Seeing Arjuna's devotion, Dronacharya taught Arjuna to fight on ground, on horse back and when he was in a chariot. Word spread around about Arjuna's amazing fighting skills.
Princes from all over the country flocked to learn from the now famous teacher.
The news of the famous teacher also reached the kingdom of the Nishadas. The prince of the Nishadas, the son of Hiranyadhanus, heard about Droancharya. The more he heard about the teacher, the more the prince yearned for the knowledge that the teacher had.
Dronacharya had taught Arjuna everything because of the passion that Arjuna has in archery. If I present myself before the great teacher, I am sure he would also see the passion I have and teach me all the skills...The prince thought naively. And so not considering the fact that the Nishadas were generally looked down upon, the prince went to Hastinapur.
There the prince approached Dronacharya's hermitage and the first thing which struck him was the vast training arena and the princes of varying ages practicing arms of all kinds. The prince saw it but then the one thing which always drew his attention was invariably the twang of the bow. The prince saw a boy his own age firing arrows one after the other. The speed with which the boy fired the arrows caught the prince's imagination. He knew that he had to learn it. He came forward when he saw a dark, stern looking man watching the boys practicing. The prince's eyes widened as he realized that he was the very man whom he had traveled so long to see.
The prince found himself being dragged before the teacher. 'Acharya!' He said bowing before the great man.
Drona turned and saw a strange boy with matted hair standing and looking at him eagerly. Drona looked at the young boy almost with contempt. 'What do you want?'
The prince again looked at the young boy with the bow and arrow and turned to Drona. 'I wish to learn archery from you,sir!'
Drona looked at the young boy as if he had lost his senses. 'Who do you think you are? I am Dronacharya! I am the royal teacher of Hastinapur! I do not go about teaching urchins from the street...'
The prince was suddenly shocked on hearing the words of the teacher. He had come here with so much hope. 'No Acharya! You do not understand! I am...I am Ekalavya! I am the son of King Hiranyadhanus, the king of the Nishadas! Please accept me also as your pupil! Please!' The boy said almost pleading with Drona.
Drona studied the eyes of the boy before him. There was the same fire in those eyes that he had seen in Arjuna. And Drona studied the boy's physique and realized that there was every chance that the boy could outdo all his students....Drona looked at the boy and shook his head. 'I am afraid, I cannot teach you! You are a Nishada! I am a teacher of all the princes of Hastinapur! I cannot teach you!' Drona repeated.
Drona saw the face of Ekalavya wilt before him. Ekalavya opened and closed his mouth once or twice. But then he seemed to realize that no matter what he said Drona would not change his mind.
Sadly Ekalavya did the only thing he could do. He fell at the feet of Drona. 'If you would not give me your knowledge, atleast give me your blessings, sir!'
Drona looked at the boy as he blessed the prince. The prince looked at the teacher for one last time and walked away from there without a backward glance....