Story – When Dronacharya gets killed by Pandavas in war after Krishna plays a trick rumoring ‘Ashwatthama is dead’

Drona kills many Pandava soldiers in war, including Virat in arrow-play and Drupada in a sword fight. Lamenting the deterioration of their friendship, Drona pays his respect to Drupada’s corpse. Knowing it would be impossible to defeat an armed Drona, Krishna suggested to the Pandavas a plan to disarm their teacher. Lord Krishna suggested that Bhima kill an elephant by name Ashwatthama and claim to Dronacharya that he has killed Dronacharya’s son Ashwatthama. After killing the elephant, Bhima loudly proclaimed that he had killed Ashwatthama. Disbelieving him, Drona approached Yudhishthira, knowing of Yudhishthira’s firm adherence to Dharma and honesty. When Dronacharya asked for the truth, Yudhishthira responded with the cryptic ‘Ashwatthama is dead. But it is an elephant and not your son’. Krishna also knew that it was not possible for Yudhishthira to lie outright. On his instructions, the other warriors blew trumpets and conchs, raising a tumultuous noise in such a way that Dronacharya only heard that “Ashwatthama was dead”, but could not hear the latter part of Yudhishthira’s reply. In other versions of the story, it is told that, Drona, in grief, simply doesn’t process the final part of Yudhishthira’s statement, or Yudhishthira was simply not loud enough in purpose when he spoke the latter part of his words. Since Ashwatthama was born to become a chiranjivi, Drona descended from his chariot, laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Closing his eyes, his soul went to heaven in search of Ashwatthama’s soul. Dhrishtadyumna took this opportunity and beheaded the Drona’s corpse, in a gross violation of the rules of war.

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