The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “shiva’s incarnation as ashvatthaman” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 36 - Śiva’s incarnation as Aśvatthāman

Nandīśvara said:—

1. O omniscient Sanatkumāra, listen to the incarnation of lord Śiva, the great soul Aśvatthāman.

2. O sage, though a part of the celestial sage of great intellect Bṛhaspati, the self-possessed and prudent Droṇa was born of Bharadvāja but not of any womb.

3. He was the foremost among the archers, heroes, a brahminical sage, well-versed in all lore, of great fame and brilliance and the most excellent of all the wielders of weapons and missiles.

4. Learned men knew Droṇa as the most excellent, skilful in the lore of archery as well as the Vedas, of variegated activities, and as one who made his race flourish.

5. O brahmin, thanks to his strength, he was the instructor of the Kauravas. He was the most well known among the six Mahārathas among the Kauravas.

6. The most excellent brahmin Droṇa performed an elaborate penance with Śiva in view for obtaining a son in order to help the Kauravas.

7. O excellent sage, then the delighted lord Śiva, favourably disposed to his devotees, appeared in front of Droṇa.

8. On seeing him, the brahmin Drona whose heart was highly delighted bowed to him with palms joined in reverence and eulogised him.

9. Satisfied and pleased with his eulogy and penance, lord Śiva, favourably disposed towards his devotees told Droṇa—“Mention the boon you wish to choose”.

10. On hearing the words of Śiva, Droṇa bowed low and said—“Please give me a son born of your part who will be invincible to every one and who will be very powerful.

11. On hearing the words of Droṇa, Śiva said, “So be it.” O dear sage, the lord who bestows happiness, then vanished.

12. Droṇa returned to his abode highly delighted and free from illusion. He joyously narrated all the details to his wife.

13. Taking the due opportunity, lord Śiva, the annihilator of all and very powerful was born as Droṇa’s son through a part of himself.

14. O sage, he became well known as Aśvatthāman on the earth. He was heroic, had lotus-like eyes and he could reduce the strength of his enemy.

15. Securing the permission and behest of his father that famous hero helped the Kauravas in the Mahābhārata war.

16. By resorting to that powerful hero, Bhīsma and other Kauravas became invincible even to the gods.

17. Fearing him, the Pāṇḍavas, though they were great heroes and very skilful, became incapable of conquering the Kauravas.

18. At the instance of Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna, performed the severe penance of Śiva and obtained a divne missile duo to Śiva’s boon. He then conquered the Kauravas.

19. O sage, although the great hero Aśvatthāman was

born of a part of lord Śiva. Still due to his devotion to the Kauravas, he exhibited his full vigour.

20. He destroyed the sons of Pāṇḍavas though they were trained in warfare by Kṛṣṇa and other great heroes. He had the strength that could not be withstood bv the enemy.

21. On seeing Arjuna dejected by the death of his son but rushing on him along with Kṛṣṇa he fled away from the battle-field.

22. He discharged the divine missile Brahmaśiras on Arjuna. Then a fierce splendour enveloping all the quarters manifested itself.

23. Sensing danger to his own life Arjuna was much distressed. Losing all his brilliance and highly frightened he spoke to Kṛṣṇa becoming utterly exhausted.

Arjuna said:—

24. O Kṛṣṇa, O Kṛṣṇa, what is this? Whence it has arisen I do not know. This unbearable fiery splendour comes from all sides.

Nandīśvara said:—

25 On hearing the words of Arjuna, Kṛṣṇa the most excellent among the devotees of Śiva meditated on Śiva and Pārvatī and then spoke to Arjuna.

Kṛṣṇa said:—

26. Know this to be the most powerful Brāhma missile of Aśvatthāman. There is no other missile to counteract this.

27. Immediately think of Śiva, your lord, the protector of the devotees who had given you a weapon capable of every action.

28. Counteract the fiery splendour of the Brāhma missile with your Śaiva missile. After saying this Kṛṣṇa himself meditated on Śiva for that purpose.

29. O sage, on hearing the words of Kṛṣṇa. Arjuna remembered Śiva, touched water, bowed to Śiva and discharged the Śaiva missile.

30. O great sage, although the Brahmaśiras missile

never goes futile and cannot be counteracted, it subsided before the splendour of the Śaiva missile.

31. Do not consider this very surprising in Śiva who is full of wondrous things and who, the unborn, creates, protects and annihilates the entire universe by his own power.

32. O sage, knowing that this happened by the influence of Śiva, Aśvatthāman, born of Śiva’s part and delighted in heart at Śiva’s wish, was not at all sorry.

33. Then the son of Droṇa wishing the world to be rid of Pāṇḍava lineage desired to kill the child in the womb of Uttarā.

34. The powerful Aśvatthāman hurled the excessively lustrous Brāhma-missile that could not be countermanded by any other missile, aiming it at the womb of Uttarā.

35. Then Uttarā the daughter-in-law of Arjuna, burning within due to that missile and agitated in the mind eulogised Kṛṣṇa, the lord of Lakṣmī.

36. Then meditating on Śiva mentally, bowing to and eulogising him, Kṛṣṇa understood that to be the missile of the son of Droṇa.

37. By means of his missile—the brilliant Sudarśana, bestowed on him by Śiva for his protection, he saved her at the behest of Śiva.

38. Aśvatthāman then knew that Kṛṣṇa had assumed his form at the behest of śiva and did it as he was the foremost among the devotees of Śiva, slowly refrained from the thought of destroying Uttarā.

39. Then the leading devotee of Śiva, the delighted Kṛṣṇa, made all the Pāṇḍavas fall at the feet of Aśvatthāman for pleasing him.

40. Then Aśvatthāman, son of Droṇa, highly delighted in the mind, blessed the Pāṇḍavas and Kṛṣṇa with various boons.

41. O excellent sage, incarnating thus on the earth in the form of Droṇa’s son, lord Śiva performed various sports.

42. The incarnation of Śiva Aśvatthāman of great strength and exploit is even now alive on the banks of the river Gaṅgā bestowing happiness on the three worlds.

43. The incarnation in the form of Aśvatthāman of lord Śiva has been explained to you. It is the cause of all Siddhis and it fulfils all desires of the devotees.

44. He who listens to this with devotion or narrates it with pure mind attains all Siddhis here and attains Śiya’s abode hereafter.