In this article in the Inner Transformation series, we will tell you a story. It is a slightly long story but it is one worth remembering and it gives us a wonderful lesson on inner transformation.
After the Pandavas (the five righteous princes of ancient India) had won the Mahabharata war, everyone was exhausted and asleep in their tents near the battlefield. Ashwatthama, the son of Dronacharya (the teacher of the royal princes) and staunch friend of Duryodhana (the oldest of the Kauravas, the Pandavas' hostile cousins), was the sole survivor among the Kauravas' warriors and he was dying for revenge. He sneaked one night into the Pandava camp and when his eyes fell upon the Pandavas' wife Draupadi's five young children, he drew his sword and without a second thought, cut off the innocent children's heads.
The next morning the Pandava camp was in a tumult. Draupadi was utterly shocked and could not contain her grief. The Pandavas were shaken yet furious. Arjuna (the third Pandava brother) vowed to bring the perpetrator to justice and headed out with Lord Sri Krishna to find the culprit. When they located and cornered Ashwatthama, he, in his fear, used the Brahmastra—a weapon akin to the modern day atomic bomb that was capable of causing universal destruction—for his selfish motive. Ignoring the scriptural rule that a Brahmastra should not be countered but only surrendered to, Lord Sri Krishna urged Arjuna to counter this Brahmastra with another Brahmastra. Since the command came from none other than the Lord himself, Arjuna did what He said and countered the weapon with another Brahmastra, and retracted both the weapons. Now Ashwatthama was caught, bound by Arjuna and taken to Draupadi.
Draupadi was immersed in an ocean of sorrow and waiting for revenge on the one who had slaughtered her innocent, sleeping children. But as soon as she saw that it was Ashwatthama, she immediately prostrated to
him. She said, "Arjuna, what have you done? Release him immediately" Sri Krishna was delighted to hear this verdict of Draupadi.
A great virtue of Draupadi is shown here. Empathy. It means feeling the pain of others as our own. Draupadi said to her husbands, “It does not matter if Ashwatthama killed our sons. He is the son of our Guru, and is no different from the Guru himself. And moreover, Ashwatthama’s mother Krupi has already lost her husband Dronacharya in the war. Her only solace is her son. Having lost five sons, I know the pain of losing a child. No other mother should suffer like I did. Let not rupi, who is also a mother, suffer like I do. So please spare
It is said that what makes one a true vaishnava is not his birth but only his virtues. That is why Mahatma Gandhi loved the saint Narsi Mehta’s song, ‘Vaishnava janato tene kahiye je peed paraaye jaane re’.
This means ‘He who feels the pain of others and relieves them of it is indeed a true Vaishnava’. One who helps others without having the ego of being the doer is a Vaishnava. Such is their greatness.
So at Draupadi’s request, the Pandavas spared Ashwatthama’s life but instead tonsured his head as that is considered equivalent to taking the life of a brahmana. But despite being spared by the magnanimous
Pandavas, Ashwatthama had no gratitude. His fury only built up as he mused over his predicament. He wanted to annihilate the entire Pandava race, and so he decided to kill their sole heir—the unborn baby of Uttara, the widow of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu.
!!! Will Continue !!!
July 10-18: Ramanujamji's programs in Singapore
Pl click the link for the program details... and share with your friends & relatives in Singapore.
Chant the Mahamantra:
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare HareHare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
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