Friday, October 10, 2014

The Gurus of Hastinapur - Part 10

After the exhibition was over, Drona realized that the time had come to fulfill the reason why he had come to Hastinapur.... 
Dronacharya went to his students the next morning. ‘All of you are well-versed in the use of arms! I have kept up my promise! Now I ask you for my Guru dakshina!’
What do you wish for, Acharya?’ Duryodhana asked, above the hub-hub of the class.
Capture Drupada, the king of Panchala, and bring him to me!’ Drona said simply.
For a second, there was complete silence in the class. The Panchala kingdom was almost as powerful as the kingdom of Hastinapur and since the ferocious Drupada had taken over the reins of the kingdom, no one had even dared to wage a war against it. But then these were the tough princes of Hastinapur, who had recently mastered the use of arms. They obviously felt that they were infallible in battle.
Duryodhana looked at the Pandavas smugly and then turned to look at Dronacharya. ‘We can do it alone!’ he said turning away from there.
Dronacharya was about to say something when Arjuna nodded his head. ‘Fine Duryodhana! You can go in with your brothers! Me and my brothers would not join this battle!’
And so Duryodhana with Karna, Yuyutsu, Duhshasana, Vikarna, Jalasandha and the other Kuru princes laid siege over the Panchala kingdom, while Arjuna and the other Pandavas watched the battle without participating.
A fierce battle ensued between the young Hastinapur princes and wizened king of Panchala. Though Drupada was old, the man was swift, strong and a dangerous adversary.
For a very small time it looked like the Kuru princes would win the war. But then Drupada fought back and he fought back so ferociously that for a few seconds the entire Hastinapur army was in confusion. No matter which side the Hastinapur warriors turned, they saw Drupada fighting the soldiers of the Hastinapur. Drupada seemed to be everywhere and fighting ruthlessly. All the Hastinapur soldiers heard was the twang of Drupada's bow and then….a group of the Hastinapur soldiers would fall dead.
Angrily Duryodhana rallied his people together and attacked Drupada. But Drupada was still the better warrior. He effortlessly defeated Duryodhana and Vikarna in battle. Even the great Karna was no match for Drupada.
Veda Vyasa’s Mahabharatha makes a very unique observation during this battle. Usually the battles in the Mahabharatha were fought such that it was only the warriors who fought the battles. Almost no one else was hurt or injured during these battles. But in this one case, Veda Vyasa states that watching Drupada fight, even the citizens of Panchala, both young and old, joined the fight and rained missiles on the Kuru princes. It is said that this is what completely routed the Hastinapur army. 
The Kauravas ran from the battlefield completely defeated….
Watching the retreating flags of Hastinapur, Arjuna turned to his teacher and nodded. Arjuna obtained the blessings of his teacher and then turned to Yudishtara. ‘Do not join the fight! The four of us are sufficient for this battle!’
Yudhishtara looked surprised but then he almost never argued with his brother in these matters. 
And so it was just Arjuna with his three brothers who now charged into the kingdom of Panchala. Nakula and Sahadeva were given the job of protecting Arjuna’s chariot wheels. Bheema, of course was given a separate chariot and went ahead of Arjuna, his deadly mace in his hand.
Bheema, almost singlehandedly killed the entire elephant section of the Panchala army. With his mace, Bheema almost seemed like the God of Death killing any person or animal who had the misfortune to come before him. And as if the damage done by Bheema was not enough, Arjuna followed….He finished what Bheema had left and in no time the tables had turned and this time it was the Panchala army which was running in fear….

After routing the Hastinapur army and watching them run away, Drupada was almost returning to his palace with his general Satyajit, when the terrified cries of his soldiers reached the king.
Wondering who was leading the fresh assault, Drupada and Satyajit turned their chariots and charged towards the two chariots plodding through the kingdom.
Satyajit realizing that the attacker was a younger and fresh looking man decided to give his king some resting time. Satyajit attacked Arjuna first. The battle between Arjuna and Satyajit was fierce….It was a battle of experience against brilliance.
Almost immediately after the fight started, Satyajit realized that the archer before him was a league of his own. Satyajit had to use all his battle experiences just to contain Arjuna.

