One of the most admirable characters from the grand epic, "The Mahabharata" is the person - Ekalavya who embodies selfless devotion to the Guru (the teacher). A self-taught person who has mastered all the skills of archery in the absence of his Guru, Dronacharya. Ironically, the teacher felt that he was a clear threat to Arjuna, his favorite disciple, and maliciously sought the right thumb of his "student" as guru-dakshina (an offering that the student makes to the teacher for the lessons learnt as a thanksgiving). One's heart literally goes out for Ekalavya, who having willingly surrendered to his teacher, happily gave what was asked for from him; knowing fully well that that was the end of his passion and career.
While the intent of this post is not to malign any character, the author feels that it was a heinous wrong done to Ekalavya by the teacher, Dronacharya. With that as an aside, what makes it a case of wonderment is, how did Ekalavya become so great in the art of archery? Complete surrender to the teacher, learning everything with one's own understanding at one's own pace and from mistakes, constant practice with the desire to excel, focus, going after what one wants with sincerity, honesty and dedication; and sadhana. All the perfect and essential qualities of the student. Is it a wonder now, that Ekalavya surpassed all with his skills?
Importantly, this post is to not argue about the need for a teacher. Without a guru's blessings, the student can really get nowhere. Usually, the teacher's greatest source of happiness is when the student performs well. A guru is the precursor of all knowledge, and he/she leads the seeker/student from the path of darkness to light. A guru, who has undergone the same journey, long time back, knows immediately as to what are the mistakes that one usually commits, and what is it that needs to be avoided. And in pursuits with a strong sense of lineage, it is the refinement of years and years of accumulated wealth of knowledge.
With this, the author would like to bow down to all his Guru's, with love, reverence and gratitude.