The 15th day of Kurukshetra war saw massive casualties on the Pandava side. Dronacharya, the commander in chief of Kaurava army was uprooting every other divison of Pandava army like Grass. If this continued, then Pandava army cannot sustain and would collapse like a house of cards.
The primary reason for Dronacharya’s aggression was insulting comments of Duryodhana. He humiliated Dronacharya by calling him a Traitor to the king who gave him and his family asylum in the country and not using divine weapons against the enemy when it is needed. An Angry Drona fired Brahmashtra towards Pandavas, the gods had to intervene and prevent Drona from using Brahmasthra against ordinary foot soldiers. Dronacharya obeyed, retracting the weapon but he continues to use other divine weapons and destroy entire army divisons on the Pandava side.
The secondary reason for Dronacharya’s aggression was his vengeance against Drupad. For 15 days, he was not able to kill Drupad and his sons and he became impatient and agitated. On the 15th day, Dronacharya lost his mind and went all out against the Pandava army.
Krishna decided it was time to get rid of Dronacharya once and for all by hook or crook, otherwise Pandava army will not survive from Dronacharya’s wrath. He hatched an evil plan to unarm Drona by spreading the rumour that his son Aswathama is dead. Krishna knew that Dronacharya had only one weakness – his son Aswathama. If Dronacharya believes that his son is dead, he will drop his weapons and that is the moment when he can be eliminated from the battlefield.
For a complete summary of the events that led to Dronacharya’s death, please read my article – Aswathama Hatha, Iti Narova Kunjarova
When Dronacharya dropped his weapons and began meditating, Krishna appeared in his meditation and had a conversation with him.
Conversation Between Krishna and a Meditating Dronacharya on 15th Day
Before you end your meditation and take up arms again to fight, please consider the things which I am going to tell you now. Let me tell you this – the Aswathama that has been killed is not your son. It is an Elephant. Your son is alive, he has to remain alive until the end of time because he has a larger goal to preserve until the end of Kaliyuga. Your son is actually Shiva, you should know now. If I fail to restore order, it is your son who will have to destroy everything and hence, he is alive.
So my son is not dead? He is still alive, my son Aswathama is still alive, my dear son Aswathama is still alive!!
If your son is not dead today, he will most certainly die one day. Even if he has to stay alive until the end of Kali Yuga but for sure, one day he will have to die. Nobody lives until eternity. But the bigger question to ponder upon is – Did you spend your entire life, all your learnings, all your tapasya for your son? Does your life has no other significance? The knowledge that you have acquired, very few men can reach that state of supreme mastery. Was it only for your son? Was nothing meant for the welfare of human kind? Tell me o great sage Dronacharya, did your life had any other objective other than satisfying your vengeance against a mere mortal king (Drupad) and blind love for your son Aswathama? What is the difference between you and king Dhritarashtra?
Ask any father in this world, and you will get the answer that nothing is more important to a father other than his children (son or daughter).
Then think about it o great Sage, the son you love so much, what did you really give him?
I have given him property, I have given him a kingdom to rule, I have given him a place in the court of Hastinapura and above all, I have given him the knowledge of all forms of weapons and the art of warfare. I have given him everything that a father should give his son or daughter.
Did you give him moral teachings? Did you really give him all your teachings? Weren’t you partial towards Arjuna from the very beginning? Did you choose to not teach all your learnings to your son and kept pampering Arjuna with all the hidden techniques and secrets, right from childhood? Did you teach Aswathama the knowledge of Dharma? We all know what you did with Eklavya, you demanded his right thumb? You demanded the thumb of a talented archer because you were insecure towards your pupils and your own son. Was that morally correct gurudev? How will you face Eklavya in heaven, have you ever thought about it? Will you be able to face Abhimanyu in heaven? Will you be able to answer his questions? How will you face Subhadra in heaven, after unfairly killing her son?
I know, not every child has the potential to become an Arjuna or Karna and hence only few students have the right to claim complete knowledge from their teacher. I also agree that Aswathama was not as dedicated as Arjuna was, and hence Arjuna is the only deserving suitor of your knowledge, not your own son Aswathama. However, you should have taught your own son how to make correct decisions. You should have taught Aswathama how to differentiate between decisions that are morally correct and morally wrong. Had you taught your son some morality, he would not have fought against Dharma in the camp of Duryodhana. Look at Yuyutsu, he is the son of king Dhritarashtra and Sauvali (a royal servant maid) but he is fighting from the side of Dharma. It is because his mother has given him correct moral knowledge. He was the only one who protested in the court room against Draupadi’s insult while you and your son were quiet. Learn from Yuyutsu’s mother o Gurudev, learn from her. She is just a servant and not as knowledgeable as you are but she has raised her son well.
I agree with you O Vasudev, I agree with you. But tell me one thing – what is wrong in the fact that a father loves his son dearly? Doesn’t he has all the right in the world to love his son?
Listen to me O great sage Drona, true Love gives prosperity. True love helps the subject differentiate between right and wrong. True love and Adharma cannot reside together. Had there been true love, then neither you nor your son would have been on this side of the battlefield, fighting on behalf of adharma. What you think as “Love” is not Love but “Moh”, it is simply an attachment to worldy things and relations. Do you know what is true love? The love you have for Arjuna is true love. Do you know what is “Moh?” The love you have for your own son Aswathama is “Moh”. The love Dhritarashtra has for his son Duryodhana is Moh, the love Bheesma had for his father Shantunu was Moh.
