PIC credit : charanamrit
Ashwatthama or Drauni was the son of Guru Drona during the Epic Mahabharata. Well people who have heard or saw Mahabharata know this character very well.
Today I would like to revisit that Era and talk about few things I personally got to know recently. I do enjoy reading about Indian Mythology and according to me its the lesser known facts or people who/which makes the Indian Mythology so interesting and amazing. Truth or Lie doesn’t matter, It’s the ideology and message these great epics give out. And who doesn’t love high intense, dramatic mixed with supernatural stuff stories?? 😉
STORY AS IT UNFOLDED :
Ashwatthama was the son of Dronacharya and Kripi. Drona did many years of severe penance to please Lord Shiva in order to obtain a son who possesses the same valiance as Lord Shiva. Ashwatthama was born to become a Chiranjivi and cannot be killed by any kind of weapons. Ashwatthama was born with a gem in his forehead which gives him power over all living beings
lower than humans; it protected him from hunger, thirst and fatigue.This gem is supposed to protect him from attacks by ghosts, demons, poisonous insects, snakes, animals
Since Hastinapura, ruled by King Dhritarashtra, offered Dronacharya the privilege of teaching the Kuru princes, both Dronacharya and Ashwatthama were loyal to Hastinapur and fought for the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war. Before Dronacharya’s death, Ashwatthama visited his father, desiring a blessing of victory, but Dronacharya refused. He advised Ashwatthama to win the war using his own strength and not through a blessing from him. Earlier, Dronacharya’s favorite disciple and Pandava prince Arjuna had already obtained such a blessing from Drona. Despite his friendship with the Pandavas, Ashwatthama had great familiarity with Duryodhana. He was attracted to Duryodhana’s gregarious nature, and to Duryodhana’s largesse bestowed upon him. Moreover, just as Duryodhana believed that the Pandavas were taking his birthright to the crown, Ashwatthama felt that Arjuna was usurping his place in Drona’s heart.
On the 10th day of the war, Bhishma falls, and Drona is named the supreme commander of the armies. He promises Duryodhana that he will capture Yudhishthira, but then he repeatedly fails to do so. Duryodhana taunts and insults him, which greatly angers Ashwatthama, causing friction between Ashwatthama and Duryodhana. Lord Krishna knew that it was not possible to defeat an armed Drona. Krishna also knew that Drona loved his son Ashwatthama very dearly. So, Krishna suggested to Yudhishthira and other Pāṇḍava brothers that, if he were convinced that his son was killed on the battlefield, then Droṇācārya would be so sad that he would lay down all his arms on the ground and it would be easier to kill him. In order to find a way out,Lord Kṛiṣhna suggested Bhīma to kill an elephant by name Ashwatthama and claim to Droṇācārya that he has killed Droṇacharya’s son Aśvatthāma. After killing the elephant as suggested; he loudly proclaimed that he had killed Aśvatthāma. Droṇācārya however, did not believe Bhīma’s words as he knew that it was impossible for anyone to kill Aśvatthāma and he approached Yudhishthira. Droṇa knew of Yudhiṣṭhira’s firm adherence to Dharma and that he would never ever utter a lie. When Droṇācārya approached Yudhiṣṭhira and questioned him as to whether his son was dead, Yudhiṣṭhira responded with the cryptic ‘Aśvatthāma is dead. But it is an elephant and not your son'( Sanskrit: Aśvatthāmā hatho hataḥ, अश्वत्थामा हतोहतः)( Sanskrit: naro vā kuñjaro vā, नरो वा, कुञ्जरोवा).Kṛiṣhṇa also knew that it was not possible for Yudhiṣṭhira to lie outright. On his instructions, the other warriors blew trumpets and conches, raising a tumultuous noise in such a way that Droṇācārya only heard that “Aśvatthāma was dead”( Sanskrit: Aśvatthāmā hatho hataḥ, अश्वत्थामा हतोहतः), but could not hear the latter part of Yudhiṣṭhira’s reply( Sanskrit: naro vā kuñjaro vā, नरोवा, कुञ्जरो वा).. Drona descended from his chariot, laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Closing his eyes, his soul went to heaven in search of Ashwatthama’s soul. Dhrishtadyumna took this opportunity and beheaded the unarmed Drona. Though it was highly prohibited according to the rules of the war as agreed by the 2 parties before the fight to kill an unarmed warrior or attacking from the back Pandavas and Lord Krishna bend these rules to kill Dronacharya. Thus, on the 15th day of battle,Guru Drona was cheated to death by Lord Krishna and Pandava brothers,especially Yudhishthira. Yudhishthira’s chariot which was floating on the air from the beginning of the war due to his high virtue fell down to earth after this act
and later Yudhishthira is supposed to have gone to hell for a while after his death due to this particular action. It was the sole unethical act of Yudhishthira during his entire period of life.
