121) “Because of this analogy I have been directed by Paramatma. I am leaving now to kill the Pandavas” – saying so he climbed his chariot.
122-123) Even as the two of them stopped him, he refused to listen to them and went towards the (Pandava) camp. The two of them followed him. At the door of the camp, he saw his own self in the form of the terrible Rudra. Sri Krishna had surrounded him (Rudra) with crores of forms. Seeing Sri Krishna, Ashwathama became stunned with fear.
Note: Ashwathama was the Avatara of Rudra. So he saw his own form when he noticed Rudra standing at the door.
124) As per the orders of Sri Krishna, Shiva engaged in battle with his own form of Ashwathama. Very swiftly he swallowed all the weapons of Ashwathama.
125-126) The strength of Sri Hari is unfathomable. Even those who commit suicide see it, don’t they? Therefore, Shiva, inspired by the strength of Sri Hari, swallowed the weapons of his own other form. Then, Ashwathama performed a manasayajna in which he thought of himself as the sacrificial offering for Vishnu residing in him.
127) Being pleased with that yajna, Shiva, directed by Sri Hari, returned all weapons to his own form of Ashwathama, the son of Drona.
128-129) “As per the orders of Sri Vishnu, the omnipotent, I had guarded the doors of this camp till now. As per his wish, I am now letting you. Similarly, I am giving you weapons so you can kill all the people here”.
130) Saying thus, Shiva, the Vrushabhadhwaja, gave all the weapons to Ashwathama and disappeared from there. Ashwathama then said to Krupa and Krutavarma.
131) “Whosoever comes out of the camp may be killed by the two of you”. Saying thus, Ashwathama, wielding a bow and a sword, entered that camp like Yama.
132) Having rushed into the camp, Ashwathama went to Dhrishtadyumna and kicked him hard with both his legs. Woken up from his sleep, Dhrishtadyumna requested – “I know that you are the son of my Guru”.
133) “You are a hero. After I get up and hold my weapon you may kill me with your weapon. That is Dharma for the brave ones. With that, I too shall obtain the meritorious lokas meant for those who die wielding their weapons” – when he requested thus, Ashwathama replied angrily.
134) “Sinner! Those who commit Brahmahatya, especially those who cheat their Gurus, shall never attain punya-lokas. It is also not appropriate to kill great sinners like you in a Dharma-yuddha“.
135) Realizing that his death was inevitable, Dhrishtadyumna became silent. Even in his dreams he used to see his death everyday.
136) After the death of Drona, Dhrishtadyumna used to see Ashwathama and that dark night every day in his dreams.
137) The son of Drona sat on his chest and put his bow’s string around his neck tightly and started to pull it. Dhrishtadyumna gave up his body after a big struggle. Wasn’t he the Avatara of Agni after all?
138) After that, (he) killed Shikhandi, Yudhamanyu, Uttamaujas and Janamejaya and went towards Draupadi’s sons, fuming in anger.
139-141) All of them got up and started hitting him with arrows. Ashwathama killed them by waving his sword in the clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. In that way, he killed all the sons of the Pandavas, apart from the grandson of the King of Kashi and son of Bhima, known as Sharvatrata. An invisible Shiva carried him to Kailasa at that moment. Therefore, he became known as Sharvatrata and stayed there later too. Earlier, Kashiraja had requested Shiva (a boon) that his daughter’s son must live forever. Hence Shiva saved him out of compassion.
142) Realizing Sri Krishna’s decision to hand over the Kingdom to Parikshita, Shiva prevented him from going back to Bhu-loka.
143) Ashwathama’s general prayer when releasing the Brahma-shirostra was that the lineage of the Pandavas must be destroyed. However, since Shiva was the very essence of Ashwathama, he had intended Sharvatrata to be excluded.
Note: Subsequently in this very parva, Ashwathama releases a Brahma-shira-astra and makes a sankalpa that the entire lineage of the Pandavas must be destroyed. Sri Krishna, of course, ensures Parikshita lives. However, the question of how Sharvatrata, who was Bhima’s son, continued to live, arises. It puts a question mark on the power of the Brahma-shirostra. Hence Sri Madhwacharya gives the nirnaya here. Ashwathama and Shiva are one and the same. Hence their two sankalpas must be seen in unison. Sharvatrata was therefore automatically excluded from Ashwathama’s sankalpa the moment Shiva undertook sankalpa to protect him.
144) Since Shiva and Ashwathama are one and the same, the Brahma-shirostra did not kill Sharvatrata. Ashwathama went on to kill Chekitana and the others.
145) The heroic Ashwathama killed all the Chedi, Panchala, Karusha and Kashi warriors. The terrible one lit fire to the camp from all sides, intending to kill all the children and women too.
146) All those who tried to run out of the camp, desiring to live, were killed by Krupa and Krutavarma who were standing at the camp’s door. Due to divine providence, the charioteer of Dhrishtadyumna alone survived.
147) Seeing Krutavarma swerve his sword forcefully, he thought he would get hit and fell down even before it touched him. Due to darkness, he (Krutavarma) did not realize it.
148) When Krutavarma was busy killing others, he ran to Draupadi. He informed Draupadi of all that had happened. A sorrowful Draupadi narrated everything to Bhima, who climbed his chariot and went after Ashwathama, holding a bow in his hand.
149) Amidst this, Ashwathama collected the heads of the sons of Draupadi and, along with Krupa and Krutavarma, went cheerfully to Duryodhana, who was on the verge of death.
150) The sinner Duryodhana saw the heads of the Upa-pandavas, and after listening to Ashwathama, praised him and gave up his life after rejoicing (over their deaths). Fearful of Bhima and Arjuna, and of Sri Krishna, Ashwathama and the others went separately.
151) When Ashwathama set out alone in his chariot, Bhima chased him on his own chariot. Seeing Bhima chase him, a fearful Ashwathama drove his horses extremely fast and ran away.
152) Seeing Bhima continuing to chase him, Ashwathama returned in anger and fought a battle with him and lost. He then released the Brahma-shirostra.
153-154) In the middle of all this, in order to show both Bhima and the astra as unassailable, Sri Krishna arrived there, along with Dharmaraja and Arjuna. Bhimasena could not be killed (by that astra). That astra too was unmatched. Both of these were the very sankalpa of Vishnu. Bhima was anyways the astra itself.
155) Gayatri was the mantra for that astra. The Devata to be meditated upon was Brahma. Sri Narayana, the creator of the world, was verily the presiding deity!
156-157) Sri Krishna then narrated to Dharmaraja and Arjuna what Ashwathama had done (earlier). He narrated the incident when he was meditating upon himself when Ashwathama arrived, sought his weapons and became unable to even lift them. When Sri Krishna asked him why he needed them, Ashwathama replied he wanted to get rid of Sri Krishna himself from the face of the Earth so Duryodhana could then rule. Sri Krishna had them warned him “Do not do this again”.
158-159) Noticing the Brahma-shirostra, that had been released by Ashwathama with the intention of eliminating the lineage of the Pandavas, arriving with a burning intensity, Arjuna, being instructed by Sri Krishna, released the very same Brahma-shirostra as a counter to that astra, along with a prayer for the well-being of the son of Drona, all living beings and himself too.
Note: While Ashwathama revealed his mindset by praying for the destruction of a lineage, Arjuna revealed his character by praying for the welfare of even the person who had released such a destructive weapon!
160) When that astra is released against those who do not have knowledge of astras, it kills the very person who released such a weapon. Hence, Arjuna asked for the well-being of the son of Drona, out of devotion to his Guru.
Note: The son of a Guru is also equivalent to a Guru. Hence Arjuna tried to prevent the killing of his teacher since the astra had a specialty that it would kill the person who released it, in case it was targeted at innocent people or those who did not have the knowledge of astras to defend themselves.