Wednesday, June 15, 2016

23. Drona and Parasurama

As the princes were growing up, Bhishma wanted them to be trained in the art of warfare and in the use of arms. Looking out for the most outstanding teacher, Bhishma  chose Drona, the son of Saint Bharadwaja as the tutor for the Pandavas and the Kauravas.  Pleased with the reception given to him by Bhishma when he visited the palace on invitation, Drona accepted the assignment. He taught the princes all aspects relating to the use of arms. Both the Kauravas and the Pandavas became proficient in the use of all kinds of arms.

Prompted by Janamejaya, Sage Vysampayana  narrated the story of Dtona in detail.

Sage Bharadwaja was living at the source of the river Ganga, observing rigid vows. Once when he went to the river to perform his ablutions, he met Ghritachi, a celestial woman known as an Apsara. Seeing the beautiful woman emerging from the river after taking her bath, the sage was consumed with a burning desire. On seeing her clothes coming off her body, his vital fluid came out. The sage held it in a vessel called Drona. Eventually, Drona, the child, sprang out of the fluid preserved by the sage.  The child thus born studied the Vedas and other scriptures.  Bharadwaja taught his knowledge of arms to his illustrious disciple Agnivesa, who was born from fire. Agnivesa, in turn, taught the Science of Weapons to Drona.

King Prishata, a great friend of Bharadwaja had a son by name  Drupada.  Drupada, came to the hermitage of Bharadwaja to study under the sage. He was studying in the company of Drona and was also playing with him. When Prishata was dead, Drupada became the king of the northern Panchalas. At about this time, Bharadwaja also ascended to heaven.

Drona continued to reside in his father's hermitage, devoting himself to as ascetic way of life. As per the wishes expressed by his father before his death, Drona married Kripi, the daughter of Saradwat. A son was born to them. When he came into this world, the child neighed like the celestial horse Ucchaihsravas. Hearing that cry, a voice from the sky ordained that the child be named  Aswatthaman, meaning ‘the horse-voiced’. Drona, exhilarated by the birth of a son, continued to reside in that hermitage, devoting  himself to the study of the science of arms.

Drona came to know that the illustrious brahmin Parasurama, son of Jamadagnya, the foremost among all wielders of weapons, had expressed a desire to give away all his wealth to brahmins. Having heard of Parasurama's knowledge of arms and of his celestial weapons he possessed, Drona set his heart on getting them as well as  the knowledge of ethics and morals that Parasurama possessed.  

Drona, accompanied by his disciples set out for the Mahendra mountains, where he met Parasurama. After prostrating before Parasurama and  introducing himself  as  one born in the lineage of  Angiras,  Drona said, “I have sprung from Bharadwaja. But I have not entered the womb of any woman. I have come to you seeking your wealth.”

Parasurama said, “I welcome you. I have gifted all my wealth to brahmins. I have given the earth conquered by me to Sage Kashyapa. I have only my body and my weapons. I am willing to give you either my body or my weapons. Please indicate your choice.”

Drona said, “Please give me all your weapons along with the knowledge of hurling and recalling them.”

Parasurama gave all his weapons and the knowledge of using them to Drona. Drona then proceeded to the city of his friend Drupada.

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