In the Indian epic Mahābhārata, Ashwatthama (Sanskrit: अश्वत्थामा, Aśvatthāmā) or Ashwatthaman (Sanskrit: अश्वत्थामन्, Aśvatthāman) was the son of guru Dronacharya. He is one of the seven Chiranjeevins. Dronacharya loved him dearly. Rumours about his death in the Kurukshetra war led to the death of his father by the hands of Prince Dhrishtadyumna. He is the grandson of the great Brahmin sage Bharadwaja.
Countributed by Sandip Chakraborty
Ashwatthama had led a devastating campaign against the Pandavas, who were repeatedly saved from annihilation by Krishna's interference and subterfuge in the battle of Kurukshetra. The various means of deceit adopted by the Pandavas in winning the war had deeply aggrieved Ashwatthama. Seeking justice for the dishonourable mutilation of his father Acharya Drona as also the treacherous attack on Duryodhana that resulted in his mortal injuries, Ashwatthama swore vengeance to his dying king Duryodhana. He promised to kill the Pandavas and restore the balance of power that had been so grossly upset by Krishna's favouritism and nepotism.
On the last night of the war, after Duryodhana's defeat, a very disturbed and restless Ashwatthama was seated sleepless under a large tree. He observed how an owl, attacked and harassed by crows in the morning, attacked back at night. He surmised that war was best fought from a position of strength.He gathered the only other surviving Kaurava warriors, Kritavarma and Kripacharya,and attacked the Pandava camp on the last night of the Kurukshetra war.
The Kaurava warriors were initially thwarted by a demon Krishna had employed to guard the Pandava camp. This demon was so powerful that the Kaurava warriors exhausted every means of subduing it. Ashwatthama decided to pray to Lord Shiva, his patron God, and in the face of defeat offer his own body as sacrifice to the great lord. Lord Shiva who was actually disguised as the demon, was so impressed by his ardour that he appeared in person and blessed Ashwatthama. He said that the Pandavas were successful in winning the war only because Lord Shiva, out of his enormous love for Krishna, had kept his protective hands over them. However now their time was over and they too would need to die. He then blessed Ashwatthama that he would be invincible and whoever faced him that night would die. Upon this, Lord Shiva handed Ashwatthama his own sword and entered his body.
Ashwatthama charged the Pandava camp and wreaked havoc. Dhristadumnya, was kicked to death as his punishment for guruhatya. Shikhandi, Bhisma's effective killer and thousands of other prominent Pandava warriors were mercilessly put to the edge of Ashwatthama's sword and perished. Those to tried fleeing Ashwatthama's wrath were hacked down by Kripacharyya and Kritavarma who were positioned at the camp's entrance. Ashwatthama sustained numerous wounds and injuries in this battle but nothing could stop him from executing his vow.
Owing to Krishna's deceit, Ashwatthama killed Draupadi's five sons believing them to be the five Pandava brothers. He was also misled by a bramhin sage at whose ashram the Pandava brothers and Krishna were hiding out of fear of death.After destroying the entire Pandava camp Ashwatthama retreated to Sage Vyasa's ashram.
Next morning, the Pandavas instigated by Draupadi and Krishna decided to attack Ashwatthama. After reminding the Pandavas that he was unarmed and meditating as per his Brahmanical tradition, Ashwtthama realised that the Pandava brothers would not stop their attack unless he killed them and enacted his vow completely. Using his sacred knowledge of the Vedas, Ashwatthama devised a Bramhastra from a blade of grass, and invoked it against the Pandavas and Krishna. Arjuna being trained by the Acharya Drona in the same weapon, was the only person who could respond to Ashwatthama's Bramhastra. Acting on Krishna's advice he invoked it against Ashwatthama.
Seeing the two powerful weapons heading for a cataclysmic collision that would result in the end of the world, the sages asked for the weapons to be withdrawn. Arjuna chose to withdraw his weapon. While Arjuna could do so, Ashwatthama's weapon could not be withdrawn and he was given the option of choosing any single target to destroy. Out of strict observation of his promise to Duryodhana, Ashwatthama directed the weapon to the wombs of Pandava women so that their clan would be annihilated just like the Kauravas had been.
