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After Mahabharatha war, to avenge the death of his father Drona, Aswathama entered camp of Pandavas and killed Upapandavas and sleeping soldiers. According to Mahabhartha, Krishna curses Aswathama to roam the earth with all diseases for 3000 years.

As regards thyself, all wise men know thee for a coward and a sinful wretch! Always engaged in sinful acts, thou art the slayer of children. For this reason, thou must have to bear the fruit of these thy sins. For 3,000 years thou shalt wander over this earth, without a companion and without being able to talk with anyone. Alone and without anybody by thy side, thou shalt wander through diverse countries, O wretch, thou shalt have no place in the midst of men. The stench of pus and blood shall emanate from thee, and inaccessible forests and dreary moors shall be thy abode! Thou shalt wander over the Earth, O thou of sinful soul, with the weight of all diseases on thee.

Aswathama is destined to become next Vyasa (for 29th Mahayuga of this (Vaivaswara) Manvantara).

In the next Dwápara, Drauńi (the son of Drońa) will be the Vyása, when my son, the Muni Krishńa Dwaipáyana, who is the actual Vyása, shall cease to be (in that character).

He is also destined to become Saptarishi of Savarni Manvantara, which is upcoming Manvantara.

O Royal sage, I am now describing Sävarni Manvantara. In this particular Manvantara, Asvatthämä, garadvän, Kausika, Gälava, Satänanda, Kasyapa and Räma (Parasuräma) are the seven Rsis.

As above two events are predestined, Aswathama must be relieved from sin of killing Upapandavas and curse of Krishna.

Did Aswatthama get rid of the sin of killing Upapandvas and curse of Krishna? If so. how did he do that?

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In a Kannada version of Mahabaratha written by Kumara Vyasa, the author says that Ashwatthama got rid of curse by Shakti Worship. Some people claim that Kumara Vyasa wrote Mahabaratha by listening to Sage Aswatthama and some other people claim that Lord Vishnu Himself narrated the story to Kumara Vyasa.

Taking pity on him, Lord Parasurama agreed to help him. It was said that Ashwatthama was only an instrument in Lord Shiva's plan to exterminate all the evil people from earth. Hence, Ashwatthama was absolved of all sins. It was said that Pandavas met Ashwatthama once again 36 years later when they were travelling to seek pardon from Lord Shiva for their heinous crimes in war. The Pandavas found Ashwatthama happy in the company of Lord Parasurama and Sage Durvasa in an ashram on the banks of river Ganga. It was believed that Lord Parasurama and Maharishi Durvasa initiated Ashwatthama into Sakthi worship, which is considered to be the supreme of all modes of worship. By worshipping Adi ParaSakthi, Ashwatthama bypassed the curse of Lord Krishna.

However, Chapter 31 of Setu Mahatmya - Brahma Khanda of Skanda Purana says that Aswathama got rid the sin of killing Upapandavas by taking dip in Dhanushkoti and worshiping Ramalingeswara in Rameswaram. However, this version doesn't mention curse of Krishna.

After knowing heinous crimes of Aswatthama, no Rishi helped Aswatthama to get rid of that sin. Aswatthama finally took refugee of Krishna Dwaipayana and pleaded him. Vyasa out of compassion suggested a procedure to him.

Vyäsa said:

No expiatory rite for the suppression of this sin has been laid down in the Smrtis. Still I shall tell you the means of subduing this sin of yours. In the southern sea, on the meritorious Setu of Räma, that bestows salvation, there is a great Tirtha well known as Dhanushkoti. It is highly meritorious, O son of Drona.

On being told thus by the great Sage Vyäsa, the son of Drona went to Rämasetu and Dhanushkoti, the sanctifier. With the requisite rite of Sankalpa he took his bath continuously for a month.

He served (worshiped) Rämanätha (Lord Shiva) everyday during the three junctions (morning, noon and dusk). On the thirtieth day after taking the bath in the waters the son of Drona performed the Japa of the five-syllabled Mantra (Siväya namah) at Dhanushkoti. On that day the son of Drona observed fast too.

In the night he remained awake in the presence of Rämanätha. On the next day, he took his holy bath in Dhanushkoti along with the requisite Sankalpa rite. He served Rämanätha after eulogizing him with great devotion. He danced in front of Sambhu with tears of joy flooding (his eyes).

Lord Parameswara (Shiva) manifested before Aswatthama. Aswatthama eulogized Shiva with various names. After getting delighted, Shiva said that his sin was expiated after taking dip in Dhanishkoti.

Mahädeva said:

123-125. O Asvatthämä. the sin of slaughtering sleeping warriors committed by you has perished, because you have taken the holy plunge in Dhanushkoti.

The variations in stories could be due to Kalpa Bheda. Skanda Purana mainly narrates the events of Satpurusha Kalpa while Mahabharatha narrates the events of Swetha Varaha Kalpa (present Kalpa).

  • Brahmavaivarta Purana says you gain merit but cannot get rid of a sins for koti kalpa's (नाभुक्तं क्षीयते कर्मकल्पकोटिशतैरपि deeds never vanish even after the lapse of hundreds and crores of kalpas). – sv. Sep 14 '16 at 17:47
  • If everyone can get rid of their sins by taking a dip in Dhanushkoti, Ganga, or Godavari, why to even approach a sage for a remedy? Ravana, Duryodhana, Karna and all the Kauravas can keep taking holy dips, day in, day out and continue doing the adharmic things over and over with the assurance that a holy plunge will wash away all their sins :) I think the holy plunge thing ('pushkaralu' season) has become the most overrated thing in India, corrupt politicians, ex-convicts everyone is doing it! – sv. Sep 14 '16 at 17:47
  • @sv. Puranas contradict each other many times. But sincere devotion plays important role. Do people get vision of Lord Shiva like Aswattama after taking dip in holy water body? Aswatthama was worshiping even after taking dip in Dhanushkoti or got immersed in devotion of Shiva. So, obviously there is difference. Even no two can have same devotion and same mindset while taking dip. So, taking dip in holy water body will remove sins only if he/she is sincere. Unfortunately, this is overrated. – The Destroyer Sep 15 '16 at 2:19
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    The key is he was initiated into Shakti worship.Probably Sri Vidya sadhana. – Rickross Sep 17 '16 at 13:06
  • @Rickross Are you Shakta? – The Destroyer Sep 17 '16 at 15:58

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