‘The Mahabharata’ for me ranks higher than ‘The Ramayana’ for the examination of the psyche of a multitude characters and how hubris destroys two clans despite the Lord Incarnate himself being on the side of a clan of warriors.
This year the ‘A to Z Challenge’ again decides to wake me up from my self-imposed exile from ‘Teerthadanam’. The past couple of years have seen me go from bad to worse, as the actual circle of people whom I counted to be my friends kept decreasing. With back-stabbing, rumour-mongering, and character assassination the order of the day; somewhere I have lost the ability to trust anyone. OK as always, I meander hopelessly. No further distractions, let’s start with Ashwatthama.
Ashwatthama, the son of the great warrior and guru Dronacharya and his wife Kripa. Growing up in extreme poverty his life changes once Drona becomes the guru of the Panadava and the Kaurava princes and Ashwatthama trains along with the princes.
Ashwatthama was born with a gem in his forehead and he is considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva and is a Chiranjeevi — an immortal. Despite all the great warriors, it is believed that no one can defeat Ashwatthama. This is in fact proved by Krishna’s cunning act of making Drona believe that his son is dead when they kill the elephant Ashwatthama and conveying the half-truth to Drona that leads to his death of a broken heart as he decides not to retaliate in war and is killed.
Ashwatthama’s rage and fury is not contained and he slaughters as many soldiers from the Pandava camp as possible. His act of directing the Brahmashirsha astra at the pregnant Utthara’s womb invites Krishna’s rage. Krishna curses him that he will roam the forests and mountains for 3,000 years with blood an pus oozing out of his injuries and no mortal coming to his care.
Up in the northern plains it is believed that the immortal still travels seeking some form of redemption or the other. Once in a while, news-reports in dubious local newspapers list the spotting of a strange man with a bleeding forehead. We will never know the truth, but just think, a man who had no business of fighting a war between two warring clans, inevitably gets pulled as his father is the commander in one of the armies and he fights a hopeless war, despite everyone knowing that the Lord – Krishna would deliver victory for the Pandavas.
I sometimes wonder, how this life has played out so far… perhaps, I too shall end up like a nomad, a pointless bhikshu, wandering, seeking a purpose for this existence…Only time will tell..