On the night a very disturbed and restless Ashwatthama was sitting sleepless under a large tree planning about future actions to be taken. An owl ambushing a group of crows caught his attention. This gave him an idea of attacking the Pandava camp at night. He gathered the only other surviving Kaurava warriors—Kritavarma and Kripacharya and attacked the Pandava camp on the 18th night of the Kurukshetra war. Ashvatthama said to Kripacharya and Kritavarma. The 3 warriors proceeded to the Pandava camp. Kripa and Kritavarma waited outside for slaying those who come out of the camp and Ashvatthama proceeded into the camp. When reached there,Ashvatthama found a Bhairava guarding the Pandava camp assigned by Lord Krishna for the protection of Pandavas and resisted his every attempt to enter into Pandava camp. So Ashvatthama worshiped Lord Shiva for the fulfillment of his desires.Ashvatthama offered himself as an oblation to Lord Shiva into the fire. He prayed to Lord Shiva. Having said these words, Ashvatthama offered himself up as the victim into sacrificial fire and entered that blazing fire. Seeing this,the pleased Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in her most ferocious Kali form appeared before Ashvatthama with their gana’s. There appeared millions of Siva ganas who where extremely frightening and fierce for the aid of Ashvatthama. Also there appeared millions of Kali Sakthis, Kalika Nityas and Kalika Yoginis. They eagerly awaited for the impending massacre. Lord Siva smilingly told Ashvatthama. Having said these words to Ashvatthama, Lord Shiva entered into Ashvatthama’s body after giving him an excellent and polished sword. Filled by that divine being, Ashvatthama blazed up with energy. In consequence of that energy derived from the godhead, Ashvatthama became all-powerful in battle.Kali appeared in her most terrible form with 64 hands with different kinds of weapons for the aid of Ashwathama and for the destruction of Pandava army. The appearance of Kali was earlier prophasised and Lord Krishna knew about this in advance,so he purposely kept 5 Pandava princes and Satyaki away from Panava camp and stayed at the camp of Duryodhana. Since the beginning of the war many Pandava soldiers saw horrific dreams about a ferocious form and considered this as a very bad omen. This ferocious being was inturn Mahakali and their dream came true. Siva and Kali gana’s, many invisible beings, pisachas, rakshasas and all kinds of evil spirits proceeded along with Ashvatthama’s right and his left side as he set out, like the lord Shiva himself, for entering the camp of his foes.With the sword of Lord Shiva, Ashvatthama and Siva Ganas burned the entire Pandava camp to ashes leaving nothing behind. Hearing the loud and frightening roars of the Gana’s the entire Pandava camp wakes up. Ashvatthama first kicked and woke up Dhrishtadyumna, the commander of the Pandava army and the killer of his father Drona. They both fought with bare hands and Dhrishtadyumna was no match for Ashvatthama empowered with Lord Shiva. Dhrishtadyumna begged for mercy at the foot of Ashvatthama. He strangled Dhrishtadyumna to death and fought with entire remaining Pandava army alone.He moved on and fought with Shikhandi, Uttamaujas and
many other prominent warriors of the Pandava army and killed all of them in direct fight.None of them was able to resist Ashvatthama empowered by Lord Shiva.Those who tried to flee from Ashwatthama’s wrath, were hacked down by Kripacharyya and Kritavarma at the camp’s entrance. Siva ganas assisted Ashwatthama, attacked and killed the Pandavas and Panchalas and feasted upon them. Siva ganas, Kalika Nityas,Sakthis and Yoginins drank the blood of the soldiers and danced in joy. Hearing the loud noise inside the camp Upapandavas came with weapons and Ashvatthama fought with them and killed all of them. After destroying the entire Pandava camp, Ashwatthama proceeds towards Duryodana with the cut off heads of 5 Pandava sons.He told Duryodhana that he only managed to kill the Pandava’s children as the Pandavas were not there, and this makes Duryodhana happy, as that means the Pandava lineage would die out.Ashwatthama told Duryodhana. Duryodhana then, having heard those words that were so agreeable to his heart, regained his senses and replied to Ashwatthama. Duryodhana died happily after hearing this and the 3 remaining warriors of Kaurava army done the cremation of Duryodhana. After these events Lord Shiva exited out of the body of Ashwatthama and left along with his ganas to his abode Kailas. The Pandavas and Krishna who were away during night, now returned to their camp the next day morning.Hearing the news of these events in the morning Yudhishthira fainted and the Pandavas become inconsolable.Later Yudhishthira lamented in great affliction, Pandavas went searching for Ashwatthama to sage Vyasa’s ashram. On seeing the approaching angered Pandavas, Ashwatthama as a last resort, he used his sacred knowledge of the Vedas to devise a Brahmashirsha astra from a blade of grass and invoked it against the Pandavas
