Although the Kaurava princes detested the Pandavas, Bhisma and Vidura loved them and would spend much time with the five virtuous and gentle princes. Bhisma had been especially fatherly toward them since the time they had arrived from the forest. He had been fond of Pandu; now he felt the same fondness for Pandu’s sons. The boys reciprocated his love, and served him in various ways.
The Pandavas were also favored by their military teacher, Krpa. Krpa was the noble-minded son of a brahmin who had adopted the warriors profession.
Bhisma was pleased with Krpa’s teaching. The boys were becoming highly adept at weaponry. But he wanted them to learn the secrets of the celestial weapons as well so that they would be unmatched in warfare. Krpa did not have this knowledge. Bhisma had therefore been searching for a suitable teacher to take the princes further in military science. None he had seen had impressed him as qualified to train the princes.
Then one day the boys ran to Bhisma with a strange tale to tell. They had been out playing ball in the woods. The ball fell into a deep, dry well and the princes could not recover it. As they stood by the well looking at one another in embarrassment, a dark man approached them. He was a brahmin, appearing emaciated and poor, but with a bright effulgence and glowing eyes. The princes surrounded the brahmin and asked if he could help them. Smiling a little, the brahmin said, “Shame upon your prowess as warriors. What use is your skill in arms if you cannot even retrieve a lost ball? If you give me a meal I’ll recover the ball, as well as this ring of mine.”
He then took off his ring and threw it into the well. Yudhistir said to him, “O brahmin, if you can recover the ball and the ring, then, with Krpa’s permission, we shall ensure that you are maintained for your whole life.”
The brahmin took a handful of long grasses and said, “Watch as I invest these grasses with the power of weapons. With these I shall pierce the ball and bring it to the surface.” He chanted mantras and threw the grasses one by one into the well. The first one pierced the ball and each subsequent blade he threw stuck into the last one to form a long chain. The brahmin then pulled the ball out of the well.
The princes were astonished. “This is truly wonderful, but let us now see you raise the ring.”
The brahmin borrowed one of the princes’ bows and shot a single sharp-pointed arrow into the well. With it, he brought up the ring, caught on the arrow’s head. The princes crowded around him and asked him to reveal his identity. They had never seen such skill. The brahmin told them to go to Bhisma and describe what they had seen. He would know his identity. The brahmin said he would wait there until they returned.
Thus the boys ran back to the city and told Bhisma everything. When he heard the tale his eyes shone with joy. Surely this could only be Drona, the disciple of his own martial teacher, Paraçuräma.. Finding as he had suspected that it was Drona, Bhisma immediately offered him the position of a royal teacher. Drona accepted and went to Hastinäpura with Bhisma.
When they were back in the city Bhisma had Drona tell everyone of his history. Drona looked around at the eager-faced princes. He was the son of BharadvajaAlthough he too was a brahmin, Drona was inclined toward martial arts. While living in his father’s hermitage he had learned the science of arms from Agnivesha, another powerful rishi. He had also received knowledge of the celestial weapons from the great Paraçuräma. Despite having such great learning, however, Drona remained a poverty-stricken brahmin. He could hardly maintain his family. Thus he had been on his way to Hastinäpura hoping to be engaged as the princes’ teacher.
Bhisma said, “Make your residence here in the city. You shall enjoy every luxury along with the Kurus. Indeed the Kurus are at your command. Whatever wealth, kingdoms and followers that belong to our house are also yours. O best of brahmins, it is our good fortune you have arrived here.”
Drona was given a large, well-furnished house, stocked with everything enjoyable and attended by many servants. He then brought his wife and son to Hastinäpura to live among the Kurus with him, and he accepted both the Pandavas and Kauravas as his disciples.
Drona taught the princes everything he knew about weaponry. The boys practiced every day from dawn till dusk. Among all the boys Arjuna excelled at his lessons. He remained always at Drona’s side, eager to learn any little skill or extra tips. His ability, speed, perseverance and determination were unequalled by the other princes. Arjuna became foremost; Drona felt none could match his skills.
Out of his natural fatherly affection, Drona also wished to impart extra lessons to his own son, Ashvatthama. He gave all the princes narrow-mouthed water pots and asked them to fill them at the river, but to his own son he gave a wide-mouthed pot so he could return first and receive extra teaching. Arjuna realized Drona’s intentions and he filled his own pot with a celestial water weapon, and thus returned before Ashvatthama. Drona smiled when he saw Arjuna’s determination. His desire to learn from his preceptor was beyond compare. Arjuna always carefully worshipped Drona and was attentive to his every command. Because of his devotion to studies and his guru, he became Drona’s favorite student.
Once Arjuna was eating his meal at night. Suddenly the lamp blew out. It was pitch black. Arjuna continued to eat as if nothing had happened. As he did so, he realized that simply by habit he was able to place the food in his mouth, although he could see nothing in the darkness. He then began to practice with his bow and arrows in the night, aiming at invisible targets. When Drona saw this dedication he was overjoyed. He told Arjuna, “I shall make you unmatched upon the earth. No warrior shall be your equal.”
Drona then taught Arjuna how to fight on horseback, on an elephant, from chariots and on the ground. He showed him all the skills of fighting with clubs, swords, lances, spears and darts, as well as many other types of weapons. Drona also taught him how to contend with any number of warriors fighting at once. As Drona promised, his skill soon became without compare on earth.
[Adopted from Mahabharat – By HG Krishna Dharma Prabhu]