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The Story Of Arjun

To the maina, its songs,
To the peacock, its hues,
To the tiger, its claws,
To the man-concentration.

(There is a story about God's creation of various birds, animals and finally man. It appeared that God gave special talent, gift or equipment to each bird or animal- When it came to man. He had nothing left to give, which meant that- man would have, in his life, nothing exclusively his own. Then the idea came to Cod in a flash. And He gave man concentration)

In ancient India passing an examination was not the be-all and end-all of education. Students used to live with teachers and they learned many things by closely, observing the behaviour and the way of living of their teachers. A number of years with ii teacher was considered enough by way of education for A student. One his part, the student had certain duties lo perform in his teacher's house. When he came thither seeking education, all that a student brought with him was a pair of wooden sandals, a stick in one hand, a fire-bowl in another hand, some blades of grass in the mouth, iron rings in the ears and a white mark on the forehead. Each of these things had some significance. The fire which the student brought with him signified that he would be responsible for looking after his teacher's daily need of food. He would collect alms or gather fruits and roots for food and cook the same. The stick in his hand was the symbol of his readiness to protect his teacher in times of danger. The grass in his mouth meant that the task of lending to the cows would be the student's. The ring in his ears conveyed a promise that the student would practise control of the senses and emotions- And lastly, the while mark on the forehead signified that the student would have an attitude of absolute surrender to his teacher.

On his part. the teacher saw to it that the pupil under his care grew properly, that he possessed physical fitness and a sharp mind and that his emotions were well-balanced. The teacher was always conscious of the faith his student had in him and he also made it clear to the student that his order should be obeyed in all circumstances- This is how education was imparted in those days. The entire arrangement was bused on personal relationship between the teacher and the taught. All that was provided by way of examination was a series of practical tests conducted by the teacher.

In those days the name of Dronacharya was very popular in the field of Education. He was appointed the teacher for the children of the Royal House-the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Dronacharya's method of conducting the tests was well-known to his pupils. It generally happened that very few students managed to succeed in the tests of the Acharya (learned teacher). So severe were they.

The Acharya one day announced his intention to hold a test for concentration. He asked all his pupils among the Kauravas and the Pandavas to be ready with their bows and arrows. "There is a bird perched on that branch of the tree," he said pointing his finger in the particular direction, "and I want each of you to shoot the eye of the bird. Each of you will have your chance as your name will be called."

When the royal children saw the bird in the tree, they all became anxious to go through the test. To them the test appeared to be easy, even simple. What was there in shooting the eye of a bird,-they argued among themselves. Had they not shot great animals ? They all got their equipment ready. They wondered who would be called first. Many doubted whether they would be called at all, for the eye of the bird might not remain for a target after the first or the .second prince had gone through the test. There was only one small eye of one small bird within their view and there were so many princes ready with their bows and arrows. Anxiously they waited for the great Acharya to call their names.

Suddenly the Acharya called the name of Durvodhana. The Kaurava Prince became glad for getting the first chance. Being well prepared. Durodhana jumped forward, bow and arrow in hand and Stood beside the teacher. "Now my dear Duru" Dronacharya said. "Get ready to shoot. Take aim ;n the eye of the bird in the tree." The Kaurava Prince steadied himself put the arrow to the siring of his bow and pointing it in the desired direction, took aim. He waited for Dronacharya to say "Shoot".

If Duryodhana was impatient to shoot and the other princes were equally impatient to be called for the test. The Acharya was in no mood to be hurried about. He was never in a hurry and at present it appeared he was unusually leisurely. For this was a test in which the teacher, too, had his part to play. Moreover the test was for concentration and not to decide how quickly one could shoot the arrow.

"I think you are now ready," said the Achurya at length to Duryodhana, "but tell me if you can see the bird properly. What else can you see ? How many of the Princes gathered here are you in a position to see ?"

"[ am able to see the bird on that tree very well," replied Duryodhana promptly, "and I can also see other birds in the same tree. That is not all. Even the birds in the nearby tree are within my view. I can clearly see all my brothers assembled here. I could tell you many more things which I am in a position to see at present."

Duryodhana felt satisfied with himself because he was under the impression that he had given a good answer to the question. He was anticipating a word of praise from the teacher and that final order "Shoot"

Dronacharya. however, was in no mood to oblige his pupil. After all, this was a test. "I have heard you," the Acharya said to Duryodhana. "Now you may turn and come back- I don't want you to shoot. What I wanted to know was your power of concentration."

As Duryodhana turned back taking out the arrow from the string of the bow, he was greatly disappointed. The other princes waiting to be called were very surprised; they wondered what had gone wrong with Duryodhana's taking aim at the target. Still they waited there in the same anxious mood, for the word of the teacher had to be obeyed. The test had to go on.

The next name to be called was Bheema's. The hefty Pandava Prince came running forward and stood before Dronacharya. He readied himself with the bow and the arrow.

"My dear Bheema," Dronacharya commanded. "Take aim at the eye of the bird in that tree. but tell me before shooting all that you are able to see besides the target."

"1 can see so many things." replied Bhecmu. after hastily pulling the arrow and taking aim. "There are so many birds in the many trees around. Some cows are grazing in the fields over there. From a branch of another tree some monkeys are jumping about. And I can also see you and my brothers sitting there on the ground. There are still many other things I am in a position to see. I could describe them all if you order me to."

