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Ashwatthama: Mahabharat’s Most Temperamental Warrior

By December 6, 2021September 20th, 2023No Comments
Ashwatthama-Mahabharats Most_Temperamental_Warrior_

Do you know that Mahabharat has 7 great immortal warriors, and one of the most intriguing of them was Ashwatthama? He is considered one of the most talented fighters, but sadly, Krishna cursed him to live on till the end of Kali Yug. In fact, many people even claim sighting the historic character seen in deplorable conditions. So, what made Krishna curse the mighty Ashwatthama to immortality? Let’s take a look at the story behind it.

Birth of Ashwatthama

A long time ago, Rishi Dronacharya and his wife Kripi, who was the twin sister of Kripacharya, lived in very poor conditions and were eager to start a family. They prayed for many years to lord Shiva for the blessing of a son. Lord Mahadev accepted their prayers, and Kripi conceived.

As this son was born, instead of crying like a baby, he neighed loudly like a horse (Ashwa). His neigh was so loud that it resounded in all directions. Kripi and her husband Dronacharya heard an Aakashwani stating, ‘The child is a blessing from Lord Shiva. He is an extraordinary child, and “Ashwatthama” is the perfect name for him’

As a child, Ashwatthama was truly unique as he was born with a mani (precious stone) in the middle of his forehead. This stone would protect him from any kind of negative effects and unwanted entities. Since he had Lord Shiva’s blessings, he was also a Chiranjeevi; no one and even death could defeat him.

Ashwatthama’s Arrival to Hastinapur

Young Ashwatthama was growing, as were his talents, but his parent’s financial condition kept worsening. To calm Ashwathama’s hunger, his mother, Kripi, would give him flour mixed in water as milk. Finally, one day, Dronacharya, tired of his condition, decided to visit King Drupada, the ruler of Panchala and his childhood classmate.

Drupada made fun of Dronacharya and refused to help him, stating that a King and a beggar could never be friends. Guru Kripacharya witnessed this scene and later invited Dornacharya to Hastinapur, where Bhishma resided. Bhishma appointed Dronacharya as the Guru of Pandavas and Kauravas because of his vast knowledge and intelligence. Drona, Kripi and Ashwatthama shifted together at Hastinapur, where the young child started training alongside the princes of Hastinapur.

Emerging friendship between Duryodhan and Ashwatthama

One day, a very interesting thing happened: Duryodhana invited Ashwatthama to his palace to play. Once all of them were finished playing. All were given milk; now, this was cow’s milk boiled with saffron and other assorted nuts. As Ashwatthama drank the milk, he immediately realized that his mother had tricked him. The warmth with which Duryodhana offered him hospitality touched a young Ashwatthama’s heart. He vowed always to protect Duryodhana and help him in his time of need.

Rise of Ashwatthama

The children grew fast, and Dronacharya taught them the best warfare methods he knew. His favourite student was Arjuna, who he wished to make ‘sarvashreshtha dhanurdhara’, the greatest archer of the time. He even taught Arjuna the nuances of Brahmastra, the deadliest weapon in warfare.

While he was grooming the princes of Hastinapur, Drona’s fatherly affection towards his talented son got the best of him. Ashwatthama was extremely talented, but his quick temper always ended up causing more harm than good. Drona decided that he would impart the best of his knowledge to Ashwatthama as well and hoped that the responsibility would make him more thoughtful of his actions.

Dronacharya taught his temperamental son everything exclusively about Brahmastra, too. He insinuated the importance of having such crucial knowledge and explained that invoking an astra of this magnitude could even harm the entire Universe. Ashwatthama merely laughed at his father’s concern and said that he is a mighty warrior, and such directions are not needed for one like him. This made the royal teacher wonder if he had made a mistake, but alas, it was too late.

Beginning of Mahabharat’s War

The misinformation of Ashwatthama’s death killed his father, Dronacharya, due to grief (After seeing Drona mercilessly killing the Pandava Sena, Krishna had instructed Yudhishthir to shout, ‘Ashwatthama died, not the man, the elephant’). This deeply affected Ashwatthama, who later took the charge in his hand.

