Aayu Droña Sutey (आयु द्रोण सुते)

October 3, 2013 , by Sewa Bhattarai, Leave your thoughts
Aayu Droña Sutey (आयु द्रोण सुते) » My Dreams Mag

Who wrote this shloka? In which epic or manual can it be found? Since when has it been used in Nepal? Since when has it been associated with Dashain?


आयु: द्रोणसुते श्रियं दशरथे


शत्रुक्षयं राघवे ऐर्श्वर्यं नहुषे


गतिश्च पवने मानंच दुर्योधने


दानं सूर्य सुते बलम् हलधरे


सत्यम्च कुन्ती सुते बिज्ञानं बिदुरे


भवन्तु भवताम् कीर्तिस्च नारायणे



Every year we hear the long Sanskrit shloka that begins “Aayu Drona Sutey” in Dashain, we know that these lines are blessings, but what do they actually mean? This shloka actually lists out the good qualities of characters from Hindu myths, and blesses the receiver with similar qualities. Many of the stories are familiar, but some are pretty obscure bits of mythology. For example, most people are familiar with the first bit which goes “Aayu Drona Sutey, Shriyam Dasharathey, Shatrukhsyayam Raghavey”. This line starts with Ashwatthama, the son of Drona. He had once vengefully unleashed a weapon on the womb of Abhimanyu’s wife Uttara, killing her unborn child. For this sin of feticide, Lord Krishna cursed him to live as an insect for 3 lakh years. Our elders would like us to live for 3 lakh years through a benign blessing and without the disadvantage of this curse. The next bit wishes that the receiver has as much wealth (Shree) as king Dasharath, and the last part is regarding Ram. The receiver is hoped to destroy all his enemies (shatru kchyayam) like Raghav (another name for Ram) of yore did. 


The second line runs thus:”Aishyarwam Nahushe, Gatishcha Pawane, Manam cha Duryodhane.” It begins with the obscure story of Nahush. Nahush was an ancient king who was made the king of heaven during Indra’s absence. As a result, he lived an extremely luxurious life. But there is also a dark spin to his luxury. Nahush became so arrogant that he dared to desire Sachi, the wife of Indra, and decided to ride on a palanquin carried by rishis. No other mortal would even dare to think of such blasphemies, but Nahush wanted to prove that he was the only one who could afford such luxuries. Not satisfied with that, Nahush kicked rishi Agastya, who in turn cursed him, causing him to fall from heaven and live on earth as a serpent for many years. 


Moving on, the next part wishes that the receiver has the speed (gatee) of air (pawan). Spending my third Dashain away from my family, I certainly could do with that kind of speed! I could go home with the west winds and come back with the east, and not worry about the doldrums in between! The last bit of this line mentions the pride (maan) of Duryodhan. Usually portrayed as the evil arch villain of Mahabharata, here Duryodhan is heaped with praises. Indeed, abhimaan or pride is the hallmark of this ill fated man’s life. He gave his best to the Mahabharata war, even though he knew there was no way he could win, simply because he had too much pride to surrender to his arch enemies. Despite having little support from his elders and being put down all his life, he stayed true to his heart. If he had won the war, the Mahabharata might now be a paean to his achievements, but since he did not, only this little shloka bears testament to his iron will.


The third line begins by extolling the generosity of Karna. “Daanam Surya Sutey, Balam Haladharey, Satyam cha Kuntisutey”. This offspring of Surya was so famous for open-handedness that Lord Indra was able to wrangle his kawach and kundal that he was born with. Karna had to cut them out from his body to fulfil Indras’ request. No contentions here, Karna is indeed an admirable character and by far the favorite Mahabharata character of most people I know. The next part is regarding the strength (balam) of Balaram, who is famous for carrying a plough (Haladhar). He was renowned for his wrestling skills, which require a lot of physical strength. In fact, he was also the wrestling teacher of Bhim and Duryodhan, the best wrestlers of the era. The last bit praises the truth (satya) of Yudhishthir (Kunti-sutey). Known for his virtuous ways, Yudhishthir was supposed to have spoken only one falsehood in his entire life.


The last line begins with a praise of Bidur for his knowledge. “Bigyanam Bidure, Bhawanti Bhawatam, Keertishcha Narayane.” Bigyan would mean science, but nowhere do we find Bidur being an engineer, or architect, or being even vaguely scientific in any other way. However, he was certainly well versed in politics, ethics, governance, astrology, and even Mlekchhya (foreign) languages. Now these are knowledges that I would die for, so I would gladly accept this gyan in lieu of science. The next part is the blessing part, where the speaker says “may these things happen!” The last bit talks about the fame (Keerti) of Lord Narayan. And truly, Narayan is probably the most famous of gods. Besides being part of the mighty trinity, two of his avatars Rama and Krishna are among the most famous Hindu gods. So our elders would not only want us to have all the above mentioned heavenly qualities, but also be world famous celebrities. 


It is notable that all characters are from either Mahabharat or Ramayan, and there are no outside characters like Shiva, Ganesh, etc. It is also notable that apart from neutral qualities like speed, generosity, truth, knowledge and fame, the rest of the qualities are distinctly warlike. The strength of Balram, the foe destroying capacities of Ram, and the pride of Duryodhan fall into this category. As such, according to ancient Hindu classification, this shloka seems to be for Kshyatriyas. The mention of luxurious life further confirms this, as no other caste is encouraged to live luxuriously. Conversely, there are no blessings about non Kshyatriya values like peace, humility, or labour. 


Some of the characters mentioned seem to be ill chosen: Ashwatthama, for example, is the only one of the Chiranjeevis to be cursed into long life, and his inclusion seems surprising beside the glittering resumes of other seven chiranjeevis who lived as long as him. Duryodhan too is a highly dubious choice as his admirable pride turned out to be very destructive for himself and his entire clan. Nahush met his downfall in the very luxury that this shloka promotes. In Hindu philosophy, Satya does not mean just the spoken truth, but also a virtuous lifestyle. Being a woman, I find it surprising that a man who staked his wife on dice is held up as a model of truth. On the subject of women, it is notable that while all these personalities are extraordinary and anyone would be lucky to have their qualities, all of them are men. Sure, it is desirable for women as well to live long, be swift and live a life of luxury. But all the same, many qualities like physical strength and foe-destruction are generally not applicable to women. It would have been nice if some of the names had been of women. As intelligent as Sarasvati maybe? Or as prosperous as Lakshmi, who is a much better symbol of wealth than the scandalous Nahush? 


Though the meaning behind this shloka is now clear, many other questions remain. Who wrote this shloka? In which epic or manual can it be found? Since when has it been used in Nepal? Since when has it been associated with Dashain? I could find no answers to these questions, and I am looking forward to learning those answers too.

Dashain Jamara

Published in The Kathmandu Post dated: 10.04.2011 


Text by: Sewa Bhattarai
Photography: Bikkil Sthapit


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