Krishna revived Abhimanyu's son who was destroyed in his mother's womb by Ashwatthama's weapon.Acting on the advice of many sages Ashwatthama handed over the precious gemstone embedded in his forehead to Sage Vyasa who in turn granted it to Yudhisthira as he was a weak and defenceless without it. Some believe that Ashwatthama was cursed to be a leper and into exile by Krishna. Others believe that Ashwatthama was so disgusted at the conduct of the significant war of Kurukshetra, that he left India and migrated to the land presently known as the Arabian peninsula.
Legend says that an old fort near Burhanpur, India called Asirgarh has a Lord Shiva temple on top where Ashwatthama offers a red rose everyday to Lord Shiva early in the morning.
Ashwatthama was one of the three survivors of the Kaurava army, along with Kritavarma and Kripacharya. He is believed to be an incarnation of Rudra, later day Shiva, who voluntarily consumed the poison of vengeance without concern about its consequences. Ashwatthama is destined to be one of the seven saptarishis in the next manavantara.
ASHWATHAMA IS ALIVE-
BY MAHAYOGI PILOT BABA
Man's life is the crowning glory of the entire 'creation'. Even the gods have made use of the gross in order to attain the supreme bliss or ‘Bramhatatva’ and whenever the need has arisen Ishwar has also assumed human forms. Human life is that result of good sanskaras. Since times, immemorial, Himalayas has been the abode of great yogis, sages and Mahatmas. Thousands of years old, Saints, still live in the serene precincts of the lofty Himalayas. During my wanderings, I came across these lofty souls; fortunately I could spend some time in their gracious company and benefit from their wisdom. With my readers, I wish to share my rich experiences, so that they may also redesign the structure of life.
One day, I began the 'parikrama' of the pious river Narmada, 'Pahari Baba' gave me company during the Parikrama of the holy river. There are interesting tales and myths about the river 'Narmada', which have enhanced its religious importance. After walking for some time we came across a dense forest, over grown, with 'sulfan' trees. The 'Bhilas' are native inhabitants of the forest. These tribals are not insignificant people, but have a long of history of notoriety which cannot be ignored. The tribals always looted the piligrims who happened to travel via the forests. But, whenever they spotted the gypsies they displayed an amazing disinterest.
We were dressed only in our 'Kopins' when we entered the notorious forest. Some of the tribals spotted us and began to make strange noises. The noises were meant as a signal to invite the attention of their kins. All the noise and confusion could not deter us, and we continued to march ahead. Shortly, we surrounded by hordes of tribals who came towards us menacingly. We were carrying only two bundles which contained some Neem leaves and little, Vibhuti power. The tribals, roughly snatched our meagre belongings and eagerly opened the bundles. But, when they saw the strange contents, their Behavior underwent a remarkable change. After a hurried consultation in soft tones, they signaled us to follow them. We did, as we were told, and very soon found ourselves in front of couple of hutments. We accepted their hospitality and went inside one of the huts. Its interior was neat and orderly. First, they made us sit on mats made from dry leaves, and then they lit a 'Dhuni'. They also gave us to eat a couple of grass chapattis with some fresh honey. We broke the chapattis in small pieces, mixed them with honey and offered to our gentle hosts. We, also ate some portion of their native meal. The tribals were very happy to have us amongst them. They built a small hut for us and collected fruits and edible roots for us to eat. The tribals looked after us with a rare devotion. Though they were considered wild, yet they had a discipline of their own. And no one ever dared to break the rules. Their obedience towards their chief was total. They never questioned his authority on the contrary they almost worshipped him. "Shiva" was their deity. In the morning they either looted unsuspecting passengers or hunted animals. Every morning and evening they came to us in hundreds and sat with apparent devotion. Sometimes, they danced the entire night in aspirit of gay abandon, but, surprisingly enough they celebrated their festival day without any activity. Generally, a majority of 'Bhilas' men and women covered their bodies in mat like pieces. These pieces were either made from dry leaves or bark of trees; still, there were some who preferred to dress in the stolen clothes.
One particular man, who came with the tribals, had a commanding disposition He was always dressed in yellow, and looked different from the other tribals. We wanted to talk to him, but before we could make any move, he used to walk away from our place.