and Krishna. On seeing the Brahmashirsha astra approaching the Pandavas, Krishna asked Arjuna to invoke the same. Arjuna invokes Brahmashirsha astra, which he received by Drona charya itself, towards Ashwatthama. On seeing the two powerful astra’s heading for a head on cataclysmic (catastrophic) collision that would result in the total annihilation of the entire Earth, sage Vyasa stopped these divine weapons from colliding with each other by using his yogic power. He asked both these warriors to withdraw their respective weapons. Arjuna was able to withdraw his Brahmashirsha astra, while Ashwatthama could not do so as Dronacharya did not teach his son how to withdraw it.An archer who is able to invoke and withdraw any Divyastra (Divine Weapon) can invoke it as many times as he wishes. Dronacharya taught Arjuna to withdraw Brahmashirsha astra but he did not do so to Aswatthama, thus limiting the power of Aswatthama to invoke Brahmashirsha astra for only one instance. However, Aswatthama was given the option of deviating his weapon towards one single isolated object in a place that was not inhabited by any form of life, so that the Brahmashirsha astra does not harm anyone on Earth. But Ashwatthama, out of rage, directed the weapon towards the womb of Uttara (wife of Abhimanyu) who was carrying Abhimanyu’s son (Parikshit) in an attempt to end the lineage of the Pandavas. The angered Pandavas want to capture Aswatthama, but Sage Vyasa prohibited Pandavas from doing so because Pandavas themselves employed deceit to kill their own Guru Drona. Sage Vyasa explained that it was due to the severe sin of killing their Guru Drona by unethical means, the Pandavas suffered severe tragedy and their entire lineage came to extinction. Further Sage Vyasa warned Pandavas that he will curse Pandavas if they ever tried to hurt Aswatthama, the lone survivor of their Gurus lineage. Ashwatthama was asked to surrender the gem on his forehead. Enraged Krishna then cursed Ashwatthama that for 3000 years he will roam in the forests with blood and puss oozing out of his injuries and cry for death. Since he had no fear of death during war, death would not meet him. He will have neither any hospitality nor any accommodation; He will be in total isolation without any contact of physical communication from mankind and society; The wound caused by the removal of this gem on his forehead will not heal and his body will suffer from a host of incurable diseases forming sores and ulcers that would never heal for 3000 years.
When Duryodhana was lying in the battle field, awaiting death, badly bruised by the wounds inflicted by Bhima. He kept his three fingers in a raised position and was unable to speak. All the efforts made by his men to understand the meaning proved to be futile. Seeing his plight Krishna approached him and said “I know what issues occupied your mind. I will address them”.Krishna identified the issues as – not building a fort around Hastinapur, not persuading Vidura to fight the battle, not making Ashwatthama the commander-in-chief after the death of Dronacharya. On hearing this Duryodhana closed all the fingers and rested. Duryodhana concluded that these 3 factors should have surely brought him victory. If he had built a fort around Hastinapur, he could have totally avoided the war in the first place and he don’t have to worry about the power of Pandavas. If Vidura fought on his side,he would have the best strategist, even better than
Lord Krishna. At last only Duryodhana came to the conclusion that Lord Krishna is in fact the avatar of Lord Vishnu. If Duryodhana had made Ashwatthama as the commander of the army after the death of Drona,victory would have surely be his as Ashwatthama was the avatar of Lord Shiva. No one can handle a ‘furious’ Ashwatthama, the part incarnate of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is pleasing most of the time but no one in the entire universe can handle a furious Lord Shiva. Similarly all Duryodhana need to do to win the war was to make Ashwatthama furious. Just like Pandavas had Lord Krishna, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, Duryodhana had the avatar of Lord Shiva, but he never utilized Ashwatthama. The remorse about under utilizing Ashwatthama prompted Duryodhana to rethink and made Ashwatthama the commander of his army after the war,after his defeat. These events led to the complete destruction of Pandava army and lineage and at the end the victorious Pandavas felt like the loser. After the night raid of Ashwatthama on Pandava camp Duryodhana felt like he had won the war, as the Pandavas lost everything and everyone they care about.
Information Credit to: Chiranjivis or Nine immortals of Hindu Mythology.