TWO RUDRAS OF ELEVEN
First, I must tell you about my eleven entities: the rudras. Long ago, the rakshasas took over the city of Amrawati. This caused many gods to run for the hills to the house of Indra's father, Kashyapa. Once they found shelter, they told Maharishi Kashyapa the story of Indra and his army's defeat. Kashyapa was upset by the doings of the rakshasas and meditated for me to appear in front of him. He had done well, so I granted him a boon. He asked for me to rebirth as his son to help protect and reclaim the city of Amrawati. Kashyapa's wife then gave birth to eleven sons who were my rudras. They protected the city and further protected the gods. My rudras are all great warriors and very knowledgable, as are Durvasa and Ashwatthama. So let me tell you about their interactions on Earth.
Brahma and I were in a never-ending quarrel, but finally I had enough. My anger reached a new level that even I saw was not welcome. Parvati complained that I was difficult to live with. This worried me, so I placed my anger in the womb of Anasuya. She gave birth to my reincarnation Durvasa. Durvasa was known for his anger and contained this anger. In fact, his name means difficult to live with. Oh, the irony! Despite this, I roamed the Earth as Durvasa making small impacts on Rama, Lakshmana, Kunti, and even Duryodhana. In the Ramayana, Durvasa appeared in Ayodhya to visit Rama. Lakshmana was guarding the door, but Rama was amidst a conversation with Lord Yama, the god of death. Yama asked that no one enter while they speak and if they do then they must die. Well, Durvasa became enraged over Lakshmana preventing him from entering and threatened to curse Ayodhya. Lakshmana wanted to save the city, so he interrupted. Rama concluded the meeting, but Lakshmana thought leaving Rama's side would be far worse than death. So, Lakshmana left and led a life of yoga.
Now, Durvasa also had good impacts on those he encountered. He was a wise rishi, so his blessings and imprecations were as powerful as mine. Durvasa visited Kuntibhoja, Kunti's father, and stayed a while. Kunti's father asked for her to care for him. She did so graciously and with pleasure. She never complained and answered every whim, which pleased Durvasa. He blessed her with an important mantra that would allow her to bear a child from any god of her choice. Her naive self did not believe the mantra would work and bore Karna from the mantra. The rest was history!
Durvasa met Duryodhana and Shakuni amidst the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Shakuni and Duryodhana managed to satisfy him resulting in a boon, which they thought they used to their advantage. This was when the Pandavas were exiled for thirteen years after Yudhisthra lost the gambling match. Once Draupadi finished eating, there would be no food left for the day. Duryodhana sent Durvasa after Draupadi ate, which caused the Pandavas to panic, as they did not want to anger Durvasa. Draupadi asked Krishna for help. Krishna asked for the pot the food that was empty. He took a grain of rice and declared he was satisfied from his meal. Krishna's satisfaction resulted in the universe's satisfaction. Durvasa and his men returned from bathing but did not want to reject the food that was offered and left.
Durvasa is an angry incarnation, but he also helps others when he is pleased. This wise incarnation of mine is complicated, but he provided for those who were kind. He was a benefactor, but also one to be afraid of.
Ashwatthama is considered one of the seven Chiranjivis, meaning he is immortal. This reincarnation was born to Dronacharya. He grew up to be a great warrior, but also had a temper that was untamable. Drona meditated in my name for a son that would have my qualities. I granted him this boon, as he had done well for years. He was born with a gem on his forehead that allowed him to feel no hunger, thirst, or fatigue. In the Mahabharata, he sided with the Kauravas against the Pandavas. Once Bhishma died, Drona took charge of the Kauravas. Drona's son was his weakness, so Krishna asked Bhima to kill an elephant of the same name. He informed Drona that Ashwatthama died. This was a tactic for the Pandavas to defeat Drona. Once notified, Drona became vulnerable and died at the hands of Dhrishtadyumna. Ashwatthama heard of this, became enraged, and attacked the Pandavas. He used a Narayanastra that would annihilate an entire army, which was his intention. Krishna advised the Pandavas to bow down to the astra to calm it and prevent the attack. This worked and the astra failed. This angered Ashwatthama more, so he used an Agniastra, which killed most of the Pandava army, but not the Pandavas.
This altercation only heightened the war. Duryodhana was killed by Bhima, so a group of men from the Kaurava side, including Ashwatthama, planned to attack the Pandavas in the night. Krishna managed to save the Pandavas, but Ashwatthama killed all their sons. This clearly upset the brothers, so they faced Ashwatthama. Both Ashwatthama and Arjuna used the Brahmashirsha astra, which would destroy the Earth if they collided. Vyasa asked for a cease-fire, so Arjuna retracted his astra. Ashwatthama, although a great warrior, did not know how to retract the astra. Instead, he directed the astra towards one of Arjuna's son's wife as revenge. She was pregnant, resulting in the destruction of the Pandava lineage entirely. Krishna brought the child back and cursed him for attempting to usurp the lineage. He removed Ashwatthama's gem from his head and told him he would roam the Earth begging for death with his body oozing of blood and pus. He was allowed no hospitality, and death would not meet him. So, in fact, he would suffer for an eternity.
Ashwatthama, although a reincarnation, was a great warrior but proved to be harmful as well. His anger engulfed him, as it did for Durvasa. Both reincarnations had goals that were unbeknownst to me. However, as I have been repeating, there is a consequence for every action both good or bad. Ashwatthama and Durvasa had a role on Earth that they served and also received the consequences.
The stories of Durvasa and Ashwatthama are incredibly interesting. They are both reincarnations of Shiva, but they lead such strange lives in that they seek revenge or agony on others. Shiva clearly believes that those who do wrong or good will get what they deserve through karma, but it is not clear why these two avatars are so angry and vengeful. The purpose of their doings throughout several stories is unclear, but they do provide both good and bad throughout their stories. I wanted to take the perspective of Shiva, but tell it in the third person as if he was watching. Of course I have no idea what went on in Shiva's head while all this occurred, but I truly am curious to know. I think he would be disappointed, but then again despite their godly attributes they were still human. It can be assumed that they payed for their deeds in their next life. I hope you enjoyed this story!
Left Image Intro Strip 1: "Ashwatthama" on Wikipedia. Source: Wikipedia.
Right Image Intro Strip 1: "Durvasa" on Wikipedia. Source: Wikipedia.
Durvasa: "12 Commom characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata" by Hindu FAQs. Web source.
Ashwatthama: "Ashwatthama – Avatar Of Lord Shiva" from Find Messages. Web source.
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5. "Ashwatthama" by Geni. Web source.