Who is Ashwathama? Why he was cursed by Krishna? Is he still alive?

Why Ashwathama cursed by Krishna. Is Ashwathama still alive?

Ashwathama (or Ashwatthama) was one of the most powerful warriors in Mahabharata. He was the devotee of Lord Shiva. Still, he was cursed by Krishna. Do you know why?

Also, these people have seen Ashwathama in the 21st century. Does this mean that he is still alive?

We all have heard stories about Ashwathama still being alive since Mahabharata due to the curse which was given to him by Krishna.

Let’s trace his story from Mahabharata and find out whether he is still alive or not.

Who was Ashwathama:

Ashwathama, also known as Drauni is the son of Dronacharya and Kripi (sister of Kripacharya). He along with his father fought in the Kurukshetra war in Mahabharata from the Kauravas side against the Pandavas.

He is considered an avatar of Shiva and is one of the seven Chiranjivi ( immortal living beings in Hinduism who are to remain alive on Earth until the end of the current Kali Yuga.)

Ashwathama is also believed to be the living survivor of the Kurukshetra war along with his maternal uncle, Kripa.

Birth of Ashwathama:

Drona did many years of severe penance to please Lord Shiva to obtain a son who possesses the same valiance as Lord Shiva. 

Ashwathama is said to be the part incarnate of Lord Shiva. Since he was born Chiranjivi, it is virtually impossible for anyone to kill or defeat him.

Gem on the forehead of Ashwathama
Gem (Mani) on the forehead of Ashwathama

He was born with a gem (mani) on his forehead which makes him powerful than all the living beings lower than humans. It also protects him from hunger, thirst, and fatigue.

Dronacharya was an expert in warfare. But since Drona lived a simple life of a Brahmin, he was not able to even afford milk for his son. He goes to his friend King Drupada for help, but he refused saying a beggar and a king cannot be friends.

After this humiliation and seeing the plight of Drona, Kripacharya, invited Drona to Hastinapur. There he became the guru of Pandavas and Kauravas. Ashwathama was trained along with them.

Death of Dronacharya:

On the 10th day of the war, when Bhishma falls, Drona is appointed as the supreme commander of the Kaurava army. 

Death_of_Drona - father of Ashwathama
Death of Dronacharya – Father of Ashwathama

Krishna knew that it is impossible to defeat armed Dronacharya. So he makes a plan to defeat him by convincing him that his son, Ashwathama was killed on the battlefield. After hearing this, he will disarm himself in grief.

This plan of Krishna works as Bhima kills an elephant by the name Ashwathama while claiming it to be the son of Drona. In grief, Drona disarms himself, and Dhristadyumna beheads the sage Drona.

Enraged Ashwathama unleash Narayanastra:

Ashwathama uses Narayanastra

Enraged by the death of his father, Ashwathama unleash Narayanastra, a weapon gifted to him by his father on the Pandava army.

Narayanastra has the power to destroy one Akshauhini (battle formation consisting of 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 65,610 horses, and 109,350 infantry) entirely.

Krishna saw him using the weapon and asked the Pandavas to bow down to it as this was the only way to calm the Astra. The Pandavas did the same and saved their lives.

After the failure of the Narayan Astra, Ashwathama got more enraged and used the Agni Astra on the Pandavas. Although he could not kill the Pandavas, he managed to eradicate most of the Pandavas army.

After Narayanastra and Agni Astra failed, a war took place between both the parties. Ashwathama succeeded in defeating Dhrishtadyumna in direct combat but was failed to kill him. He was saved by Satyaki and Bhima.

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Why Ashwathama kills sons of Pandavas:

When Duryodhana was killed by Bheema (Bhima), then remaining Kauravas warriors (including Ashwathama) made a deadly attempt to kill the Pandavas brothers in the night when they would be sleeping. 

On that night Krishna took all the 5 Pandavas somewhere else & Ashwathama entered into the tent of the Pandavas and mistakenly killed all the 5 sleeping sons of Pandavas and set the camp on fire.

When Pandavas returned to the camp and learned about this dreadful incident, they become inconsolable. They went searching for Ashwathama to sage Vyasa’s ashram.

On seeing Pandavas, Ashwathama as the last option devised a Brahmashirsha Astra from a blade of grass and invoked it against the Pandavas and Krishna.

Narada and Vyasa came to stop Brahmashirsha Astra used by Aswathama and Arjuna
Narada and Vyasa came to stop Brahmashirsha Astra used by Ashwathama and Arjuna

Brahmashirsha Astra is the evolution of the Brahmastra and showered a shower of meteors to annihilate the enemy. This weapon can be invoked by using sacred mantras into any object, even to a blade of grass.

Arjuna invokes the same Astra, which he received from Drona himself towards Ashwathama. 

On seeing the powerful Astra’s heading for a head-on collision that would result in the total annihilation of the entire earth, Vyasa asked both the warriors to withdraw their weapons.

Arjuna was able to withdraw this weapon, but Ashwathama is unable to do so because Drona never taught him how to withdraw it. This limits him from using this weapon for only one instance.

Instead of deviating his weapon towards an uninhabited place, where this Astra can explode harmlessly, he directed it towards the womb of the pregnant Uttara (wife of Abhimanyu – the son of Arjuna) in an attempt to end the lineage of the Pandavas.

This is why Ashwathama was cursed by Krishna:

Her son was later revived by Krishna. In this way, Ashwathama tried to kill everyone in the Pandava’s family. On this Lord Krishna became very angry with him & cursed him badly. 

Ashwathama cursed by Krishna
Ashwathama cursed by Krishna

As a punishment, Ashwatthama was asked to surrender the gem on his forehead. Krishna then cursed Ashwatthama for 3000 years that he will roam in the forests with blood and puss oozing out of his injuries and cry for death.

Since he had no fear of death during the war, death would not meet him. He will have neither any hospitality nor any accommodation; he will be in total isolation without any contact of physical communication from mankind and society.

The wound caused by the removal of this gem on his forehead will not heal, and his body will suffer from a host of incurable diseases forming sores and ulcers that would never heal for 3000 years.

MUST READ: 12 Warriors who survived Kurukshetra war in Mahabharata

Is Ashwathama still alive?

Asirgarh fort where Ashwathama is said to wander
Asirgarh Fort in Madhya Pradesh
  • There is story doing the rounds of the internet, where an Ayurveda doctor in Madhya Pradesh tried everything to fix a septic wound on the head of a patient. But the bleeding never stopped. The man was tall, dark, handsome and massive.
  • Another story in which the villagers who live near the old fort in Asirgarh (Madhya Pradesh), believe that he comes every morning to pray to a Shiv Linga in the old fort and offer flowers.
  • Another story in which yogi like Pilot Baba has claimed that they have met Ashwathama in the Himalayas, living peacefully with a tribe.

It is believed that he is still roaming on earth in and around the Narmada river in India. 

But there is another incident in Mahabharata which contradicts this possibility.

According to Kannada version of Mahabharata, Ashwathama got in touch with Parshurama and asked him to save him from Lord Krishna’s curse. Since Ashwathama was only following Lord Shiva’s instructions to exterminate the evil from the world, he took his disciple in readily.

It is believed that Lord Shiva purposely incarnated in the form of Ashwathama to eliminate all the evil from the world.

As mentioned in Mahabharata that 36 years after the war, the Pandavas saw him in the company of Lord Parasurama and Sage Durvasa in an ashram on the banks of river Ganga.

It was believed that Parasurama and Sage Durvasa initiated Ashwatthama into Sakthi worship, which is considered to be the supreme of all modes of worship. By this, Ashwatthama bypassed the curse of Lord Krishna.

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