ASHWATTHAMA :- THE GREAT WARRIOR
Ashwatthama : A Great Hero, Villain or a WAR CRIMINAL ? Who exactly was Ashwatthama
According to Shiv Mahapurana, Acharaya Drona meditated and was able to please Lord Shiva. On asking a boon, Acharaya Dron asked for a son from the almighty Lord Shiva.
As per Mahabharat, a son was born to Acharaya Drona and his wife Kripi in due time. It is mentioned in some texts that the son born had the powers of Kaal, krodh, Yam and Shiva. He was born with a Gem (mani) on his forehead which was similar to Shamantakamani. This mani protected him from the fear of snake, poison, Ghosts, DemiGods, Devil Etc.
On his birth he cried and the voice was like that of a horse. As the result the baby boy was named Ashwatthama. (According to The Mahabharata, Aswatthaman means "the horse-voiced” It is so called because when he was born he cried like a horse)
Acharaya Drona himself became his Guru. Ashwatthama grew up to be a very strong young man. About his appearance, it is said that he was very strong about 12 feet tall dark colored muscular youth. …… About him it is rightly said
“The mighty bowman (Aswatthaman) who is Drona's son surpasseth all bowmen. Acquainted with all modes of warfare, and of unbaffled weapons, he is a Maharathi Like the wielder of Gandiva (Arjuna), the shafts of this warrior, shot from his bow; proceed in a continuous line, touching one another. If he wishes it, this Maharathi is capable of consuming the three worlds. Engaged in austerities in his hermitage, he has, by these, increased both his fury and energy. Possessed of great intelligence, he has been favoured by Drona with (the gift of all) celestial weapons...Possessed of a strong frame; he can split the very mountains by the flaps of his bow-string, striking against the leathern fence on his left arm. Endued with innumerable qualities, this smiter of fierce effulgence will wander (over the field of battle), incapable of being withstood like Yama(the lord of death) himself, mace in hand. Resembling the fire at the end of the Yuga as regards his fury, possessed of leonine neck, and endued with great lustre, Aswatthaman will extinguish the embers of this battle between the Bharata's “
In Udyoga Parva of Mahabarath, Bhishma declared Ashwatthama as a mighty Maharathi, or a warrior capable of fighting 60,000 warriors simultaneously; circumspect in his mastery of all forms of weapons and combat skills.
Defining Ashwatthama it is said:-
Along with sage Parashurama and sage Vyasa, Aswatthama is considered to be foremost among the rishis.
Aswatthama will become the next sage Vyasa, who in turn divide the Veda in 29th Mahayuga of 7th Manavantra.
Aswatthama will also become one of the Sapta Rishis in the 8th Manavantara
His physical description in the Mahabharata is that he is incredibly tall, with dark skin, dark eyes, and a gem in his forehead.
Like Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, and Arjuna, he is a master of the science of weapons and is regarded as the foremost among warriors
In Drona Parva of Mahabharath, it gives a detailed explanation of the skill of Drona's son Aswatthaman.
Obtaining all the secrets regarding celestial weapons with every detail, the son of Saradwat's daughter has become a second Drona, and a great hero.
Aswatthaman is equal to Karna in knowledge of weapons, to Purandara in battle, to Kartavirya in energy, and Vrihaspati in wisdom.
In fortitude, that youth is equal to a mountain and in energy to fire.
In gravity, he is equal to an ocean, and in wrath, to the poison of the snake.
He is the foremost of all car-warriors in battle, a firm bowman, and above all fatigue.
In speed he is equal to the wind itself and he careens in the thick of fight like Yama in rage.
While his engaged in shooting arrows in battle, the very earth becomes afflicted.
Of prowess incapable of being baffled, hero is never fatigued by exertions.
Purified by the Vedas and by vows, he is a thorough master of the science of arms, like Rama, the son of Dasharatha.
He is like the ocean, incapable of being agitated.
Acharaya Drona loved his son very dearly. His love towards his son leads to many wanted and unwanted situations. In the great battle of Mahabharata, Acharaya Drona and Ashwatthama took Kaurava’s side. Ashwathama had secret envy from Arjuna as Arjuna became favourite student of his father. He was inclined towards Duryodhana and became his friend.
He is one of the 8 chiranjeevis (immortals) that we have in Hindu mythology. Here is a list of all:
Ashwathama -a man cursed to immortality and extreme suffering without love from anybody for his role in the murder of the five sons of the Pandavas and his attempted murder of Arjuna's grandson
Bali (demon) -a righteous demon king who conquered heaven, earth, and the underworld, but was forced to give it back by Vamana and return to Pataal. Bali, as per Hindu mythology, will be appointed Indra (King of GODS) for next Manvantra.
