“Vaisampayana said, ‘Arrived at Hastinapura, that best of Brahmanas, theson of Bharadwaja, continued to live privately in the house of Gautama(Kripa). His mighty son (Aswatthaman) at intervals of Kripa’s teaching,used to give the sons of Kunti lessons in the use of arms. But as yetnone knew of Aswatthaman’s prowess.
“Drona had thus lived privately for some time in the house of Kripa whenone day the heroic princes, all in a company, came out of Hastinapura.And coming out of the city, they began to play with a ball and roam aboutin gladness of heart. And it so happened that the ball with which theyhad been playing fell into a well. And thereupon the princes strove theirbest to recover it from the well. But all the efforts the princes made torecover it proved futile. They then began to eye one another bashfully,and not knowing how to recover it, their anxiety became great. Just atthis time they beheld a Brahmana near enough unto them, of darkish hue,decrepit and lean, sanctified by the performance of the Agnihotra and whohad finished his daily rites of worship. And beholding that illustriousBrahmana, the princes who had despaired of success surrounded himimmediately. Drona (for that Brahmana was no other), seeing the princesunsuccessful, and conscious of his own skill, smiled a little, andaddressing them said, ‘Shame on your Kshatriya might, and shame also onyour skill in arms! You have been born in the race of Bharata! How is itthat ye cannot recover the ball (from the bottom of this well)? If yepromise me a dinner today, I will, with these blades of grass, bring upnot only the ball ye have lost but this ring also that I now throw down!’Thus saying, Drona that oppressor of foes, taking off his ring, threw itdown into the dry well. Then Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, addressingDrona, said, ‘O Brahmana (thou askest for a trifle)! Do thou, withKripa’s permission, obtain of us that which would last thee for life!’Thus addressed, Drona with smiles replied unto the Bharata princes,saying, ‘This handful of long grass I would invest, by my mantras, withthe virtue of weapons. Behold these blades possess virtues that otherweapons, have not! I will, with one of these blades, pierce the ball, andthen pierce that blade with another, and that another with a third, andthus shall I, by a chain, bring up the ball.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Drona did exactly what he had said. Andthe princes were all amazed and their eyes expanded with delight. Andregarding what they had witnessed to be very extraordinary, they said, Olearned Brahmana, do thou bring up the ring also without loss of time.’
“Then the illustrious Drona, taking a bow with an arrow, pierced the ringwith that arrow and brought it up at once. And taking the ring thusbrought up from the well still pierced with his arrow, he coolly gave itto the astonished princes. Then the latter, seeing the ring thusrecovered, said, ‘We bow to thee, O Brahmana! None else owneth suchskill. We long to know who thou art and whose son. What also can we dofor thee?’
“Thus addressed, Drona replied unto the princes, saying, ‘Do ye repairunto Bhishma and describe to him my likeness and skill. The mighty onewill recognize me.’ The princes then saying, ‘So be it,’ repaired untoBhishma and telling him of the purport of that Brahmana’s speech, relatedeverything about his (extraordinary) feat. Hearing everything from theprinces, Bhishma at once understood that the Brahmana was none else thanDrona, and thinking that he would make the best preceptor for theprinces, went in person unto him and welcoming him respectfully, broughthim over to the place. Then Bhishma, that foremost of all wielders ofarms, adroitly asked him the cause of his arrival at Hastinapura. Askedby him, Drona represented everything as it had happened, saying, ‘O sir,in times past I went to the great Rishi Agnivesa for obtaining from himhis weapons, desirous also of learning the science of arms. Devoted tothe service of my preceptor, I lived with him for many years in thehumble guise of a Brahmacharin, with matted locks on my head. At thattime, actuated by the same motives, the prince of Panchala, the mightyYajnasena, also lived in the same asylum. He became my friend, alwaysseeking my welfare. I liked him much. Indeed, we lived together for many,many years. O thou of Kuru’s race, from our earliest years we had studiedtogether and, indeed, he was my friend from boyhood, always speaking anddoing what was agreeable to me. For gratifying me, O Bhishma, he used totell me, ‘O Drona, I am the favourite child of my illustrious father.When the king installeth me as monarch of the Panchalas, the kingdomshall be thine. O friend, this, indeed, is my solemn promise. Mydominion, wealth and happiness, shall all be dependent on thee.’ At lastthe time came for his departure. Having finished his studies, he bent hissteps towards his country. I offered him my regards at the time, and,indeed, I remembered his words ever afterwards.
