Mahabharat is an epic in itself composed by Ved Vyas. Consisting of so many interesting characters in the story and their importance in the tale till the end is one of the astonishment for the believer and reader of this great epic. One of the character was Ashwathama who is considered to be one of the 7 immortal.
Who was Ashwathama?
Ashwatthama was the son of guru Dronacharya. Dronacharya did many years of dhyan and expiation of Lord Shiva in order to obtain a son who possesses the same valour as of Lord Shiva. Ashwathama is the avatar of one of the eight Rudras and he is one of the seven immortals according to the Hindu mythology. He is the grandson of the great Brahmin sage Bharadwaja. Ashwathama is the lone survivor still living, who actually fought in the Kurukshetra war.
Ashwathama was born with a gem in his forehead. This gem protected him from any attacks of ghosts, demons , poisonous insects, snakes, animals etc. The gem was later removed from his forehead.
The story of Ashwathama’s curse to be an immortal
Ashwathama fought on the Kaurava side against the Pandavas in the great Mahabharat war. Ashwathama had a mission- to eradicate the Pandavas. When he came to know that his father Dronacharya were killed by the Pandavas by lying to him about his death which was actually an elephant with the name Ashwathama, his anger was uncontrollable. All the soldiers and ally kings fighting for the Kaurava army had perished. Duryodhana was the only one of the hundred brothers still alive, Drishtadhyumna, brother of Draupadi, and their general had lead their forces to victory in all the battles. However, Ashwathama had vowed vengeance for the ambidextrous killing of his father and for the polemic defeat of Duryodhana. It was the night of the eighteenth day of the war and he was sitting beneath a tree, plotting the slaying of the Pandavas when a strange sight met his eyes. He saw an owl enter a crow’s nest and, in the darkness, kill the crow that had harassed it in the morning. When it was day and the contest was fair, the owl could not resist the crow’s advances. However, the owl exploited its advantage of being a nocturnal creature and at night, when the unsuspecting crow was asleep, the owl killed it. Ashwathama then knew what he had to do.
With Kripacharya, his uncle, and Kritavarma, the only two surviving members of the army, he went out to search for the Pandavas camp at night. He stationed Kripa and Kritavarma at the entrance to the camp and furtively went inside himself. With his long, gleaming blade, he silently beheaded Drishtadhyumna and Shikhandi. He then proceeded seeking the Pandavas. Seeing five men sleeping in a tent, he beheaded them all. During this, Krishna had taken the Pandavas away for some purpose that night. The five men Ashwathama killed were not the Pandavas but their sons, born from Draupadi. Feeling remorse for his lowly and dastardly act, Ashwathama decided to do penance in rishi Veda-Vyasa’s ashrama and he sought asylum there.
When the Pandavas came to know that their sons and relatives were ruthlessly killed by Ashwathama, they got furious.
When the Pandavas discovered their sons and brothers in law were slayed by Ashwathama in the middle of the night, they were furious. Seeking their revenge, they hunted down the son of their guru with the guidance of Krishna. Seeing the Pandavas approach, Ashwathama suddenly erupted with rage, forgetting all about the remorse he had felt prior to coming to the ashrama. He plucked a blade of grass and uttered the Vedic incantations required to transform it to a Brahmastra. On Krishna’s instruction, Arjuna produced a Brahmastra too. The two faced each other, each ready to fire the most powerful of all missiles. Veda-Vyasa, blessed with divine sight, saw that a clash of two Brahmastras would bring about catastrophic result. It would destroy the generations and ahead and so it had to be stopped at any cost and Ved Vyas using his spiritual powers, stopped the motion of the astras before they could collide.
The great sage invoke to Krishna to ask the two warriors to summon back their missiles. Arjuna did so immediately and replaced the now ordinary arrow in his quiver. Ashwathama, however, could not obey. He knew only how to invoke the Brahmastra. He didn’t knew how it was to be withdrawn. Krishna sensed this and spoke with contempt. “Great Vyasa, Drona was not supposed to impart the knowledge of the Brahmastra to Ashwathama. Nonetheless, he did so out of paternal affection but held himself back from teaching his son how to call it back, since empowered with that knowledge, his unworthy son could employ the potent missile at will. Ashwathama here is at a loss because once fired, he does not know how to revoke his missile.” Vyasa then said to Ashwathama, “Son of Drona, if it is true that you cannot revoke your missile, then channel it to target an isolated point on the planet that is uninhabited by any life form.” However, being truly evil and spiteful, Ashwathama said, “then let it destroy Abhimanyu’s yet unborn son in Uttara’s womb and end the vile Pandava dynasty” Immediately, his missile deviated and Uttara’s fetus was destroyed. Krishna, Supreme Lord of the Universe, incarnation of Vishnu the Preserver, was enraged. His voice thunderous with rage, he cursed Ashwathama, “May you, Ashwathama, lead the most wretched life anyone can ever lead. May the sin of every man on Earth haunt you and burden you with guilt. May you roam the lands like a ghost, despicable and contemptible. May you never receive love or affection ever in your life unto the end of Time.” Saying so, he demanded the gem on Ashwathama’s forehead that protected the bearer from disease. “May the wound caused by the removal of this gem never heal, serving you as a reminder of your abhorrent crimes. May you beg for death each moment of your life and may it never come to you. Out of the great affection your father had for you, he granted you immortality as a boon, by the merit of his spiritual prowess. May that very boon be your bane.” Then, he said, “If I have tread on the right path all my life and am the upholder of righteousness, may Uttara’s baby be revived” and sure enough, the infant was revived. He was named Pariksheet, the tested one. He ruled long after the Pandavas retired and his son Janamejaya ruled long after him.
Ashwathama is still said to be wandering into the jungles and many people have said that they have seen him. Its still a mystery to the mankind that wether a person of such cadre is still alive and if he is then why he isn’t seen by many and only few. If Ashwathama would have used his skills and power in a right direction then he would surely have made his name into the good books of the people rather than knowing him as the villain.
Post by: Arjun Rathod
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