Conversations with Sri Sathya Sai on Mahabharata, Karna and Eklavya

October 18, 2002 (Friday)


Swami was inquiring about the Mumbai trip of the research scholars.
Swami : When are you all leaving?

Scholar : Swami, we are leaving on 21st.

Swami : When are you coming back?

Scholar : We will start back on the 8th of the next month and be here on the 9th. If our work gets over fast, we will come back earlier.

Swami : How is Mahabharata? (Swami often addresses Niranjan, one of the research scholars in this manner as his doctoral research is based on the Mahabharata.)

Niranjan : Swami, it is going on well.

Swami : Who is Manu?

Niranjan : He is the one who wrote Dharma Shastra.

Swami : Yes, he gave the Dharma Shastra to the world – the code of conduct.

Teacher : Swami, does Manu change from Yuga to Yuga (age to age)?

Swami : The Swayambhu Manu gave the laws. He is the original one. After that, some of his descendants had the name Manu, so there are number of them from time to time. Who is Raghu?

Student : He was the emperor and founder of Raghu Vamsha, the lineage of Sri Rama.

Swami : (Noting a quizzical look on a student’s face) What is the matter?

Student : Swami, why did Karna come down to pull out his chariot wheel, which was stuck in the mud? Was it not the duty of Shalya, who was Karna’s charioteer?
Swami : No doubt, Shalya was the charioteer; but if it is not possible by the charioteer, the owner himself has to do. If the car tyre is punctured in the middle of the journey and if the driver does not know how to replace it, the owner himself has to come down to change it. Similar was Karna’s predicament.

Student : Even though Karna was very good, why was he bound to the Kauravas side?

Swami : Because of the bad company, he ate the food of the wicked Kauravas. He moved along with them. He learnt archery and was as good as Arjuna. They all went to Draupadi’s Swayamvaram (the Indian ceremony where the bride selects the groom she wishes to marry). Duryodhana and other great kings failed in the test. When Karna got up, the ministers objected to his participating as he was the son of a low caste person. So, he was not eligible for the contest. Immediately, Duryodhana, who knew Karna’s greatness, made him the king of Anga Rajyam. For this act of kindness, Karna was eternally grateful, continued to serve the Kaurava family and got associated with bad company. Purity of thoughts is very important.

Student : Can purity be achieved by Tapas (penance) or merit of previous births?

Swami : It is through leading a simple life that we achieve purity of mind. The thoughts should be pure.

Student : Swami, what about Ekalavya?

Swami : Ekalavya was the disciple of Dronacharya. Once, when Dronacharya and Arjuna were in the forest, they saw one dog barking incessantly. From a far off place, a series of arrows came and hit the mouth of the dog at the same place where Arjuna hit. Dronacharya and Arjuna were surprised by the precision with which the arrows came. When they searched, they found that Ekalavya was practicing in one part of the forest. Arjuna enquired about his Guru who taught him archery. Ekalavya told that his Guru was Dronacharya and showed the idol of Drona under a tree. Even Drona was surprised at the devotion and sincerity of Ekalavya. Arjuna asked Drona how he could teach Ekalavya the technique of archery, which he himself has not learnt. Dronacharya wanted to satisfy Arjuna and asked Ekalavya for Guru Dakshina (an ancient Indian tradition of offering a gift to the Guru on completion of education). 
Ekalavya was ready to give whatever was asked for. Drona then asked for the thumb finger of the right hand. Ekalavya cut off his right thumb without any hesitation and offered it to Drona. Without the right thumb, it is impossible to practice archery. Later Swami went to the interview room.


In the morning session Swami had asked the Warden, that from that day evening for the entire vacation, He wanted two students to give a talk. The Warden had submitted that students may not be ready at a short notice. To this Swami said that a particular student from Mumbai was ready with a talk. The Registrar – Prof. Lakshminarasimham identified the student based on the description given by Swami as Shashank Shah from Bombay. The Warden suggested the name of the other student. Two names for the evening session were finalised – Madhusudan and Shashank Shah.

Swami : (The student speakers arrived and sat in the first row. Swami returned from the interview room. To Shashank Shah) Are you from Bombay?
Shashank Shah with Sri Sathya Sai
Student : Yes, Swami. 

Then both the students gave a talk for about 15 minutes each. Swami expressed His satisfaction and returned to the interview room.

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