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Mahabharata character
Madhu padiami
Eklavya's dakshina of his right hand thumb to his guru
FamilyHiranyadhanus (father)
ChildrenMadhu padiami

Ekalavya (English: ékalavya) is a character from the epic The Mahābhārata, and due to the circumstances of how he learned archery, Eklavya has come to signify an autodidact.

Early life[edit]

In the Mahabharata, Ekalavya was the son of Hiranyadhenu, who, in some accounts was King Jarasandha's army commander, and in others the tribal chieftain of the Nishadhas.[1]

Ekalavya wanted to become a disciple of Dronacharya, but was rejected. Not to be discouraged, Ekalavya made a statue of the famed teacher from the mud Drona walked upon, and worshipped it as his guru. He then began a disciplined program of self-study over many years.[2]

One day, when Drona's students were out in the forest, Arjuna saw a dog that was unable to bark due to a construction of arrows in and all around his mouth. The construction was contrived in such a way that the dog could not bark and yet it did not harm the animal.[3] Drona was amazed and wished to meet the archer who had accomplished such an extraordinary feat. When Ekalavya appeared, Drona asked him who his guru was. Ekalavya replied, saying that Drona himself was his guru and explained what he had done. Arjuna angrily confronted Drona for breaking his promise to make Arjuna the greatest archer in the world. In order to remedy the situation, Drona asked for the right thumb of Ekalavya as his dakshina, a fee or donation generally paid to a priest or guru. Ekalavya severed his thumb and offered it to Drona, as asked, while being aware that, by doing so, he would lose his prowess as an archer.[4][5]

Later life and death[edit]

Ekalavya is considered a king at the Rajasuya yajna, organised by Yudhisthira.[6][7] In spite of the loss of his right thumb, he was noted as a very powerful archer and warrior.[8] He is said to be a great friend of Duryodhan. He brought Krishna's son to the court of Hastinapur when he kidnapped Duryodhan's daughter.[citation needed]

Eklavya worked as an archer for King Jarasandha. When Jarasandha planned to besiege Mathura, he was aided by Eklavya because of his skills as an archer. Eklavya also helped Jarasandha and Shishupala by chasing Rukmini when she eloped with Krishna. After the death of Jarasandha and Shishupala, Eklavya sought to avenge him by campaigning to destroy Kuntibhoja and every Yadava in Dwarka. During the attack, he was killed by Krishna and eventually his army was knocked out by Balarama and were forced to flee the battle, as all his major allies had been killed.[9][10]

Indonesian legend[edit]

In Indonesian legend, in a former life Ekalavaya was king Phalgunadi, killed by Drona and reborn as Dhrishtadyumna to avenge the killing. In this version, Arjuna gets his name Phalguna from Phalgunadi. Ekalavya's famous and chaste wife Devi Anggraini was always faithful to Phalgunadi, even after his death and despite Arjuna's proposals of marriage.


There is an Eklavya temple (Hindi: एकलव्य मंदिर) temple in honor of Mahabharata fame Eklavya in Khandsa village in Sector 37 of Gurgaon city in Haryana state of India. As per folklore, this is the only temple of Eklavya and it is the place where Eklavya cut his thumb and offered to guru Drona.[11]

In honor of Eklavya, Government of India runs a Ekalavya Model Residential School (EMRS) model residential school scheme for Indian tribals. Ekalavya Award is awarded by Government of Karnataka for the outstanding performance in sports.

In popular culture[edit]

The 2007 movie Eklavya: The Royal Guard featuring Saif Ali Khan and Amitabh Bacchan was named after Eklavya.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chaturvedi, B. K. (1998). Eklavya. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 9788171829507.
  2. ^ Merriam, Sharan B. (1 January 2007). Non-Western Perspectives on Learning and Knowing. Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 9781575242804.
  3. ^ "GURU DRONACHARYA & IGNORANT EKALAVYA". www.speakingtree.in. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  4. ^ Viswanath, Sunita; rights, ContributorProgressive Hindu; women’s; Activist, Social Justice; advocate (6 July 2015). "Ekalavya: A Progressive Reading". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  5. ^ Carton, Evan; Friedman, Alan Warren (1996). Situating College English: Lessons from an American University. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780897894609.
  6. ^ "Eklovya Honouring Yudhishthira". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Eklovya—Foremost of the Kings of Rajasuya Yagna". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Eklavya—A Powerful Archer and Charioteer". Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  9. ^ A. D. Athawale. Vastav Darshan of Mahabharat. Continental Book Service, Pune, 1970
  10. ^ Dowson, John (1820–1881). A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. London: Trübner, 1879 [Reprint, London: Routledge, 1979] Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Locals want tourist circuit developed for the Guru - April 2016

External links[edit]