In the epic Mahabharata, Droņa (Sanskrit: द्रोण, Droņa) or
Guru Droņa or Rajaguru Devadrona was the royal
preceptor to the
Kauravas and Pandavas; an avatar of Brihaspati. He is
the friend of
Guru Sukracharya, the teacher for Asura Mahabali. He was
the son of rishi
Bharadwaja and a descendant of the sage Angirasa. He
was a master of advanced military arts, including the divine weapons
2 Birth and Early Life
2.2 Đroņä and Drupada
3 As a teacher
3.1 Arjuna, the favourite pupil
3.2 Treatment of
Ekalavya and Karna
3.3 Revenge upon Drupada
4 Sword of Drona
5 Dronacharya in the war
5.1 Abhimanyu's killing
5.2 Fourteenth Day
6 Dronacharya's death
7 Analysis and Modern Assessment
8 See also
Since Đroņä was not born from a womb, but from a vessel made of
leaf, he was named 'Đroņä' which means 'vessel made of leaf'.
Birth and Early Life
The story of Đroņä's birth is related dramatically to the
Bharadwaja řshi went with his companions to the Ganga
River to perform his ablutions. There he was beheld by the beauty of a
beautiful apsara named Ghritachi who had come to bathe. The sage was
overcome by desire, causing him to produce semen involuntarily out of
Bharadwaja Muni captured the semen in a vessel called a
Đroņa, and Đroņācharya himself sprang from the semen thus
preserved and is the only recorded mythical human being who was
created without a female egg (ovum). Đroņächarya spent his youth
in poverty, but studied
Dharma and military arts such as archery, in
which he gained expertise, together with the then prince of Panchala,
Drupada in the gurukul of
Drupada and Đroņācharya
became close friends.
Đroņācharya married Kripi, the sister of Kripa, the royal teacher
of the princes of Hastinapura. Like
Kripi and her
brother had not been gestated in a womb, but outside the human body.
Kripi and Đroņä had a son, Ashwatthama; Đroņa did penance so that
his son would be as valiant as Shiva.
Parasurama was giving away his possessions to brahmanas,
Đroņä approached him. Unfortunately,
Parasurama only had his
weapons left. He offered to give Đroņä the weapons as well as the
knowledge of how to use them. Thus, Đroņä obtained all of his
weapons, and his title of 'acharya'.
Đroņä and Drupada
For the sake of his wife and son, Đroņä desired freedom from
poverty. Remembering a childhood promise given by Drupada, he decided
to approach him to ask for help. However, King
Drupada refused to even
recognize their friendship, saying friendship was possible only
between persons of equal stature in life. As a child, he said, it was
possible for him to be friends with Đroņä, because at that time
they were equals. But now
Drupada had become a king, while
Đroņācharya remained a luckless indigent. However, he said he would
satisfy Đroņācharya if he asked for alms befitting a Brahmin,
rather than claiming his right as a friend. Đroņä went away
silently, but in his heart he vowed revenge.
As a teacher
Drona decides to continue Parashurama's legacy by starting his own
school. He uproots his family and begins wandering Northern India.
While at Hastinapur, he comes across the Kuru princes at play, and is
able to use his abilities to help the princes solve some of their
problems. Amazed, the princes go to their patriarch
Bhisma with news
of this magician.
Bhishma instantly realized that this was Drona, and asked him to
Guru of the Kuru princes, training them in advanced
Arjuna, the favourite pupil
The test of Dronacharya
Of all the
Pandava brothers training under Drona, Arjuna
emerged as the most dedicated, hard-working and most naturally
talented of them all, exceeding even Drona's own son Ashwatthama.
Arjuna assiduously served his teacher, who was greatly impressed by
his devoted pupil.
Arjuna surpassed Drona's expectations in numerous
challenges. As a reward,
Arjuna mantras to invoke the
super-powerful divine weapon of
Brahma known as Brahmāstra, but told
Arjuna not to use this invincible weapon against any ordinary warrior.
