The Kurukshetra war caused immense loss of life on both sides. Duryodhana was hit on his thigh by Bheema and lay dying. Aswattama, Drona’s son, could not bear to see Duryodhana in agony and in the throes of death. So he decided to take revenge on the Pandavas. He assumed that the Pandavas were sleeping in a tent. But the five who were asleep in the tent were in fact the sons of Draupadi. Aswattama killed the sleeping sons of Draupadi. When Draupadi discovered that her sons had been slaughtered in their sleep, she was inconsolable.
Arjuna wanted to avenge the death of Draupadi’s sons, whohad been killed in a most cowardly fashion and he set of in
search of Aswattama. Aswattama fired the Brahmastra at
Arjuna, who, upon Lord Krishna’s advice, countered
Aswattama’s weapon by himself shooting the Brahmastra at
Aswattama. Having overpowered Aswattama, Arjuna bound
him with ropes and took him to Draupadi, so that she could
decide what should be done with him.
But Draupadi, anguished though she was, surprisingly didnot ask for Aswattama’s death, said P.T Seshadri in a discourse. She said that she could understand how a mother would feel upon losing her child for, she had herself experienced it. She did not want to inflict such sorrow on anyone. She wanted to spare Aswattama’s mother the sorrow that she herself was experiencing because of Aswattama’s cruel act. Moreover, Aswattama was Drona’s son, and Drona was Arjuna’s guru.
How could she ask her husband to slay his guru’s son? So sheasked Arjuna to spare Aswattama’s life. There is nothing to
equal the sorrow of a mother who has lost a child. Draupadi had lost all of her sons due to Aswattama’s cruelty and yet she chose to forgive him. Such was her greatness.