The vengeful Ashwatthama

Ashwatthama in a Javanese Wayang shadow puppet
Ashwatthama in a Javanese Wayang shadow puppet

During the combat of maces, the Gadhayuddha between Bhima and Duryodhana, Ashwatthama was enraged when Bhima cheats to defeat Duryodhana. The act of Bhima striking his opponent’s thighs which was clearly a violation of the rules of the Gadhayuddha made him extremely angry and he swore revenge on the Pandavas for this.

This incident further fueled the fire that Ashwatthama had for the Pandavas when he had found out that the illustrious Yudhisthira had lied (or at least hidden the truth) about killing an elephant which bore his name, which led to his father, Drona, laying down his weapons on the battlefield [Link to my earlier post on this story]. This act of deceit by the eldest Pandava had led to his father being beheaded by Dhristadyumna and had given Drona a dishonorable death.

That night Ashwatthama went to the injured Duryodhana and made a vow to kill the Pandavas by any means. “This I will do to avenge my father’s death and also to avenge the acts of deceit committed” he swore.

That night when he was planning his vengeance, he noticed that an owl which had been attacked by a group of crows in the morning was now in turn attacking and killing the crows in the night. The owl was playing to its strength, the ability to see in the darkness. Suddenly an idea struck him and his plans for fulfilling the vow were formed.

He crept into the Pandava camp at night and first killed Dhristadyumna, Shikhandi and other Pandava warriors in their sleep, all the while muttering “This I will do to avenge my father’s death and also to avenge the acts of deceit committed”.

He then beheaded the Upapandavas, Draupadi’s five sons believing them to be the Pandavas themselves, once again uttering the same words “This I will do to avenge my father’s death and also to avenge the acts of deceit committed

It was only after he took the five heads to Duryodhana that he realizes that he had not killed the Pandavas and his vow was incomplete.

Ashwatthama who upto this point believed that his vengeance was valid as the Pandavas had used deceitful means to kill his father Drona and wrong his friend Duryodhana, suddenly realized the magnitude of his mistake. By attacking the Pandava warriors at night, when they were unarmed and helpless, he had broken many laws that were held sacrosanct by Kshatriyas of the time.

He therefore took refuge in Veda Vyasa’s ashrama and sought salvation for his sins committed on that one fateful night when his anger, passions and thirst for vengeance turned him into a lunatic.


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out themes for creative writing each weekend for Indian bloggers.

The prompt was that the post had to include the same sentence repeated at least thrice and the said sentence has been highlighted separately in this post.


This post has been selected as one of Blogadda’s WoW picks of the week.


Did Yudhisthira lie ?

Image courtesy :
Image courtesy :

Every once in a while you come across a personality who has the courage to do the right thing irrespective of the consequences. Yudhisthira’s insistence on following the path of righteousness was an example of such a personality.

On the 15th day of the Kurukshetra war, Drona was at his unconquerable best. Using years of experience and all his divine knowledge, he was wreaking havoc on the Pandava army. Knowing that Drona loved his son Ashwatthama dearly, he asked Bhima to kill an elephant with the same name. Obeying Krishna, Bhima killed an elephant and loudly proclaimed that he had slain Ashwatthama, so as to make Drona believe that his son was dead.

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:

Not believing Bhima, Drona approached Yudhisthira, who was known never to lie and asked him as to whether his son was truly slain in battle to which he replied “Ashwatthama is dead, but, I am not certain whether it was a human or an elephant.

Knowing fully well that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie to Drona on his face, Krishna ensured that the second part of this sentence was completely deafened out to Drona by asking the remaining Pandava warriors to loudly blow on their conches and trumpets.

Hearing only the first part of the reply, Drona dropped down his weapons and sat down in the battlefield in meditation. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Dhristadyumna (who was ordained to take Drona’s life) beheaded Drona thus tilting the advantage in the war on the Pandavas’ side.

