Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Drona included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Droṇa

The teacher in archery of the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas.


Droṇa was the son of Bharadvāja who had his hermitage erected on the bank of the Ganges. Once Bharadvāja went to bathe in the river. When he got into the river he saw the celestial maid Ghṛtācī. The celestial maid ran away as soon as she saw the hermit. But her cloth was caught in grass and slipped off her body. When the hermit saw the complete form of her body which was bright and beautiful, he had seminal discharge. The discharged semen was kept in a Droṇa (trough). A child was born from that and he was named Droṇa, who was brought up in the hermitage. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 13).

Education and Marriage.

Droṇa learned the art of using weapons from his father and the hermit Agniveśa. Drupada the prince of Pāñcāla was the fellow student of Droṇa. They became great friends. On completion of education Drupada returned to Pāñcāla. Droṇa married Kṛpī the daughter of Śaradvān. A son was born to them. At his birth the child neighed like the horse Uccaiḥśravas; so his parents named him Aśvatthāmā. Hearing that Paras urāma was giving Brāhmaṇas free gift of wealth and property, Droṇa reached there. Droṇa’s desire was to get Dhanurveda (the art of archery). Droṇa with his disciples went to Mahendragiri and saw Paraśurāma, who was about to enter forest giving away everything he had. Paraśurāma said, "I have given away to the Brāhmaṇas gold and everything I had. The land I had conquered is given to Kaśyapa. Now there remains only my body and some weapons. You can have one of them."

Droṇa preferred the weapons. Thus Droṇa got the entire armoury of Paraśurāma. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 13).

He became the teacher of the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas.

After receiving dhanurveda from Paraśurāma Droṇa went to Pāñcāla. Drupada who had been a fellow student of Droṇa was the King of Uttarapañcāla. then. Though Droṇa had become proficient in archery, he was very poor.

He had no money even to buy milk for his child. Once the playmates of Aśvatthāmā made him drink a mixture of water and flour saying that it was milk. So Droṇa approached Drupada for financial help. But Drupada shunned his fellow student, scolded him and sent him away without giving any help. Droṇa vowed that he would, somehow or other, take revenge upon Drupada and departed from Pāñcāla.

The aim of Droṇa was to get some capable disciples. He reached Hastināpura and stayed in disguise with Gautama for a while. Once the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas who were boys were engaged in the game of Kāra (a kind of cricket play) outside the palace premises. The ball fell in a well by chance. The princess stood round the well and began to ponder how to get the 'ball' out of the well. They tried all means but in vain. At that time a Brāhmaṇa of dark complexion, short and aged, came by that way. It was Droṇa. The boys gathered round the old man. Droṇa threw his ring also into the* well and said: "Your kingly qualities are very poor. Your education in using weapons is not complete. If you give me a meal I will get both the ring and the ball together" The boys agreed to the conditions. Droṇa took a grass and evoked arrow into it by mantra (spell) and shot it at the 'Kāra'. The next grass was shot at the first grass. It struck the first grass. Thus he shot grasses one after another till the grass reached the brink of the well and by pulling the grass he took the ball out. In the same way he took the ring also out of the well. When they got the 'Kāra' the boys stood round Droṇa and asked him what he would like as the reward for his deed. Droṇa said that they need only tell Bhīṣma how a short man of dark complexion took the ball out of the well. Accordingly the boys went to Bhīṣma and told him everything. Immediately Bhīṣma understood that it was Droṇa. Bhīṣma thought that Droṇa was the best person to teach the princes. So Droṇa was brought to the palace and was engaged as the teacher in archery. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapters 130 and 131).

Education in Archery of the Kauravas and reward.

(a) First vow. Droṇa asked the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas to sit together and then told them. "There is one thing that you should do for me when your education is over". Hearing this they all kept silent. But Arjuna came forward and took the vow that he would achieve that task according to the wish of the teacher.

(b) The disciple who is second to none.

The training in weapons commenced. Hearing of the fame of Droṇa, disciples came from places far and near. Arjuna was the first of all the students. Sending all the students to fetch water Droṇa taught his son Aśvatthāmā certain special lessons. Arjuna secretly knew this. So he brought water as quickly as possible before the others. As Droṇa loved his brilliant student Arjuna, he taught both his son and Arjuna alike the secrets. Seeing the brilliance of Arjuna Droṇa ordered the cook not to seat Arjuna in a dark place for meals. Yet it happened once that the light was extinguished by wind while the princes were having their meals. All sat still, without eating, while Arjuna alone ate his food. From this Arjuna discovered that without seeing the object one could hit the target by constant practice. Droṇa was greatly pleased at this and embracing him promised to try to make him such an expert that there would be none equal to him in archery.

