Sarpasatram 1- aswathamah Poem by Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Sarpasatram 1- aswathamah

Rating: 5.0

Aswathamah finished chanting
the Brahmatsra mantra panting
Shot the arrow at the little blossom
Still unborn in Uttara's bosom.

He saw Arjuna rushing in
with Krishna on his heels
Shooting Brahmastra again
To defend his progeny.

Krishna stood stupefied: if the arrows
meet, an infernal fire will result
That would swallow the entire universe
So powerful is the Brahmastra.

'Withdraw it! ' shouted he at both
The warriors. Arjuna withdrew it
In a wink. But Aswathamah refused,
'I'm ready to face it, come what may'.

Krishna's prayers were granted
Brahma let the child live. The astra
recoiled at the shooter; inflicted
A wound that never heals.

Down came a curse from the skies
Crimson with blood, 'Aswathamah,
Your wound bleeding, you would
Live till all the worlds perish.'

Aswathamah remained unfazed
For he had seen both the worlds
Born to a Brahmin, his childhood
Was a life of acute deprivation

A childhood of perennial starvation
And days of extreme humiliation
Penance and prayers did him little
To console and sate his hunger

His father Drona, too un-brahmin like,
An adept archer, master of all divine astras,
Trained by Parasuram, was anointed
Guru of princes Pandavas and Kauravas.

Dronacharya earned respect of all; had
A life of repute in Hastinapura palace
Like father like son, he wisely chose
Friendship with Prince Duryodhan.

Duryodhan became the king; Pandavas
Exiled, declared war. Aswathamah,
Drona and the Great Karna on his side
The King thought himself invincible

Aswathamah, when the war came
Fought on the king's side valiantly.
Injured, on his death bed, the king
Appointed him commander of his army.

And what army! A handful of
Tired, injured, demoralized souls.
He led them to the enemy camp
Where the soldiers were asleep

After eighteen days of fight
And slew them all, including
All the sons of the Pandavas
And commander Dhrishtadyumna.

Then he aimed his brahmasta
At the unborn child of Abhimanyu
And Uttara, the only hope for
Pandavas. Their only progeny.

Rest is history.

Sunday, January 1, 2017
Topic(s) of this poem: war and peace
The Story of 'Sarpasatram' is part of Indian Epic, Mahabharat. I am trying to narrate it in yet another series.

Vocabulary: : Sarpasatram -The Snake Sacrifice, a yajna performed to destroy the entire species of them.

Brahmastra: It is an astra (projectile weapon) with the highest magical powers; could destroy anything.
Persons & Names:
Uttara- The princess of Virata, married to Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu is son of Arjun the third Pandava and his wife Subhadra. Subhadra is sister of Krishna. Now you know why Krishna was anxious to save Uttara's offspring.
Brahma- The Creator God.

Parasuram- A great warrior; All the magical weapons he had acquired. Said to incarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu.
Pandavas and Kauravas: The Princes of Hastinapura. Mahabharat is the story of the feud between them that culminated in the Great War of Kurukshetra.

Drona- Son of Rishi Bharadwaja; brahmin. As per the division of labor of those days, brahmins do penance; perform poojas and yajnas. But Drona took to weaponry, persuaded Parasuram to teach him all the astraas. Became a great warrior; very adept in practicing astraas.He was selected teacher (GURU) for the princes of Hastinapura.

Duryodhan- the eldest of the Kauravas.

KarNa- Half-brother of the Pandavas. Borne to their mother Kunti, before her marriage to King Pandu. Karna was a close friend of Duryodhan. Fell to the astras of Arjun (his half-brother) in the war.

Dhrishtadyumna- Prince of Panchal; brother of Droupadi who was wife of all the five Pandavas. However, polyandry is not seen mentioned anywhere else in the epic. Even in the case of Pandavas, it was looked down upon.
Rini Shibu 30 May 2017

Well written..during my childhood I have read these stories but nice to see these stories as poems. +++10.

1 0 Reply
Unnikrishnan E S 30 May 2017

Thank you Rini....

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Geeta Radhakrishna Menon 09 January 2017

Aswathama is a character in the Mahabharata, who sends a chill into my spine. There is no one more wicked than him in the whole Mahabharata - not even Duryodhana. Unni, i am really really happy to see that you are bringing out all these stories for the world to read. Keep up the good work. Full vote for you.

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Unnikrishnan E S 09 January 2017

Thank you Geeta for reading my poem. As you have written, Aswathamah is more wicked and scrupulous. He decided to kill the sons of Droupati in their sleep, which is against all ethics. And then, aiming a dart on a child in the womb, in un-heard of, until very recently. Thank you Geeta once again. The next episode is ready, but I want to refine it a little before I could post it on ph. May be in a day or two.

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Nosheen Irfan 03 January 2017

An epic narration, depicting war and peace. The whole history of mankind is replete with periods of trouble alternated by tranquil times. A gripping saga reflecting upon the virtues n vices of mankind. A skilfully written piece. A super 10.

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Unnikrishnan E S 03 January 2017

Thank you Nosheen, for reading the poem. As you have observed, every epic is a cross section of the story of mankind. It is said about Mahabharat that you will find everything in it, that can be found anywhere else; but will not find anything anywhere, which you can not find in Mahabharat.. The story of Sarapasatram is definitely a gripping one. I hope you'd enjoy it.. Thank you.

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V.m.saraswathy Munuswamy 02 January 2017

you have the wonderful skill to narrate and create a kind of inquisitiveness among us though we read all these many times or heard of your unique presentation makes us to re read it, thanks for the invitation, keep rocking sir

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Unnikrishnan E S 03 January 2017

Hi Saraswathy, Thank you for reading my poem and posting the comments. Your words of encouragement makes my day. Thank you Saraswathy..

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Susan Williams 02 January 2017

You write these with a very stately heroic tone- perfect for a storyteller relating the epic adventures and brave deeds of the past heroes and how their actions affected the future of mankind. Again you have me eagerly waiting the next installment! 10++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Unnikrishnan E S 02 January 2017

Hi Susan, Thank you for finding time read this poem. This one, on Sarpasathram is a story everyone would enjoy. As a child, I used to ask my mother to narrate this story for the n-th time. Repeatedly. Never bored listening to it. It is actulally frightening to think, whether I can do justice to it.. Hope, Susie, I will do my best. Thank you for the wonderful comment..

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Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

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