When the Pandavas and Kauravas were young, they were all sent to the ashram to study. Besides them there were several other princes too who were also sent for the same purpose. There would be a keen competition among them all to be the best in studies and win the praise of the teacher. They were progressing well and the teacher was happy with the pupils.
One day the teacher had to go out of station on some work, where he expected to be away for several days. He called all his students to his presence and gave them a few lessons to be studied during his absence. The teacher left and the students were left to their individual pursuits for the time being.
A fortnight later the teacher returned. When the class met the teacher enquired as to how they spent their time during his absence and what they studied. Each prince came forward and explained how they spent their time really in studies. One studied three lessons, another four, and yet another five, so on and so forth. The teacher beamed at them as one by one the pupils stood up and gave an account of themselves. At last it was Dharmaraja’s turn. The teacher looked at him expectantly as he was the most industrious of all his pupils. Dharmaraja said in a low voice , ” I studied one sentence, Sir. ” The teacher was stunned. He could hardly believe his ears. ” Just one sentence? ” he asked. ” Yes Sir, I could, study only one sentence in this short time. ” Dharmaraja repeated.
What came over Dharmaraja? The teacher could not understand why he required a full fortnight to learn one sentence. Dharmaraja was older than all his other pupils and he ought to have been more diligent in his studies and serve as an example to the others. But here was the boy, shamelessly declaring that a fortnight was not sufficient for this. If he tolerated this insolence from the oldest boy, the others might follow his example and be indolent in the future. The teacher looked around the class to see how the others were taking it. They were looking on with a derisive smile over their lips eager to see how the teacher would react, because they knew that Dharmaraja was his favorite pupil. Would the teacher punish Dharmaraja or would he overlook the favourite disciple’s laziness? The teacher understood what they were thinking. He should not give rise to an impression that he was partial to Dharmaraja. So he sternly looked at Dharmaraja and said, ” Arent you ashamed of doing so little study while others who are much younger than you studied so many lessons? “
Dharmaraja’s face remained quiet and tranquil. ” No, Sir, I cant help it. I could finish only this much.”
The teacher lost his patience. ” What a big fool you are ! ” he shouted. ” You are not only lazy but brazen too. Are you not ashamed? “
Still Dharmaraja remained calm and tranquil. ” I am sorry to disappoint you Sir. I could study only this much.” All the pupils burst into laughter at the doggedness of Dharmaraja. The teacher could no more control himself. He felt that he must put a stop to the stubbornness of Dharmaraja or else the others would also go wrong. In a rush of anger he stretched out this hand and gave a hard slap on Dharmaraja’s cheek. The delicate cheek of Dharmaraja grew crimson under the hard blow. Still he remained calm and cool, and said in low voice, ” I am sorry, Sir, to disappoint you. I could study only this much. “
Again the shameless assertion ! The teacher lifted up his hand once more and again gave another blow. Dharmaraja still retained his composure. The smile that lights up his face usually was still there. The teacher gave yet another slap. But Dharmaraja remained there calm and quiet, not trying to shield himself, nor to protest nor even to justify himself. The class looked on in wonderment and the teache also stopped, wondering at the calmness of Dharmaraja. It dawned upon him that here was something out of the ordinary, something which Dharmaraja achieved. He looked long into the calm unperturbed eyes of Dharmaraja and asked, ” My son, what was the sentence that you learnt? “
Dharmaraja brought out his book and showed the sentence… The teacher read it, ” Dont be ever angry ! ” Dont be ever angry ! ” In one flash the teacher and all the pupils understood what Dharmaraja achieved. His study was not the lip study of others but it was a practical application of what he read.
The teacher’s eyes were full of tears when he realised how great was Dharmaraja. He embraced the boy and said in a choked voice, ” My son, please excuse me for having done you an injustice. Today you have taught me how lessons have to be studied. If all were like you, the world would be a heaven on earth. “