A Summary of the Sauptika Parva

Note: The 10th parva of the Mahabharata is called the Sauptika Parva. It’s the parva of ignoble incidents.

This parva has 870 shlokas (verses) divided into 18 sections. The Sauptika Parva contains within it another parva called the Aishika parva.

The great charioteers, Kirtivarman, Kripa, and Ashwattham went to the battlefield in the evening after the Pandavas had left. There, they saw Duryodhana laying down with his thighs broken and covered in blood.

Upon seeing Duryodhana in such a state, Ashwatthaman, who was known for his terrible anger, vowed to kill Panchalas, Pandavas, and all their allies. He promised to not take off his armour until his foes were vanquished.

After making the promise to Duryodhana, the three warriors entered a huge forest and sat under a banyan tree at night. There, they saw an owl killing several crows one after the other. When Ashwattham, whose heart was already filled with anger, saw this, he immediately decided to slay the sleeping Panchalas to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Drishtadyumna.

When he approached the entrance of the Pandava camp, he saw a huge and dangerous looking rakshasa guarding the camp. He tried using his weapons on the rakshasa guard, but when his attacks proved futile, the son of Drona worshipped Lord Shiva to pacify the rakshasa. With the rakshasa pacified, the three warriors entered the Pandavas’ camp and slew all the sons of Draupadi, the Panchalas including Drishtadyumna, and all the Pandavas’ allies. Everyone in the camp perished that night except the five Pandavas and Satyaki. They were saved because they followed Krishna’s advice.

When Draupadi learned about the deaths of her father, brother, and sons, she was so distressed that she decided to end her life by fasting. 

Bhima, of terrific strength, moved by Draupadi’s words, immediately took his mace and chased after Drona’s son.

Drona’s son got scared when he saw a furious Bhima chasing him. Out of fear and also motivated by fate, he discharged a celestial weapon at Bhima, uttering the words, “This is for the destruction of all the Pandavas.” Krishna immediately neutralised those words by saying, “This shall not be.” Immediately after that, Arjuna neutralised the weapon by discharging another weapon at it.

Seeing Ashwattham’s wicked intentions, both Krishna and Vyasa Muni cursed him. An angry Ashwattham also responded by pronouncing curses on them.

This parva ends with the Pandavas removing the jewel from Ashwattham’s head, after which they boasted of their success and gave the jewel to the grieving Draupadi to reduce her sorrow.

Table of Contents

Previous: A Summary of the Shalya Parva

Next: A Summary of the Stri Parva