(c) Ekalavya.

Once Arjuna and the other disciples went to the forest for a hunt and there they met Ekalavya who was superior to Arjuna in archery. This Ekalavya had once approached Droṇa to learn archery from him. But it was against the rule for a Brahmin to teach a forester the art of fighting. So Ekalavya returned to the forest and making an earthen image of Droṇa worshipped it and began self-learning in archery. Now he had become superior to Arjuna in archery. The teacher had said that none would be equal to Arjuna in archery. Arjuna told Droṇa about Ekalavya. The teacher went to the forest and got the thumb of Ekalavya as the reward due to the teacher. Since then Ekalavya became a great archer though only of a lower level than Arjuna (See under Ekalavya).

d) Expert disciple.

The education in archery and the use of weapons was nearing completion. In archery Arjuna was second to none. Duryodhana and Bhīma became expert club-men. Aśvatthāmā was the first in the secrets of archery. Nakula and Sahadeva became expert swordsmen. Arjuna was expert in all branches of weapon-training. Bhīma had bodily strength and Arjuna had the strength of learning. Yudhiṣṭhira was the foremost in chariot-fighting.

e) Artificial bird. Once Droṇa placed an artificial bird on the branch of a tree without the knowledge of the princes, to test their practice in archery. Then he placed his disciples with their bows, around the tree, and told them to shoot the bird down at his command. Droṇa first called Dharmaputra and told him to look at the bird. Then he asked him what he saw. Dharmaputra said that he saw the bird, the tree, the teacher and the students. He tested one by one. All gave the same reply, that Dharmaputra gave. At last he asked Arjuna. Arjuna stood for a while, taking aim and said that he saw a bird only. The teacher commanded to shoot and Arjuna sent an arrow. At the first shot the bird fell down headless. With this test Droṇa understood that Arjuna could defeat Drupada and embraced his disciple.

(f) Droṇa caught by a crocodile.

Once Droṇa and his disciples went to bathe in the Ganges. While they were dipping and splashing in the water a crocodile caught Droṇa by the leg. Droṇa was unable to extricate himself from the grip of the crocodile. So he asked his disciples to shoot the crocodile and kill it. All stood agape. Arjuna at once took bow and arrows and sent five arrows one after another at the crocodile, which died instantly and came afloat. The teacher, who was much pleased, got out of the water and embraced Arjuna and taught him 'Brahma Śirāstra', a divine weapon. After imparting this knowledge Droṇa told Arjuna not to operate this weapon on man. But if an enemy superior to man attacked him, then only, he should send this missile at him to kill him.

Giving due respect to the advice of the teacher, Arjuna received the Brahmaśirāstra. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 133).

g) Demonstration by the pupils. When the training of the princes terminated, Dhṛtarāṣṭra accorded sanction to hold a demonstration of weapon-play, by the princes. An arena was got ready. Droṇa entered the arena. As a preliminary rite Droṇa worshipped the gods. Then he invited Brāhmaṇas to bless his pupils. After that the pupils gave the teacher, gold, precious stones, cloths, and other costly things. The princes paid homage to to their teacher. The teacher gave his blessings to them. With this the demonstration commenced. Clubbing between Duryodhana and Bhīma was a terrible one. But the mock fighting changed to a serious fight. Droṇa sent Aśvatthāmā who separated them. The audience applauded their performance. The performance of Arjuna was of the most superior type and the audience and the teacher were struck with wonder at his extraordinary capability. Karṇa also showed his performance. (For details see under Arjuna, Para 1 and Karṇa, Para 4). (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapters 133 and 134).

Revenge upon Drupada.

When demonstration came to an end it was the time for giving the teacher the gift due to him. The teacher had, at the beginning, told his pupils that on completion of the training they should give him a gift. Accordingly he demanded that Drupada, the King of Pāñcāla, should be brought before him with his hands tied. As soon as Duryodhana and Karṇa heard this they rapidly marched to Pāñcāla and engaged Drupada in a fight but were defeated by Drupada. After that Arjuna entered the battle-field, defeated and tied Drupada and brought him before Droṇa who was kind enough not to kill Drupada. The Kingdom of Pāñcāla was divided into two. Drupada was given Uttara-Pāñcāla and Droṇa took Dakṣiṇa Pāñcāla. Then Drupada was released. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 137).

Arjuna is accorded sanction to fight with his teacher.

One year after the revenge on Drupada Yudhiṣṭhira was anointed as heir-apparent, by Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Once, in the council of the king, Droṇa called Arjuna to him and said: "Oh, Arjuna! you must take an oath to do a particular thing in the presence of your relatives. If it happens that I oppose you in battle you should fight against me without thinking that I am your teacher. This oath is your gift to your teacher." Arjuna agreed and took the oath in the presence of the people. Because there was such an oath Arjuna’s conscience did not prick him when he had to fight against his teacher Droṇa in the battle of Bhārata between the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 139).

