Drupada, the prince of Panchal, was sent to sage Bhardwaj’s Gurukul to study. Their he met sage’s son, Drona, an outstanding archer and the two soon became good friends, despite the difference in their family background

Later, they started studying the science of arms from Rishi Agnivesha. Over the years, they helped each other with their studies and daily routines. Their friendship grew stronger. So deep was their bond that Drupada promised Drona that once he becomes the king, his palace will be Drona’s home and the two will be together forever. Drona felt blessed to have a friend like Drupada and more than his promise, he appreciated his generosity. After their studies, they both parted ways and moved on to have families of their own. 

Drona got married and had a son whom he named Ashwatthama. He cared deeply about his wife and son. So attached he was to them that he would do anything for their wellbeing. Even though he did not have any materialistic urges, he tried to acquire wealth for them.

One day, young Ashwatthama craved for some milk but there was none at home. His helpless mother mixed a little bit of rice flour with water and gave it to her son. Drona,  who was observing this, could not take it anymore and became frustrated and angry at himself.  It was then he remembered Drupada’s words. He decided to go and ask his friend for a cow so his child could drink milk everyday.

On recalling the bond that Drupada and he had shared, Drona decided to approach him for help with great confidence in his friend’s generosity. 

When Drona reached the kingdom of Panchala, things had completely changed. It seemed power and pride had gone to Drupad’s head.

“How can there ever be a friendship between a king and a wandering beggar. Leave now”.

Hearing these harsh words Drona was heartbroken. He vowed revenge On Drupada and left palace in anger.

Drona’s vow had made him determined to earn fame and fortune and use his skills to prove his worth to the world. He cultivated a tremendous longing to acquire wealth and prove himself to Drupada. Soon, on the basis of his knowledge and fame, Drona became the guru of the cousin clans, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, but only on the condition that his students would avenge his insult as his fee. 

Years passed by. It was soon time for his students to make good on their promise to him. Both the clans attacked the Panchala kingdom, but the Kauravas fled the battlefield fearing the powers of the Panchala army. Meanwhile, the Pandavas fought the army fearlessly, with the Pandava prince Arjuna managing to capture Drupada for his guru with his Gandiva. This was the moment Drona had been waiting for all his life.

He said, “Drupada, you broke your promise and insulted me. Look, my students captured you fulfilling my revenge. Now your entire kingdom belongs to me. I do not wish to live in enmity. Let’s revive our friendship. I will return you half of your kingdom. You need not be ashamed to owe me now because I am a king too.”

Hearing this, Drupada smiled and folded his hands in gratitude. He thanked his friend for being so kind and forgiving. 

Little did Drona know that Drupada’s smile was a mask. He was furious at the way he had been treated, tied like an animal, presented like a gift and given his own kingdom back like it was a favour.

He thought Drona could do this to me only because he had the great warrior Arjuna as support while I have none.

Drupad was not angry with Arjun. On the contrary appreciated his valor and loyalty.

“I wish I had a daughter who could be married to him he thought to himself”, Drupad thought.

And then his mind turned to Drona again. “ I desire a son who will be responsible for Drona’s death.

He sought the blessings of a sage who advised him to perform a Yagya, a sacrificial ritual in front of a sacred fire. Out of the flames rose a young boy followed by a young girl.

They were named Dhrishtadyumna and Draupadi.

As fated, Draupadi married Arjuna later and this Drishtadyumna killed Drona on the 12th day of Mahabharata war.

Thus, a teenage friendship that began in a peaceful ashram ended in tragedy, only because of the arrogance that comes with privilege.

PS: pls ignore typing or punctuation errors as i am drafting them on my mobile phone.

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Shalini Pandey

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