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:


This post has been posted for Write Tribe’s 100 words on a Saturday – 6 prompt. The prompt was to write a post with exactly a 100 words using the term “Every once in a while”, but I took the liberty of writing 250 words with the prompt.

Ashwatthama’s sin and Yudhishtira’s mind being freed of guilt

Ashwatthama, the son of Drona decided to do something that would please his master Suyodhana. He cut off the heads of five of Pandava’s sons by Draupati when they were sleeping.  But even Suyodhana was not pleased with his act. Arjuna tried to console Draupati by telling that he would cut off the head of Ashwathama and put it before her. Ashwathama sped hastily to escape the wrath of Arjuna, he decided to use the Brahma asthra weapon to save himself. Seeing the radiation spread everywhere Arjuna asked his dear friend and charioteer Krishna the source of this powerful radiation. Krishna advises Arjuna that Ashwathama has released the Brahmasthra and that he doesn’t know how to retract it. Arjuna countered the Brahmasthra released by Ashwathama and retracted both the weapons to save the world. He then tied Ashwathama with ropes and dragged him in front of Panchali. Panchali was unable to bear a Brahmana, and Guru Dronacharya’s son to be tied with ropes and cried out to release him. Arjuna inorder to please his brothers and wife sheared off with his sword the head-tuft of Ashwathama along with his crest jewel that was a natural feature on his head and sent him away.

They then proceeded to Ganga to perform rites of their dead relatives. After consoling one and all Krishna was about to proceed to Dwaraka when Uttara rushed towards Krishna and cried that a fierce missile is coming fast towards her and to protect her from it. Krishna understood that this was the Brahmasthra again that Ashwathama had sent inorder to efface the entire Pandava line. Each of the Pandava brothers was now taking up arms to counter the fierce Brahmasthra. Krishna used Sudarshana Chakra to protect the Pandavas and the foetus of Uttara which was the only way to keep the Pandava lineage in continuity. Kunti Devi praised Lord Krishna for protecting the Pandavas from all perils till now. She saluted the supreme Lord and praised with hymns. The Lord blessed her that she would attain to loving devotion of God.

Yudhishtira lamented over the casualities of the war and his dead relatives. He was very distressed that Krishna was also leaving him and proceeding to Dwaraka. Yudhishtira wanted to clear all his doubts regarding righteous conduct and proceeded to Kurukshetra where Bheeshma had fallen in battle and was lying in a bed of arrows awaiting an auspicious moment to depart from his body. All the Pandavas and Lord Krishna saluted Bheeshma. Assembled there were also great munis like Vasishta, Sri Suka, Kashyapa, Angiras, Sri Suka and many others.

Bheeshma knowing that Lord Krishna is the perfect being Narayana, the origin of all explained the Maya of the Lord and how supreme devotion to the Lord has blessed him with His vision when he was about to leave his body. Yudhishtira then asked Bheeshma many questions regarding virtue which Bheeshma explained in detail. When it was time for him to end his life, the Uttarayana(Northern solstice of the sun) he fixed his mind on the Lord and praised him. Thus Bheeshma breathed his last and united himself with the Supreme Self.

Yudhishtira’s mind being freed from all confusion now did all his duties by resigning to Krishna. All the subjects of his kingdom were happy and free from trouble and diseases, the kingdom prospered and the earth always remained fertile.

Krishna proceeded to Dwaraka after staying in Hastinapura for a few months. All women, children, the royal household of Hastinapura, Pandavas and everybody knew that Krishna was the supreme Lord and they were quite sad that He was leaving. Still they put on a happy face as they didn’t want to shed tears when the Lord was going before them.

Krishna travelled through many places and finally reached Dwaraka. He sounded his conch Panchajanya to announce his arrival. The citizens of Dwaraka extended a cordial reception to Him. When he entered his home he was embraced by his mother and her sisters. His wives also were overjoyed just like the ego of man considers the witness-I as involved and identified with all its modifications, they did not realize that the Supreme Lord even though in close association with Prakriti remains unattached and dwells in the Atman. They looked upon him as an uxorious man under their thumb in privacy.