The forbidden disciple!
A beautiful hill named Manikya extended its ranges occupying certain distance. The depressed areas of land under the hilly ranges formed the valley and a small pond was flowing over there. A tribal couple, Zara- a hunter with his wife- Shriya was living in a small hut in that valley. The vast area was devoid of much inhabitants except very few tribals. Hunting the deers, rhinos, boar and other animals from the jungle, he led his life.
Once Shriya told her husband to be at home, while she would bring some water from the river. Zara agreed and stayed back to finish his other work. Shriya wrapped her body with her usual clothes made by leaves, carried the earthen-pot on her head, hurriedly went to the river. Her face was blooming like a full moon! A necklace of colourful beads draped around her neck. Thick bangles of a typical clay and glass was jingling on her wrist while walking. Black curly hair was atypically tied up on one side of her head. Her striking beauty could easily lure a person from a distance!!
After finishing her bath and filling the earthen-pot, she moved towards her hut. Suddenly she noticed that she was surrounded by few strangers. From their gestures, she could understand their evil motive. She tried to surpass them without any conflict. But the strangers were adamant and stubborn. When she realised her life was at stake, she cried for help.
‘Swami— hel- help,’ the poor tribal lady screamed aloud, eyes wide opened with fear, lips trembled. ‘Look at those punks, swami! Help me,’ again she yelled.
The painful voice echoed on the hill tops, bounced back! Repeatedly the same voice came from the river bank. Looking at the stunning beauty of the beautiful young lady, one of them said, ‘Oh, damsel! Be our queen! You deserve to be our queen.’
‘Why are you roaming around in this lonely place?!’they mocked at her, giggled and looked at each other.
‘Who the hell are you, punks?!’ she raged.
‘Hah! We- we are the prince from the mighty royal family- Kauravas!’
She was taken aback with their sturdy attempt. ‘Watch your step, you fools! Or you will be dead soon. Don't dare to touch me!’she warned them in a hard voice.
But Kauravas had lost their sense. They forgot the decency and tried to misbehave with Shriya. Suddenly a roaring voice from a little distance shook the hundred brothers at once!
‘You dare to touch her, then you’ll see the consequence!’ A voice blared in the air. A dark, sturdy, stout man rushed towards the Kauravas. His waist was wrapped with deer skin, an axe and a scythe were hanging on it. Back of his shoulder- a quiver with full of arrows. A thin long stripe of deer skin was tied around his forehead.
In a lightning speed, Zera stood before them with his arrow fixed on the bow. He howled like a wolf from a distance.
‘Why did you call your death, fools!’ he roared again.
Rolling his eyes like a fire ball, Dhushasan retorted, ‘Oh you poor Nishad! Don't you know who we are? Kauravas- the great Kuru descenders? Why wish a premature death? You don't deserve this beautiful lady. She would be our queen in Hastinapur!’
Within the fraction of a blink, Zara released his chanted arrow and all the hundred brothers lied down on the ground with a pool of blood. None of them were alive. Zara scorted his wife to his hut.
Twelve days passed, yet there was no sign of the Kauravas. Dronacharya felt awkward in their absence. He was the one who sent his disciples in four different directions to hunt some boars for his wife’s Shraddha. Everybody came back except the hundred brothers! At last, Dronacharya went in quest of them with Bhim, Arjun and Karna.
After a long search, they reached at the Manikya hill range where the Kauravas were lying down. Bhim ran fast and located the hundred brothers dead bodies near the river. He grasped his breath, ran to inform about them to Gurudev. They all gushed towards the spot. Drona was taken aback! He was utterly astonished looking at the amazing display of arrows at a time at hundred brothers!
‘Who else could do it?! Only Arjun and Parshuram are experts of this excellent archery! Who is the third one?! Or a disciple of Lord Parshuram?!’ He was stunned! Dronacharya asked Arjun to find out the archer. Arjun obeyed the command of Gurudev, and traced the stranger.
Zera engrossed himself practising the display of weapons when Arjun reached there. He got furious and yelled, ‘ Hey, you! Who are you? What do you want?’
Arjun explained him about his hundred brother’s miserable condition. Enraged with anger, Zara pointed his arrow to Arjun, said, ‘Oh, poor boy! Why wished your death now?’ Without any delay, he showered arrows on Arjun.
The frightful combat started between Zara and Arjun.
Arjun took up a terrible arrow of fiery splendour. Zara encountered it magnificently. The combat between them increased time to time. The tremendous sound of dashing arrows of both of sides shook the whole mountain range. Dronacharya’s sixth sense beckoned him the unusual affair. He followed the sound and reached at the spot. Arjun and Zara both were engaged intimately. He requested both of them to stop the war. After the combat settled down, Drona asked Zara where from he got that splendid astra Vidya. The Nishada revealed that he got it from his Gurudev. Curiously Dronacharya asked the identification of his Gurudev. The Nishad proudly announced the name of his preceptor- Guru Dronacharya!
He became speechless when he heard his own name! He introduced himself to Zara. Beholding his Gurudev, Zara prostrated himself on his feet. With his request, Zara spelled the divine arrow to give the life of hundred brothers.
He said, ‘O Gurudev! Long ago, I went to Varunavanta- the Akhara of royal princes, with great passion of learning Astra and sastra Vidya from you. But the Kauravas humiliated me being low cast born and threw me out of their premises. From that day onwards, I carved my Gurudev’s image in clay and worshiped him with my heart. You (the statue) are the one who taught me the Divinely knowledge. I deeply concentrated every movement, every rhythmic sound of yours. Never missed a single beat of your manoeuvre.’
Beheld with his devotion, Drona hugged Zara and blessed him with supreme power. As Drona wished to see his Akhada, Zara led them where he learnt all his martial arts. Dronacharya, Bhim, Arjun, and Karna became speechless at the site!
A clay statue of Drona was installed in a corner. Sandalwood paste was nicely put on the forehead, water lily flower as the sacred thread, and a black deer skin was wrapped on the waist of clay statue. Index finger of the statue pointed at Varunavanta- akhara of the royal children. A quiver with arrows on the back of the shoulder and a bow on his left hand.
Dronacharya overwhelmed with joy and blessed Zara with supreme power. But in the next moment the word he expressed as his Guru Dakshina- stunned everybody- shook the whole human race! He meticulously asked Zara’s right hand thumb- the most important finger for archery!!!
Zara- the unbeatable archer happily surrendered his thumb. The forbidden disciple of the preceptor remained as- The greatest archer ever seen before!