One day, while we were resting in the premises of Sulpaneshwar Mahadeva Mandir, my eyes got locked into the eyes of that extraordinary being. He looked young and had an admirable height and long arms. He had a sharp moustache and his eyes had a fire like brilliance. He looked composed and had a celestial bearing. His forehead was covered by the characteristic yellow cloth. When I began, to whisper into ' Pahari Baba's ears about the 'special' 'Bhila' he gave a knowing smile and left that place. But my curiosity regarding the 'Bhila' was so overpowering, that I also got up from my place and began to follow him. When the tribals saw me following the magnificient figure, they also joined me. The 'Bhila' turned around and requested us to leave. Since I had reached quite close to him, I caught his feet and burst out beseechingly - "Whoever you are, I want your introduction, whether we are complete or incomplete, we look up to your guidance. Your lofty personality tells us that you do not belong to this age. With great humility I want to surrender myself at your feet. Please reveal your identity: I want to know whether my guess regarding your identity is right or wrong. The bhilas were infuriated at my act and began to protest, excitedly. The civilised looking 'Bhila' was their revered one and during the festival of 'Shiva Ratri' they worshipped him along with Lord Shiva.
The great Bhila gestured to the crowd to stop and then gathered me affectionately in his arms. He said, " Kapil: I am Acharya Dronacharya's son Ashwathama. I was the senapati ( the chief warrior) during the days of the historical Mahabarat. Those days have become a history, but , I still live in the past. This temple is my residence and these Bhilas are my companions. Once in a while I go to the Himalayas to meet " Kripa Charya' and Vidhur. But most of the times I involve myself in the activities of the tribemen. For us, time has become stand still , Ironically enough we are moving ahead of time common man is trying to keep pace with time, whereas with us the opposite phenomenon, is occuring, time is tyring to keep pace with us. Sulpaneshwar becomes a small Himalayas, whenever great souls like Kripa Charya and Vidhur visit this place. An occasional enounter with Gorakhnathji turns out ot be a blessing. In his company we evoke the past of 'Bramhand' and watched with rapt attention the Jeevas repeated cycles of birth and death. We are changeless. Life has come to terms with us and we have come to terms with life. We are well acquantied with 'past''present' and 'future'. Though we are aware of the three states of 'Time' 'past' 'present' and future, we cannot do anything. This is because we are not what we used to be in the past"
When Ashwathama removed his head gear a bunch of unruly curls tumbled on his forehead. A strange light lurked in the deep wound mark which was in the centre of his impressive forehead. In a reflective mood Ashwathama again said '- " Due to the appearance of this gem on my forehead all my war tactics and divine potential have come to an end. All these powers have foresaken me. But in return I have received the boon of immortality, which could not be taken away by Lord Krishna and Pandavas . Since then I have been living on the face of the earth. When I watch my contempories in the yonis of animals, birds and snakes I began to ponder the helpless dependence of ' man'. In the ' human yoni' man in his ignorance does certain acts which force him to become birds and animals in the next birth. Consequently he is caught in the endless, vicious cycle of birth and death.
Since I am not entangled in this mesh, I have reached a level where ' time has become still. Even in the past I have never given guidance to anyone. So, in the present I am not inclined towards any guidance and sermons. Today, I am totally immersed in Shiva's Aradhana and do not bother about anything else'.
We spent about six months in the company of the exalted being ' Ashwathama'. We used to go on long tours and move around as common men. During my stay, I discovered how a man who is thousands of years old can remain unaffected by the ways of the society in which he is living. In the company of the great soul how time flew away we did not know. One day the 'great man' blessed us, bade us farewell and disappeared. Before departing he uttered these words - you go ahead with your journey now. We were suppose to be together only for this alotted period.
After this brief interlude, we proceeded on the 'Parikrama' of the Narmada river. On the way we met a young saint who was also on the similar mission. One morning while we were having a dip in the river, a huge snake crept towards us. Our first reaction was to run away. Butr something held us back. When I looked into the eyes of the venomous snake, it cowered momentarily but his next move was totally unexpected. Instead of slithering away it came to us with a threatening speed and threw us out of gear. Pahari Baba sought refuge in the waters and the young saint picked a huge stone with intention of killing the snake. But before he could strike a alethal blow, the snake bit him. Dharmanand became unconscious and fell on the ground. The snake glided away to a distant rock and returned to his former watchful position.
Pahari Baba tried his best to revive the unconcious Dharmanand. But his efforts proved ineffective. In a fit of fury he rushed to kill the snake. The snake remained unmoved by the menacing form of 'Pahari Baba' And, before Pahari Baba could crush it,it transformed into an aged saint. the old man with folded hands began " Pahari Baba spit your anger. I am none other than Awadhoot Baba- I belong to Varmdeshwar - I for the last twenty five years, I have been waiting for "Dharmanand" . Finally, today my patient waiting has borne fruit. Now Dharmanand is liberated from his crimes. Hence onwards he can wander in the state. I request you not to take any action in this matter because every thing will be futile". With these revealing words the old man once again returned to the guise of snake and hid itself amidst the cluster of stones.
