Ashwatthama, Mahabharata, Pandava’s Great Escape

Q: “Guruji, I couldn’t find the passage in Shiva Purana about Ashwatthama being a Rudra incarnation.”

Guruji: “They deleted that section in the edition of Gita Press, Gorakhpur. See, here’s another example of sectarian fanaticism: since they are vaishnava and since Ashwatthama is considered a villain by vaishnavas, they deleted that passage from the text. Find the original full text; the one published by Chowkhamba is good.”

Q: “Did they make modifications in Mahabharata as well?”

Guruji: “There have been some modifications, but not a whole lot. In the 4th chapter, Ashwatthama’s physical description is given – after Karna’s death when Duryodhan goes to him. It’s an amazing description! Sitting in Himalayas in his camp, body is like gold, Dronacharya got him after a long penance of lord Shiva, his eyes and shoulder and voice were like Shiva’s vehicle, Nandi, has curly hair, all the knowledge of vedas, etc. And his experience when he’s about to kill the Pandavas in their camp: it’s an amazing description. Just imagine, he’s still alive today!

“All incarnations of Rudra are immortal, which is a strange thing. Well, who can kill him who is everybody’s death.

“Have I told you about the end of Pandavas? Since you’ve now touched on Mahabharata, listen to this as well:
Pandavas had a major feud with Ashwatthama. Krishna also took Ashwatthama’s gem from his forehead after Vyas-ji told him to give it. The enmity that developed as a result of that gemstone was so fierce that first of all all Yadavs died. And Krishna’s death is also a mystery. One who’s entire family has died in front of his eyes, do you think he would go take a stroll in the woods? And what kind of a stupid hunter would confuse a human foot with the mouth of a deer?? It’s not possible. And then, someone who was able to tolerate such horrifying missiles and weapons (astra shastra), could he die with a simple arrow wound to his foot? It is also a mystery how he died; he was just found dead in the woods.

“Also see the calamity on Pandavas’ family and Krishna’s family: nobody was left alive after enmity developed with Ashwatthama. When Arjuna reached home after cremating all family member of Krishna he must have been terrified. Even on the way home the punishment had started: the wives of Krishna were looted by the tribal. The Pandavas were so terrified after seeing all this that as soon as they reached Indraprastha, they immediately took off. And the manner in which they left is really strange! They got rid of all their clothes, all their royal signs and paraphernalia, and put a pebble in their mouths and took off. Nowhere in the old scriptures it is mentioned that one should leave like this to die. The chapter is called “Mahaprasthanik Parva”, and if literally translated in English, it would be called, “The Great Escape”.

“After their flight, not for one instance they ever looked back. Dhristhadhumna’s death was still clear in their minds, who Ashwatthama had kicked to death and didn’t use even a single weapon to kill him; he was killed like a dog. And they ran so terrified that they didn’t even stop for water and not even to cremate the body when they started falling one by one. As a Hindu you know that without cremation or last rites, there’s no transition (gati) of the soul to the next level. And we have the proof of that: when Yudhishthir went to heaven – that must have been due to the effect of Ashwatthama’s gemstone -, he saw that all his brothers and wife were in hell.

“And look at their family: Parikshit was cursed to die by snakebite. He took all precautions and did all due diligence, even read Maha Bhagvat, but ultimately died by snakebite. And people who die by snakebite are not cremated, so even he didn’t transition over after he died. And if he had been liberated as people claim – think of this as our deduction and I’m Sherlock Holmes and you are Dr. Watson -, his son, Janmajeya, must have celebrated. Instead, he did a big yajna (sacrificial rite) to take revenge on snakes and killed thousands of them. And even then he couldn’t kill Takshak snake who had bitten Parikshit. Parikshit was also killed in the womb by Ashwatthama, he was just living on borrowed time, and ultimately died of snakebite only.

“After Janmajeya, nobody knows what happened to that family. I’ve seen people with Kaurava surname, but not with Pandava surname.

“See what happens when you pick a fight with an immortal! Lord Krishna suffered calamity because of Ashwatthama’s gemstone. First he got a bad name stealing Syamantak stone and also had a quarrel with lord Balarama because of it, and then after Ashwatthama’s gemstone both families got wiped off.

“For an incarnation of Rudra, snakes will always be under his command. And according to Astrology, after killing a snake, the person’s astrology is also afflicted with Kalsarpa Yoga, which means extreme dejection and poor conditions which bring complete destruction. And if somebody has killed thousands of snakes, you can imagine what would happen to them.

“This is like reading between the lines. Facts are clear; you can derive you own conclusions. The whole psychology of Pandavas is pure terror: they won’t stop for anything, not even to help if one of them fell. Terror of Ashwatthama was in their minds. Ashwatthama’s revenge was also very thorough. If you read Mahabharata with this perspective, you’ll realize more truths. These are called Vyaskoots (Vyas’s puzzles). It is said that he has left such secrets in Mahabharata that only wise can understand. There are also some couplets which are difficult to understand; they are also called Vyaskoot.

“Guruji used to say that if you want to worship, worship immortals. Why worship mortals? It is absolutely right. He was indicating towards Shiva, versus incarnations of Vishnu, since Shiva-ji’s incarnations are all immortal. That’s why it is said that jiva (soul) is Shiva – it is immortal. Only body dies.”

Q: “Guruji, is there a difference between Shiva and Rudra?”

Guruji: “There’s no difference. Rudra is his name. It’s definition is also given in the fourth chapter, somewhere in the end of Drona Parva: ‘rooh dukkham tat drayanti sa rudrah’ – ‘From great (ru-h) sorrow who liberates (dra-yanti) is Rudra’. Also, Shiva-ji’s worship, abhishek (anointment, consecration), is known as Rudrābhiṣeka, not Shivābhiṣeka.”

[20110324-3] Dated: Jan 2002