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Oppiliappan List Archive: Message 00072 Mar 2005

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Dear members,

For a moment let's follow the story of the


It was the last day of the Kurukshetra War. It was
dusk. Duryodhana lay mortally wounded in
Samantapanchaka. His thigh had been shattered by
Bhima's blows and life was rapidly ebbing away for the
Kaurava monarch. It was only a matter of time before
Duryodhana would be no more.

It was the moment Aswattama, the illustrious son of
DrOnAchArya, appeared on the scene. When he saw
Duryodhana's state, Aswatthama's grief and fury knew
no bounds. He wept for his friend, patron and mentor.
Blinded by a mad rage, he then swore vengeance on the
whole Pandava clan for what they had done unto

That night, under cover of darkness, AswathAma crept
into the Pandava camp looking for the 5 Pandava
princes. But instead he saw only the five stripling
young sons of Draupadi and a few other nobles like
Dhristadhyumna and Draupadi's other brothers too. In a
moment, Aswatthama simply slaughtered them all in

When Aswatthama left the  Pandava camp that night he
left behind a massacre. Five of Draupadi's sons were
dead. Draupadi's brothers were killed. And the whole
camp was left burning in a terrible blaze.

At dawn when the Pandavas came upon their camp and saw
the carnage, they were shocked dumb into silent grief.
Draupadi let out a wail at the horrific sight of her
five sons and began lamenting. Her heart bled with a
mother's anguish... It was against the 'dharma' of
warfare in those days to kill an enemy while he was
asleep and Aswatthama's heinous deed was beyond

Arjuna, already weary and worn after the War of
Kurukshetra, became even more grief-stricken. But
watching Draupadi collapse into a heap of grief, he
went up to her to offer consolation. He said, "You
won't weep for long, my Draupadi. I will avenge the
death of these children. I will bring the head of the
villain who did this and place it at your feet. There
is no escape for Aswathhama. Have no doubt about it,
my dear Draupadi!"


Arjuna and Krishna at once set out in their chariot in
pursuit of Aswatthama. It was certain yet another
bloody armageddon was soon to follow.

When Aswatthama saw Arjuna approaching, his own fury
soared. He took out the ultimate weapon, the dreaded
"brahmAstra", invoked its most cataclysmic powers, and
launched it with the vicious intent of destroying
every Pandava that walked on earth. The deadly 'astra'
appeared in the skies spewing fire and thunder,
leaving behaind a trail of utter, sweeping destruction
wherever it went... The whole world trembled on the
brink of an apocalypse...

An alarmed Arjuna turned to Krishna and asked what
should be done. Krishna replied in a cold, steely
voice, "Arjuna, the son of your guru Drona, has
crossed all limits of the dharma of war. He has
invoked the terrible "brahmAstra" and hurled it
without a thought for the consequences. The world at
large is now on the brink of annihilation. The
dastardly Aswatthama has become mad with rage. Make up
your mind now. Unleash your own ultimate weapon, the
"brahmAstra" and let it simply return havoc for havoc.
There is no other choice!"

Arjuna hesitated for no more than a moment. He did as
Krishna bade him. And in the next moment the fate of
the whole wide world hung in a frail, treacherous


When the wise men of Kurukshetra, the "rshis",
witnessed the scene, they were left aghast. Panic
seized them. However, gathering up their wits they
rushed to Arjuna and Aswatthama and remonstrated, "O
Arjuna, O Aswatthama! What have you both done! Blinded
by your own rage, you have both acted irresponsibly!
It's the end of the world now!".

The "rshis" then beseeched the two warriors, "Withdraw
the "astra" please, immediately, while there is still
time! Do it now! If the two "astra-s" collide it will
spell the doom of everything on earth! Tarry not!
Withdraw your "brahmAstrA-s" and save the world from a

When Arjuna heard the 'rshis' words he knew he had
acted in haste and there would be no such thing as
leisure left in the world in which he could repent.
Hence without losing a moment, using his
"mantra-shakti" he instantly aborted the 'astra' and
rendered it harmless in mid-air. 

Ashwatthama, however, could not retract the missile he
had already launched since the requisite "mantra" had
not been properly mastered by him. However, to salvage
the situation, he used a mantra that changed the
target and trajectory of the 'astra', re-directing it
not at living Pandavas, but at all un-born Pandavas.
Just at the nick of time, Aswatthama's missile veered
off course and vanished aimlessly into deep, endless
space... A global disaster stood averted at the very
last moment!


Arjuna forthwith subdued Aswatthama. He turned to
Krishna and asked what may be done to the villain.
Krishna said blandly, "Show no mercy, kill him without
a qualm. Arjuna, do not hesitate. Have you forgotten
your vow taken in Draupadi's presence? That you would
lay at her feet the head of the man who killed her
sons? You have sworn to do it, so kill this man at

Despite Krishna's clear instructions, Arjuna
hesitated. "Aswatthama is the son of my guru, Sri
Dronacharya", thought Arjuna, "and my guru loved me as
much as this son of his. How can I slay my guru's

Overcome by emotion and qualm, Arjuna shrank from
taking Aswatthama's life. Instead he dragged him into
Draupadi's presence and in the presence of a large
assembly said to her: "Look my queen, look at this
sinner that stands humbled before you! Tell me what I
should do with him and I will carry out your wishes

The assembled people then watched with bated breath.
They looked at Draupadi and knew that for the mother 
of 5 dead, beloved children, all of whom had
tragically been slaughtered even as they slept in bed,
the moment of vengeance had arrived. 

Draupadi's "prArabdha" seemed to have pursued her
relentlessly in life and caught up again with her. Her
destiny appeared to lie only in violence, bloodshed
and Vengeance. It looked as though the baleful spirit
of Vengeance would never cease following her wherever
Draupadi went and whatever the circumstance of life.

For anyone watching the scene on that day at
Kurukshetra, there could have been no doubt what Queen
Draupadi would do. She had vowed terrible vengeance
once before -- she had said she'd dye her hair in
Kaurava blood for the shame they brought upon her in
the Court of Hastinapur -- and no doubt she'd now not
hesitate a moment to ask for Vengeance once more.
Draupadi would surely ask Arjuna to proceed with his
own vow and slough off the head of Aswatthama, the
killer of her 5 young sons...

The crowd of onlookers waited and watched... for
Draupadi's sentence to be pronounced and Arjuna's axe
to fall upon Aswatthama's neck.


Let us also wait and watch what happens next... in the
next posting, that is!




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