Guru Dronacharya

Born: 9000 BC
Dronacharya
Early Life:

Drona was the son of a Brahmin named Bhardwaj. He was Born in Dehradun. Those days it was customary for the sons of Brahmins to make a detailed study of the Vedas. Living in his father`s ashRama, Drona completed his study not only of the Vedas but of several other holy books as well. When this was done, he turned his attention to the practice of archery. So hard did he work at it that in time he became a legendary archer.

Friendship With Drupad:
Dronacharya and Drupad
There were several other students living at the ashrama of Bhardwaj. They had come from far and near to study the different branches of learning. One of these students was Drupad, son of the king of Panchal. Drupad and Drona became the best of friends. They spent all their waking hours together, cleaning the hermitage, fetching wood and water, attending to the needs of their guru and studying the Vedas. At night they slept side by side and talked of the future that lay before them.

Drona was the son of a poor Brahmin. He did not expect to inherit any wealth from his father, But Drupad was the son of a king and in time the throne would come to him. Drupad was impulsive by nature. In a burst of generosity he would often make tall promises to Drona to the extent of giving away half his kingdom to his friend. The years at the ashrama were soon over and the two boys drifted apart. Drona grew to manhood and married a sister of another learned Brahmin, Kripa. A son was born to them and they named him Ashwatthama.
Dronacharya with his wife
After he had married and got a child, a change came over Drona. All these years he had never cared for wealth. He was content with the simplest clothes and the simplest living. But he loved his wife and son so dearly that he wished to provide them with the best of everything. Naturally, the best could not be had without money, so Drona began to crave for wealth. All his efforts came to be bent towards acquiring wealth. But it was not so easy. A few years rolled by, with Drona still leading the life of a very learned but poor man. But he employed his time usefully by learning the art of warfare from experts. In time Drona became an acknowledged master of the military arts.

Enmity With Drupad:
Meanwhile Drupad had ascended the throne of Panchal, following the death of his father. Drona thought of the wonderful times he and his friend Drupad had as boys in the ashrama of Bharadwaj. He thought of shared lessons and laughter, their rambles through the forest and the stories they had told one another. Most of all Drona remembered Drupad`s promise of sharing his good fortune, even to the extent of giving away half his kingdom to Drona.

Drona went to the court of Drupad. He was sure of receiving a warm welcome from his old friend. But he realized with a shock that Drupad the king was very different from Drupad the student. When Drona introduced himself as an old friend, Drupad`s eyes blazed with anger. He accused Drona for he had dared to consider a king as his friend.
Thus Drona was turned out of the palace and the humiliation was more than he could bear. Anger raged in his heart like a fire that would not be put out. Then and there Drona vowed to punish the king for his arrogance and for treating so casually a sacred thing like friendship.

The Ball And Ring Incident:
Drona with Pandavas
There was nothing to do but look for employment elsewhere. And Drona did just that. He made his way to Hastinapur, the capital of the Kuru dynasty. But by then he was weary of wandering from one place to another. At Hastinapur he spent a few quiet days in the house of his brother-in-law Kripa, who had become the teacher of the Kauravas and Pandavas and was known as Kripacharya, the teacher.

One day Drona went to the outskirts of the city on some business. There he saw some of the Kaurava and Pandava princes playing with a ball. Drona stopped to watch the fun. In the course of the game the ball rolled towards a well. As Yudhishthir leapt forward to grab the ball, a ring slipped from his finger and followed the ball into the well. The princes crowded around the well. They could see the ring clearly, shining at the bottom, but had no means of taking it out. Neither could they retrieve the ball. Their faces fell as they looked around them, not knowing what to do.

Drona noticed the disappointment on the faces of the princes and walked up to them with a smile and offered help to retrieve the ball. Drona plucked a blade of grass. Holding it before him he uttered a certain mantra and sent it flying into the well. The blade of grass sped forward with all the force of an arrow and lodged itself in the ball. Drona sent many more blades of grass in quick succession. They clung together to form a chain. Drona had only to pull at the chain to take out the ball.

