Listening to them, Ashwathama was infuriated. His jaws tightened - Both of them are trying to stall my decision - he thought by himself. But he was far too intelligent to give vent to his rage on them. After all, they were the only persons standing by him and he needed their cooperation to make his plan work tonight.
Addressing them both, he said “What you say is true to a great extent, o experienced ones, but realise this. The faculty of comprehension varies from man to man. But then, everyone is satisfied with his own interpretation of events. Each one has a higher regard for their own intellectual ability and therefore anyone whose judgement concurs with that interpretation is applauded and is accepted. And as human nature is as diverse as the number of people, very often the judgements passed by different people also vary in their substance. People try to judge situations on the basis of their experiences which may not necessarily be the correct process. Along with that we find that the level of understanding also varies with age. What is acceptable in the youth may not remain so in the middle ages, for a person. Then the situations cloud our understandings too. Terrible distress or unbounded joy can afflict us all in examining a situation.”
In the stillness of the night his voice was distinct “O respected warriors, all persons start an endeavour with the hope that they would succeed, even if it is fraught with great risks. It is the positive state of mind that helps us to embark upon tasks that seem as insurmountable obstacles. What I have resolved today is the only way to account for the ravages of the war and dispel our gloom. I can speak for myself. Even though I was born in a high class Brahmin family, I have chosen the occupation of a Kshatriya. But I have not forgotten my duties as a Brahmin, which tells me that I need to achieve a higher meaning of my life. I have one of the best bows among the mankind and almost all the lethal arms are in my collection. Now even with such endowment that I have, if I do not avenge my master then how do I show my face to this world. Therefore I must don the battle dress and walk into this darkness to avenge my master.”
“I tell you, these Panchala dogs will all be tired and sleeping heavily after the elation of victory. And this will be our best chance to take them by surprise. I assure you that we can wipe out the entire forces by tonight. And after we cut the heads of the Pandavas and exterminate them like vermins, we can prove our commitment to the Kaurava flag.”
From his demeanour, Kripacharya sensed his urgency. Knowing Ashwathama from his childhood, he knew that it would be well nigh impossible to stop him. One could try to dam a mighty river in floods but not an enraged Ashwathama. When angered, he could be the most difficult person to deal with. So he tried to mollify his nephew.
“ My son “ he started “ It is good that your heart is lit with the flames of vengeance. I know it for sure that when you begin your campaign, even the thunderbolts cannot stop you from achieving what you set out for. I am with you and so is the mighty Kritavarma. We will accompany you and slay our enemies. Tomorrow at dawn , we ride with you leading us . Take rest tonight. You have also been awake awake for many a night . So put off your armour and relax a little to rejuvenate yourself .”
Kritavarma too supported him “O leader, the Gods are witness to the fact that the united force of three of us can smash any opposition to smithereens. Yes sir, we will unleash carnage on the battlefield which this world has never seen before. For thousands of years to come, stories of our bravery will be sung by mothers to their sons. But pray take rest to clear the cobwebs of the mind so that we can concentrate on the task at hand, tomorrow morning. “
Ashwathama could barely control his anger. His feverish mind did not register the sane advices by the two men. His eyes were now burning in a rage. “How can you ask me to sleep, dear uncle. Knowing full well how I am feeling and what goes on within my heart. My senses are wounded by the death of my father at the hands of that sinful wretch and I cannot bear the thought of carrying on with this life without having slain Dhristadumnya. Or till I honour my word which I promised to my king lying there with his thighs broke, in the most heinous way. The enemies are protected by the might of Arjuna and the guiles of his mentor Krishna. It will be difficult to beat them on the grounds of this Kurukhsetra. I cannot live with the searing pain of not avenging the deaths of my father and benefactor. So it has to be tonight that we attack.”
Kripa was now sombre “My son, any person who does not possess intelligence and have no control over his passions will never be of any use even if he is morally superior and a good servant. Similarly a brave man who does not practice humility fails to understand the settled conclusions of morality. Only the person endowed with intelligence who can keep his passions under control can exercise humility and succeeds in knowing what should be done, just as the tongue tastes the juice. A reckless person who does not respect good counsel and is bent upon a course of action to suit only his interests by disregarding destiny can only invite his downfall. It is the duty of friends and well-wishers to dissuade a person embarking upon a journey of self destruction.”
“O, great warrior. The world looks down upon the slaughter of sleeping persons and those who surrender. No texts or scriptures permit such hostility. Doing so will surely bring disrepute in this life and the invitation for the fires of hell in the afterlife. You are a man celebrated for your bravery, courage and the array of weapons that you command is unparalleled, even by Arjuna or the late Karna. So don’t let impatience take over you. This deed which you propose will be a blot of sin on your entire life, pure and white as snow. Wait for the dawn and challenge your enemy to a face to face battle under the sun.”
Ashwathama decided to seal the matter. Arguing with his uncle would make him lose precious time. He started walking towards his steed. Turning back he addressed them in a voice, clear of all doubts “ Respected uncle , O brave scion of Brishni , I do not want to repeat my arguments. The Pandava forces , assisted by the Panchalas and the Matsyas have transgressed all considerations . I do not care what destiny holds for me. It does not matter to me anymore; whether I will be born as a worm or as an insect in my next life. Iam on my way to complete my resolution. As the commander of the Kaurava army, I call upon you to follow me. But leave it upon you to decide on it. With you or without you, I will destruct the enemy tonight.
He said no more. Gathering his arms and mounting his horse, he nudged it forward, with an open scimitar in his right hand raised above his head. Both Kripa and Kritavarma tried to dissuade him with fervent words of advice, beseeching him to wait. But he had now crossed over the line of reasoning . No one could stop him, anymore.