Moh and Love cannot reside together, just as Dharma and Adharma cannot reside together, light and darkness cannot reside together, water and fire cannot reside together.
Vasudev, can you explain to me the differences between Love and Moh?
Krishna – Surely.
Love comes from compassion, While Moh comes from Ego. Love says – May my children get all the success, glory, pleasures of the world. Moh (Ego) says – I will give my children all the success, glory and pleasures of the world.
Love says – I am proud of my children, no matter if he is successful or not, I wish him all the very best in life. Moh (Ego) says – The world should be proud of my children and his accomplishments and he is the best son/daughter the world has ever seen.
Loves gives liberation Gurudev, Moh gives attachment. Love is Dharma while Moh is Adharma.
When you were not able to provide your son cow’s milk, you broke your sadhana and went on a journey to seek revenge from your old friend, King Drupad. This is a big mistake, O gurudev. You are a Brahmin, the objective of your life is knowledge consumption and educating others thus liberating them from ignorance. However, you strayed from Dharma and went on a different path. Had you been a real brahmin, you would have forgiven Drupad. Had you been a real Brahmin, you would have taught your son how to be grateful with whatever he had and be satisfied and content without cow’s milk which your son wanted so badly. To secure the future of your child and provide for material pleasures, you forgot to secure his character. You forgot to teach him morality, you forgot to teach him Dharma – the foundational knowledge every father should teach his son so that he can lead a life worth living.
It is because of your ego, your vengeance against Drupad, your craving for material objectives, your imagined definition of success – you destroyed the Dharma of your child. You taught him Greed, avarice, wrath, fear and insecurity. You never became a “Guru”, you were always a “Father” to your son.
All my life, I have always strived to make my pupils perfect. That was what I had dedicated my entire life for.
A real “Guru” is that person who donates Education. He does not “trade” education. A Guru can only expect “Dakshina” (offering) but not claim a Tuition fee (“Moolya”). You have traded knowledge with your pupils. Think about it for a moment, you were not here to give “knowledge” to your pupils for free. You were here to “Trade” knowledge with your pupils and use them to seek vengeance against Drupad’s army. You used your employer (Hastinapura) as a Platform to meet selfish objectives.
You are a Business man Gurudev, you are a Business man. You are not a Brahmin. The world considers you a renowned Brahim but from where I see it, you are a shrewd business man. You have not only corrupted the morality of Khastriya class by provoking them towards personal vengeance, but you have also corrupted the tradition of “Guru Shishya” relationship.
All of this is a result of your Ego – that you want to prove something to the world and to Drupad. A person who has ego, greed, wrath, anger and jealousy in his heart, he can never be a Guru.
I understand what you mean Vasudev. Tell me, what should I do now to at least follow the code of Dharma?
Firstly, leave your ego Gurudev, leave your ego. The ego is not real. No warrior is this battlefield has the merit to defeat you when you are armed. At the same time, no warrior in this battlefield has the guts to take your life when you are unarmed. This is because you are a Brahmin. But leaving all the ego aside, think about it for a moment – were you really a Brahmin all along? Did you really do what a Brahmin is supposed to do?
No I was not. I have realised it now.
Very well. Then your Dharma at this point in time is to move yourself and not be an obstruction towards the greater cause. Nobody can remove you but yourself. If you go back to fighting, then you will do adharma yet again. Just like a man who is drowning in a river anchors a floating log of wood, you should anchor your dharma at this point in time. Your dharma is to remove yourself from the battlefield, because you are fighting on the wrong side. The only way is – you allow Dhristyadhumna to behead you while you are meditating. Because he is the only warrior in this battlefield who can do this act. And if you stop meditating and get up, he will not have the courage to do it.
I am ready and I agree with your decision. Thanks for teaching me these lessons vasudev, if only I had realised it long back, if only I had the opportunity to go back and I would have done things differently.
The world will always remember you for excellence and mastery on a particular craft. If you want this to happen, then anchor your dharma.
Dronacharya realizes his mistakes and decides to come on course to Dharma. If he wanted, he could have stopped meditating, went back to his chariot and continue to fight. But he did not. He kept meditating and allowed Dhristyadhumna to behead him.
The Curse of Saraswati
Some versions of Mahabharata say that it is the curse of Saraswati which was actually responsible for Drona’s death. When Eklavya’s thumb was demanded, Saraswati was infuriated. Saraswati, the goddess of Knowledge came in Eklavya’s dreams and said
Son Eklavya, don’t be sad. I know you had the potential to become one of the finest archers the world has ever seen. I know what Dronacharya did was not right. Knowledge belongs to all, no person can claim Knowledge as his own “property”. Dronacharya has asked your thumb because he thinks he owns the Knowledge, he considers me as his property and he exploited you. He has already denied Karna to teach lessons, and I will not tolerate anyone using me as a means to attain his selfish objectives. He has cheated both you and Karma, since as a Brahmin, he has failed to abide by his Dharma – to distribute knowledge for Free to anyone who wants that knowledge.
But at the same time, Drona is a renowned Brahman, even the Gods cannot fight against such a renowned Brahman if he does not commit a mistake. Hence, it is part of the larger plan that by asking your thumb, he will commit a serious error. Now the gods have a reason to use this against him when needed. It is because of my curse, Drona will die a humiliating death completely unarmed and in the middle of all his pupils whom he will teach the art of warfare all his life.
You will always be remembered and unlike Karna or Arjuna, you will be the only example of a perfect student who abides word to word of a Guru’s order. In the history of humankind, whenever an example of an obedient student is given, it will always be Eklavya, not Arjuna.