February 18, 2020
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How can 85-year-old doddering idiots, who can neither lift nor string a Gandiva, head the Archery Federation for 30 and even 50 years.

Illustration by Saahil

Heaven is too quiet these days. Friend and fellow guru Kripacharya and even my stormy petrel son Aswathhama agree with me that we could do with some life. Life is boring that even Browning’s  ‘O to be in England, now that April’s there...’ sounds appealing. Then a thought struck me and I rushed to Kripacharya to quote a revised version of Browning: ‘O to be in India, now that archery is honoured there’. Poor Kripa is a bit slow on the uptake these days but soon joined the fun.

O, we had some of the greatest archers in the world and universe. Why crib? Where were the greatest archers after Arjuna, Karna and their famous gurus? The mantle passed on to the vilayatis, one Robin Hood in England, one William Tell in Switzerland who could shoot and bring down an apple from the head of a boy some 75 metres away. Alas, after those days of archer-suitors, India produ­ced no heroes in archery and the position got worse day by day. They showed us great heroes and gurus in something called movies, made us laughing stocks. Our bows and arrows were puny, you could not compare them with  the great Gandiva and the ‘divyastras’ which we could use to destroy the world. I often had to contain Aswathhama who wanted to destroy all these with his dreaded brahmastra.

It’s not our fault but that of the people who have been in charge of archery in this blasted country. How can 85-year-old doddering idiots, who can neither lift nor string a Gandiva, head the Archery Federation for 30 and even 50 years. We rishis could be great acharyas despite our ripe ages because of our  tapasya power. Today, it is money power, political power, how I long for another 18-day war to annihilate these phoneys!

But then I have always been a pessimist, unlike my friend Kripa who saw better things even in the present darkness. He shouted “change, change” when he heard that great India had won some gold medals at some place, Inchong or Pinchong.  This was amazing, he exclaimed, because our teams were not able to win even bronze medals in the past and if at all this was achieved, the winners turned out to be women archers who had to be disqualified.

Kripa is however certain that the change is genuine. So are the golds. The Dronacharya awards should be revived and archery competitions should be held at all levels. Remember how Arjuna won the hand of Draupadi in a famous archery contest? I am sure Indian women will be up to international levels. How wonderful it would be to have ‘teerandazi’ contests to select our Miss Astras including the ultimate winner, Miss Brahmastri.

The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 [AT] gmail [DOT] com

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