Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is The Teacher and the Student. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Teacher. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Teacher. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Today’s story is from India. In a previous episode I said that most of our listeners were from Turkey. This is no longer true. Indian listeners are now the biggest group. So, hello to all my listeners in India! Obviously, India is a very big country, so it’s not surprising that you are the biggest group. I’m going to try and include some more Indian stories in future episodes.
Actually, somebody emailed me about the Turkish episode I did, The Woman of the Mountain, and said that there are some better choices for Turkish stories to put on the podcast. And I really appreciate that help. So if you are listening and you know a really good Indian story, please email me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. Tell me what the story is. If there is a version online, that is ideal. Because I would love to have more stories from different places on the podcast.
Today’s story is quite interesting. There is one person in the story who is clearly very bad, and I think most people think that he is the bad character. But I read this story on a particular website and on this website the person said, ‘Actually, this person in the story is good because he teaches an important lesson.’ So you will probably see what I mean later on in the story. But I think it’s interesting… Even a person in a story, who might look really bad, could actually be good. There is often something positive hidden in their personality.
OK, so I’m just going to explain some words that are in the story.
Hunt means to kill animals for food. Nowadays most people don’t have to hunt, but if you do hunt, you will probably use a gun. Somebody who hunts is a hunter. Again, it’s not very common in many places now. In the UK, hunting is a hobby, usually for quite rich people, but there are laws about hunting foxes. It’s illegal to hunt foxes. Unfortunately, some people still do hunt foxes, which I think is a shame, because foxes are very cute.
As I said, modern hunters would use guns, but in the old days, thousands of years ago, you would have to use a bow and arrow. So a bow is a long, wooden weapon, and an arrow is what you shoot from the bow. If you are good with a bow and arrow, you can actually shoot arrows very far, and it can be very dangerous. Somebody who shoots with a bow and arrow is called an archer. So the sport of using bows and arrows is called archery. Famous archers from stories are: Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games—she uses a bow and arrow; Merida from the Disney film Brave—she is very good at shooting arrows; and finally Legolas, or “Legolass”—I’m not sure—from The Lord of the Rings. He is the elf that shoots arrows using his bow.
Keeping a promise. So a promise is when you tell someone, ‘I will definitely do this thing,’ or, ‘I will definitely not do this thing.’ For example, a child might promise its mother to not eat too many sweets. If the child does indeed not eat lots of sweets, they are keeping their promise. But if you don’t keep your promise, and you do eat the sweets, you are breaking your promise.
A law. A law is basically a rule in a country. For example, in most countries there is a law that you can’t kill people. If you kill someone, you will go to prison. So that’s the law.
A king is like the president of a place, but it’s a very old form. So presidents are chosen but kings are kings because they come from a family. For example, in Saudi Arabia, it is the Saudi family who rules the country. So they have a king. The son of a king is called a prince.
Dirt. Dirt is a brown thing you find on the ground. You don’t find it on the road usually, because the road is hard, but if you go to a park or a forest there will be dirt on the ground. So it’s what’s under the grass. Dirt is not clean, but it can be used to make things. When dirt is wet, we call it mud. So when it rains, the dirt turns to mud.
A statue. A statue is when you make a person out of something. So it’s usually stone. In big cities there are often statues of famous people in the middle of the city, often presidents or people who fought in the way. You might also make a statue as art, perhaps a statue of a person.
OK, so remember, you can find the full transcript of this episode, that is, the entire episode in text format at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Teacher.
So, listen and enjoy!
The Teacher and the Student
Eklavya stayed low in the grass. Before him, his father, the hunter, moved quietly. He held a bow and arrow. Then, he saw it. A few metres in front there was a rabbit. It was drinking water. Eklavya’s father put an arrow in the bow. Eklavya took a deep breath. He tried not to move, but it was hard. He moved, and the grass made a sound. The rabbit turned and saw the hunter. It ran away. Eklavya’s father shot the arrow, but it did not hit the rabbit.
The hunter turned around. He looked very angry. ‘Eklavya! I know you are there. Come out.’
Eklavya walked out. He felt bad. His father would hit him for what he did. But instead, the man looked happy.
‘You want to be a hunter, don’t you?’
‘Yes, I do.’
‘That is a shame. It is a difficult way to make money.’ He looked where the rabbit had been. ‘We will have nothing to eat tonight.’
‘I’m sorry, Father! But I will become a hunter. And I will catch rabbits every night.’
‘Don’t be sorry. But promise me you will not become a hunter. You should be a builder. There will always be work then.’
‘I promise, Father.’
But Eklavya was bad at keeping promises. As he grew up, he tried everything: building, making knives, even sending messages. He grew strong and fast. At night, he went into the forest and practised moving quietly.
Eklavya understood that he did not want to be a hunter. Really, he wanted to be an archer. He loved the sound of shooting arrows. He watched his father do it all the time. He could never use the bow himself, of course. Several times, Eklavya found some wood and made his own bow, but each time his father found the bow and broke it.
When he became an adult, Eklavya travelled to the capital city. His father had a friend there. The friend said Eklavya could work as a builder for him. But Eklavya did not go there, and instead went to the castle.
‘I must see Dronacharya.’
Dronacharya was the archery teacher for the king and his family. He was the most famous archer in the whole country.
Eklavya did not think Dronacharya would meet him. He was too important to meet someone like Eklavya. But Dronacharya wanted to know who this strange man was.
‘What do you want?’
‘Please, I want you to be my teacher! I will study day and night, and I will do everything you say.’
Dronacharya looked at him coldly. ‘You know the laws of the country. I am the teacher of the princes and kings, and I cannot teach my art to anyone else. If I teach you, you might become as strong as the princes and kings. That is not good. Promise me you will not bother me again.’
But as we know, Eklavya was bad at keeping promises. He thought the tall, powerful Dronacharya was amazing. In his heart, he had already decided that Dronacharya was his teacher. He picked up the dirt that Dronacharya had stood on, and from the dirt he made a small statue of Dronacharya.
‘You will be my teacher,’ he said.
Eklavya went and worked as a builder. He saved money and bought a bow and arrow. Every afternoon he went and stood by the castle walls. In the garden of the castle, Dronacharya taught the princes archery. Eklavya could hear his words over the wall. He shot arrows into a tree, and took Dronacharya’s advice. The advice was for the princes, so it was difficult. In the day time, Eklavya grew strong at his job, and at night, he went into the forest and hunted small animals. Every night, before going to sleep, he prayed to the statue of Dronacharya.
Eklavya became better and better at archery. When he was in the forest at night, he could hear an animal move behind him, and shoot an arrow into its heart. People began to talk about the strange man, who was so good with a bow and arrow. Still, he did not become rich or famous, because he had no teacher.
Some people said that Eklavya was even better than the princes and kings at archery. Prince Arjuna heard this and decided to go and find the man. He had heard that he practised in the forest at night, so he went there to find Eklavya.
‘You are very good at archery.’
Eklavya saw that it was the prince, and jumped. ‘Your majesty!’
Arjuna smiled. ‘Do not worry. I am not here to hurt you. I want to see how much you have learned. Let us have a competition.’
Arjuna was sure that he was a better archer. His teacher was Dronacharya. But when they started shooting arrows, Eklavya was much better. Arjuna got angry, and he couldn’t hit a lot of the targets. Eklavya hit every one easily.
‘Who taught you?!’ shouted Arjuna.
‘My teacher is Dronacharya.’
This made Arjuna even more angry. He took Eklavya to the castle, and went to Dronacharya’s room. The man was asleep, but Arjuna woke him up, shouting, ‘What is this? This man tells me that you are his teacher. You taught this man and now he is better than me. You broke the law!’
Dronacharya yawned, and looked at Eklavya with his cold eyes. ‘I know this man. He came to the castle years ago, and asked me to be his teacher. I told him no.’
‘Teacher,’ Eklavya said. ‘I stood by the castle walls every day and heard your words. I built a statue from the dirt you walked on, and I prayed to it every night. You are my teacher, even though you did not know. Please don’t be angry.’
Arjuna was white with anger. Dronacharya looked at Eklavya for a long time, and said, ‘Well, a student must pay his teacher. It is the law of the country. You have taken my words, but you have not paid me.’
‘Of course. I will do anything!’
Dronacharya laughed. ‘Then cut off your finger. On your right hand.’
Without his finger, Eklavya would not be able to shoot arrows. Arjuna was very happy about this.
Without waiting, Eklavya said, ‘Of course. Do you have a knife?’
He cut his finger off right there, in his teacher’s bedroom. Then he thanked Dronacharya and the prince and left.
Without archery and without his finger, Eklavya could not live in the capital city. So he returned to his hometown. The people there had heard stories about him. They could not believe that he cut off his own finger.
‘Why did you do it?’ they asked.
‘Because my teacher told me to.’
Eklavya sat in the street and people gave him money. He talked to people about his story. They thought it was interesting and sad. People came to visit him and to hear his story.
‘You are the best student to ever exist,’ a man told him. ‘You show us how to be good students.’
People forgot that Eklavya had been an archer. Instead, they remembered him for his message: how to be a good student. He could not be a hunte, or an archer, but he did not worry. He travelled through the country, and showed students everywhere that they should listen to their teachers.
I hope you enjoyed the story. You can support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes. Search for Easy Stories in English, give us a star rating, and say what you like about the show. It would really help us grow. Thank you for listening, and until next week.