Ashwathama was a great warrior and son of Dronacharya, the teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas. He fought on the side of the Kauravas in the Mahabharata war, which was a conflict between two groups of cousins for the throne of Hastinapura, a kingdom in ancient India12. He was gifted with a gem on his forehead by Lord Shiva, which gave him divine powers and protection3.
The war lasted for 18 days and involved many kings and warriors from different regions. The Pandavas were supported by Krishna, who was their friend and guide. The Kauravas had many powerful allies, such as Karna, Dushasana, Shakuni, Bhishma, Drona, and Ashwathama124.
After the war was over, Ashwathama was angry and sad that his father and many of his friends were killed by the Pandavas. He blamed them for the death and destruction that had occurred. He decided to take revenge by killing the five Pandava brothers in their sleep. However, he made a mistake and killed their five sons instead. The sons were Dhritadyumna, Shikhandi, Dhrishtaketu, Uttamaujas, and Yudhamanyu3.
When the Pandavas found out what he had done, they were shocked and grief-stricken. They chased him to kill him for his heinous crime. Ashwathama tried to defend himself by using a powerful weapon called Brahmashirastra, which could destroy the world. It was a weapon of mass destruction that could create firestorms, floods, earthquakes, and famine3.
Arjuna, who was also a student of Dronacharya, used the same weapon to counter him. He did not want to let Ashwathama escape or harm anyone else. Lord Krishna intervened and asked them to withdraw their weapons, as they would cause great harm to everyone. He said that such weapons should not be used for personal vengeance or anger3.
Arjuna obeyed Krishna and withdrew his weapon, but Ashwathama did not know how to do that. He had not learned how to control or revoke the Brahmashirastra from his father. Out of spite or helplessness, he redirected his weapon towards Uttara, the pregnant wife of Abhimanyu, who was Arjuna’s son and had been killed in the war by Kauravas. The weapon killed her unborn child, who was named Parikshit later3.
Krishna was furious with Ashwathama for his act of cowardice and cruelty. He cursed him to suffer from leprosy and wander the earth for 3000 years without any human contact or relief. He also took away his gem from his forehead and made him lose his divine powers34. He said that Ashwathama would be an example of how a person can fall from grace due to his actions.
Thus, Ashwathama became a Cheeranjeevi (immortal), but not in a good way. He was doomed to live a miserable life of pain and isolation until the end of Kali Yuga (the current age of darkness and ignorance). He would be shunned by all living beings and suffer from guilt and remorse