall of Pitamaha Bhishma on the tenth day, he became the Commander-in-chief of the Kuru race. Duryodhana convinced him to try capturing Yudhishthira, so to end the war. But Drona failed to capture Yudhishthira as Arjun was always there to repel his force. At last, on the 13th day of the battle, Dronacharya formed the Chakravyuha- a complex arrangement of troops that couldn't be penetrated by anyone except Arjun and Lord Krishna. At last, Abhimanyu- the 16-year-old son of Arjun penetrated the Chakravyuha and was killed brutally by six maharathis. Drona was inflamed by Duryodhana’s remarks of being a traitor as he was not able to protect Jayadratha. He fought fiercely and killed numerous soldiers of Pandavas including Viraat, and his friend Drupad. Knowing it would be impossible to defeat an armed Drona, Krishna suggested to the Pandavas a plan to disarm the preceptor. Thus, after killing an elephant named Ashwatthama, Bhim proclaimed aloud that he had killed ‘Ashwatthama’. Drona couldn't believe it, so he asked Yudhishthira to tell the truth. He knew that Yudhishthira was the only one who never speaks lies about what may come. Yudhishthira responded with the cryptic, ‘Ashwatthama is dead but the elephant, not your son.’ Krishna knew that Yudhishthira cann't speak lie outright! So, with Krishna’s instructions, the warriors blew the trumpets, and conchs in such a way that Drona only heard the first part of the full sentence- 'Ashwatthama is dead'!
Then Drona descended from his chariot with grief and laid down his arms. When he was meditating, enraged with his father’s death, Dhrishtadyumna beheaded him. The 14th-day battle of Kurukshetra ended with the fall of Guru Dronacharya. ReplyForward