The princes were amazed. With a few blades of grass the ball was retrieved. They begged of him to take out the ring as well. Drona borrowed a bow, fixed an arrow to the string and sent it straight into the ring. The arrow curved back in its flight and brought the ring with it. With a smile Drona handed the ring back to Yudhishthir. By now the princes were speechless. They bowed to Drona respectfully and inquired about his identity.

Became Teacher Of Pandava's And Kaurava's:
Dronacharya training Kauravas and Pandavas
After this incident the princes lost no time running to Bhishma. When they gave a detailed description of the remarkable feats performed by the brahmin, Bhishma knew that it could be none other than the master Drona. Bhishma had been on the lookout for a teacher to instruct the Kaurava and Pandava princes in the use of arms. His choice now fell on Drona. Bhishma sent for Drona, received him with great honour and employed him as instructor to the princes. Drona`s hard days were over. He began to live in comfort. He moved in the company of royalty and was honored for his skill with weapons. Most important of all, he was able to provide his wife and son with luxuries and this gave him great satisfaction.

Love For His Student Arjuna:
Dronacharya and Ekalavya
Dronacharya loved Arjuna very much and had declared him to be the best archer on the Earth. His love for Arjuna can be seen in Ekalavya and Drona's story in which he asked Ekalavya for his right hand thumb as Guru Dakshina(fees for teaching) to remove Eklavya as a competitor to Arjuna.

Revenge From Drupad:
Drona had not forgotten the insult heaped upon him by Drupad. Drona was only biding his time and waiting for an opportunity to take revenge.

The opportunity came when the Kaurava and Pandava princes had acquired master in the use of arms. It was time for them to render some service to the master in return for the instruction they had received.
This was the custom and was known as guru dakshina. As a service to him, Drona sent Duryodhan and Kama to Panchal to capture Drupad and bring him a prisoner to Hastinapur. Kama and Duryodhan went willingly enough. They were brave men and they tried their best. But Drupad proved more than a match for them and they came back disappointed.

Drona next chose Arjun, the Pandava prince, for the difficult task. Arjun defeated Drupad in battle and brought him before Drona, bound in chains.

Drona greeted his royal prisoner with a smile. In order to take his revenge he kept one half of the land to himself and gave away the other half of the captured land to back to Drupad. He added that both of them were at par then and could be friends.

With these words Drona set Drupad at liberty, returned his entire kingdom and treated him as an honored guest. But, sad to say, their friendship could not be revived. Two things had destroyed it-first Drupad`s arrogance and later, Drona`s desire for revenge. Drona and Drupad had both been humbled and neither could forget the blow to his pride. In this way two close friends were turned into sworn enemies and remained that way till the end.

Role In Mahabharata:
After the fall of Bhisma, he became the Chief Commander of the Kuru Army for 5 days of the war. Droṇacharya was one of the most powerful and destructive warriors in the Kurukṣetra. He was an invincible warrior, whom no person on earth could defeat. He single-handedly slayed hundreds of thousands of Pandava soldiers, with his powerful armory of weapons and incredible skill.

Abhimanyu's Killing:
Abhimanyu Firing
On the 13th day of battle, the Kauravas challenged the Paṇḍavas to break a wheel shaped battle formation known as the Chakravyuh. Droṇacharya as commander formed this strategy, knowing that only Arjuna and Sri Krishna would know how to penetrate it. He asked the King of the Samsaptaka army to distract Arjuna and Sri krishna into another part of the battlefield, allowing the main Kuru army to surge through the Pāṇḍava ranks.
Broken Chariot
Arjuna's young son Abhimanyu had the knowledge to penetrate the formation but didn't know the way out. At the request of Yudhishtra, Abhimanyu agreed to lead the way for the Pāṇḍava army and was able to penetrate the formation. However, he was trapped when Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu, held the Pandava warriors that were following him, at bay.
Abhimanyu fighting from ground
Abhimanyu did not know how to get out of the Chakra Vyuham, but embarked upon an all-out attack on the Kuru army, killing tens of thousands of warriors single-handedly. He even held Karna and Droṇscharya himself at bay. Amazed at his prowess and courage, he was considered by the Kurus to be his father's equal in greatness.
Abhimanyu protecting himself with chariot wheel
With his army facing decimation, Droṇa asked Karna, Dushasan and others to simultaneously attack Abhimanyu, to strike down his horses and his charioteer and to disable his chariot from different angles. Left without support, Abhimanyu began fighting from the ground, whereupon all the Kuru warriors simultaneously attacked him. Exhausted after his long, prodigious feats, Abhimanyu was weakened, and grabbing one of the wheels of his chariot, blocked all the attacks, but eventually was killed by the simultaneous attack by seven kaurava warriors.
All this was an extreme violation of the rules of war, whereby a lone warrior may not be attacked by more than one, and not at all if he is disabled or without chariot. This devious murder of his son enraged Arjuna, who swore to kill Jayadratha, whom he saw as responsible for his son's death. If he failed to do so the next day, he would step into fire and commit suicide.

