Biographies | Men
1. Who is Ashwatthaamaa?
Immortal in Hindu context is not the way in which it is understood generally. "All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, so he is also mortal..." In fact immortal means Chiranjeevee, means who need not to be on earth alone, for example Dhruv is an immortal. He is not on Earth, but is on sky as Dhruv Taaraa, so also Saptarshi. The Daitya King Bali is also an immortal who is still waiting in Paataal Lok for his turn of Indra's seat. In Panch-indriyopaakhyaan MBH says that four Indra were confined in a cave for a long time.
a + shwa + thaamaa= not, tomorrow, will be there; one who has a body that
will not be there tomorrow; because he dedicated his soul in God Shiva, his
body is to be protected for the sake of that soul.
Ashwatthaamaa is cursed as below in MBH --
"For this reason, thou must have to bear the fruit of these thy sins. For 3,000 years thou shalt wander over this earth, without a companion and without being able to talk with anyone. Alone and without anybody by thy side, thou shalt wander through diverse countries. O wretch, thou shalt have no place in the midst of men.
The stench of pus and blood shall emanate from thee, and inaccessible forests
and dreary moors shall be thy abode! Thou shalt wander over the Earth, O thou
of sinful soul, with the weight of all diseases on thee."
As far as the gem on the forehead of Ashwatthaamaa is concerned, it does not protect him from death. Its functions are:
Drone's son said, "This my gem is more valuable than all the wealth that
has ever been earned by the Paandav and the Kaurav. If this gem is worn, the
wearer ceases to have any fear from weapons or disease or hunger. He ceases
to have any fear of gods and Daanav and Naag. His apprehensions from Raakshas
as also from robbers will cease. Even these are the virtues of this gem of mine."
Then WHY did Drone believe on such an absurd thing even if Yudhishthir said it?
That is the blind affection of Drone for Ashwatthaamaa and overconfidence
about the deathlessness of Ashwatthaamaa which broke the old heart of Drone,
that too when the news is said by no-lie-teller Yudhishthir. And when Krishn
is around everything is possible.
Ashwatthaamaa is Rudra's Ansh Sambhoot - an extension of Rudra himself.
Having said these words unto the high-souled Ashwatthaamaa, the Divine Mahaadev
entered Ashwatthaamaa's body after giving him an excellent and polished sword.
Explaining as to "why Ashwatthaamaa could not be executed by Bheem
or Arjun when he was captured after Upapaandav Vadh" - Krishn said
"because he is a being blessed by Rudra himself, you cannot kill
him... Possessed of great energy, the god Mahaadev was gratified
with Ashwatthaamaa. It was for this reason that thy sons, those mighty
car-warriors, could be slain by that warrior. It was for this reason
that many other heroes, the Paanchaal, with all their followers, could
be slain by him. Thou shouldst not suffer thy mind to dwell on it. It
was not Drone's son that accomplished that act. It was done through the
grace of Mahaadev. Do now what should next be done."
So also is Ghatotkach. He is also a Chiranjeevee. And why only he, there are many. But why these personalities are designated as Chiranjeevee?... because they have to take birth in coming Manvantar as somebody else, like Lakshmee becoming Vedavatee, Vedavatee becoming Seetaa; and Swarg Shree becoming Naaraayanee, or Naalaayanee, and Naaraayanee becoming a Rishi Kanyaa, who later becomes Draupadee. If god himself comes, it is called Avataar, and if once-birthed being takes rebirth, it is called Punar-Janm (rebirth), or Janmaantar Janm... so goes the Kaarmik cycle.
for some discussion on Chiranjeev see
The Vishnu Puraan says that the next Ved
Vyaas will be Drone's son Ashwatthaamaa. As you may know thus, from the MBH, that
Ashwatthaamaa is immortal --
Here, much material is there regarding Aswatthaamaa. see it --
Also see this, a good summarization of war chapters --
MBH will not tell whys and hows about these Chiranjeev.
We have to search this in related Puraan.
But how long to be content with bits and pieces of information... why not give a cursory reading, and forget them. Then, when a doubt occurs, just go to that Sarg and use 'find' facility of computer, and go on searching small particulars. It is useless to reproduce whatever that is there on Web. So please read MBH for once.
Regarding the text of MBH, we fortunately or otherwise have Ganguli's
translation on the Web. Download it from sacred-texts.com, or Project
Gutenberg is giving the whole text - 5 MBs or so. Download it, copy paste
each Parv to MS Word or so, where you have good facility of quick search,
select all, fix it in desired font, make it read only file to avoid accidents.
Then read it comfortably instead of having every time problem of downloading
Created by Sushma Gupta On 03/09/02
Modified on 03/22/13