I tried my best to dissuade,Pahari Baba from taking Dharmanand's unconscious form to the other side of the river, but all my pleas fell on deaf ears. Pahari Baba lowered Dharmanand in a boat and rowed him across the river. By this act he unknowingly broke his 'Parikrama'. The doctors tried their best to save Dharmanand's life, but failed. Even Pahari Baba's indigineous methods could not bring Dharmanand back to life. All these days, while I awaited Pahari Baba's return, Avadhoot Baba brought food for me.
One afternoon, while we were basking in the sun, Avadhoot Baba spotted the floating corpse of Dharmanand. Overcome with excitement, he discarded the body of the snake and entered the physical form of Dharmanand. But before leaving he told me to throw the snakes body in the water since it was no longer useful to him, I did as I was told.
Pahari Baba was dumb founded, he simply blinked with disbelief to see dead Dharmanand coming out of the waters. When Pahari Baba looked at me inquiringly I told him about Avdhoot Baba and how he had made use of Dharmanand's body. Dharmanand's episode had broken Pahari Baba's Parikrama. So, there was no choice left but to go on seperate paths,because I still had to finish my parikrama.
Is Ashwathama of Mahabharata Still Alive??
Admin on Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:07 pm
If you belive on hinduisam and krishna you must belive on Mahabharat.. according mahabharat ashwatham could not die..
so what do you think about Ashwathama is he alive...
some where i read long before.. in desert of Rajasthan Army saw many times.. the old old person walking far in Desert according mahabharat krishna took off his mani from head so as he will always alive on earth and bleeding on his head..... it was his punishment of using Bhramastra ... so is he alive on earth and some where in desert of Rajasthan...what do you think.
A 5000+ Year Old Man Still Physically Alive?
Post by rishi on Mar 24, 2007, 1:01pm
In order to fully discuss this topic which fascinates me to no end, I'll first need to describe the concept of 'chiranjeev' (this word can also be spelt validly as 'chiranjiv'). 'Chiranjeev' (pronounced 'chir-ahn-jeev') is a Sanskrit word and refers to an EXTREMELY long-lived being (chiran - long, jiva - life). Sometimes chiranjeevs are said to be 'immortal', but this is a misconception. They have unusually long lifespans due to one reason or another, but they still took birth and therefore their souls MUST eventually depart from their bodies. Chiranjeevs are not necessarily the same as siddhas who can physically 'die' at their own will, but their bodies are not subject to decay like ours are. When our bodies expire, they rot away, but when a chiranjeev's lifespan ends, their bodies simply disappear/dematerialise at that very moment. So only in this sense can the chiranjeev be said to be 'immortal', in the sense that it does not experience 'death' in the same manner of decay that all other living entities are subjected to. A chiranjeev attains his/her/its so-called 'immortality' either by way of a blessing or a curse from some other entity or through the law of karma in general. Though there are perhaps multitudes of chiranjeevs that exist across the universe, there are 8 major 'immortals' or chiranjeevs that dwell on the Earth that are recognised in this current Day Of Brahma and they are as follows:
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
Vyasa -a sage who narrated the Mahabharata, he was also a sage in the epic
Hanuman -a monkey deva who served Rama
Vibhishana -Ravana's brother who was made King of Lanka by Rama
Kripacharya -a teacher of the princes in the Mahabharata
Parashurama -an avatar of Vishnu
Markandeya -a great rishi
According to the Hindu text known as Srimad Bhagavatam, Ashwathama, Vyasa, Kripa and Parashurama are destined to be future saptarishis (seven sages), Bali is destined to become the next Indra, Hanuman was blessed by Brahma to live as long as him and Vibhishana was blessed by Rama to live for one kalpa (ie. one full Day Of Brahma). There are several other chiranjeevs mentioned in the Hindu epics and also in a variety of other texts. But there is only one chiranjeev in particular that I want to focus on in this thread: Aswatthama
Aswatthama was a fairly prominent figure in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Here is some general information about him from Wikipedia (from this URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aswatthama):
"In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Ashwatthama (Sanskrit: अश्वत्थाम, ashvatthâma) or Ashwatthaman (Sanskrit: अश्वत्थमन, ashvatthamana) was the son of guru Dronacharya. He is one of the seven Chiranjeevins. Dronacharya loved him dearly. False rumours about his death in the Kurukshetra war led to the death of his father at the hands of Prince Dhrishtadyumna. A vengeful Ashwatthama obtained permission from the dying Duryodhana to brutally murder Dhrishtadhyumna after the war had officially ended. Ashwathama at the end of the war promised Duryodhana that he would kill the Pandavas, and attacked the Pandava camp in the middle of the night, but by error ended up murdering the 5 sons of the Pandavas by Draupadi.