When Arjuna, inspired by his brother Bhima's nocturnal eating,
mastered archery in absolute darkness,
Drona was moved.
greatly impressed by Arjuna's concentration, determination, and drive,
and promised him that he would become the greatest archer on earth.
Arjuna special knowledge of the divine Astras.[citation
Drona was partial especially to
Arjuna and Ashwatthama.
loved his son
Ashwatthama and as a guru, he loved
Arjuna more than
Ekalavya and Karna
A strong criticism of Dronacharya springs from his behavior towards
Ekalavya and his strong bias in favor of Arjuna.
Ekalavya was the son of a
Nishadha chief , who came to Dronacharya for
instruction. Dronacharya refused to train him along with the
kṣatriya princes because
Ekalavya was not a kṣatriya prince. In
addition, Eklavya's father was a commander of the Kingdom of Magadha,
which was ruled by Emperor Jarasandha. At that time,
been building an empire in East-India; relations between Hastinapur
Magadha were rough.
Drona feared that Eklavya would have become an
unconquerable warrior for a rival army and felt an obligation to
defend the land that gave him asylum, even at the cost of
teacher-student ethics. Hence
Drona rejected the request of Eklavya to
be his teacher.
Ekalavya began study and practice by himself, having
fashioned a clay image of Dronacharya. Solely by his determination,
Ekalavya became a warrior of exceptional prowess, with abilities to be
better than the young Arjuna.
One day, a dog's barking disturbed a focused Ekalavya. Without
Ekalavya fired arrows that sealed up the dog's mouth. The
Kuru princes saw this dog running, and wondered who could have done
such a feat. They saw Ekalavya, who announced himself as a pupil of
Arjuna reported this to Drona.
Ekalavya with the
Ekalavya promptly greeted
Drona as his guru. Heavily,
Ekalavya for a Daksina. When
anything, Dronacharya asked for Ekalavya's right thumb. Though his
expression faltering, after confirming the request, Ekalavya
unhesitatingly cut it off and handed it to Dronacharya, despite
knowing that this would irreparably hamper his archery skills.
Drona both defends his promise to
Arjuna as well as his
obligation to protect
Hastinapur by disarming a potential threat.
Dronacharya similarly rejected
Karna who had already terrific skill,
as he was a son of a charioteer and not a Kshatriya. The school
established by Dronacharya belonged only to princes of
its allies. Humiliated,
Karna vowed to learn nonetheless, and obtained
the knowledge of weapons and military arts from Drona's own teacher
Karna and gifted entire knowledge of
divine weapons and Astra's including
Vijaya (bow) and declared Karna
equal to himself in the art of warfare.
In some additions it is said that karna was trained by drona but when
he demanded to learn brahmastra from drona , he refused to teach him
seeing his jealousy towards Arjuna. Later karna went to learn
brahmastra from lord Parshuram disguised as a Brahmin.
Revenge upon Drupada
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On completing their training, Dronacharya asked the
Kauravas to bring
Drupada bound in chains. Duryodhana, Duḥśāsana, Yuyutsu,
Vikarna, and the remaining
Kauravas attacked Panchal with the
Hastinapur army. They failed to defeat the Panchal army, whereupon
Arjuna and his brothers for the task.
Drupada, as ordered.
Dronacharya took half of Drupada's kingdom, thus becoming his equal.
Drupada for his misdeeds, but
Drupada desired revenge. He
performed a Yajña to have a son who would slay Dronacharya and a
daughter who would marry Arjuna. His wish was eventually fulfilled and
thus were born Dhṛṣṭādyumna, the slayer of Dronacharya, and
Draupadī, the consort of the Pandavas.
Sword of Drona
Drona held the invincible sword of Lord Brahma.
Bhishma once told the
story of this sword to
Pandava prince Nakula. This sword was the
primordial weapon created by the gods for the destruction of evil. The
name of the sword was Asi, the personification and the primary energy
behind all the weapons ever created. As per Bhishma, the constellation
under which the sword was born is called Krittika,
Agni is its deity,
Rohini is its Gotra,
Rudra is its high preceptor and whoever holds
this weapon obtains sure victory.
