"O, DURYODHANA, you are yet
alive, hear the news and rejoice! All the Panchalas have been slaughtered. The
sons of the Pandavas have also been all done to death. The entire army of
theirs has been destroyed. We made a night attack on them when they were
asleep. There are only seven survivors now on the Pandava side. On our side,
Kripacharya, Kritavarma and I remain."
Thus said Aswatthama to the dying
Duryodhana who, on hearing this, slowly opened his eyes and, with struggling
breath, gasped out these words:
"Aswatthama, you have indeed
done for me what neither the great Bhishma nor the valiant Karna could achieve!
You have gladdened my heart and I die happy." Saying this, Duryodhana
When he saw the unexpected
destruction of his army as a result of the attack during sleep, Yudhishthira
gave way to grief and broke down:
"At the very moment of
victory, we have been totally defeated. The vanquished have indeed triumphed.
Draupadi's children, who survived the onslaught of the formidable Karna, have,
by our unwariness, been crushed and destroyed like vermin. We have allowed
ourselves to be destroyed like a merchant ship which, having successfully
crossed the big seas, returns home but capsizes in a ditch and is lost."
Draupadi was overwhelmed by
inconsolable grief. She came to Dharmaputra's side and wept. "Is there no
one to avenge my children's slaughter, by destroying this great sinner Aswatthama?"
When she said this, the Pandavas
immediately went out in search of the murderer. They looked for him in all
sorts of places and found him, at last, on the bank of the Ganga, hiding
himself behind Vyasa.
When he saw the Pandavas and Janardana
approaching, Aswatthama quietly took up a blade of grass and charged it with
the mantra of destruction and sent it forward saying: "May this destroy
the race of the Pandavas." And it went straight to the womb of Uttara who
bore in her the son of Abhimanyu.
The race of the Pandavas would
have been destroyed thereby but for the intervention of Sri Krishna who saved
the child in the mother's womb. This child was Parikshit who was later crowned
by Yudhishthira when the Pandavas retired to the forest.
Aswatthama pried out the shining
jewel that was part of his head and gave it to Bhima, acknowledging his defeat,
and went away to the forest. Bhima took the great jewel and, going to Draupadi
said: "Angel of spotless purity, this is for you. The man, who killed your
beloved sons, has been vanquished. Duryodhana has been destroyed. I have drunk
the blood of Duhsasana. I have avenged the great outrage and discharged my
Draupadi took the jewel and,
going up to Yudhishthira bowed and said: "Faultless king, it befits you to
wear this in your crown."