The curse of immortality

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Mahabharat / Wisdom For Seekers


At the end of the Mahabharata, Krishna curses Ashwatthama with immortality. What is the meaning of this story, and how is it relevant to us today?


Duration: 9 min


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6 min read

The curse of immortality

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: At the end of the Mahabharata, Krishna curses Ashwatthama with immortality. What is the meaning of this story, and how is it relevant to us today?

Sadhguru: For those of you who don’t understand the question, she’s talking about Ashwatthama.

At the end of the war – a terrible war, that everybody on both sides were disgusted with themselves and everybody, for having perpetuated such a war, after killing nearly 100,000 people in those days when the population was not even 10% of what is today – Ashwatthama didn’t stop there, out of his anger, he went out and killed children who were sleeping. Children were sleeping, and he went and slit all their throats as revenge for what he felt was unfair. Maybe unfair, but this is what he did.

So, Krishna did not curse him with death, he said, “I curse you with immortality. You must be with this guilt for always.” So, what is the consequence of that?

I think they’re all – Ashwatthama is manifesting in United States killing all the children in schools. Yeah, he’s here – otherwise, why do you want to walk into a school and kill children, of all the people? You could at least choose grown-ups. I’m not saying it’s better, but I’m saying it’s a – this is a manifestation of Ashwatthama. Because you are angry with something, you go and kill children who are sleeping.

So, this is something you need to understand, because the moment you have little money and comfort, you want to live forever. But that’s the worst thing that can ever happen to you, that you cannot die. Hello? I want you to just imagine, you’re sitting here after a million years, I’m gone, everybody’s gone, but you’re still sitting here. It’s the worst thing, isn’t it? You also die in time – maybe you want to die after me, I agree, but you also die one day is a good thing. You cannot die is a terrible thing, isn’t it? So, he cursed him with the most terrible thing. He said, “You must always live this guilt.”

So, you need to understand, when Krishna speaks, even about himself, when he says me, me, me, he is not talking about him as a person, he is talking about him as a quality, him as a consciousness. So, when he cursed Ashwatthama also, he means the same thing – it’s not that that guy is going to live forever. There’s those who do this kind of an act out of something that you’re angry about, resentful about, you go, and children who are sleeping, you go and kill children who are sleeping – such people must suffer always.

Because there are many things among human beings – when a war happens, you kill. It should not happen – he tried everything possible to see that it doesn’t happen. Once it happened he said, “Better fight!” You can’t go to the battlefield and say, “I won’t fight.” You should not go to battlefield – once you go there, you got to fight. So he said, “Fight!” They fought, everybody killed each other, so many people died. Great heroes fell, good people died, bad people died, all kinds of people died. When it’s over, you go and kill children, such a man should suffer for always – that is the curse.

Because there are some things which are not good but you still do, because you’re caught in situations. This is after the situation is over, because you’ve lost. If you had won the war, you wouldn’t have done it. Because you’ve lost the war and you are full of resentment, you go and kill the children – that you must suffer for always. The immortality is not for the man, but for the suffering that it causes within you. You may do it, you may take another life, but you go through enormous amount of suffering. That must continue for you always, that’s what he’s saying. Because this is the nature of life.

There are many things we can do, but if you unscrew certain things, then important things will collapse – that’s what he is trying to say. See, all of us have fought the battle, we have killed, we have done many things, we have cheated each other a little bit, done all kinds of things, but still it’s a man’s world – when the war is over, you step back, somebody won, somebody lost – step back from that, because it’s over. No, now I go in the night and kill the children, your children, who are sleeping. They were not protected, because nobody imagined somebody will come and kill children in their sleep, otherwise they would have put soldiers around. They did not put because they thought, “Who would kill the children? War is over.”

So, if you become overly resentful, overly suspicious, you will end up doing such things.

This happened. An American person went to Moscow. Can I say this joke, or no? An American person went to Moscow. Because we watched so many Hollywood movies, Moscow means, when you get off the airport, KGB will be following you, right, left, center, everywhere agents standing and glaring at you, you know, because your whole psyche is from the Hollywood. Somebody’s reading something, and he looks up at you. Everything is suspicious – the taxi driver is an agent, everybody is an agent. So, with this psyche he went to Moscow, landed, and being suspicious of everything.

Then he went to his hotel room, then he looked all around, maybe it’s all bugged, you know? So he opened, like usually what James Bond does, he opened the microphone of the phone, pulled out everything, then here, there, everywhere, he searched the light bulbs, this, that, fire alarms, everything he checked for bugs and everything. When he found nothing he thought, “Somewhere, it must be there.” And then he crawled under the bed. There he saw a big metal plate, screwed with 8 screws. He thought, “This is it, I got it.” And he pulled out his Swiss Army knife. With great difficulty he unscrewed this, it took some time. He unscrewed all this, and took the metal plate, and threw it out of the window.

Within a few minutes he heard enormous commotion in front of the hotel. Ambulances, police cars, and this, and that, pam, pom, pom, everything happening. He went down to see what – a huge number of cars and ambulances, everything. Then he picked up the phone and called the reception, “What’s happening in the hotel? Is there a fire, is there something? Is there a bomb?” They said, “No, on the 4th floor the chandelier crashed. People were having dinner and it crashed on them.”

So, Krishna is saying, “Don’t touch certain screws. If you touch those screws, things will crash upon you, for good.” So, he is not giving a relief to Ashwatthama. For all others who fought against him, who did terrible things in their lives, he said, “Okay, as a man you got angry, you got hateful, you did something. All right, there is a way for you.” But he said, “For this guy there is no way, he has to live it forever.”