Reading Guide. In this episode, you will meet one of the most important characters in the epic: Drona, who will become the guru (teacher) to the young Pandavas and to the Kauravas, their cousins. You will also learn about Drona's boyhood friendship with King Drupada — a friendship which later turned to hatred. An important thing to note here is that Drona, one of the warrior heroes of the epic, is a brahmin by birth, not a kshatriya (warrior).
Image. The image I have included below shows Drona's father, the great brahmin Bharadwaja. Bharadwaja has a connection with the Ramayana: during their forest exile, Rama and Sita spent time at his hermitage.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [500 words]
About this time the prudent Bhishma deemed that the young men should be trained to bear arms, so he searched far and wide for a preceptor who was at once a warrior and a scholar, a pious and lofty-minded man, and a lover of truth. Such was Drona, the brave and god-adoring son of Bharadwaja. He was well pleased to have care of the princes and to give them instruction worthy of their rank and martial origin.
Drona had no mother: his miraculous birth was accomplished by a beautiful nymph, and his sire was Bharadwaja, a most pious brahmin. Of similar origin was Drupada, son of a rajah named Prishata. Drona and Drupada were reared together like brothers by the wise Bharadwaja, and it was the hope of both sires that their sons would repeat their own lifelong friendship.
But when, after happy youth, they grew into manhood, fate parted them. The rajah retired from the throne, and Drupada ruled the kingdom of Panchala. Bharadwaja died soon afterwards, and Drona married a wife named Kripi (sister of Kripa), who became the mother of his son Ashwatthaman. The child was so named because at birth he uttered a cry like to the neighing of a horse. Drona devoted himself to rearing his son, while he accumulated the wisdom of the sages and performed sacred rites with pious mind like to his holy sire.
When the sage Jamadagni, son of Bhrigu, closed his career, he bestowed his great wealth on the sons of brahmins. Drona received heavenly weapons and power to wield them. Then he bethought him to visit Drupada, the friend of his youth, and share his inheritance with him.
Drona stood before the rajah and exclaimed, "Behold thy friend."
But Drupada frowned; his eyes reddened with anger, and for a while he sat in silence. At length he spoke haughtily and said, "Brahmin, it is nor wise nor fitting that thou shouldst call me friend. What friendship can there be between a luckless beggar and a mighty rajah? I grant that in youth such a bond united us, one to another, but it has wasted away with the years. Do not think that the friendship of youth endures for ever in human hearts; it is weakened by time, and pride plucks it from one's bosom. Friendship can exist only between equals as we two once were, but no longer chance to be. Hear and know! Rich and poor, wise and ignorant, warriors and cowards, can never be friends; it is for those who are of equal station to exercise mutual esteem. Say, can a brahmin respect one who is ignorant of the Vedas? Can a warrior do other than despise one who cannot go forth to battle in his rumbling chariot? Say, can a monarch condescend to one who is far beneath him? Begone, then, thou dreamer! Forget the days and the thoughts of the past. I know thee not. "
Drona heard the harsh words of his old friend with mute amaze. For a moment he paused. Then abruptly he turned away, nor spake he in reply. His heart burned with indignation as he hastened out of the city.