Both Karna and Ekalavya are symbols of self-taught highly skilled persons who were defeated because they lacked the MENTAL PRESCIENCE to foresee the consequences of their WORDS and their COMMITMENT to keep their word even to their detriment.
Karna was thought of to be a charioteer’s son and Ekalavya was born to a then thought to be a lower caste woman. But both were highly self motivated INDIVIDUALS who believed that through planned and sustained hardwork they would be able to achieve the highest distinction in their chosen field. Coincidentally the chosen field of both of them was ARCHERY. We all know that Ekalavya had shot off a string of arrows on the mouth of a barking dog and thereby silenced the dog without killing the dog. Likewise Karna was able to shoot not just one eye of the wooden bird, but both the eyes with 2 arrows strung in a a single bow shot. It was these display of their skills which alarmed the GURUS.
The gurus were DRONACHARYA for Ekalavya and Bhagwan Parashurama for Karna.
Ekalavya had not been taught by Dronacharya yet his discipline and his ‘will to skill’, just like Nietzsche‘s “WILL TO POWER” , was so consuming that he made a statue of Dronacharya and believed in his blessings and learnt the skill of ARCHERY. When Drona meets and asks for the right thumb of Ekalavya, he does not THINK why on earth would Drona want his right thumb? In his passion for learning the skill of ARCHERY, Ekalavya had ignored developing his PRESCIENCE. There was no BALANCE in his EDUCATION. His skill was not tempered with the higher knowledge that anyone who asks for your life or your tools of life is your YAMA.
In KARNA’S case it was the curse of Parashurama which did him in. Karna had lied to Parashurama that he was a Brahmin (and Parashurama hated Kshatriyas) and when the endurance of Karna, while offering his lap for a pillow raised Parashurama’s doubts regarding Karna’s varna, Karna admitted that he was NOT a Brahmin and earned the CURSE of Parashurama. But it was not the CURSE per se which did Karna in, but his promise to Kunti that he would not use the astra a second time which did him in. It is the lack of PRESCIENCE, again- like Ekalavya.
ALL THE TALK ABOUT DESTINY IS NOTHING BUT A PACKAGED STORYLINE POST-FACTO THE EVENTS. BUT THE WISE KNOW THAT DESTINY IS BUILT THROUGH PROMPT, EFFICIENT AND PRESCIENT ACTIONS.
The point to be made in this blog is that SKILL in unsuited hands is quickly deprived by the ACHARYAS. These Acharyas are the final arbiters to decide whose hands are suited and “unsuited”!
NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE TELLS YOU, THERE ARE THREE THINGS ONE SHOULD NEVER EVER FORGET:
1. THERE IS A HIERARCHY EVERYWHERE.
2. EVERYONE IS FIGHTING FOR THE RESOURCES (capital, land and labour of fellowmen)
3. THERE IS SOMEONE WATCHING, WHO HAS PLANS TO FIT YOU TO SUIT HIS INTERESTS.
Ekalavya and Karna were victims of lack of ADVISERS. Had Karna gone to Duryodhana and asked him about the promise which Kunti wanted him to make, Duryodhana would have advised him to falsely promise Kunti and NOT to keep it in the battlefield when other LIFE issues are at stake. Likewise, if Ekalavya had asked an adviser, he would have enlightened Ekalavya to tell Drona, ” As Drona was only his MENTAL GURU and was not directly involved in mentoring him, Drona could have Ekalavya’s right thumb MENTALLY too!”.
Contrast this with what Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the battlefield: DO NOT FAIL IN YOUR DUTY. A statement which is disguised in NOBILITY but the underlying principle is that EITHER YOU KILL OR GET KILLED. CHOOSE LIFE OR DEATH. It is that choice of LIFE over “oaths” and “promises” and “respect for elders” which is recommended. ARJUNA chooses LIFE as if he was merely doing his DUTY.
But Karna and Ekalavya fall victims of their “WORD”.
What the GURUS teach the pupils are different things. A guru knows that a WORD given, is to be honoured, but not at the cost of one’s LIFE. There is a primary “DUTY” one owes to oneself.
But that is a lesson to a Kshatriya, what is taught to a Vaishya is that DO NOT HAVE FALSE MEASURES, DO NOT MAKE UNCONSCIONABLE PROFIT. What is taught to a Sudra is: BE OBEDIENT; RESPECT ELDERS; GIVE YOUR LIFE FOR THE DUTY ASSIGNED TO YOU. So one could see that the same Guru teaches different things to different classes of people. That is why the Gurus were apprehensive about taking and mentoring pupils outside a particular class. Drona did not want the self taught Ekalavya to use even his self taught skills. Parashurama did not want a Kshatriya to have the skills which could be detrimental to his BRAHMIN class. In effect each GURU has his niche pupils. To overcome the WORD, PRESCIENCE is needed.
A good example is King Solomon. He was truly PRESCIENT. Solomon’s mother Bathsheba asks Solomon to give the Shunamite for wife to his half brother Adonijah. Solomon tells Bathsheba, ” Why do you ask for the Shunemite and why don’t you ask for the kingdom instead?” Solomon foresaw that Shunamite having been with King David in his last days had been witness to the machinations of Bathsheba and if she were to become Adonijah’s wife she might, in all probability, squeal about the intrigues conducted by Bathsheba, Benaiah and Nathan. So Solomon not merely denies the Shunamite’s hand, but gets Adonijah killed for having asked!! That is PRESCIENCE. When one has been raised in palaces one knows the CONSEQUENCES of one’s decisions and to FORESEE that and to decisively act is DESTINY.
AMONG THE MANY FACTORS WHICH DID EKALAVYA AND KARNA IN, IT WAS LACK OF ADVISERS WHICH I BELIEVE WEIGHS MOST. beware OF GURUS. THEIR MESSAGES COULD BE CONFUSING, IF NOT DETRIMENTAL, IF THEIR MESSAGE IS NOT ADDRESSED TO THE CLASS TO WHICH YOU BELONG