The Pandavas, incensed by this act, chased him resulting in his fight with Arjuna. During the fight, Ashwatthama invoked the 'Brahmastra' against Arjuna and Arjuna in response invoked the 'Pashupatastra'. Fearing the destruction of the world, the sages advised both to take back their weapons. While Arjuna could do so, Ashwathama (presumably having less skill) could not and was given the option of choosing any single target to destroy. Out of spite, Ashwathama directed the weapon to the womb of Uttara, Arjuna's daughter-in-law.
At this time, Uttara was carrying the unborn Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu, who upon birth would be the future heir to all the Pandava brothers. The Brahmastra weapon was successful in fatally burning the foetus, but Krishna revived the stillborn child and cursed Ashwatthama with leprosy and to roam the world for 3,000 years as an unloved castaway. In another version, it is believed that he is cursed to remain alive till the end of the Kaliyuga. It is believed that Ashwatthama migrated to the land currently known as Arabian peninsula. [CITATION NEEDED]
Ashwatthama also had to surrender a valuable gem set on his forehead, the wearer of which ceases to have any fear from weapons or disease or hunger, and he ceases to have any fear of gods and danavas and nagas.
Ashwatthama was a great warrior and was even known to have revived the Kaurava army from sorrowness by invoking the Narayana astra. But Lord Krishna instructed the Pandava army to lay down their arms and hence the astra was finally conquered. He also invoked the agneyastra against Arjuna but he quelled it with the Brahmastra.
Ashwathama was one of the three survivors of the Kaurava army with Kritavarma and Kripacharya."
It gets even MORE interesting! There are many rumours in India that revolve around a tall man with gaping hole in the centre of his forehead aimlessly roaming the forests of Northern India. My grandfather recently told me an account about how one of his brothers (I think he was his brother, I'm not too sure though! lol) and that man's wife went to visit a small village in Northern India. I'm not sure how many years ago they visited this place and my overall memory of this account is quite poor, so I'll try to ask my grandfather to re-tell the whole thing to me as soon as possible. Anyway, moving on..... they were sight-seeing this village and engaging in simple chit-chat with the villagers. All of a sudden, a VERY tall man (approximately 12 feet tall, I think my grandfather said! ) walked into the village. This man had a noticeable dent in his forehead and in the middle of his forehead, there was clearly a circle or hole there. It seemed to be an injury of some sort, but there was no scab which had developed where the hole was. Small drops of blood seemed to seep out of this hole and there were numerous flies that flew around this particular area of his body. The man was quite silent until he approached a man inside a small restaurant selling traditional Indian food. He asked the owner of the store something like 'What have you cooked for me this time?' and, in response, the owner of the store served him a vast variety of foods to quell his appetite. So HUGE was this mysterious man's appetite that he apparently cleared out the restaurant's entire stock of food! Then this man became thirsty and requested water. He was pointed in the direction of a large pot (about half my height and twice my width) which was filled right to the top with water. He promptly went to this pot and proceeded to drink ALL of the water held inside it until not even a single DROP remained! My grandfather's brother and his wife had seen this occurring in front of their very eyes and were quite astonished. They asked a nearby onlooker if he knew who this man was. He responded by saying......... that he was Aswatthama from the Mahabharata! He further clarified that Aswatthama entered this particular village every year (but only once every year) for about a few hours in one day simply to eat and drink. Then he would silently walk off deeper into the forest without making a sound. I asked my grandfather out of curiosity how and why these villagers could be so calm and offer him food and water even though they are aware of the many grievous sins associated with Aswatthama. My grandfather responded by saying that whenever one is hungry, he or she should be given food and whenever one is thirsty, he or she should be given water... REGARDLESS of that person's character or identity. It should be done because it is a selfless thing to do. It should be done not because it generates very positive karma for a