WHEN Aswatthama heard how Duryodhana lay mortally injured, and learnt the details of the combat, his righteous anger swelled like the sea. The deception, practised by the Pandavas in order to bring about his father's end, had been rankling in his mind. Now, when he learnt how Duryodhana had been stricken down mortally against all rules of chivalry, he went to the spot where Duryodhana was lying and there took an oath that he would that night send the Pandavas to the abode of Yama. Duryodhana, who was in the last physical agony of departing life, was transported with joy when he heard Aswatthama take this oath. He immediately ordered those who stood nearby to install Aswatthama as Supreme Commander of the Army with due ceremony and, when that was over, said to Him: "All my hopes are in you." It was sunset and the forest was in utter darkness when under a big banian tree Kripacharya, Kritavarma and Aswatthama halted for rest. They were so greatly fatigued that Kripacharya and Kritavarma fell fast asleep as soon as they lay down. But Aswatthama did not get sleep, for sorrow, indignation and hatred burnt within him. He was listening to the noises that the nocturnal birds and prowling beasts began to make as the night advanced. He was turning over in his mind how to execute his promise to Duryodhana. On the branches of the banian tree, under which the three warriors were resting, hundreds of crows roosted. They were all quiet and asleep until a big owl came and began to attack the birds one after another and kill them. When Aswatthama saw the nocturnal bird of prey tear the helpless crows, he got an idea. The crows that could not see at night flew round and round helplessly and fell victims to the owl that attacked them violently. "These wicked Pandavas and the Panchala that killed my father and all their supporters can easily be killed by us, if we surprise them when they are sleeping in their tents at night even as this owl is attacking these blind crows. Thus can I avenge the deeds of foul play they have practised on us. I am deeply indebted to this bird of prey from whom I have received the teaching. There is no offence in adopting plans to suit one's altered circumstances.