Dronacharya in the war
Dronacharya became the Chief
Commander of the Kuru Army for 5 days of
Dronacharya had been the preceptor of most kings involved in the
Kurukshetra War, on both sides. Dronacharya strongly condemned
Duryodhana exiling the Pandavas, as well as the Kauravas' general
abuse towards the Pandavas. But being a servant of Hastinapura,
Dronacharya was duty-bound to fight for the Kauravas, and thus against
his favorite Pandavas. After the fall of
Bhishma on the tenth day, he
became the Chief
Commander of the Kuru Army.
Duryodhana manages to convince
Drona to try and end the war by
capturing Yudhishthira. Though he killed hundreds and thousands of
Drona failed to capture
Yudhishthira on days eleven
and twelve of the war, as
Arjuna was always there to repel his
The Pandavas' nephew
Abhimanyu battles the
Kauravas and their allies
On the 13th day of battle, Dronacharya formed the
to capture Yudhishtira, knowing that only
know how to penetrate it. The
Trigartas were distracting
Krishna into another part of the battlefield, allowing the main Kuru
army to surge through the
Unknown to many, Arjuna's young son
Abhimanyu had the knowledge to
penetrate the formation but didn't know the way out. At the request of
Abhimanyu agreed to lead the way for the
and was able to penetrate the formation. However, he was trapped when
Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu, held the
Pandava warriors who were
following him, at bay.
Abhimanyu did not know how to get out of the
Chakra Vyuham, but embarked upon an all-out attack on the Kuru army,
killing tens of thousands of warriors single-handedly.
Abhimanyu and praises him endlessly, earning the ire of
Duryodhana. With his army facing decimation, and spurred on by
Drona asked the
Kaurava maharathis to
simultaneously attack Abhimanyu, to strike down his horses and his
charioteer and to disable his chariot from different angles. Left
Abhimanyu began fighting from the ground.Exhausted
after his long, prodigious feats,
Abhimanyu was eventually killed by
All this was the violation of the rules of war, whereby a lone warrior
may not be attacked by more than one, and not at all if he is disabled
or without chariot.
Drona is heavily criticized for allowing this
violation in his army.
The devious murder of his son enraged Arjuna, who swore to kill
Jayadratha the next day or immolate himself.
Drona constructed 3
combined vyuhas to protect Jayadratha, first was the Shakata vyuha
then was Padma Vyuha and last was the Srigantaka vyuh and at its rear
Jayadratha and stood at the head of the box formation or shakata
In the early part of the day,
Arjuna and he duel, and
Arjuna is unable
to bypass his preceptor. With Krishna's prodding,
Drona asks him why he won't fight,
Drona not as an enemy, but as his teacher. Smiling, Drona
Arjuna permission to leave, and blesses him with victory. Arjuna
managed to kill
Jayadratha with Pashupadastra as
Jayadratha was given
a boon by his father that for whoever his head would fall to the
ground ,would be reduced to ashes.Jayadratha's father was killed as
his head fell on his meditating father's lap and on seeing the head he
stood up and the head fell down causing the death of Jayadratha's
father also. When
Duryodhana rages at Drona,
Drona replies that he
isn't Jayadratha's bodyguard, and that he intends to capture
Arjuna is away.
In a notable battle,
Drona attempts to capture Yudhishthira, and is
stopped by Dhristadyumna.
Drona severely wounds his friend's son,
disarming him and forcing him to retreat. When he attempts to chase
after Dhristadyumna, he is checked by Satyaki, who insults his
teacher's teacher and issues a challenge. Their combat is described as
fierce and despite being able to hold off
Drona for several hours,
Satyaki eventually tires and has to be rescued by the Upapandavas.
Later in the day,
Satyaki to aid Arjuna. When
Satyaki comes upon Drona, he circumvents him, saying he must follow in
his teacher's footsteps. When
Yudhishthira later sends Bhima, Drona
recounts what happened with
Arjuna and Satyaki, and tells
won't give him the same permission. Angrily rebuking him, Bhima
shatters Drona's chariot with his mace.
