Today, let’s talk about a story from the Mahabharata. It’s a story from the childhood of Arjuna.
In the kingdom of Hastinapur, lived the Pandavas and the Kauravas. They were cousins. The Pandavas were sons of Pandu; they were five brothers. The Kauravas were sons of Dhritarashtra; they were a hundred brothers.
Now both the Pandavas and Kauravas had the same guru, whose name was Acharya Drona (also called Dronacharya) – appointed as the teacher of the princes in the royal family. Dronacharya was well versed in ancient scriptures and was adept in various martial and other arts useful in war time, useful in defense and attack. In particular, Acharya Drona was the supreme authority in training his disciples in the art of archery.
Arjuna loved the sport of archery, and soon he became Dronacharya’s favorite and most accomplished pupil. This was not well taken by Duryodhana and his 99 brothers. They were jealous and harbored ill feelings towards their cousin. One day Duryodhana openly criticized their guru Acharya Drona for favoritism shown towards Arjuna. He stated that they were no less skillful in archery than Arjuna. As a reply to this defiance from Duryodhana, Acharya Drona arranged for a test in archery.
Accordingly, a wooden bird with a prominently painted black eye was placed on the branch of a high tree in such a way that it was partially hidden. The guru then called all his disciples and said, “Look at the bird sitting on a branch on that far off tree. All you have to do is to hit the arrow exactly in its eye. Are you all ready?”
Everyone nodded and stood in a disciplined line waiting for the Acharya to call on them.
First the eldest Pandava brother, Yudhishtra was called to try his skill. He stretched his bow string and was ready to release the arrow when Acharya asked him: “O eldest son of Kunti, describe what you see at this point in time?”
Yudhishtra replied: “Gurudev, I see you, the tree, people around me and the bird.”
Similar questions were asked to Duryodhana, Bheem, Dushasana, Nakul, Sahadev and others. Similar answers were provided. The Acharya asked all of them to step aside, as they would be sure to miss the target.
Lastly, it was the turn of Arjuna who was ready with his bow and arrow waiting for his guru to instruct him to shoot. Acharya Drona asked Arjuna the same question, “Tell me what do you see, dear Arjuna?”
Arjuna replied, “I can only see the eye of the bird and nothing else.”
Dronacharya was pleased with Arjuna’s immense focus, concentration and right approach towards archery. He smiled with admiration and then said, “Now you can release the arrow.”
Arjuna’s arrow hit right on the target. So perfect was his aim and concentration that everyone noticed, including Duryodhana. No wonder Acharya Drona admired Arjuna, which was unfortunately misconstrued by Duryodhan as favoritism.
So let’s come to the moral of the story: When you aim for something, you should look at nothing else but the target. Only intense concentration can help you strike at the target.