Most people only know about how Ekalavya as the Nishada prince who was rejected by the Pandavas’ teacher Dronacharya and then willingly cut off his own thumb at Dronacharya’s request. But what most people do not know is how Ekalavya died or who killed him. Although there are many versions of the story, this particular legend is quite popular. Let’s retrace his legend
Story of Ekalavya:
Eklavya was the Prince of Nishadha. He was the son of Devashrava who was the brother of Kunti and Vasudev. But for some reasons, he was abandoned by his father when he was an infant.He was the cousin of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas and Shishupala.When he was young, he was lost in the forest and was found by Vyatraj Hiranyadhanush, King of Nishadha and was adopted by him.
Ekalavya wanted to become a disciple of Dronacharya, but was rejected. Not to be discouraged, Ekalavya made a statue of the famed teacher from the mud Drona walked upon, and worshipped it as his guru. He then began a disciplined program of self-study over many years.
One day, when Drona’s students were out in the forest, Arjuna saw a dog that was unable to bark due to a construction of arrows in and all around his mouth. The construction was contrived in such a way that the dog could not bark and yet it did not harm the animal. Drona was amazed and wished to meet the archer who had accomplished such an extraordinary feat. When Ekalavya appeared, Drona asked him who his guru was. Ekalavya replied, saying that Drona himself was his guru and explained what he had done. Arjuna angrily confronted Drona for breaking his promise to make Arjuna the greatest archer in the world. In order to remedy the situation, Drona asked for the right thumb of Ekalavya as his dakshina, a fee or donation generally paid to a priest or guru. Ekalavya severed his thumb and offered it to Drona, as asked, while being aware that, by doing so, he would lose his prowess as an archer.
Even though Ekalavya lost his thumb, he is still considered as one of the great archers in the Mahabharatha.
Ekalavya and his clan were great supporters of Jarasandha. Jarasandha was the arch-enemy of Krishna, which made Ekalavya his enemy too, in spite of the fact that they were cousins. When Jarasandha planned an attack on Ekalavya aided him.
Rukmini, the daughter of Bhishmaka who was the king of Vidarbha and also the vassal of King Jarasandha of Magadha, fell in love with Krishna and wanted to marry him.
Rukmini’s parents also wanted her to marry Krishna but Rukmi, brother of Rukmini strongly opposed it. Rukmi did not want to earn the wrath of emperor Jarasandha, who was the arch-enemy of Krishna. Instead, he wanted Rukmini to marry his friend Shishupala, the crown prince of Chedi, who was also the close associate of Jarasandha.
Rukmini learned this and immediately sent the message to Krishna. She asked Krishna to come to Vidharbha and kidnap her to avoid a battle where her relatives may be killed.
Eklavya helped Jarasandha and Shishupala by chasing Rukmini when she eloped with Krishna. After the death of Jarasandha and Shishupala, Eklavya sought to avenge him by campaigning to destroy Kuntibhoja and every Yadava in Dwarka. During the attack, he was killed by Krishna and eventually his army was knocked out by Balarama and was forced to flee the battle, as all his major allies had been killed.
There is also another version of the story of how Krishna killed Eklavya,
According to some, Eklavya helped Jarasandha and Shishupala by chasing Rukmini while she eloped with Krishna. Enraged, Krishna picked up a stone and hurled it at Eklavya, killing him.
Well, it is said that Krishna also had another reason to kill Ekalavya, In Drona-Parva, Krishna reveals that he let people like Jarasandha, Shishupala and Eklavya be killed because if they were not killed, later on during the war, they would have taken the side of Kauravas and that would have obstructed the establishment of Dharma.
It is also believed that Krishna gave Ekalavya a boon at his death that he would be reborn to kill Dronacharya. Accordingly, he was born as Drishtadyumna and finally killed Dronacharya.