In the previous episode, we had witnessed Bheemasena escaping from the trap set up by Duryodhana for the third time. More than just escaping from the trap set up by Duryodhana, Bheemasena also used this as an opportunity to meet Snake Vaasuki and Aaryaka in the Naaga Lokha and in turn obtained enormous power (Power equalling that of eight thousand elephants) by consuming a “special rasam” that was meant to be a “power booster”. Thus in this way, Duryodhana’s trap literally backfired on him as Bheemasena gained enormous strength. With this, Bheemasena came out of the river waters and made his presence felt to Kunthi Devi and his other Paandava brothers. All of them were elated to see Bheemasena safe and secure.
Thus, we’ve witnessed how Bheemasena attained the power of thousands of elephants from the Naaga Lokha. Moving on to the next Upa-Parva, Sage Vyaasa describes a very important person here. He talks about Sage Gouthama, who had a son by name “Sharadwaan”. This “Sharadwaan” had two children, namely Kripa and Kripi. This Kripa was a great sage, and is often referred to in the Mahabharata text as Sage Kripaachaarya. The sister of Sage Kripaachaarya was Kripi. As Sharadwaan had the two children born, he was sitting on the banks of the River Ganges, along with the two new-born babies. At that time, King Shantanu was sitting there as well, and he saw these two new-borns. Readers might wonder as to where did King Shantanu come from all of a sudden? We should connect the dots here – Sage Vyaasa is continuing to explain the different people who were born as part of this Mahabharata event. He had explained the entire “Chandra-Vamsa” and now he’s explaining some other people associated with this “Chandra Vamsa”. So, we’ve to trace backwards a little to King Shantanu’s time period, because Kripa and Kripi were born during King Shantanu’s tenure.
As King Shantanu saw these two babies, he fell in love with them and was so attracted towards them. As both children grew up, King Shantanu took special care of both of them. Kripi grew into a beautiful girl and it is this Kripi who is marrying Guru Dhronaachaarya. Now who is Dhronaachaarya? Dhronaachaarya was none other than Sage Bharadwaja’s son. Thus, Kripi and Dhronaachaarya got married and they had a son. As this son was born, there was a sound that horses make! As this comes, the heavenly celestial beings named this baby as “Ashwathhaama”. “Ashwam” means “horse” and since this child was born along with the sound of horses, he obtained this name. There is a detailed description about Dhronaachaarya’s marriage with Kripi and how Ashwathhaama was born out of that marriage. I’m not going into much detail of that here, and we shall just touch upon it and move on further.
As Ashwathhaama was growing up, he too was playing along with Duryodhana, Yudishtra, Bheemasena, etc. Dhronaachaarya encouraged Ashwathhaama to mingle with all the kids and everything was going good. Now as the time came for the children to take up formal education, initially, it was Sage Kripaachaarya who is teaching these kids with all the basics of bow and arrow, and other war techniques, along with the basics of all the “Shaastras”. We might have a doubt here – Isn’t Dhronaachaarya the Guru to the Paandavas and the Kauravas? He was at a later stage, but initially the education was happening under Sage Kripaachaarya. If that is the case, when did Dhronaachaarya take over? Why did Sage Kripaachaarya leave the kids mid-way? The answers to these questions lie in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