Story as how Ashwatthama got an idea from an owl to attack Pandavas camp in night On the night after Duryodhana’s defeat, a very disturbed and restless Ashwatthama was sleeplessly strategizing under a large tree. An owl ambushing a group of crows caught his attention. This gave him an idea of attacking the Pandava camp at night. The three surviving warriors proceeded to the Pandava camp. Kripa and Kritavarma guarded the exits while Ashwatthama proceeded into the camp. Ashwatthama first kicked and woke up Dhrishtadyumna, the commander of the Pandava army and the killer of his father Drona. Ashwatthama strangled the half-awake Dhrishtadyumna to death as the Panchal prince begged to be allowed to die with a sword in his hand. Ashwatthama proceeds with slaughtering the remaining warriors, including Shikhandi, Yudhamanyu, Uttamaujas, and many other prominent warriors of the Pandava army. Those who tried to flee from Ashwatthama’s wrath were hacked down by Kripacharya and Kritavarma at the camp’s entrance. At this point, there are numerous different versions of the story. In some, Ashwatthama mistakes the sleeping Upapandavas as the Pandavas and kills them. In others, he knows he is killing the Upapandavas and does so because he cannot find the Pandavas. After the slaughter, the three warriors go to find Duryodhana. Again, the story has many versions at this point. In some, they find Duryodhana already dead, and mourning, they perform the cremation rights. In others, they find Duryodhana alive; Ashwatthama knows he hasn’t killed the Pandavas but lies in order to give his friend some happiness in death. Alternatively, Ashwatthama doesn’t know he actually killed the Upapandavas and just reports what he thinks is the truth. In a final version, Ashwatthama tells Duryodhana that he killed the Pandava’s children as the Pandavas were not there. There is more divergence; in some versions, this makes Duryodhana happy, as that means the Pandava lineage would die out. In others, this depresses him, as now the entire Kuru line will be defunct. In all stories, after Duryodhana dies, the trio cremate his body.

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