Ashwatthwama surrenders his crown1

In the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas and Kauravas had a rule that they would fight only during the day. Unfortunately, one night the Kauravas broke this rule. After the death of his father Dronacharya, Ashwatthwama entered into the tent of the Pandavas and killed the five sons of Draupadi.

When Draupadi found that her sons had been killed, she cried and cried bitterly. She told Bhima, “Bhima, I am not going to eat anymore until you kill Ashwatthwama and bring his crown to me. If you cannot do this, then I will starve. I will sit here and do nothing until you do my bidding.”

Bhima ran out to kill Ashwatthwama, with Yudhishthira and Arjuna following closely. They heard that Ashwatthwama was hiding on the bank of the Ganges, pretending to meditate amongst the sages there. He had taken the disguise of a sage and sat near Vyasa.

With great difficulty Bhima, Arjuna and Yudhishthira found him. As they approached, Ashwatthwama took out his most dangerous arrow, the Brahmashira. Arjuna also had this same arrow. Before Ashwatthwama and Arjuna began battle with these dangerous arrows, the great sages Narada and Vyasa, as well as many others, stood up and said, “Stop! Stop! Withdraw those arrows! Otherwise, thousands of people will be killed! You can’t do that. You must have some compassion for innocent mankind.”

Arjuna said, “I am ready to withdraw, because I don’t want to kill unnecessarily, especially not innocent people.”

Ashwatthwama said, “I will also withdraw.”

Arjuna was able to withdraw his arrow because of his spirituality. He had practised spirituality for so many years and had become good in hundreds of ways.

But Ashwatthwama could not withdraw his arrow and it killed Arjuna’s grandson. Every one cried. They were in a sea of tears.

But Sri Krishna smiled and, with his yogic power, revived Arjuna’s grandson.

Bhima had not forgotten Draupadi’s request and said, “You are the loser. Arjuna defeated you by bringing back his arrow. You are now at our mercy. Give us your crown. If you do not do this, we shall kill you here and now.”

Poor Ashwatthwama, what could he do? So he gave his crown to Bhima and Bhima took it to Draupadi.

Draupadi’s grief diminished a small amount because she saw that the pride and glory of Ashwatthwama had fallen. She placed the crown on Yudhishthira’s head saying, “You deserve this. You are the head of the Pandava family. If I see this crown on you, I will be happy because it means we have conquered him and he has surrendered to us.”

Yudhishthira said, “If that makes you happy, I will wear it. But remember that it is painful for me to wear his crown because he is wicked to the backbone. He cruelly killed our children at night.”

Draupadi said, “You are right. You are right. Now that Bhima has brought us the crown, let us throw it out. We don’t need it. His pride is at our feet. Let us throw the crown away.”

GIM 141. 4 February 1979