Episode # 153 – Key characteristics of a “GURU” & “SISHYA” – Guru Dhronaachaarya & Arjuna illustrate!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed how Arjuna ended up outsmarting his own Guru when it came to learning some secretive lessons on warfare. Guru Dhronaachaarya, as we had witnessed, was trying to give some secretive lessons to his son Ashwatthaama alone, and not to the others. However, Arjuna sniffed this happening, and he made sure that he was there for all the lessons that Guru Dhronaachaarya was teaching Ashwatthaama one on one. As it was a lesson on warfare techniques, Guru Dhronaachaarya couldn’t deny Arjuna from being there amidst Ashwatthaama and hence, he ended up teaching all what he did for Ashwatthaama. Eventually, Guru Dhronaachaarya did not want to teach Arjuna the art of bow and arrow during the night time amidst the darkness. He tried his tricks to avoid Arjuna while he taught the same to his son. However, Arjuna learnt it by himself by taking the bow and arrow and practicing the art amidst pitch darkness. Eventually, as he was trying it for himself, he slowly started to gain the expertise in handling the bow and arrow in the dark. 

Thus, we can witness here how Arjuna was an extremely proactive student in learning. He did not wait for Guru Dhronaachaarya to teach him this, but he had that innate interest to learn something new everytime. This interest motivated him to go for it and thus, Arjuna was clearly miles apart from the other students. He was an extremely smart and a shrewd candidate and showed all the qualities of a prolific student. These are all important lessons for all of us as well – Here, Sage Vyaasa is clearly explaining the detailed roles of a teacher and a student. A teacher should treat all his students equally without any bias. A teacher should pass on all the expertise that he had gained over the years, to the student, without any jealousy or blemish. A teacher should be the first one to feel happy if his student is excelling in all the lessons and should motivate the student to learn more. If the student is going wrong somewhere, it is the bound duty of the teacher to correct the student and mend his ways. There should be no partiality between one student and the other. 

We can witness all these important characteristics being clearly illustrated in Guru Dhronaachaarya, isn’t it? Of course, Guru Dhronaachaarya as a teacher got certain things right and certain things wrong. With regards to the aspects that he excelled in, Guru Dhronaachaarya ensured that he passed on his great expertise to his students without any blemish or jealousy. He was also a strict teacher wherein if the students go wrong somewhere, he would be the first person to criticize them. However, having said these, Guru Dhronaachaarya did a couple of things wrong too – The biggest mistake that he committed was to show bias. He somehow wanted his son, Ashwatthaama to have an upper hand as compared to the others, including Arjuna. When it came to certain intricate details in warfare, he wanted Ashwatthaama to know them better than Arjuna. This was something wrong, and it clearly shows that Guru Dhronaachaarya was not treating his students equally on the same plane. Just because Ashwatthaama was his son, Guru Dhronaachaarya treated him “differently” and this was not expected from a Guru of such a great caliber. Secondly, Guru Dhronaachaarya wanted to use Arjuna as a weapon to satisfy his grudge against his enemy, King Drupada. Thus, we never know whether Guru Dhronaachaarya really acknowledged Arjuna from his heart as one of his best students. Of course, Arjuna being a smart child, he made use of this opportunity and learnt whatever he could from Guru Dhronaachaarya proactively. However, had Arjuna not been proactive enough, perhaps Guru Dhronaachaarya would have just portrayed Arjuna as his best student for namesake and not with his utmost sincerity. All the due importance would have gone to Ashwatthaama, and he would have gained an undue advantage. 

Thus, Arjuna’s proactiveness and shrewdness illustrates how a student should behave towards a Guru and approach him for learning. Of course, the Guru cannot cover all the topics of the syllabus, owing to various human limitations. It is thus the duty of the disciple to think and extrapolate by himself as to what the Guru has taught him, and with that, he should be able to learn more than what the Guru actually taught during the class. Thus, this would enhance the research skills of the student, and with this, the application of whatever is being taught is strengthened. In other words, the disciple should learn all what the Guru is teaching, as well as those which the Guru hasn’t taught! Thus, an overall 360 degree understanding of the subject should be the ultimate aim of a student. 

So for today, let us appreciate the learnings that we obtain from Guru Dhronaachaarya and Arjuna and let us wait till the next episode to continue with how Guru Dhronaachaarya reacted to Arjuna’s newly found expertise of employing the bow and arrow in the darkness! Stay tuned! 🙂 


Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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