|A for Arjuna (with Drona)|
Yudhisthira came forward to take up the challenge. Drona pointed to a wooden bird that he had placed on the highest branch of a tree and asked the eldest Pandava Prince what he was able to see. “I can see the sun’s rays falling on the bird Acharya. The bird is partly hidden amidst the branches.” Saying this, Yudhisthira let go of his arrow that went and pierced the branch next to where sat the bird, quite unharmed.
The Kauravas laughed even as the four Pandavas commiserated with their eldest brother. Next, it was Duryodhana’s turn. He was prancing about in nervous excitement, overconfident of winning. Even before Drona could explain what was required, he said, “You want me to hit the bird, right? Just watch me do just that.” His arrow pierced the main trunk that was about two feet away from the wooden bird. He walked away in a temper, refusing to look at his smirking cousins in the eye.
After a couple of more tries by Bheema and Dushashana, it was Arjuna’s turn – the teacher’s favourite. Arjuna walked forward to stand next to Drona. “What do you see, my son?” asked Drona.
“A black eye,” replied Arjuna. He did not hear the Kauravas’ laughter. Duryodhana and his brothers spoke among themselves, wondering what kind of a fool was the third Pandava. Couldn’t he see the bird? They were sure he was going to fail the test.
A proud Drona gestured for Arjuna to release his arrow. Standing there majestically with his feet apart, the right one a few inches ahead, Arjuna’s head was raised to the skies, his eyes focussed completely on the wooden bird’s eye. His hands were steady as he strung his bow and held it at the ready, the tip of his arrow shining in the morning light. Uttering a short mantra, Arjuna released his arrow that landed exactly in the spot suggested by his teacher – in the bird’s eye.
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