person, but because it is the right thing to do. This is what my grandfather's response was. Upon closer inspection on this anecdote my grandfather told me, it makes SENSE that the man who entered that village was indeed Aswatthama himself! The man was said to be EXTREMELY tall. The events of the Mahabharata occurred during Dwapar Yuga (the age which occurred just before this one) and, if I remember correctly, the average height of humankind during this age is between 12-14 feet (to be honest, I don't REALLY know much about this 'feet' unit of measurement at all, since we use the metric system here in Australia! ). This man was said to have eaten an ENORMOUS amount of food and drank an entire pot FULL of water. The regular appetite of people in Dwapar Yuga is stated as being considerably greater than what it is today. Also, this man was said to have had an injury in the middle of his forehead. In the Mahabharata, Aswatthama was said to have been born with a precious gem known as chintamani embedded onto the centre of his forehead. After the end of the Kurukshetra War, Krishna is said to have forcefully pulled this gem out of Aswatthama's forehead as a part of his punishment for his crimes. It is written in the Mahabharata that blood began to pour profusely out of the hole in the centre of Aswatthama's forehead where the chintamani gemstone had been removed. The removal of the chintamani gemstone caused him SEVERE physical pain. To me, it ALL adds up. That man was most likely Aswatthama. It is also said that Aswatthama is engaged in intense meditation within a cave in the Himalayas to atone for his misdeeds. However, since Aswatthama is said to be a siddha, you will not be able to see him with your limited mortal eyes if he does not want to be seen. He can adopt an incorporeal form and render himself invisible at will wherever and whenever he does not wish to be perceived by people. The man who was encountered in that village was most likely the very SAME Aswatthama described in the Mahabharata. If this is indeed the case, then he is living PROOF that the Mahabharata is not simply a mere mythological story but an actual HISTORICAL document. Aswatthama may be a testament to the Mahabharata being a book that recorded actual historical events.
WANT TO GO FOR NARMADAJI'S PARIKRAMA,WILL I BE ABLE TO MEET ASHWATHAMA,IF SO WHERE?
Posted in: Mystery By: Sunil Hariyan | 16 Apr 2010 1:19 pm
Thanks for your query. Babaji has following to say ;
"Develp your thought on mental wave which can communicate anywhere in
the universe. It depends on your body mind purification and concentration. Those places where Ashwathama was living has now
become a dam ,big lake. Temple has disappeared in the lake. There
is no more Sulpaneshwar forest on the banks of Narmada river. if you
have that mind, if you want to have darshan of Ashwathama, first you
be yourself. Is your mind yours, then you can meet Ashwathama anywhere.
Ashwathama now lives in Himalaya with his maternal uncle and his sister
called Kripacharya and Kripi, who in current times are called "Mahavtar
Baba and his sister Shantima.
My blessing are with you "
THE LEGEND OF ASHWATHAMA
THE LEGEND OF ASHWATHAMA
Not many are unaware of the legend of Mahabharata. But individuals like Arjun, Krishna and Duryodhan have taken much of the prehistoric limelight. A character that played a pivotal role in shaping the end of Mahabharata was Ashwathama. Ashwathama was the Son of Krupi (Mother) and Dronacharya(Father), the great teacher who taught archery and weaponry to all Pandavas (remember the forgotten Hero Eklavya?) and Kaurvas. Ashwathama fought in the epic battle of Mahabharata as the commander of the forces from the camp of Kauravas (the antagonists) against the Pandavas (the protagonists), as did his father, Dronacharya. Quite an intriguing fact about Ashwathama is that since his birth, Ashwathama had a jewel (mani) embedded in his forehead which saved him from demons, Gods, snakes and from worldly botheration of hunger and thirst. So here goes the legend of Ashwathama
Towards the end of the battle when Duryodhan was killed by Bheema, the left over Kaurav warriors (including Ashwathama) made a treacherous attempt to kill Pandava brothers. They hideously attacked Pandava’s cantonment at night and beheaded the five warriors sleeping in one of the kiosks. Hours later on Sunrise, they realised they have instead of 5 Pandava brothers they killed the 5 sons of Pandavas. Naturally, Pandavas also discovered 5 headless bodies and strode in agony and anger towards the rival camp (accompanied by ‘mortal-Lord’ Krishna, the Friend-Philosopher-Guide and charioteer of Arjuna).