"That is enough." said Dronacharya, "Now you need not shoot. Go back and sit with your brothers."

Bheema came back as dejected as was Duryodhana before him. The other princes now became a little uneasy, slowly realising that there was more in the test than met the eye.

Like this, one by one, many Pandava and Kaurava Princes were called, but none was able to pass the test. They were all able to see many things besides the target while taking aim, and all of them were ordered to come back without shooting.

Dronacharya now called Arjun for the test. The young Pandava Prince came and stood beside the Acharya with measured steps: there was no excitement in his movements. There was a poised and steady air about him. Standing firmly on his feet, Arjun put his arrow to the bow and pulling it well look aim at the eye of the bird on the tree. As his eyes got fixed on the target, Arjun forgot every- thing else. He could see nothing but the target.

"Are you ready ?" Dronacharya asked Arjun.

"Yes Gurudev," replied Arjun. "If you want I could shoot. Or, if you so order me, I could come back. I am only waiting for your word."

"I am glad to hear your answer. There are some questions I should like to ask you. Your success in this test depends on your answers to them. The question I am going to ask should have been clear to you by now. Tell me, what else do you see apart from the eye of the bird ?"

The other Princes expected to hear this time also the same kind of answer given first by Duryodhana and then by Bheema. As it appeared to them, what else could one do but sec the things which happen lo be before one's eyes? It seemed in them that the great Acharya was unnecessarily complicating matters and ridiculing them by ordering them to return with- out shooting. Dronacharya was a great teacher, they had been told. hut now they began to wonder whether his greatness depended on confusing things and not accepting straight answers to straight questions.

Arjun came forth with an answer so different from that which the other princes expected. They were startled to hear him say : "My dear Sir! I can see nothing except the bird. r cannot even tell you whether the bird is on the bough or on the ground. Everything else has disappeared from my view on my taking aim at the target.

Dronacharya was pleased with the answer. But still he put one more question to Arjun with the sole purpose of making things clearer to the other Princes. His method was to teach through practical examples. He asked : "Arjun, till now you were looking at the bird and so you could not see any- thing else. I think, at present, you are in a position to see different animals, birds, trees and many other things. Could you tell me all that you are able to see?"

Arjun's reply was intriguing to the waiting princes. "Sir! Now I can't even see the body of the bird. All that I that I can see now is the eye which is to be my target. If you are to ask me whether the eye belongs to a bird or to a beast, I am not in a position to reply as I see only the eye and nothing but the eye."

This time, too, Arjun*s reply pleased the venerable Acharya. He cast a glance at the waiting Princes and noted that they were slowly beginning to understand the meaning of concentration- for which the present test had been conducted. "Arjun'." Dronacharya began once again, "I am satisfied with your answer. But there is still something more I would like to know from you. You tell me, you don't know where the bird is sitting, you don't even know the shape or the colour of the bird. Then how could you shoot at its eye? "Besides, if you can see other things now, then name them quickly also."

Still Arjun was steady and his reply was short much to the amazement of the Princes. "Sir! I can't answer any of your questions. I can see nothing but the eye which I have to shoot. Not only that- I feel as if that eye and myself have become one. There exists no yawning gap between me and my target. My sight and the eye have become one in terms of concentration. At this moment, I know nothing else.'

Arjun's pointed answer more than satisfied the venerable Dronacharya. For a moment he almost forgot himself, being overwhelmed with joy that one of his students could measure up to his expectations. What would a true teacher need but the most endearing satisfaction that there was one at least amongst his pupils, who could be reckoned worthy of the labour undertaken for him ? The actual act of shooting now was not necessary, but still he had to go through it just to drive the point home to the other princes.


Sprang the arrow.

The eye and only the eye had been shot. The head and the body of the bird was intact. For a casual observer it appeared as though the bird was still there, perched on the bough as before. Only a minute glance revealed that the eye of the bird was missing.

"Wonderful! Wonderful"." shouted the brothel Princes, all of whom ran to Arjuna and lifted him up and carried him for a while on their shoulders out of sheer joy.

In the end, Dronacharya announced to the Kaurava and the Pandava Princes that Arjuna was the only winner of the test. He rounded off the day's proceedings with the following remarks : "As I want you all to know concentration is a great power in life; you could win anything with this power. Concentration is possible only through a healthy body and a healthy mind. When I say healthy mind, what I mean is a mind which is able to exercise perfect control over the senses and emotions- Then you need to develop faith in yourself; you must have confidence in yourself to be successful. This comes only through practice over and over again. Finally, you need faith in the Supreme Power that rules this universe and governs all our activities. That alone could invest you with an equanimous attitude towards life. All these factors go to make perfect concentration."

We thus see in the present story that Arjuna emerges as the only winner, thanks to concentration. While the other Princes were equally proficient in archery, it was in concentration that Arjuna excelled and that made all the difference. Concentration is a great power which is within the scope of everyone to develop. No matter what the goal the word Impossible does not exist for concentration. But the great tragedy is that in the case of many of us concentration is just in the rudimentary stage. Whatever little of it is acquired is handicapped by fear, worry and haste. It in only in rare cases that one sees the real scope of concentration. There is however nothing which prevents one from developing one's concentration, no mater how old one may be. To begin with, all that is needed is a genuine desire to get the best out of one's life, and that desire will guide one along the high road of concentration.

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