Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ashwatthama, the Chiranjeevi - The Mahabharata Chronicles #5

“I infuse thee, this blade of grass, 
with the power of the Brahmastra, 
for the annihilation of the Pandavas and Krishna.”

I hear these words that I uttered, ringing inside my ears, as if it happened yesterday.

I see the blade of grass, infused with the weapon of destruction, hurtling towards the group of warriors gathered at the ashram of Sage Vyasa - the warriors who had come in search of me, to extract their revenge.

I feel the rage that coursed through me then, for all the slaughter, the deceit, and the genocide that took place over the last eighteen days.

And I feel the helplessness that surged through me, when I redirected the weapon to the womb of Uttara, the unborn heir of Abhimanyu, and the future of the Pandava lineage.

3000 years thence, I roam these lands paying the price for my heinous act, living a cursed life, trapped in a body filled with pus, sores, and diseases, waiting for the so-called judgement day, the end of Kali Yuga – the age of darkness.

I do not seek forgiveness nor do I feel remorse or repentance for my deeds anymore.

For I know that all these were preordained. For I understand this is how this magnum opus is meant to be played out. 

Know me as Ashwatthama, the Chiranjeevi – partial incarnation of Lord Rudra, named so because I neighed like a horse at birth.

                                                                                           [Pic Couresty: http://molee.deviantart.com/]

I, who was born as a Brahmin, but was drawn towards the life of a Kshatriya.

Progeny of the famous Acharya, Guru Drona, who always preferred Arjuna’s skill to mine. Comrade to the Kaurava heir, Duryodhana, who always favoured Karna’s friendship over mine. 

Master of astras and shastras, and once upon a Yuga, the possessor of a famed jewel.

The jewel that I was born with. The jewel that adorned my forehead and protected me from diseases, fear, and enemies. The jewel that was prised from me for my monstrous act.

The act of destroying the lineage of the Pandavas.

My life as I knew it had always been encumbered with wants, longings, and desires. Filled with instances of people’s derision of our lifestyle, I do not remember anything about my childhood apart from our impoverished existence, until Father became Acharya to the Kuru princes.  However, the fact that we were still at the mercy of others always irked me. Even as a friend of the Kauravas, I never could feel equal to them. Even though none of them said so explicitly, there was always a difference. Always a thin line that demarcated me from them, because I was the son of their Acharya.

I remember the early days of learning where Father favoured me over his new students. By virtue of being his son, he taught me mantras and weapons that he did not impart to the others. He was partial to me until his favouritism found a new heir. Arjuna.

Arjuna, to whom Father imparted all his skills and knowledge. Arjuna, who soon impressed his Guru with his dedication and sincerity to learn and become the world’s best archer. Arjuna, who became Father’s prized pupil. Arjuna, who got my Father’s attention and affection, the care that I yearned for.

Father was not happy about the fact that I was friendlier with the Kauravas than with his preferred Pandavas. However, I felt more at home with the high-spirited Kauravas rather than the virtuous sons of Kunti. Sometimes, at night, when he thought I was asleep, I could hear him pour his grievances to Mother about how I was falling into bad company, and how he wished that I were more like Arjuna, instead of following Duryodhana around. Yet, as much as he slighted my choice of friends, he would sit near my head, stroke my hair, and hold my hand, weeping silent tears, while I pretended to be asleep. These instances of paternal affection, though few and rare, made me happy and filled me with warmth, though they also hardened my jealousy of Arjuna. I knew he loved me more than anyone else in the world. I knew all that he was undertaking, was for my happiness and well-being. Yet, I was never able to get over the fact that he believed I was not as skilled as Arjuna. I was never able to accept the fact that Arjuna was getting the concern and the attention that I thought I deserved.

That night when I butchered the Pandava camp, with the Chandrahaas in my hand, it was as though the Mahadev himself had entered my body and led me to avenge the fallen of our camp including Father. I did not think twice before I sneaked into their camp and slew them all. There was only one thought on my mind then – to retaliate. To avenge my kith and kin. To make the enemy pay for what they had done including killing my Father. When I realized later, that I had killed not the Pandavas but their sons, I was contrite and headed towards Sage Vyasa’s ashram where I intended to do penance and calm my mind. However, when I saw Arjuna along with the rest of the Pandavas, charging towards me with retribution on their minds, my anger knew no bounds. I invoked the Brahmastra and uttered those ominous words;

“I infuse thee, this blade of grass, 
with the power of the Brahmastra, 
for the annihilation of the Pandavas and Krishna.”

I knew that Arjuna would invoke an astra to counter mine and he did. But when ordered by Vyasa Maharishi to recall the weapons, I was unable to, unlike Arjuna. I was unable to recall the astra that my Father had taught me because he had not trusted me enough with the knowledge to recall the astra. He had revealed to me only partial knowledge of invoking the astra, while imparting the full knowledge of the astra to his favoured pupil – Arjuna.

Overridden yet again by partiality, filled with a sense of helplessness and driven by jealousy and rage, I redirected the weapon to the womb of Uttara, towards the unborn heir of Abhimanyu, and the future of the Pandava lineage. Condemned for this cowardly and dastardly act, I roam these lands now, cursed to live the life of a leper, unloved and castaway by all, awaiting redemption.

The bloodshed of the Great War that I was a part of was prophesied during the Ksheerasagara Madhanam, the churning of the great ocean of milk. Springing forth from the Halahal that Lord Mahadev drank, to save the universe, the Vish-Purush that I embodied, was blessed so, stating I would kill brutal Kshatriyas during the Dwapara Yuga.

I was born therefore, as Ashwatthama, one of the chiranjeevis, in the lineage of the great sage Bharadwaj.

I was birthed as a Brahmin. I lived as a Kshatriya. And I am condemned as a slayer.

For all these were preordained. For this is how this magnum opus is meant to be played out.

I have executed my part to perfection and now, I await the warrior with his blazing sword on his great white steed, to grant me deliverance.

To usher me into the Satya Yuga, to the start of time again, wherein, I shall be honoured as a Saptarishi.

For this is the circle of my life, with no beginning and with no end.  



  2. @Anonymous -- Err and why would that be? :)

  3. I think this is amazing.....you write really well dear.


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