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
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
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
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
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
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.