“Some time after, in obedience to the injunctions of my father andtempted also by the desire of offspring, I married Kripi of short hair,who gifted with great intelligence, had observed many rigid vows, and wasever engaged in the Agnihotra and other sacrifices and rigid austerities.Gautami, in time, gave birth to a son named Aswatthaman of great prowessand equal in splendour unto the Sun himself. Indeed, I was pleased onhaving obtained Aswatthaman as much as my father had been on obtaining me.
“And it so happened that one day the child Aswatthaman observing somerich men’s sons drink milk, began to cry. At this I was so beside myselfthat I lost all knowledge of the point of the compass. Instead of askinghim who had only a few kine (so that if he gave me one, he would nolonger be able to perform his sacrifices and thus sustain a loss ofvirtue), I was desirous of obtaining a cow from one who had many, and forthat I wandered from country to country. But my wanderings provedunsuccessful, for I failed to obtain a milch cow. After I had come backunsuccessful, some of my son’s playmates gave him water mixed withpowdered rice. Drinking this, the poor boy, was deceived into the beliefthat he had taken milk, and began to dance in joy, saying, ‘O, I havetaken milk. I have taken milk!’ Beholding him dance with joy amid theseplaymates smiling at his simplicity, I was exceedingly touched. Hearingalso the derisive speeches of busy-bodies who said, ‘Fie upon theindigent Drona, who strives not to earn wealth, whose son drinking watermixed with powdered rice mistaketh it for milk and danceth with joy,saying, ‘I have taken milk,–I have taken milk!’–I was quite besidemyself. Reproaching myself much, I at last resolved that even if I shouldhave to live cast off and censured by Brahmanas, I would not yet, fromdesire of wealth, be anybody’s servant, which is ever hateful. Thusresolved, O Bhishma, I went, for former friendship, unto the king of theSomakas, taking with me my dear child and wife. Hearing that he had beeninstalled in the sovereignty (of the Somakas), I regarded myself asblessed beyond compare. Joyfully I went unto that dear friend of mineseated on the throne, remembering my former friendship with him and alsohis own words to me. And, O illustrious one, approaching Drupada, I said,’O tiger among men, know me for thy friend!’–Saying this, I approachedhim confidently as a friend should. But Drupada, laughing in derisioncast me off as if I were a vulgar fellow. Addressing me he said, ‘Thyintelligence scarcely seemeth to be of a high order inasmuch asapproaching me suddenly, thou sayest thou art my friend! Time thatimpaireth everything, impaireth friendship also. My former friendshipwith thee was for a particular purpose. One of impure birth can never bea friend of one who is of pure birth. One who is not a car-warrior cannever be a friend of one who is such. Friendship can only subsist betweenpersons that are of equal rank, but not between those that are unequallysituated. Friendship never subsisteth for ever in my heart. Timeimpaireth friendships, as also anger destroyeth them. Do thou not stick,therefore, to that worn-off friendship between us. Think not of it anylonger. The friendship I had with thee, O best of Brahmanas, was for aspecial purpose. There cannot be friendship between a poor man and a richman, between an unlettered hind and a man of letters, between a cowardand a hero. Why dost thou, therefore, desire, the revival of our formerfriendship? O thou of simple understanding, great kings can never havefriendship with such indigent and luckless wight as thou? One who is nota king can never have a king for his friend. I do not remember everhaving promised thee my kingdom. But, O Brahmana, I can now give theefood and shelter for one night.’–Thus addressed by him, I left hispresence quickly with my wife, vowing to do that which I will certainlydo soon enough. Thus insulted by Drupada, O Bhishma, I have been filledwith wrath, I have come to the Kurus, desirous of obtaining intelligentand docile pupils. I come to Hastinapura to gratify thy wishes. O, tellme what I am to do.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the son of Bharadwaja,Bhishma said unto him, ‘String thy bow, O Brahmana, and make the Kuruprinces accomplished in arms. Worshipped by the Kurus, enjoy with a gladheart to thy fill every comfort in their abode. Thou art the absolutelord, O Brahmana, of what ever wealth the Kurus have and of theirsovereignty and kingdom! The Kurus are thine (from this day). Think thatas already accomplished which may be in thy heart. Thou art, O Brahmana,obtained by us as the fruit of our great good luck. Indeed, the favourthou hast conferred upon me by thy arrival is great.’