Ekalavya (English: ékalavya) means self learned person, is a character from the epic The Mahābhārata. He was a young prince of the Nishadha, a confederation of jungle tribes (Adivasi) in Ancient India. He was offered as the son to Vyatraj Hiranyadhanus by Sulekha and possessed powers given by Bhumi devi. As he was her son in previous life. Ekalavya aspired to study archery in the gurukul of Guru Drona.
Ekalavya is called as one of the foremost of kings in the Starbharata Yajna where he honours Yudhishthira with his shoes. Though he didn't have his right thumb, he was noted as a very powerful archer and warrior. He is said to be a great friend of Duryodhan. He brought Krishna's son to the court of Hastinapur when he kidnapped Duryodhan's daughter. He possessed the mighty bow Pashupath. He was blessed with the weapons of Shiva. Ekalavya is known to have defeated krishna in an archery combat.
In the Mahabharata, Ekalavya was the son of Hiranyadhanus, who was in Bhil Family King Jarasandha's army commander and leader of the Nishadhas. Ekalavya was hurt when he was rejected by Acharya Drona, Ekalavya still didn't give up on his resolute will to master archery. Drona sent him back from the Ashram after being called not able to learn archery. Ekalavya made a symbolic statue of Drona from the mud he walked upon and worshiped it as his guru. He began a disciplined program of self-study over many years.
One day when students were going out into the forest, Arjuna saw a dog that was unable to bark due to an amazing construction of arrows in and all around his mouth.the construction was in such a way that the dog could not bark and yet it was harmless to the animal. Drona was amazed, but also distressed,because he became aware that ekalavya has become a greater archer than Arjuna and his promise to make Arjuna the best cannot be fulfilled now. Drona asked, "Boy, who is your guru?" Eklavya replied, "You are my guru." and explained what he had done.
Eklavya respectfully asked,"Guru ji, what can I offer you?" And under the guise of this expression, Drona said, "Child, you have called me Guru, so now you have to give Guru Dakshina too." Drona asked for the right thumb of Ekalavya. Ekalavya was aware that if he offers his right thumb as Dakshina, he will not become a great archer. Hesitant at first, Eklavya asked Drona to repeat the command. Drona stoically repeated the command, following which, Ekalavya severed his thumb and offered it to Drona.
Later life and death
Later, Eklavya worked as an archer for King Jarasandha. When Jarasandha planned to besiege Mathura, he was aided by Eklavya who was a skillful archer. Eklavya also helped Jarasandha and Shishupala by chasing Rukmini when she eloped with Krishna. After the death of Jarasandha and Shishupala, Eklavya sought to avenge him by campaigning to destroy Kuntibhoja and every Yadava in Dwarka. During the attack, he was able to defeat Krishna but was eventually knocked out by Balarama and was forced to flee the battle along with a few other soldiers (who were later defeated by Karna) as all his major allies were killed off. According to some legends Eklavya survived his battle against the Yadavas and somehow reached the court of Duryodhan and was greeted by the prince. He is also said to have made Eklavya the king of all forests in Hastinapur. Eklavya became a close friend of the crown prince. He was killed by Krishna who broke his skull with a rock when he tried to kill his son Samba under the order of Duryodhan.
In Indonesian legend, in a former life Ekalavaya was king Phalgunadi, killed by Drona and reborn as Dhrishtadyumna to avenge the killing. In this version, Arjuna gets his name Phalguna from Phalgunadi. Ekalavya's famous and chaste wife Dewi Anggraini was always faithful to Phalgunadi, even after his death and despite Arjuna's proposals of marriage.
There is an Eklavya temple (Hindi: एकलव्य मंदिर) temple in honor of Mahabharata fame Eklavya in Khandsa village in Sector 37 of Gurgaon city in Haryana state of India. As per folklore, this is the only temple of Eklavya and it is the place where Eklavya cut his thumb and offered to guru Drona.
In honor of Eklavya, Government of India runs a Ekalavya Model Residential School (EMRS) model residential school scheme for Indian tribals. Ekalavya Award is awarded by Government of Karnataka for the outstanding performance in sports.
In popular culture
- "Eklovya Honouring Yudhishthira". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Eklovya—Foremost of the Kings of Rajasuya Yagna". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Eklavya—A Powerful Archer and Charioteer". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- A. D. Athawale. Vastav Darshan of Mahabharat. Continental Book Service, Pune, 1970
- Dowson, John (1820–1881). A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. London: Trübner, 1879 [Reprint, London: Routledge, 1979] Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India
- Locals want tourist circuit developed for the Guru - April 2016