(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Desirous of giving his grandsons a superior education, Bhishma was on the look-out for a teacher endued with energy and well-skilled in the science of arms. Deciding, O chief of the Bharatas, that none who was not possessed of great intelligence, none who was not illustrious or a perfect master of the science of arms, none who was not of godlike might, should be the instructor of the Kuru (princes), the son of Ganga, O tiger among men, placed the Pandavas and the Kauravas under the tuition of Bharadwaja's son, the intelligent Drona skilled in all the Vedas. Pleased with the reception given him by the great Bhishma, that foremost of all men skilled in arms, viz., illustrious Drona of world-wide fame, accepted the princes as his pupils. And Drona taught them the science of arms in all its branches. And, O monarch, both the Kauravas and the Pandavas endued with immeasurable strength, in a short time became proficient in the use of all kinds of arms.'
"Janamejaya asked, 'O Brahmana, how was Drona born? How and whence did he acquire his arms? How and why came he unto the Kurus? Whose son also was he endued with such energy? Again, how was his son Aswatthaman, the foremost of all skilled in arms born? I wish to hear all this! Please recite them in detail.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'There dwelt at the source of the Ganga, a great sage named Bharadwaja, ceaselessly observing the most rigid vows. One day, of old, intending to celebrate the Agnihotra sacrifice he went along with many great Rishis to the Ganga to perform his ablutions. Arrived at the bank of the stream, he saw Ghritachi herself, that Apsara endued with youth and beauty, who had gone there a little before. With an expression of pride in her countenance, mixed with a voluptuous languor of attitude, the damsel rose from the water after her ablutions were over. And as she was gently treading on the bank, her attire which was loose became disordered. Seeing her attire disordered, the sage was smitten with burning desire. The next moment his vital fluid came out, in consequence of the violence of his emotion. The Rishi immediately held it in a vessel called a drona. Then, O king, Drona sprang from the fluid thus preserved in that vessel by the wise Bharadwaja. And the child thus born studied all the Vedas and their branches. Before now Bharadwaja of great prowess and the foremost of those possessing a knowledge of arms, had communicated to the illustrious Agnivesa, a knowledge of the weapon called Agneya. O foremost one of Bharata's race, the Rishi (Agnivesa) sprung from fire now communicated the knowledge of that great weapon to Drona the son of his preceptor.
"There was a king named Prishata who was a great friend of Bharadwaja. About this time Prishata had a son born unto him, named Drupada. And that bull among Kshatriyas, viz., Drupada, the son of Prishata, used every day to come to the hermitage of Bharadwaja to play with Drona and study in his company. O monarch, when Prishata was dead, this Drupada of mighty arms became the king of the northern Panchalas. About this time the illustrious Bharadwaja also ascended to heaven. Drona continuing to reside in his father's hermitage devoted himself to ascetic austerities. Having become well-versed in the Vedas and their branches and having burnt also all his sins by asceticism, the celebrated Drona, obedient to the injunctions of his father and moved by the desire of offspring married Kripi, the daughter of Saradwat. And this woman, ever engaged in virtuous acts and the Agnihotra, and the austerest of penances, obtained a son named Aswatthaman. And as soon as Aswatthaman was born, he neighed like the (celestial) steed Ucchaihsravas. Hearing that cry, an invisible being in the skies said, 'The voice of this child hath, like the neighing of a horse, been audible all around. The child shall, therefore, be known by the name of Aswatthaman, (the horse-voiced). The son of Bharadwaja (Drona) was exceedingly glad at having obtained that child. Continuing to reside in that hermitage he devoted himself to the study of the science of arms.
"O king, it was about this time that Drona heard that the illustrious Brahmana Jamadagnya, that slayer of foes, that foremost one among all wielders of weapons, versed in all kinds of knowledge, had expressed a desire of giving away all his wealth to Brahmanas. Having heard of Rama's knowledge of arms and of his celestial weapons also, Drona set his heart upon them as also upon the knowledge of morality that Rama possessed. Then Drona of mighty arms, endued with high ascetic virtues, accompanied by disciples who were all devoted to vows ascetic austerities, set out for the Mahendra mountains. Arrived at Mahendra, the son of Bharadwaja possessed of high ascetic merit, beheld the son of Bhrigu, the exterminator of all foes, endued with great patience and with mind under complete control. Then, approaching with his disciples that scion of the Bhrigu race Drona, giving him his name, told him of his birth in the line of Angiras. And touching the ground with his head, he worshipped Rama's feet. And beholding the illustrious son of Jamadagni intent upon retiring into the woods after having given away all his wealth, Drona said, 'Know me to have sprung from Bharadwaja, but not in any woman's womb! I am a Brahmana of high birth, Drona by name, come to thee with the desire of obtaining thy wealth.'
"On hearing him, that illustrious grinder of the Kshatriya race replied, Thou art welcome, O best of regenerate ones! Tell me what thou desirest. Thus addressed by Rama, the son of Bharadwaja replied unto that foremost of all smiters, desirous of giving away the whole of his wealth, 'O thou of multifarious vows, I am a candidate for thy eternal wealth,' 'O thou of ascetic wealth, returned Rama, 'My gold and whatever other wealth I had, have all been given away unto Brahmanas! This earth also, to the verge of the sea, decked with towns and cities, as with a garland of flowers, I have given unto Kasyapa. I have now my body only and my various valuable weapons left. I am prepared to give either my body or my weapons. Say, which thou wouldst have! I would give it thee! Say quickly!'
"Drona answered, O son of Bhrigu, it behoveth thee to give me all thy weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them.'
"Saying, 'So be it,' the son of Bhrigu gave all his weapons unto Drona,--indeed, the whole science of arms with its rules and mysteries. Accepting them all, and thinking himself amply rewarded that best of Brahmanas then, glad at heart, set out, for (the city of) his friend Drupada.'"