March 20, 2004
Hartford, WI

Given in the Mahabharat, Drona, a poor Brahmin (and the son of Sage Bharadwaj), and Drupad, the wealthy prince of Panchal, became good friends while studying together in an aashram. Once, noticing the worried expression on Drona's face, Drupad discovered that his friend was concerned about how he would earn a living after leaving the aashram. Drupad immediately assured him that he had no need to worry since once Drupad was crowned king, he would give half of his kingdom to Drona.

The time in the aashram passed and both Drona and Drupad went their separate ways. In due time, Drona married Kripi (Kripacharya's sister) and the couple had a child whom they named Ashvathama. The family was so poor that they could not even afford to give real milk to their child. Kripi thus insisted that Drona go and see his old friend Drupad. If not half the kingdom, he should at least get a few cows from his friend. Drona finally agreed and set out to visit the king of Panchal. But when he reached the kingdom, seeing the way he was feebly dressed, the guards stopped him and relayed the message to King Drupad of a visitor who claimed to be an old friend. Drupad remembered his friend, but many years had passed and he had grown attached to the kingdom. Drupad thus insulted Drona with the message that only equals could be friends, and since Drona was obviously of a different class, they could not be friends. This hurt Drona very deeply.

Drona then came across the playing grounds of the princes of the Hastinapur court, the Pandav and Kaurav brothers. Drona saw that a ball had fallen into a well, and the brothers were unable to retrieve it. Using his prowess with weapons (as blessed by Parashuram), Drona flung a branch into the ball, and then strung more branches, one after the other, until the ball could be pulled out. Seeing this amazing display of skill, the princes requested him to become their guru and teach them martial arts. Drona agreed and he became the royal teacher of the Hastinapur princes.

Upon completion of their studies, as an expression of their gratitude, students give the master a gift, called guru-dakshinaa. For guru-dakshinaa, Dronacharya asked the students to capture Drupad's kingdom. After the Kaurav brothers were unsuccessful, Arjun (Dronacharya's favorite disciple) and the Pandavs captured Drupad and brought him to Dronacharya. Dronacharya reminded him of the promise they had made as friends, and returned half the kingdom to him! Drupad was humiliated and sought revenge. From a sacrifice, he later begot Draupadi (wife of the Five Pandavs) and Dhristadyumna, a son that was born to kill Dronacharya. The prophecy eventually came true during the Mahabharat war.



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