In the Mahabharata epic, Ashwatthama or Drauni is the son of Dronacharya and the grandson of the Bharadwaja Rishis. Ashwatthama was a Maharathi who fought alongside the Kauravas against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War. He became a Chiranjivi (immortal) because of the curse given to him by Lord Krishna. Ashwatthama is one of the Astha Chiranjeevi, Eight immortals in Hindu Dharma.
According to the Mahabharata, Ashwatthama means the sacred sound associated with the sound of a horse. He was given the name Ashwatthama because when he was born, he cried like a horse. Let’s get to know this warrior a bit more with some interesting facts.
Interesting Ashwatthama Facts
Ashwatthama is the son of Dronacharya and Kripi. Drona did Vrata for years to please Lord Shiva to have a son who has the same courage as Lord Shiva. According to Shiva Purana, Ashwatthama is an avatar of Lord Shiva himself. Some interesting facts about him are as follows:
- 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 which gave him power over all living beings lower than humans. The jewel protected him from hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Although skilled in warfare, Dronacharya led a simple life, with little money or possessions. As a result, Ashvatthama had a difficult childhood, with his family not even able to afford milk.
- 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 because Arjuna was Drona’s favorite student.
- After learning that his father was killed due to deception, Ashwatthama was angry. He issued Narayanastra weapons to destroy the Pandavas. The production of weapons was accompanied by strong winds, 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 everyone in the Pandavas camp dropped their weapons, Narayanastra lost its target and then returned to Ashwatthama. As the fighting resumed, Duryodhana instructed Ashwatthama to take out the Narayanastra once again, but Ashwatthama explained that if the weapon was used again, then the wearer would be the target.
- 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.
- Inspired by an owl that snatches a crow in the middle of the night, Ashwatthama initiates an attack at night. However, Krupa opposed his intention because it was an unfair act. Ashwatthama also stated that war was indeed unfair, and all parties were indeed unfair. In the end, Krupa and Kertawarma continued to follow Ashwatthama’s instructions to carry out a night attack on the Pandavas camp. At the gate to the 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 easily enter the Pandava camp.
- First of all, Ashwatthama searched for Dristadyumna’s tent and then killed him. The commotion that occurred 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 who were in the camp then went on a rampage like Rudra. Meanwhile, Krupa and Kertawarma stand guard at the gates of the camp and kill the soldiers who were fleeing Ashwatthama’s rampage.
- 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, that is, a jewel that made him not afraid of any weapon, disease, or hunger, and made him 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.
- It is believed that in Kaliyuga, his name will be Suryakanta. Therefore, Ashwatthama will be looking for death at all times, yet he will never die. At the end of Kali Yuga, Ashwatthama will meet Sri Kalki, the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu.
There are many incidences described by many people that they have seen Ashwatthama and even communicated with him. For instance:
- 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 have a conversation 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 a very good 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 is. Prithviraj was surprised and understood the details. He asked the old man if it is 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 was still fresh and continued to bleed. Amazed by this, the doctor said that his wound looked ageless and without a cure. He added, saying, 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, in an Indian village near Burhanpur, there is an old fort called Asirgarh. 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.