Drona takes up another
chariot, only for
Bhima to smash that one as well. In total, Bhima
smashes eight of Drona's chariots.
Death of Dronacharya
On the 15th day of the
Drona is instigated by
Duryodhana's remarks of being a traitor. Sensing his end is near, he
Brahmastra against the common
Pandava soldiers. Later he
invoked the Brahmanda astra;
Drona never imparted this knowledge to
Arjuna and Ashwatthama. At that moment, all the Sapta
Ṛṣis appeared on the sky and requested
Drona to retract this
ultimate weapon otherwise because of the rampant destruction it would
cause. Dronacharya obeyed, retracting the weapon. The rishis continue
Drona for violating the rules of war, criticizing him for
using divine weapons so indiscriminately.
Drona reiterates that he is
sworn to do all his can to protect Hastinapur, and that, moreover, he
wants to do so for all that
Dhritarashtra has given him.
On that day,
Drona kills many
Pandava soldiers, including Virat in
Drupada in a sword fight. Lamenting the deterioration
of their friendship,
Drona pays his respect to Drupada's corpse.
Bhima kill elephant named asvatthama, By Artist Sadiq from Razmnama
Knowing it would be impossible to defeat an armed Drona, Krishna
suggested to the
Pandavas a plan to disarm their teacher. Lord Krishna
Bhima kill an elephant by name
Ashwatthama and claim to
Dronacharya that he has killed Dronacharya's son Ashwatthama. After
killing the elephant,
Bhima loudly proclaimed that he had killed
Ashwatthama. Disbelieving him,
Drona approached Yudhishthira, knowing
of Yudhishthira's firm adherence to
Dharma and honesty. When
Dronacharya asked for the truth,
Yudhishthira responded with the
Ashwatthama is dead. But it is an elephant and not your son'.
Krishna also knew that it was not possible for
Yudhishthira to lie
outright. On his instructions, the other warriors blew trumpets and
conchs, raising a tumultuous noise in such a way that Dronacharya only
heard that "
Ashwatthama was dead", but could not hear the latter part
of Yudhishthira's reply. In other versions of the story, it is told
that, Drona, in grief, simply doesn't process the final part of
Yudhishthira's statement, or
Yudhishthira was simply not loud enough
in purpose when he spoke the latter part of his words.[citation
Drona from razmnama.
Ashwatthama was born to become a chiranjivi,
from his chariot, laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Closing
his eyes, his soul went to heaven in search of Ashwatthama's soul.
Dhrishtadyumna took this opportunity and beheaded the Drona's corpse,
in a gross violation of the rules of war.
Analysis and Modern Assessment
Drona is a figure for analysis in many academic texts.
In particular, his partiality towards
Arjuna is frequently examined.
Drona's demand of guru dakshina from Ekalavya, in the form of his
right thumb, is also scrutinized. This treatment of Eklavya, as well
as his rebuking of Karna, is criticized as being biased against lower
castes. In some folklore,
Sarasvati cursed Dronacharya with an unarmed
and humiliating death for Drona's actions.
Sarasvati said that
knowledge belonged to all, and that it was an acharya's duty to spread
that knowledge everywhere. Despite whatever reasons he gave, Drona
Karna to achieve something for himself-to protect
his promise to
Arjuna that he would make
Arjuna the world's greatest
archer, as well as his oath to Hastinapur.
Drona was somewhat parallel to
Bhishma both in martial prowess, and,
compelled by the refuge they had given him, in his unwavering
commitment to fighting for
Hastinapur irrespective of who the ruler
was and whether or not the cause was just. Like Bhishma,
criticized for his pride and conceit, siding with adharma despite
knowing of and acknowledging the righteousness of the
Krishna criticized this reasoning as mere pride-
Drona wanted to put
his obligation to
Hastinapur over dharma so that no one questioned his
Criticism is leveled at
Drona for remaining a mute spectator and not
having protested the humiliation of Draupadī by
Duryodhana following the fateful game of dice.
