When it comes to great stories of teachers and students, one student who comes into mind is the tribal young man, Ekalavya. Ekalavya was the son of Hiranyadhanus, who was the chief of the Bhil tribe, known to be forest-dwelling hunters and served under King Jarasandha’s army as a general.
Since childhood, Ekalavya showed keen interest in archery and had outstanding skills in it. His father understanding his zeal approached Guru Dronacharya to make him the world’s best archer. However, as guru Drona had already promised Arjun the same, Guru Drona refuses to teach him on the pretext that he belonged to a Bhil tribe and sent them away. Ekalavya’s determination does not go down because of this and instead he makes a clay idol of Guru Drona and continued his archery offering his services to the idol as Guru Drona.
Ekalavya’s determination and sheer devotion for his guru makes him a perfect disciple and in no time, he masters the complete technique of archery. One day, the Pandavas and Kauravas one day go hunting in the forest. One of the hunting dogs goes chasing the animals. When it returns back, the princes are surprised to find its mouth filled with arrows. Arjun is surprised at such skill of the archer and goes in search of the person who shot them. He finds Ekalavya practising in front of the Guru Drona’s idol. Arjun feels disheartened seeing Ekalvaya’s skill and rushes to his guru and explains him everything.
Guru Drona on the verge of fulfilling his promise of making Arjun the world’s best Archer comes to Ekalavya. Overjoyed seeing his Guru, Ekalavya welcomes him duly and offers him warm hospitality. He then asks the reason Guru Drona has come in search of him to his humble abode. Guru Drona says that as Ekalvaya treated him as his guru, he came to ask for his Guru Dakshina. Ekalavya with great happiness mentions to ask him the same. Guru Drona asks for the right thumb of Ekalavya. This comes as a shock to Ekalavya as he would not be able to be the same archer once he cut his finger, but with great devotion towards his Guru, he cuts of his thumb and offers it to Guru Drona.
Guru Drona is shocked and pleased too at the same time for the great sacrifice of Ekalavya and blesses him that he would be eternally indebted for this act of his selfless sacrifice. Later, although Ekalavya continued to be an archer, he could be as skilfull as Arjun because of his disability. Later Ekalvya continued to be a left hand archer in the army of King Jarasandha. He fought the battle in the side of Jarasandha with Shri Krishna and was killed in the battle in the hands of Shri Krishna.
Ekalvaya continues to be remembered as the student who was sacrificed by his Guru for his promise. It is because of his sacrifice that Arjun went on to become the greatest archer of the world, and Ekalavya remained as the one who couldn’t be.