Kṛṣṇa! O mighty-armed Kṛṣṇa who makes his devotees fearless! You alone are the relief for those suffering worldly miseries. You are the Original Person himself, the transcendent master of all energy. You set aside your illusory energy and exist purely within the spiritual energy of your own self. The worlds are full of people with hearts captivated by your illusory energy. Your trademark is that you see to their ultimate welfare by personally inspiring them towards morality, etc. You incarnate in this world just to lighten our burdens, and to fully satisfy your exclusively devoted companions with subject matter by which to always meditate upon you.
This extremely dangerous blast moves towards every direction. Oh god of gods, what is it? Where does it come from? I don’t know.
It appears that the explosion of the ultimate weapon expands relatively slowly. It looks like Arjuna may have taken from 15 seconds to almost a minute to react to it.
Before asking the crucial, emergency question, Arjuna praises Kṛṣṇa. Why? It is because we should not ask important questions to people who cannot give good answers. Arjuna demonstrates the principle that the inquirer should first express his reasons for having faith in the answer that might be given. Arjuna is in trouble, he is bewildered, and Kṛṣṇa is the one who saves people from trouble and is never bewildered. Arjuna’s trouble arises from an explosively powerful energy, and Kṛṣṇa is one who is always in mastery of all energies. Arjuna is in need, and Kṛṣṇa is naturally inclined to be helpful to those in need, especially towards those who, like Arjuna, are his intimate companions full of selfless love for him. After expressing why he has full faith in any answer Kṛṣṇa might give to the question, Arjuna finally asks it.
The All-Attractive said:
Understand that this is the ultimate weapon, set forth by Droṇa’s son out of fear of death, even though he has no idea how to control it. Definitely no other weapon can counteract this. But you are a very expert warrior, so destroy the blast of this weapon by an even more powerful blast from your own.
Hearing these words from the All-Attractive, Phālgunaḥ, the destroyer of heroes, took a drop of water and circumambulated the Supreme before casting the ultimate weapon. The blasts of the two weapons combined and seemed to swallow up the whole sky, outer space and even the sun. The three worlds appeared to singe from the great heat of the combined blast, about to be consumed in flame as if the end of the universe were at hand. Knowing that the people of the worlds were about to be destroyed, the son of Vasudeva told Arjuna to withdraw the blast.
Phālgunaḥ is a name for Arjuna, probably because he was born under the stars of Phalgunī. Unlike Aśwatthāmā, Arjuna knew how to control and withdraw the ultimate weapon. When he did so, it also withdrew Aśwatthāmā’s blast, because the two weapon blasts had mingled and united.
Then, with angry eyes burning like fiery copper, he deftly arrested the dangerous son of Gautama and bound him in ropes like an animal.
Being the “son of Gautama” means that Aśwatthāmā was a member of a brahmin family. But Arjuna was duty bound to treat him like an animal, because that is what Aśwatthāmā’s behavior merited. Classical Indian literature evaluates social status not primarily by birth-caste, but by actual behavior.