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In the war, Yudhisthira was targeted by Drona to get captured. For this plan to be successful, Duryodhana invited King Bhagadatta, who was a son of the asura Narakasur, in order to fight against the Pandavas.
Bhagadatta was the King of Prajokiyatsa (in present-day Assam or Burma). As Krishna had killed his father Narakasur, Bhagadatta agreed to join the Kauravas opposing Krishna. But in spite of Bhagadatta's support, Drona failed to capture Yudhistra alive. The Kuru commander and preceptor did, however, kill hundreds and thousands of Pandava warriors, thus advancing Duryodhana's cause.
On the 15th day of the Mahabharata war, Drona got instigated by King Dhritarastra's remarks of being a traitor. He used the Brahmadanda against the Pandavas. Brahmadanda was a spiritual divine weapon that contained the powers of seven greatest sages of Hinduism (Saptarshis). But Drona did not impart this knowledge either to Arjuna or to Ashwathamma. Thus, he proved to be unconquerable on the 15th day of war.
Observing this, Krishna devised a plan to bring down the invincible Drona. Krishna knew that it was not possible to defeat Drona when he had bow and arrow in his hands. Krishna also knew that Drona loved his son Ashwathama very dearly. So, Krishna suggested to Yudistra and other Pandava brothers that, if he were convinced that his son was killed on the battlefield, then Drona would get dejected to such an extent that he would lay down all his arms on the ground and it would be easier to kill him.
In order to find a way out, Krishna suggested Bhima to kill an elephant by name Ashwathama and claim to Drona that he has killed Drona's son Ashwathama. Following this plan, Bhima located and killed an elephant named Ashwathama, i.e. the same name as Drona's son. He then loudly proclaimed that he had slain Ashwathama, so as to make Drona think that his son was dead.
Drona however, did not believe Bhima's words and approached Yudhisthira. Drona knew of Yudhisthira's firm adherence to Dharma and that he would never ever utter a lie. When Drona approached Yudhisthira and questions him as to whether his son was truly slain in the battle by Bhima, Yudhisthira responded with the cryptic Sanskrit phrase "Ashwathama hathaha iti, narova kunjarova" meaning 'Ashwathama is dead. But, I am not certain whether it was a human or an elephant').
Krishna also knew that it was not possible for Yudhisthira to lie outright. On his instructions, the other warriors blew trumpets and conches, raising a tumultuous noise in such a way that Drona only heard that "Ashwathama is dead", but could not hear the latter part of Yudhishthira's reply.
Drona knew that if Ashwattamma was dead, then his soul must have gone to heaven. So, out of grief, and believing his son to be dead, Drona descended from his chariot, laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Closing his eyes, his soul went to Heaven in search of Ashwathamma's soul.
In the meantime, Drupada's son Dhristadyumna took this opportunity and beheaded the unarmed Drona who was not aware of the whole proceedings on Earth. This was considered an act of cowardice on Dhristadyumna's part.
Drona's soul, which went to Heaven could not find Ashwathama's soul there and so returned to Earth in order to find the truth about Ashwathama's death. But it could not get back into its body as Drona's head was separated from his body.
In this way, Drona was killed in the Mahabharata War. His death greatly aggrieved and enraged Arjuna, who had immense affection towards his teacher, and had hoped to capture him alive rather than killing him.
After Drona's death, Aswatthama, believed it to be his duty to seek revenge. Given that Drona was not killed in a justifiable way, Aswatthama believed his attack to justifiable. His father, Drona, was an invincible warrior as long as he wielded his weapons, and the Pandava army, as well as Krishna, knew this. Drona was the leader of the Kuru army at the time and seemed to be unstoppable. Krishna devised a plan to trick the Kauravas, in specific Drona, into believing that his son, Aswattahma, had died. Bhima had previously killed an elephant whose name ironically was Aswattahma, and Krishna was inspired by the idea of proclaiming that they had killed Aswattahma, not specifying that it was the elephant, not Drona's son. Yudhisthra said, " Aswatthama is slain, in an undertone 'the elephant The plan went through as planned and Drona then dropped his weapons and in the midst of this trickery was beheaded by Drishtayumna. This form of trickery some believe to be adharmic, and even though Krishna devised this scheme, it is believed to be wrong.It is said that the chariot of Yudhisthra , which always stood one feet above ground due to his honesty, came down to the ground level, since, with this act, Yudhisthra become like other mortals.
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