Vyasa -a sage who narrated the Mahabharata, he was also a sage in the epic
Vibhishana -Ravana's brother who was made King of Lanka by Rama
Kripacharya -a teacher of the princes in the Mahabharata
अश्वत्थामा बलिव्र्यासो हनूमांश्च विभीषण:।
कृप: परशुरामश्च सप्तएतै चिरजीविन:॥
सप्तैतान् संस्मरेन्नित्यं मार्कण्डेयमथाष्टमम्।
जीवेद्वर्षशतं सोपि सर्वव्याधिविवर्जित।।
In the war of kurukshetra
Ashwatthama using Narayana's Astra
On the 15th Day of war, Pandavas managed to kill Acharaya Drona by spreading the rumour of Ashwatthama’s death. This angered Ashwatthama and he didn’t allowed Pandavas to attend his father’s last rituals.
However, despite of his animosity, after the death of Dusshasan, Ashwtthama still suggested Duryadhana to make peace with Pandavas, keeping in mind the welfare of Hastinapur. But Duryodhana strongly refused to his proposal.
On the last night of the war, (18th Day of War) after Duryodhana death, Ashwatthama gathered the only survivor of kauravas warriors, (Kritavarma and Kripacharya) and attacked the Pandavas. . He strangled Dhrishtadyumna to death in his sleep, beating and thrashing the semi-conscious warrior,
He moved on and killed Shikhandi, Uttamaujas and many other prominent warriors of the Pandava army.
Those who tried to flee from Ashwatthama's wrath were killed by Kripacharyya and Kritavarma at the camp's entrance.
He killed Draupadi's five sons, the Upapandavas, while they were sleeping, believing them to be the five Pandava brothers.
After killing all, Ashwatthama went to Duryodana to tell him that all the Pandavas have been killed. When he, Kripa, and Kritverma arrive, Duryodhana was already dead. Soon the news spread everywhere, and Ashwatthama came to know that he has killed the children instead of Pandavas.
This hurt him badly and realizing his mistake, he went to Sage Vedavyasa's ashram in order to seek salvation and punishment (prayaschittam) for his crime.
Pandavas with Krishna were not present on the camp that night. They returned next morning. Incensed over this cowardly act of Ashwatthama, the Pandavas went after him to sage Vyasa's ashram.
On seeing the approaching angered Pandavas, Ashwatthama who learnt that he had killed the children and not the Pandavas, realised that he was trapped with the Pandavas.
Afraid as he was, he used a last resort. He summoned Bramhashirastra from a blade of grass and invoked it against the Pandavas and Krishna, although he was strictly forbidden to do so by his father Dronacharya for any purpose whatsoever.
On seeing the Brahmashirastra approaching the Pandavas, Krishna asked Arjuna to invoke the same. Arjuna invokes Bramhashirastra, which he received by Dronacharya itself, towards Ashwatthama.
The whole Universe trembled as the great weapon was summoned. All divine forces, realising the end of universe, immediately got worried. Sage Ved Vyasa stopped these divine weapons from colliding with each other by using his yogic power. Divine powers requested them to withdraw their respective weapons. Arjuna was able to withdraw his Brahmashirastra, while Ashwatthama could not do so as Dronocharya 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 Brahmashirastra but he did not do so to Ashwathama, thus limiting the power of Ashwathama to invoke Brahmashirastra for only one instance. However, Ahswathama 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 Brahmashirastra does not harm anyone on Earth.
But Ashwatthama, out of spite, 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.
krishna giving life to Arjuna's dead son
Punishment for Ashwtthama
Krishna took the mani from Ashwatthama’s forehead in order to punish him. As the result, there remained a deep wound on his forehead, oozing with blood and pus. He was cursed that the wound will never be cured. As he was the friend of Durydhan, to ease him, Ashwathama took all sins of his friend so Duryodhan may find peace in Heaven. As a result he embraced the disease of leprosy. His powers were snached and so his great personality. He became like ordinary man, was named Suryakant for Kaliyuga. Bearing the sin of his friend, curse of krishna he is still alive, he cannot mix with any society, and wanders alone as an outcaste. He is to remain in this state till the end of Kaliyuga. Wishing every moment for Death. At the end of Kaliyuga he will meet Final Avatar of Lord Vishnu KALKI and then he will be relieved from his pains.
It is believed that Great Ashwatthama lives near the banks of River GANGA, meditating upon Lord SHIVA.
Many people and Native tribes claim to have met with him. Many tried to cure his wound but none was successful. Once in six months, he goes towards higher Himalayas to meet Kripacharya, who is meditating somewhere in Himalayas with other great Sages.
This avatar of Lord Shiva gives us a message that we should learn to keep a control on our anger because anger can become a huge reason for our problems.