The Blue Bird and the Archer

One day Drona, the Master-Archer, made trial of the skill of the princes his pupils. He had them all out before him together.

“Take your bows and arrows,” said he, “and be ready to shoot, when I tell you, at the blue bird in yonder tree.”

Prince Yudhisthira, being the eldest, was called first.

“Be ready to shoot,” said Drona. “But tell me first what you see. Do you see the bird?”

“Yes,” said Yudhisthira.

“What else do you see? Myself, your brothers, or the tree?”

“I see yourself, my brothers, the tree, and the bird.”

Three times Drona asked this question, and three times was he thus answered. Then very sorrowfully he turned from Yudhisthira. Not by him was the bird to be shot.

Prince after prince, he questioned on this wise; and all alike made answer: “I see you, my brothers, the tree, and the bird.”

And now there was but one prince left, Arjun, the master’s favourite pupil.

“Tell me, Arjun, with bow bent, what do you see?”

“I see a bird.”

“Do you not see myself, your brothers, the tree?”

“I see the bird alone,” said Arjun, “not you, nor the tree, nor my brothers.”

“Of what colour is the bird?”

“I see only a bird’s head.”

“Then shoot,” said Drona joyfully; and even as he expected, as soon as the arrow sped from the bow, the bird was headless.


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