Ashwatthama, or Drauni, is the son of Dronacharya and the grandson of the Bharadwaja Rishis. He was a Maharathi who fought alongside the Kauravas against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War.
Ashwatthama refers to the sacred voice associated with the sound of a horse. This mythological character was given the name because he cried like a horse when he was born. Let’s know this immortal warrior more with some interesting facts.
Interesting Ashwatthama Facts
Ashwatthama is the son of Dronacharya and Kripi. Drona performed severe penance for years to please Lord Shiva. He wished to have a son with the same courage as Shankara. According to Shiva Purana, Ashwatthama is an avatar of Lord Shiva himself. Some interesting facts about him are as follows:
#1 One of the Astha Chiranjeevi
Ashwathama is one of the Astha Chiranjeevi, Eight Immortals (Though there are more than eight immortals). Ashwatthama was born with a jewel on his forehead, giving him power over all living beings lower than humans. The jewel protected him from hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Although skilled in warfare and possession of deadly weapons, Dronacharya followed a simple life routine with little money. Due to this, Ashwatthama had tough childhood life to such extremity that even milk was unaffordable.
#2 Skilled Archer
His strength is almost equal to Arjuna’s, especially in archery. Among the Kuru princes, he was good friends with Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra. They both have jealousy towards the Pandavas. Duryodhana felt that Yudhisthira was his obstacle in inheriting the throne of Hastinapura, while Arjuna’s talent made Ashwatthama jealous because he felt that his father’s love had been divided. After all, Arjuna was Drona’s favorite student.
#3 Used Narayanastra
After learning that his father was killed due to deception, Ashwatthama was angry. He summoned Narayanastra, a powerful celestial weapon to destroy the Pandavas. The weapons production was accompanied by violent winds, peals of thunder, lightning strikes, and the appearance of millions of arrows ready to target every armed person in the Pandava fort. This frightened the Pandavas until, finally, Krishna told everyone in the Pandava camp to drop their weapons and surrender to Narayanastra.
As the avatar of Vishnu (Narayana), Krishna knew that Narayanastra only attacked armed people. After every prominent warrior in the Pandavas camp dropped their weapons, Narayanastra lost its target and returned to Ashwatthama. As the fighting resumed, Duryodhana instructed Ashwatthama to take out the Narayanastra again. Still, Ashwatthama explained that the wearer would be the target if the weapon were used again.
#4 Defeated Dristadyumna in direct combat
Ashwatthama defeated Dristadyumna in direct combat but failed to kill him because Satyaki and Bhima immediately helped him. After the fighting continued, Ashwatthama managed to kill King Nila of Mahismati.
#5 Co-Lone Survivor of Kurukshetra
His maternal uncle Kripa and Ashwatthama himself are believed to be the only two survivors of the Kurukshetra war. These both created great damage to Pandavas with strategic attacks on Pandavas’s camps at night. Ashwatthama even acted as a guard to protect Kripacharya against Parashuram. Ashwatthama vs Parashuram is yet another addictive story in Hindu mythology.
#6 Ashwatthama attacked Pandava’s Camp.
Inspired by an owl that snatches a crow in the middle of the night, Ashwatthama initiates an attack at night. However, Kripacharya opposed his intention because it was an unfair act. Ashwatthama also stated that war was unfair, and all parties were unfair. In the end, Kripacharya and Kertawarma followed Ashwatthama’s instructions to carry out a night attack on the Pandava’s camp.
At the gate of the Pandava’s camp, the three of them were confronted by a giant guard. All the weapons that Ashwatthama launched were incapable of defeating the creature. Then Ashwatthama asked Lord Shiva for help. The god appeared and gave powers like Rudra to Ashwatthama, who made him invincible and managed to enter the Pandava camp easily.
First, Ashwatthama searched for Dristadyumna’s tent and then killed him. The commotion made Srikandhi and Panchakumara (five sons of the Pandavas) get up and rush to the Dristadyumna tent. However, they were killed by Ashwatthama, who had obtained power from Shiva.
Ashwatthama also killed Yudamanyu, Utamoja, and the knights in the camp then went on a rampage like Rudra. Meanwhile, Kripa and Kertawarma stand guard at the camp’s gates and kill the soldiers fleeing Ashwatthama’s rampage. A single-night offensive attack slaughtered many Pandava armies.
#7 Krishna cursed Ashwatthama
At the end of Sauptika Parva (10th of 18 Paravas of Mahabharata), it is stated that Krishna cursed Ashwatthama to suffer from leprosy and wander on Earth until the end of the Kaliyuga era.
Ashwatthama was also forced to hand over the precious gemstone (mani) attached to his forehead. This jewel made him not afraid of any weapon, disease, or hunger and fearless of gods, giants, demons, and dragons. After the jewels were removed, the sticky marks left a wound on his forehead, which gave off unpleasant-smelling blood that would never stop flowing until the end of Kaliyuga.
Indian Mythology states that in Kaliyuga, his immortal life will have the name, Suryakanta. Therefore, Ashwatthama will always look for death, yet he will never die. At the end of Kali Yuga, Ashwatthama will meet Sri Kalki, the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Incidences of seeing Ashwatthama (even communicating)
- A newspaper article spanning over a decade spoke of a retired railway employee. During his wanderings in the jungles of Navsari (Gujarat), he had sustained a very tall man of about 12 feet with a head wound. He claimed to converse with him and learned that Bheem was much taller and stronger than him.
- When in 1192, Prithviraj Chauhan lost the battle of Mohammad Gauree, he left for the jungle. There he met an elderly person with a scar on his head. Being an excellent doctor, Prithviraj Chauhan confided to him that he could heal his scar. The old man agreed. But even after the week’s treatment, it remained as it was. Prithviraj was surprised and understood the details. He asked the old man if he was Ashwatthama. The old man said he was Ashwatthama and then left. This description is given in Prithviraj Raso, the book written about him in the 12th century.
- A Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor) in Madhya Pradesh had a hard patient with a septic forehead. After several applications of a fail-safe potion, the wound remained fresh and bleeding. Amazed by this, the doctor said that his wound looked ageless and without a cure. He said, ” I wonder, are you Ashwatthama, ” and laughed. When he turned to apply the next nap, he found the patient’s seat empty. The patient has just disappeared into the air. This has also been reported in Kalyan magazine, but who knows if it’s true or not?
- According to another legend, an Indian village near Burhanpur has an old fort called Asirgarh Fort. Ashwatthama is believed to offer flowers to a Shiva lingam every morning. This also came up briefly on some news channels.
- Some Yogis, like Pilot Baba, also mentioned their meeting and conversation with Ashwatthama, who lived among the tribes in the foothills of the Himalayas.