Part played by Droṇa up to the battle of Bhārata.

(1) Duryodhana and his party came to know only at the time of the svayaṃvara (marriage) of Pāñcālī that the Pāṇḍavas were not killed in the lac house burning. When Arjuna won the test and got Pāñcālī, the Kauravas became furious and began to plot against the Pāṇḍavas. At that time Droṇa came to the council-hall of the Kauravas and said that the Kauravas should go to Pāñcāla and greet the Pāṇḍavas, bring them back and give them half of the kingdom. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 203).

(2) Droṇa was present at the sacrifice of Rājasūya (imperial consecration) performed by Yudhiṣṭhira. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 34, Stanza 8).

(3) When the game of dice was going on between Śakuni and Yudhiṣṭhira Droṇa came with Dhṛtarāṣṭra to the place to witness the game. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 60, Stanza 2).

(4) Droṇa declared that the game of dice between Śakuni and Yudhiṣṭhira was not fair (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 9, Stanza 2).

(5) Droṇa was well-versed in archery. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 37, Stanza 4).

(6) While the Pāṇḍavas were living in the country of Virāṭa, Arjuna in the guise of Bṛhannala, fought with the Kauravas. Droṇa was the first to recognize Bṛhannala as Arjuna at the sound of his conch. (Mahābhārata Virāṭa Parva, Chapter 46, Stanza 24).

(7) In that fight Droṇa fought with Arjuna whose arrows wounded Droṇa and he ran away from the battlefield. (Mahābhārata Virāṭa Parva, Chapter 58).

(8) When Śrī Kṛṣṇa came to the council-hall of the Kauravas to plead for a treaty on behalf of the Pāṇḍavas who had returned after forest life and pseudonymity, Droṇa took the side of the Pāṇḍavas and argued with Duryodhana. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 126).

(9) Droṇa advised Dhṛtarāṣṭra to see that a battle between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas was avoided. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, two Chapters from 138).

(10) When it was almost decided that the battle was inevitable Droṇa boasted to Duryodhana that he would annihilate the army of the Pāṇḍavas within a month. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 193, Stanza 18).

Why Droṇa whose leaning was towards the Pāṇḍavas, ṭook the side of the Kauravas in the battle of Bhārata.

At heart Droṇa was on the side of the Pāṇḍavas. But he fought against them, taking the side of the Kauravas. Even at that time he ardently wished the Pāṇḍavas to win the battle. What is the reason for it? An answer to this question is found in Mahābhārata, Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 43.

The battle was about to begin. Dharmaputra went to Droṇa and bowed before him and requested to bless him so that he might win the battle against the Kauravas. Droṇa said, "It is good on your part to have come and seen me before the battle is begun. If you had not seen me I would have cursed you to lose the battle. But today I am honoured since you have come. You fight the battle. Victory is yours. But I have to stand with the Kauravas, and there is a reason for it. Man is a slave of money and money is not the slave of Man. The Kauravas have tied me with money. Śrī Kṛṣṇa will be on the side of the righteous. Where Śrī Kṛṣṇa is, there will be victory. But so long as I fight it is difficult for you to win. So try to kill me at the beginning of the battle. You need not feel sorry for killing your teacher. Because when I shower arrows and fight vehemently I won't look to see which enemy has struck me down. Enemies could kill me only when I am lying on darbha grass leaving fighting in disappointment. I will put down my weapons in battle only when I hear words which I dislike to hear."

After having revealed these secrets of his own he sent Yudhiṣṭhira back. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 43).

Droṇa in the battle of Bhārata.

(1) On the first day of the battle Droṇa fought in a combat with Dhṛṣṭadyumna, who was defeated. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 77, Stanza 69).

(2) Droṇa killed Śaṅkha the son of King Virāṭa. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 82, Stanza 23).

(3) Droṇa became unconscious by the clubbing of Bhīmasena. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 94, Stanza 19)

(4) Droṇa fought with Arjuna. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 102, Stanza 6).

(5) Droṇa defeated Drupada. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 104, Stanza 24).

(6) There was a fight between Droṇa and Yudhiṣṭhira (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 110, Stanza 17).

(7) Droṇa combated with Dhṛṣṭadyumna. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 116, Stanza 45).

(8) He became the commander-in-general after the fall of Bhīṣma. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 7, Stanza 5).

(9) He gave Duryodhana a boon to catch Yudhiṣṭhira alive. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 12, Stanza 20).

