One day, while the princes were playing in the garden, a tall man dressed in black, with his head covered by a large hood, stopped to observe them. At a certain point the ball with which the boys were playing fell into the pit, and no matter how hard they tried, they could not retrieve it.
The traveler laughed aloud.
“Is it possible that the descendants of a prestigious lineage like that of the Bharatas do not know how to do something as simple as retrieving a ball that has fallen into a well?”
“It is not at all easy to recover it without getting wet,” replied the princes somewhat irritated, “but if you think you can do it, then show us how.”
The stranger smiled; then he asked for a bow and placed an arrow on it. With a clever game of rebounds he managed to retrieve the ball. Then, he asked for a gold ring. Yudhisthira gave him his and he, to the general surprise, threw it into the well. Before the young men could protest, he grabbed blades of grass from the ground and muttered mantras, then decisively threw them into the well, hooking the ring. Then he cast the other grass in quick succession connecting it to the previous blade of grass, forming a chain. That way he managed to get the ring out. The princes were flabbergasted.
“Who are you? And what is your name?” One of them asked. “We have never seen things like that done with such skill.”
“Bhishma knows me,” he replied. “Go to him and tell him what I did. Then you will know my name.”
As soon as Bhishma heard how the mysterious character had recovered the ball and the ring, he immediately knew that it was Drona and ran outside to receive him. He was the best weapons master of the time. His skill was unparalleled and all the kings of Bharata-varsha vied for him to instruct their children in the noble martial art. The Bharata princes had hitherto been taught by Kripa, but there was no doubt that Drona could offer them teaching on a very different level, which only he was capable of imparting. Therefore Bhishma felt honored to ask him to remain at court as the Acarya of all principles.
This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.
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