As the war progressed to its 18th day, it was clear that Kauravas were depleting and not much hope was left. Seeing this, Duryodhana ran and hid in the Dwaipayan lake. He was discovered soon by the Pandavas, and when he came out to fight, Bhim hit Duryodhana on his thigh, breaking it into pieces. They then leave the Kuru prince to die, bleeding on the shore.

Once they left, Ashwatthama came to the aid of Duryodhana, but he knew that his friend could not be brought back. He vowed to take revenge on all Pandavas and end their lineage. Ashwatthama, along with his uncle Kripacharya and Kritavarma, entered the Pandava camp the same night to annihilate any warrior they found.

As Kripacharya and Kritavarma waited outside, a furious Ashwatthama entered, the very personification of death for any and all Pandavas. What they were unaware of was that Krishna and Pandavas had already left for some urgent work and were not present at the camp. Instead, Ashwatthama found the sons of the Pandavas and their bodyguards.

Role of Ashwatthama in Mahabharat War

Ashwatthama mercilessly killed them all. When Lord Krishna and Pandavas returned and encountered that barbaric scene. The 5 brothers were grief-stricken when they saw their young son’s corpse. They vowed to find Ashwatthama and execute him. The raider meanwhile ran away to Rishi Vyasa’s ashram, but there was no escaping the grieving Pandavas and their cohort Krishna.

To save himself, he invoked the Brahmastra, following the good advice of his late father. Krishna asked Arjuna to invoke his Brahmastra to counter Ashwatthama’s weapon. As the two celestial missiles were about to collide, Guru Vyasa appeared at the scene and stopped the two Brahmastra with his divine powers. He asked both the warriors to retract their astras as it would be fatal to the planet.

Story of Ashwatthama’s Death

Arjun obliged, but a hot-headed Ashwatthama refused to do so and decided on a severe action for the weapon. He directed the weapon towards Uttara, Abhimanyu’s wife, to end the unborn grandchild of Arjun and hence the lineage of Pandavas. This is where Krishna stepped in. He released his Sudarshan Chakra to protect Uttara’s womb and the son within it.

Sudharshan Chakra entirely engulfed the Ashwatthama Bhrahamastra. Hence, it saved Uttara’s child. Lord Krishna was angry with Ashwatthama and his intention to hurt an unborn child.

For his brutality and his foul intentions, Krishna cursed Ashwatthama with leprosy that would eat away his skin. His body will have several cuts, and blood and pus will ooze from them.

There will be no release by death for him, and he will continue to live in this deplorable state forever.’ After this, Krishna instructed Bhim to pluck out the precious stone in Ashwatthama’s head and once done, they left him bleeding and moved on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What was the Ashwatthama curse?

Ans. Krishna cursed Ashwatthama for his ill intentions. He said the Ashwatthama will suffer from leprosy. There will be deep, severe cuts on his body, which will be hard to heal.

2. Is Ashwatthama named under Maharashtra warriors?

Ans. Ashwatthama was born to be a warrior, but due to his evil intentions, he killed even the innocents in the war. No, so he was not a warrior.

3. Where is Ashwathama present now?

Ans. Ashwatthama was cursed by Lord Krishna to be alive till the end of Kaliyug. Thus, according to some texts, it is believed that after the Mahabharat War, he migrated to the Arabian peninsula.

4. How old is Ashwatthama now?

Ans. Some people believe that because of the curse given by Lord Krishna. Ashwatthama is still alive. If so, he will currently be about 5000 years old.

5. Who is Ashwatthama's father?

Ans. Ashwatthama’s father was Dronacharya. Dronacharya was known to be one of the most furious warriors during that time.

6. Was Ashwatthama evil?

Ans. Ashwatthama was born to be a warrior as he was the son of one of the greatest Gurus of that time. However, during the war of Mahabharat, he forgot the difference between right and wrong. This made him do evil things. Thus, he was considered to be evil and was further cursed by Lord Krishna.

Also Read: Shukracharya: The Guru Of Asuras

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Chetna Kaushik

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