(10) He killed Yugandhara (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 16, Stanza 31).

(11) Vyāghradatta and Siṃhasena were killed by Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter, 16, Stanza 37).

(12) In the fight which followed Arjuna and his army were driven back by Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 16, Stanza 50).

(13) Droṇa advised Duryodhana to try to get Arjuna away from the battlefield. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 17, Stanza 3).

(14) He killed Baka. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 21, Stanza 16).

(15) He killed Sātyaki. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 21, Stanza 21).

(16) He killed Śatānīka. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 21 Stanza 28).

(17) Dṛḍhasena was killed by Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 21, Stanza 52).

(18) Droṇa killed Kṣema. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 21, Stanza 53).

(19) He killed Vasudāna and Kṣatradeva. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 21, Stanzas 55, 56).

(20) He fought again with Dhṛṣṭadyumna. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 31, Stanza 8).

(21) He annihilated the army of the Pāṇḍavas. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 32, Stanza 42).

(22) He made a Cakravyūha. (Strategical formation of the army in the shape of a wheel). (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 34, Stanza 13).

(23) He broke the sword of Abhimanyu (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 48, Stanza 37).

(24) By forming cakraśakaṭavyūha he saved Jayadratha. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 87, Stanza 22).

(25) He fought with Arjuna again. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 91, Stanza 11).

(26) He put the divine armour on Duryodhana. (M.B, Droṇa Parva, Chapter 94, Stanza 39).

(27) A fierce fight ensued between Droṇa and Dhṛṣṭadyumna. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapters 95 to 97).

(28) He wounded Sātyaki. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 11).

(29) Sātyaki defeated Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 117, Stanza 30).

(30) Droṇa scolded Duśśāsana who ran away defeated by Sātyaki. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 122).

(31) He killed Vīraketu. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 122, Stanza 41).

(32) He killed Citraketu, Sudhanvā, Citravarmā and Citraratha. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 122, stanza 43).

(33) He fell unconscious, hit by Dhṛṣṭadyumna. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 122, Stanza 56).

(34) He defeated Dhṛṣṭadyumna. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 122, Stanza 71).

(35) He killed Bṛhatkṣatra. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 125, Stanza 22).

(36) He killed Dhṛṣṭaketu for his son. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 125, Stanza 39).

(37) Sahadeva, the son of Jarāsandha, was killed by Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 125, Stanza 45).

(38) He killed Kṣatradharmā the son of Dhṛṣṭadyumna. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 125, Stanza 66).

(39) Bhīmasena defeated Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 127, Stanza 53).

(40) Bhīmasena threw away the chariot with Droṇa in it eight times. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 128, Stanza 13).**

(41) Droṇa killed the King of Hehaya, all the sons of Dhṛṣṭadyumna, and the King Śibi. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 155, Stanza 14).

(42) He became unconscious in the fight with Yudhiṣṭhira. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 162, Stanza 49).

(43) He killed Drupada and Virāṭa, the grandsons of Drupada. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 186, Stanza 33).

(44) Hearing that Aśvatthāmā had been killed he was filled with grief. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 190, Stanza 57).

(45) After that throwing away the weapons, he immersed in a deep meditation and attained harmony with the Supreme Being and his spirit entered the realm of Brahmā. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 192, Stanza 43).

(46) Thus by the power of meditation his spirit went to heaven and the body without spirit sat motionless in meditation. Dhṛṣṭadyumna cut off his head and thus killed Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 193, Stanza 62).

Other details.

(1) Vyāsa evoked the spirits of those who died in the battle of Bhārata to the surface of the Ganges. The spirit of Droṇa was one of them. (Mahābhārata Āśramavāsika Parva, Chapter 32, Stanza 7).

(2) Offerings were given to the manes for Droṇa. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 296, Stanza 15).

(3) Droṇa attained heaven after his death, and was absorbed in Bṛhaspati (Mahābhārata Svargārohaṇa Parva, Chapter 4, Stanza 21).

(4) He was the man who took birth through Bharadvāja from a portion of Bṛhaspati. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 67, Stanza 69).

(5) Ācārya (teacher), Ācārya-mukhya (chief teacher) Bhāradvāja, Bharadvājasuta, Bharadvājātmaja, Bharatācārya, Śoṇāśva, Śoṇāśvavāha, Śoṇahaya, Guru and Rukmaratha are used as synonyms of Droṇa by Vyāsa in Mahābhārata.

*) To take revenge on Drupada was the thought that was uppermost in the mind of Droṇa.

**) "Man is slave to wealth, wealth is slave to none. This is true oh King. The Kauravas have bound me with wealth. I am telling you this without shame. You only require battle. I will fight for the Kauravas and wish for your victory,"

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: