Drona decided that the time had come for him to seek his fee (Gurudhakshina) from the princes. After assembling them together, he told them,“Defeat Drupada, the King of Panchala in battle and bring him to me. This will be the Gurudhakshina (offering to the preceptor) that will satisfy me the most.”
The Kuru princes marched to Panchala with their army and laid siege to the capital of Panchala. The troops were led by Duryodhana, his brothers and Karna. Hearing the loud noises, Drupada came out of the palace. The Kuru army assailed Drupada by pounding him with a shower of arrows but conquering him was not easy.
Meanwhile, learning about Duryodhana’s marching to Panchala, Arjuna told Drona that he and his brothers would act after the Kuru army returned. He waited outside the Panchala capital. Drupda, fighting from his chariot attacked the Kurus fiercely. He struck Duryodhana, his brothers and Karna with his arrows. Enthused by their king’s valor, the citizens also joined the battle against the Kurus.
King Drupada, with his arrows, smote Duryodhana and Vikarna and even the mighty Karna and many other heroic princes and numberless warriors, and slaked their thirst for battle. Then all the citizens showered upon the Kurus various missiles like clouds showering rain-drops upon the earth. Young and old, they all rushed to battle, assailing the Kurus with vigour. The Kauravas, unable to withstand the onslaught fled to the place where the Pandavas were camping. They came running, wailing all the way.
Hearing the terrible wail of the beaten Kurus, the Pandavas marched to the battle site after saluting Drona and receiving his blessings. Arjuna asked Yudhishtira not to engage in the fight and asked Nakula and Sahadeva to stand guard near Yudhishtira's chariot. Bhima ran ahead holding his mace in hand. Like a fish jumping into water, he plunged into the battle field. He rushed towards the elephants and killed them with his mace. Arjuna attacked the army with weapons. The Pandava army brought down thousands of elephants, horses and chariots.
Arjuna then fought with Drupada and made him fall off the elephant he was riding. The battle became furious. People who watched Arjuna could not perceive any interval between the time he began to fix the arrow on the string of his bow and the time the arrow left the bow. Satyajit, the General of Drupada’s army, who initially offered stiff resistance to Arjuna, gave up after Arjuna destroyed his chariot and bow.
Seeing that his general was discomfited, Drupada began to shower his arrows on Arjuna. But very soon Arjuna pierced his horses and the charioteer with arrows. Then he got down from his chariot and confronted Drupada with his sword. Soon, the Panchala troops ran away in all directions.
Arjuna then took Drupada captive. Seeing Arjuna coming with Drupada, the Pandava forces began to attack Drupada’s capital. Arjuna told Bhima, “Drupada is a relative of the Kurus. Therefore, let us not kill his soldiers. Let us only offer Drupada to our preceptor.”
The Pandavas took Drupada and his counselors along with them and reached the abode of Drona. They offered Drupada to their preceptor.
Looking at the humiliated Drupada, Drona said, “Your kingdom has been captured by me. But I have spared your life. I still consider you a friend. Therefore, I am granting you a boon even without your asking for it. I will return half of your kingdom to you. You told me earlier that only a king can be the friend of a king. So, I retain half of your kingdom so as to qualify myself to be your friend! You will be the king of the territory lying on the southern side of the river Bhagirathi, while I will be the king of all the territory lying on the northern side of that river. So, if it pleases you, you can be my friend."
Drupada said, "You are a person of noble soul and great prowess. Therefore, I am not surprised by what you have done. I feel gratified by your words. I desire your eternal friendship.”
After this, Drona released Drupada from captivity and bestowed on him half of his kingdom, duly performing the customary rites.
After this, Drupada began to reside in the city of Kampilya within the province of Makandi on the banks of the Ganga. His kingdom comprised only the Southern Panchala up to the bank of the Charmanwati river. He was a sad man, always tormented by the humiliation meted out to him by Drona. He realized that he could not defeat Drona by his might alone. He began to wander over the whole earth to find out the means of obtaining a son who would subjugate Drona.
Drona began to reside in Ahicchatra, the territory obtained by Arjuna, and offered to him.