Seeing the extent of approaching Pandava’s fury, Ashwatthama realised the extent of his mistake and feared his life (though he was immortal!). In his dread, Ashwathama used a blade of grass and using his knowledge of Vedas, made the deadly weapon called Brahmastra (erstwhile version of Nuclear Weapon conferred to supreme warriors by Lord Brahma). He threw this weapon at Pandavas articulating the curse “May all the Pandavas be Destroyed”. To counter this weapon and its curse, Arjun withdrew his bow and released another deadly weapon called Pashupatiastra (another version of Nuclear Weapon, named after and conferred by Lord Shiva).
Now both these weapons had apocalyptic capacities. So seeing the potential danger to Mankind, Lord Vishnu (The most supreme God) descended from heavens and commanded both the warriors to withdraw or take back their weapons. While Arjun took the Pashupatiastra back, Ashwatthama din’t know how to do so. Vishnu then asked Ashwathama to decide a single target of this weapon. Still under wrath and binded by His promise to deceased Duryodhana, Ashwathama chose the womb of the pregnant ‘Uttara’ (wife of martyr Abhimanyu- the great archer and son of Arjuna) in sense that on her delivery she will have a dead child and Pandavas will be destroyed.
As a penitence for Ashwatthama, Lord Krishna pulled out his forehead’s jewel and commanded that he will not lose his immortality and will roam around till the end of the world. And worst of all, the hollow made on his forehead by digging the jewel out will never heal and will always seep blood and Puss, thus arousing a foul smell.
So months later Uttara did begot a male child who was dead. This brought a wave of Sadness to Pandav Kingdom as they were left without an heir to their prodigal dynasty. Seeing the sentiment, Lord Krishna took the child in his lap and said something close to this “If I have never favoured the evil, If I have never lied and have never did a deed, but towards just and truth, MAY THE CHILD COME TO LIFE” and as expected, the hitherto dead boy started crying. The buy was nomenclatured on this incident. His name was ‘Parikshit’ (The Tested: through a test of God) and he ruled the Pandav Dynasty after the 5 brothers left for heaven.
So coming back to Ashwatthama, his blessing of immortality turned into a curse and he joined the league of Chiranjeevis (The timeless or extremely long live, but not necessarily immortals-other examples are Hanumana, Narada and Parshurama). Since then Ashwatthama is roaming around on earth with a bleeding forehead.
Now comes the most incredible part, Ashwatthama is claimed to be seen by some people. Here are the two instances:
a) A renowned Vaidhya (Ayurvedic Doctor) in Madhya Pradesh had a tough patient with a septic forehead. After several applications of a fail-proof potion, the wound was still afresh and bleeding. Amazed at his potions inability, the doctor wittingly said: “Your forehead’s wound seems ageless and cureless. I wonder, are you Ashwatthama.. hahaha”. At the third ha, he turned around to apply the next doze and found that the seat was empty. The patient just disappeared into thin air, sealing Vaidya’s wit with reality”
b) Legend says that in an Indian village near Burhanpur, there is an old dilapidated fort called Asirgarh,, ancient tomb in India where Ashwathama supposedly offers flowers to a Shiva-ling (pneumonic of Lord Shiva) each day.
While incidence a) was reported in Kalyan Magazine, incident b) was briefly on News channels too. Some yogis like Pilot Baba have gone as far in mentioning their encounter and conversation with Ashwathama, who was living among tribes of Bheels at Himalayan Foothills. In all such incidences, the narrators mentioned the height of Ashwathama around 12 feet.
Even if you don’t believe in mythology and religion, the idea of a 12 feet tall, 6000 year old man, witnessing history’s biggest bloodshed and living with God, is still intriguing. I really wonder, if there is a real Ashwathama or any other Chiranjeevi, can’t he come to public eye and narrate us the magnanimous battle-story of our past or is Ashwathama purely legendary?
Long time back (early 1980s) I read a report in the Navbharat Times Annual Magazine about an Indian traveller-cum-spiritualist writing about locals telling presence of a very tall man with deep wound in forehead covered with cloth, seen roaming around Mansarovar lake. Whenever approached or followed by the shepherds out of curiosity, he opened the cloth cover revealing the wound and unbearable stench. After this he jumps into Mansarovar lake and become invisible.
This same story was repeated by a well read and retired engineer at Rishikesh to me, to whom his guruji had described earlier.