When it comes to mythology, every country in the world has its own fair share of stories. In India, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana provide us with Hindu mythology. One such tale is from the Mahabharata, which tells about the great warrior Ashwatthama, who was cursed to live a life full of sorrow and misery till the end of time. It brings up the question, is he alive even today? Also Read - Guru Purnima 2020: What The Day is All About And Why it is Dedicated to Acharya Ved Vyasa
Before dwelling on the topic of whether he is alive even today, let’s take a look at how the curse came about in the first place for Ashwatthama. Son of Guru Dronacharya and the grandson of the sage Bharadwaja, Ashwatthama was one of the seven Chiranjeevis, immortals, who had been granted a boon of immortality from Lord Shiva. Also Read - Guru Purnima 2020: On Which Date And Month Does Guru Purnima Fall in India?
Along with being granted immortality, Ashwatthama, at his birth, also received a gemstone that was placed at the centre of his forehead. The gemstone gave him the power over all living beings lower than humans, and it also protected him from hunger, thirst and fatigue. Also Read - 'During COVID-19, it Can Teach us How to Strengthen Ourselves': JNU V-C Defends Webinar on Ramayana
Ashwatthama’s curse came about when during the battle of Kurukshetra, his father Dronacharya was killed by Dhristadyumna, who was the commander-in-chief of the Pandava army.
The Pandavas and the Kauravas had enrolled in Dronacharya’s gurukul, and Ashwatthama became friends with the eldest Kaurava, Duryodhan. When the Kurukshetra war, which lasted for 18 days, started, Ashwatthama sided with the Kauravas and managed to kill a good number of people. Dronacharya was named the supreme commander of the armies after Bhishma falls in battle.
Krishna, who knew it was not possible to defeat an armed Drona, hatched a plan to kill him by lying to him about the death of his son Ashwatthama. The plan worked and the grieving sage was beheaded by Dhristadyumna, which in turn led to Ashwatthama becoming filled with rage at the deceptive way his father was killed. He decided to avenge his father’s death by killing all the Pandavas.
Ashwatthama infiltrated the camp of the Pandavas at night and killed five of Draupadi’s children in their sleep along with Dhrishtadyumna. On returning to camp, the Pandavas and Krishna were left devastated by the killings, and rushed to avenge the deaths caused by Ashwatthama.
When both the forces came face to face, Ashwatthama invoked the Brahmastra, a weapon of immense destruction, to fulfill his oath of killing all the Pandavas. Krishna in turn asked Arjuna to use the Pashupatastra, another lethal weapon, to protect them. The gods asked them to take their weapons back, as they could destroy the entire universe.
While Arjun knew how to recall his weapon, Ashwatthama did not and when Krishna suggested that he redirect the weapon to an uninhabited place, he instead aimed it towards the womb of the pregnant Uttara in an attempt to end the lineage of the Pandavas. Uttara was pregnant with Abhimanyu’s son, the grandson of Arjun.
Krishna intervened and revived the stillborn baby, and Ashwatthama was made to give up his source of power – the gemstone in the middle of his forehead. Due to his immortality, he was cursed to live forever till the end of time with the gaping wound on his forehead.
About Ashwatthama Being Alive to This Day:
Considering the beliefs that people hold about mythology, many have stated to have seen a man with such a gaping wound on his forehead and a doctor has even revealed that he tried to heal him without success. Reports have been doing rounds, that a man fitting the description of Ashwatthama has been visiting Shiva temples all over India, praying it seems to be released from the curse.
As per the Mumbai Mirror, a doctor from Madhya Pradesh had revealed that a man had come to him for treatment of an unusual wound on his forehead. The doctor said that no matter the treatment, with medicines or stitching up the wound, it just did not heal. So during one such treatment, the doctor jokingly asked the patient if he was Ashwatthama. As he turned around to address the man, the doctor said that he was nowhere to be seen and nobody outside his cabin had seen him either.
The doctor also gave a description of the wound, saying it looked so horrific that it was as if his brain had been pulled out from the front of of his head.
Whether the stories are true or not, most seem to think that Ashwatthama is still very much alive.