In the beginning Arjuna did not want to waste too much time with Satyajit, as he was here only for Drupada. Wanting to end the battle quickly, Arjuna broke Satyajit’s bow. But the veteran was prepared for it. Without wasting a breath, Satyajit picked up another bow and started fighting. 
Realizing that the man before him would not give up easily, Arjuna continued the battle right earnest. Arjuna and Satyajit were furiously exchanging arrows and many of Satyajit’s arrows pierced Arjuna but then this was Arjuna.....
Satyajit was bleeding profusely by the time Arjuna was through with him. Adding on top of it, Arjuna kept breaking Satyajit’s bows repeatedly. After some time Satyajit was unable to keep up with Arjuna and fell back…

Drupada watched, almost marveling at the flawless archery skill of the young man before him. But then it was his friend who was facing the archery of the young man and Drupada knew that if he did not interfere soon….Satyajit’s chances of survival were minimum…..Drupada came forward and Arjuna finally got down to the real battle.....
If the battle between Arjuna and Satyajit could be described as fierce, there was no word to describe the battle between Drupada and Arjuna. What Arjuna lacked in experience, he more than made up for it with his brilliant archery. As Drupada fought with the young man, he realized why his general had appeared to fumble so many times with this young man….No matter what Drupada did, Arjuna had an answer for it and had nimble and swift hands to execute exactly what he had planned.....
Losing steadily to the young man, Drupada realized that the man before him was an archer par excellence and that there was nothing that could be done against him....
And then the inevitable happened. Arjuna cut off Drupada’s bow. Before Drupada could react to it, in successive arrows, Arjuna broke Drupada's flagstaff, killed Drupada’s horses and finally also killed Drupada's charioteer.
The king of Panchala stood unprotected before the young Arjuna....
The entire Panchala army watched with horrid fascination as Arjuna pulled out his sword as he jumped out of the chariot. In one fluid moment Arjuna was before the king of Panchala and took the king captive.
A cheer ran up the Hastinapur army and the soldiers were now looking angrily at the Panchala soldiers wanting their revenge for the humiliating defeat they had suffered some time back. That was when Arjuna shouted. ‘We are here for Drupada! We have him! Drupada is a relative of ours! Do not destroy his kingdom! Let us go back now!’
Bheema and the other soldiers reluctantly agreed to Arjuna’s logic and they were out of the kingdom with their captive.
Drona heard the horses long before anyone else could. He came out of the tent slowly realizing that he was going to finally achieve what he had wanted for a very long time. When Drona had sent Arjuna against Drupada, Drona had not really doubted that there would be any other outcome for the battle....
Drona came out of the tent and sure enough saw Arjuna near a bound Drupada on the chariot. The chariot stopped as Arjuna brought forth the captive.

Drupada looked furiously at the man who had been his childhood friend….a friend with whom he had studied and spent a lot of time, generally enjoying all the joys of childhood. A friend, to whom in a childish moment, he had once promised to give half his kingdom….A friend whom he had not seen since the day Drona had come to him asking him to keep up his promise. A friend who was now looking at him with utter hatred 
Your kingdom is mine!’ Drona said arrogantly. ‘I am the ruler of a kingdom and you are my captive! And we are still not equals!’ Drona spat out. ‘But then there was a time when we were friends and there was a time I came asking you for something…..believing in that friendship! At that time you told me that we could not be friends!’ Drona smiled haughtily as Drupada said nothing.
Drona continued. ‘I will give you half of my kingdom! The kingdom of Panchala to the south of the river Bhagirathi is yours!’ Drupada watched with horrid fascination as Drona continued. ‘The kingdom on the north is mine! Now that we are equals, will you accept to be my friend, Drupada?’
Drupada was burning with shame and humiliation, but he wisely hid his anger and nodded his head. ‘I accept your friendship!’ Drupada mumbled.

And so it was done. Drona retained half the kingdom of Panchala. Drupada ruled the southern half of the kingdom. 
His burning hatred for Drona set him on an irrevocable path…one that ended up changing the destiny of the Pandavas and ultimately in the death of Drona….


  1. The story is getting very interesting!!!

  2. The death of drona is a very amusing story and it is very tempting to hear it from this author's words.