The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ekalavya: Even Vyasa was Unfair to Him

 Ekalavya: Even Vyasa was Unfair to Him
All of us know the episode of Ekalavya of the Mahabharat. We feel pity for the young and talented forest-dweller whose devotion to Drona, his master-in-absentia went unrequited, hate the way the great teacher of archery rendered the young man totally unfit for archery, doubt the talent of Arjuna the insecure hero of the epic etc, etc. I agree with all these observations. Plus, I’ve my own little observation too.

What’s that?

Look: Drona, after finding Ekalavya a greater archer than the one he had groomed in the shape of Arjuna, asked the fellow to tell him who his master was. Credulous simpleton as he was, Ekalavya said that he had achieved excellence in archery by the blessings of the idol of Drona whom he used to worship as his master ever since he was refused to be taught by him. Now Drona, standing before him in bone and flesh, demanded his fee (Guru dakshina, mentor's fee) and stated that the appropriate fee would be the right thumb of Ekalavya. Upon hearing this, Ekalavya chopped his right thumb off with his arrow and presented the same to Drona.

So, as the story goes, Ekalavya chopped his right thumb off, not with any knife but with his arrow. The probability is that he did not use the arrow in any other way than the way an expert archer would have thought appropriate. That was his dignity; an archer would not like to use his arrow as a sickle. A writer would not use his pen as a pair of tweezers for extracting a thorn from his foot! This means that Ekalavya had used bow and arrow with the help of his left hand and some other limb, say his leg (toe), to chop off his own right thumb. Having done that, he proved himself an expert archer not as a right-handed person alone but as an ambidextrous performer, one who had the ability to perform the archery with either of his hands and with the help of his legs (toes). This is my explanation. Don’t we find these days expert but differently-abled painters who paint with their legs?

If the above explanation sounds plausible, then ambidextrous Ekalavya remained the same expert archer even after the trickery of his notional teacher Drona deprived him of his right thumb. It is a fact that the epic does not say if Ekalavya died of bleeding. So he was very much alive even after this heart-rending episode. Vyasa abruptly left the character thereafter: he was left to fade out and die. Having been made a victim of exploitation, (and at least for the sake of compensation) he could have been given some celebrated role in the war of Mahabharat to prove himself, how he could outlive the trickery and jealousy. This can be treated as an unintentional omission. Maybe Vyasa had only this much to show how mean a fellow was Drona and how insecure was Arjun. Thereafter even Vyasa forgot Ekalavya. In a way, not only Drona and Arjuna were guilty of dealing with Ekalavya unfairly but also Vyasa, the creator of the character did not bother to highlight the talent of that forest-dweller when the fellow had all the qualification for it!
A. N. Nanda