Dronacharya lined up the entire Kuru army, with an entire akṣauhiṇi (approximately 218700 soldiers) in front of Arjuna, to thwart his mission. But Arjuna exhibited his great prowess, and before the end of the day slayed more than two hundred thousand warriors single-handedly. With the help of Krishna, he slew Jayadratha right before sunset.

On the whole, Arjuna devastated a large portion of the Kuru army dramatically in just one day of fighting.

Death:
Dronacharya leaving his body
Sri Krishna knew that it was not possible to defeat Dronacharya when he had bow and arrow in his hands. Sri Krishna also knew that Dronacharya loved his son Asvatthama very dearly. So, Sri Krishna suggested to Yudhiṣṭhira and other Pandava brothers that, if he were convinced that his son was killed on the battlefield, then Dronacharya would get dejected to such an extent that he would lay down all his arms on the ground and it would be easier to kill him.

In order to find a way out, Sri Krishna suggested Bhima to kill an elephant by name Asvatthama and claim to Dronacharya that he has killed Droṇa's son Asvatthama. Following this plan, Bhima located and killed an elephant named Ashvatthama, i.e. the same name as Droṇa's son. He then loudly proclaimed that he had slain Asvatthama, so as to make Dronacharya think that his son was dead.
Dhṛṣṭadyumna killing Dronacharya
Dronacharya however, did not believe Bhima's words and approached Yudhisthira. Droṇa knew of Yudhiṣṭhira's firm adherence to Dharma and that he would never ever utter a lie. When Dronacharya approached Yudhiṣṭhira and questioned him as to whether his son was truly slain in the battle by Bhīma, Yudhiṣṭhira responded with the cryptic Sanskrit phrase "Asvatthama hathaḥ iti, narova kuṃjarova...." (Sanskrit: "अश्वत्थामा हतः इति, नरोवा कुंजरोवा..." meaning 'Asvatthama is dead. But, I am not certain whether it was a human or an elephant).
Sri Krishna also knew that it was not possible for Yudhiṣṭhira to lie outright. On his instructions, the other warriors blew trumpets and conchs, raising a tumultuous noise in such a way that Dronacharya only heard that "Asvatthama is dead", but could not hear the latter part of Yudhiṣṭhira's reply.

Droṇacharya knew that if Asvatthama was dead, then his soul must have gone to heaven. So, out of grief, and believing his son to be dead, Dronacharya descended from his chariot, laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Closing his eyes, his soul went to Heaven in search of Asvatthama soul.

In the meantime, Drupada's son Dhṛṣṭadyumna took this opportunity and beheaded the unarmed Dronacharya who was not aware of the whole proceedings on Earth. This was considered an act of cowardice on Dhṛṣṭadyumna's part.
Dronacharya's soul, which went to Heaven could not find Asvatthama's soul there and so returned to Earth in order to find the truth about Asvatthama's death. But it could not get back into its body as Droṇa's head was separated from his body.

In this way, Droṇa was killed in the Mahabharata War. His death greatly aggrieved and enraged Arjuna, who had immense affection towards his teacher, and had hoped to capture him alive rather than killing him.

Dronacharya Award:
Dronacharya Award
The Government of India annually awards the Dronacharya Award for excellence in sports tutelage to the best sports teachers and coaches in India"

 

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