Similarly, Dronacharya was criticized for many of his actions during
First, as a Brahmin, and secondly, as the princes' teacher, he should
have removed himself from the battlefield.
Dronacharya tried to use divine weapons against the Pandavas' common
foot-soldiers. As he does so, a voice from the heavens told him not to
use divine weapons so carelessly. However,
Drona argued that his first
obligation was to defeating his enemy and defending his soldiers, by
whatever means he possessed.
His responsibility for the devious and brutal murder of Abhimanyu, as
he was the
Kaurava army chief at the time.
Droncharya's overarching actions during the war are portrayed
differently. When he became commander-in-chief, the rules of war were
averted. Divine weapons were used against ordinary soldiers, war
continued throughout the night, warriors no longer engaged each other
one-on-one, etc. Specifically, he was willing to try to end the war by
capturing Yudhishthira, while
Karna was not, as he considered it
lacking honor. In some versions of the Mahabharatha, this evidence is
used to justify the caste system, as the point is subtly made that the
Drona was willing to break the rules of war and engage in
less honorable acts was because he was a brahmin, not a kshatriya. He
is compared directly to Karna, who, not even knowing that he was a
kshatriya, still intuitively understood the kshatriya
code/way-of-life. In other versions, Drona's differences in strategy
are shown as a difference in philosophy-
Drona believed, that as the
commander-in-chief of the
Kaurava army, his goal was to ensure the
protection of his soldiers through any means necessary. By choosing to
uphold the rules of war and the concept of honorable acts over his
soldiers' lives, he would be doing them a disservice.
He remains a revered figure in
Hindu history, and a pillar of the
Indian tradition of respecting one's teacher as an equal not only of
parents, but even of God. The
Government of India
Government of India annually awards the
Dronacharya Award for excellence in sports tutelage to the best sports
teachers and coaches in India.
It is believed that the city of
Gurgaon (literally - "Village of the
Guru") was founded as "
Guru Gram" by Dronacharya on land given to him
by Dhritarashtra, the king of
Hastinapura in recognition of his
teachings of martial arts to the princes, and the 'Dronacharya Tank',
still exists within the
Gurgaon city, along with a village called
Gurgaon. Indian Government (Haryana), on 12 April, decided to
reinstate and change the name of
Gurgaon to 'Gurugram'.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Drona.
Wikisource: The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva/Sambhava Parva
The Story of
Drona - the Teacher of
Kauravas and Pandavas
Supereme Court of
India on Dronacharya:
^ Pattanaik, Devdutt (2010-01-01). "18". Jaya: An Illustrated
Retelling of the Mahabharata. Penguin Books India. p. 57.
^ Epic Mythology With Additions and Corrections By Edward Washburn
Vishnu Purana -Dräüņi or Asvathama as Next saptarishi Retrieved
Vyasa by Kisara Mohan Ganguly
^ Mahabharata, Book I: Ādi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section CXXXII.
^ Pattanaik, Devdutt (2010-01-01). "19". Jaya: An Illustrated
Retelling of the Mahabharata. Penguin Books India. p. 59.
^ Mahabharata, Book I: Ādi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section CXXXV
^ a b Brodbeck, Simon, and Brian Black. Gender and Narrative in the
Mahābhārata. London: Routledge, 2007. Print.
^ "Sword of Drona". Retrieved 13 May 2016.
^ The Mahabharata, Book 7:
Drona Parva: Abhimanyu-badha Parva: Section
^ a b c d K M Ganguly(1883-1896). The Mahabharata, Book 7
sacred-texts.com, October 2003, Retrieved 2016-08-29
^ "Ashvattama is dead" has become a proverbial phrase for a half-lie
oder half-truth intended to confuse the opponent or the public.
^ a b c Brodbeck, Simon. The Mahābhārata Patriline: Gender, Culture,
and the Royal Hereditary. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2009. Print.
^ Dronacharya Award
Gurgaon History Archived 13 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
Hindu deities and texts
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali