For many of us, the reading and re-reading of stories from the Epics in Amar Chitra Katha or other children’s magazines / books constituted a major part of our childhood, that even today the images of the characters from those books are fresh in mind. Little did I know at the time that the gyan will come in handy while raising a child who drops everything and comes running if I promise to tell him a story. The more we read or narrate, the more we’re convinced that the human race, for all its technological advances, has in reality not progressed far from where it was thousands of years ago. We can draw parallels from each daily encounter to an instance from the Epics.
Yesterday when one of my friends told me a troubling incident involving her son and his teacher, I was so reminded of an incident from Ashwatthama‘s childhood. I did not tell her, naturally, because the thought would have distressed her more…
I searched for the story in the Net, but apart from brief references here and there (where the narration was good) and a few badly written ones (that I did not want to copy from), I could not find the exact version I was looking for. I write it here in my own words, having borrowed thoughts from the sites I searched, as well as from my memory. If the facts appear distorted, please feel free to correct me.
Ashwatthama was the son of Drona and Kripi. Drona, who later became the Guru of the Pandavas and Kauravas, was very poor, so poor that he and his wife were unable to obtain cow’s milk to feed their son. Ashwatthama, who had seen his friends drink milk, longed to taste it. One day, his so-called friends mixed rice flour with water and gave it to him, saying that it was milk. Ashwatthama, delighted, began to drink it, declaring that he has finally tasted cow’s milk, unaware that his friends were laughing at him.
Drona was very hurt and humiliated.
If you do not know or have forgotten the role played by Ashwatthama and how he was cursed into an immortal life, I suggest you begin with the Wikipedia link for a summary. He is a character with many shades.
The kind of person I dream of writing about.