From Manmatha Nath Dutt translation of epic Mahabharata in year 1902. The Sauptik Parva (10th Book of the Night) from Mahabharata talks about the event of Lord Krishna cursing Ashwathama that he will remain immortal for three thousand years.

From SAUPTIK PARVA, Chapter XVI, Verse no. 8-12

Krishna said:

“As regards yourself, all wise men know you as a coward and a sinful wretch. Always engaged in sinful deeds, you are the slayer of children. Therefore, you must have to bear the fruit of your sinful deeds. For three thousand years you shall have to wander over this earth, without a companion and without being able to talk with any one. Alone, and without any one with you, you shall wander through various countries, O wretch, you shall have to live outside the pale of human society. The stench of puss and blood shall come out from your body, and you shall live in dense forest. Thou shall wander over the earth suffering from all diseases”.

Bhim killing elephant named Ashwathama, Razmnama, 16th Century

Bhim killed an elephant named Ashwathama and tricked Dronacharya to believe that his son Ashwathama is dead so the Pandavas can kill him and win the battle of Mahabharata. This was the classic incidence of half truth that Yudhisthir spoke in Mahabharata.

The above image is a miniature painting from 1598 AD during the Mughal emperor Akbar’s reign in Indian subcontinent. Akbar had commissioned a persian translation of Mahabharata with illustrations in miniature styles.

Image Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Image Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Ashwathama fires the Narayana weapon (Cosmic Fire) at the Pandavas”, Folio from a Razmnama. This particular incident is from the Drona Parva.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Chromolithograph pictorial label used for the advertisement and sale of bales of cloth and individual fabric lengths; printed on paper. An illustration from the Mahābhārata from early 20th Century before India’s independence. At the botton of the illustration there is a line which says – “Ashwathama propitiates Shiva before making a night attack on the Pandava camp”.

Thats why the 10th book of Mahabharata is called the Book of Night as Ashwathama went into the Pandava camp the very night Pandavas had won the war and annihilated the entire Pandava clan.