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In the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, Ekalavya was a young prince of the Nishadha tribes, and a member of a low caste, who nevertheless aspired to study archery in the gurukul of Dronacharya, the guru of the Kaurava princes. After being rejected by Drona, Ekalavya embarked upon a program of self-study in the presence of a clay image of Drona. He achieved a level of skill superior to that of Arjuna, Drona's favorite and most accomplished pupil. Drona eventually came to know the same and went to Ekalavya demanding that Ekalavya turn over his right thumb as a teacher's fee. The loyal Ekalavya crippled himself, and thereby ruined his prospects as an archer, by severing his thumb and giving it to Drona.
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