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Samba’s Arrogance Leads to the End of the Yadavas

Samba, a son of Lord Krishna and Jambabati was a handsome young man. He prided himself on his good looks and considered himself to be the best among all sons of Lord Krishna. That he resembled Lord Krishna made him haughtier to such an extent that he became disrespectful to all the guests who were visiting Dwaraka.

On one occasion, Samba made fun of Narada due to his peculiar dressing style. Narada kept quiet considering that as his folly and also keeping in mind that he was Lord Krishna’s son. But the omniscient Lord could know of the incident and got very angry with Samba and cursed him with leprosy, as that would take away his handsomeness which he prides in so much.

Moments later when Samba got affected with leprosy, both, he and his mother Jambabati, got worried and pleaded before Lord Krishna for help. Lord Krishna became considerate and let them know an antidote to the curse. To get rid of leprosy, Samba had to meditate and worship the Sun God at the Chandrabhaga beach (near Konark, Odisha) for 12 year long years. Legend has it that after the Sun God waived off the curse and returned him his original handsomeness, Samba constructed the Sun temple of Konark, now considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

But that episode wasn’t perhaps enough for Samba to learn a lesson. As he regained his handsomeness, he started priding himself on his looks and figure. On one occasion, Narada, Durbasha, and Kanwa Munni came to meet Lord Krishna at Dwaraka. At that time, other sons of Lord Krishna brought Samba in the guise of a pregnant lady and asked the sages to predict the gender of the baby she would deliver.

Samba’s disguise could have fooled the common people to believe that she was a pregnant lady; but the revered sages could make out the fact and felt offended. Especially Durbasha, infamous for his short temper, took the offense so seriously that he cursed the pregnant lady to deliver a block of iron, and he left Dwaraka without meeting Lord Krishna. When Lord Krishna got to know that, he was heartbroken and felt concerned as the whole of Aryabartta knew of such an unpleasant incident by then.

Bhima, the second of Pandavas, promised Lord Krishna that he would grind the iron block to dust. That made Krishna a bit relaxed. When that inopportune moment came, Samba delivered a block of iron. Bhima took that iron block far away from the borders of Dwaraka and rubbed that against metallic stones to dust. He threw the remnant piece to the sea near Prayag Teertha, away from Dwaraka.

But who has the power the change the course of Providence? The entire clan of Yadavas got addicted to alcohol and kept themselves busy in sinister deeds that were quite unbecoming of them.

The place where Bhima grinded the iron block bore a peculiar kind of grass that was strong and sharp like arrows. As luck would have it, the Yadavas in inebriated state followed ‘karala’, a guised animal, that lead them to that place of dangerous grass. They started infighting as the animal vanished and killed one another by attacking with those strands of grass. After that, Lord Krishna became the lone surviving representative of the Yadava dynasty.

On the eve of that unfortunate incident, Lord Krishna foresaw the imminent misfortune and went to Prayag Teertha to seek mental peace far from the madding crowd. By that time, Jara Sabara had got the last piece of iron thrown by Bhima into deep sea during his fishing expedition. He found the piece of iron too sharp and fixed that to his arrow. Considering Lord Krishna’s lotus feet as a deer’s ear, Jara released the arrow and that brought the end of Lord Krishna.

Lessons learnt:

  • Pride goes before a fall.
  • Be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant. – Anonymous
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Lord Krishna and His Modest Friend Sudama

Lord Krishna brought an end to His maternal uncle Kamsa’s evil acts by scripting his death in a unique manner. Afterwards, Ugrasena, Kamsa’s father, was made the King of Mathura. But Lord Krishna and His elder brother Balarama were declared as the princes of Mathura. And as princes, they did have to complete their formal education for which both of them were sent to the ashram of Sage Sandipani. They completed their academics as well as war art in a year alone. There, in the ashram, Lord Krishna befriended a Brahmin boy, Sudama.

As part of the Gurukul system of education, the disciples in the ashram had to take exams to prove their learning progress. Sage Sandipani was known for his novel way of examining the all-round skills of his disciples. He used to expose his disciples to various tests in course of their daily activities rather than having formal tests.

On one occasion, Lord Krishna and Sudama were sent to deep forest to collect firewood required for holy fire (yajna). Anticipating any untoward challenges in their mission, the Sage’s wife tied a handful of rice fry (khuda bhaja) in one end of Sudama’s robes. As anticipated, there came a sudden heavy downpour while both of them were deep inside the forest. They had to take shelter atop a huge tree throughout the rainy night. Morning after, when rain subsided and they returned to the ashram, Sage’s wife wanted to know the experience of the dreadful dark night inside the dense forest. During the conversation, Sudama fell on her feet and confessed to have eaten the rice fry all alone without sharing a portion with Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was surprised to know of that episode.

Sage Sandipani, after analyzing the incidents, showed his displeasure with Sudama and said, “Poor fellow, that was a test of your loyalty to your friend. That was ‘treated rice fry’. You owned up poverty for the rest of your life by gulping the rice fry all alone.” Lord Krishna was shocked at this and prayed the Sage to forgive Sudama’s mistake. But the Sage expressed his helplessness in that and suggested to accept the sorry fate and live on.

Few years later when Lord Krishna was ruling over Dwaraka as a prince, Sudama was struggling hard to make both ends meet. Many a time, Sudama’s wife suggested him to meet Lord Krishna and ask for his help, but he would not listen to the counsel due to his self-respect. But his respect and loyalty for his friend Lord Krishna was intact. When things became really tough, Sudama persuaded himself to meet Lord Krishna in Dwaraka. Coincidentally, Sudama had nothing other than a handful of rice fry to offer his old friend when they would meet.

A handful of rice fry for the King of Dwaraka! Sudama wasn’t at peace with himself after thinking about that. After reaching Dwaraka, he was astonished to see the riches there and was desperately trying to hide his gift that he brought for his friend. But the omniscient Lord Krishna came to the scene and warned Sudama not to repeat a past mistake. He snatched the handful of rice fry from Sudama and ate that all with happiness, sharing a portion with his queens.

Sudama’s self-respect did not allow him to reveal anything about his abject poverty before his childhood friend Lord Krishna. So what he treasured before he left for his village was Lord Krishna’s friendship and hospitality. But there happened a miracle in Sudama’s village in his absence: his modest hut was transformed into a palace with riches galore. When Sudama reached home and got to see all that, he could realize that those were the deeds of Lord Krishna. As he thanked him for getting him out of the abyss of poverty, Lord Krishna appeared in his mind’s eye and told, “There’s nothing to thank me for. You had eaten up my share of rice fry and had owned up my share of poverty too. And today when you returned my share of rice fry, I returned you your share of riches. That is the ruling of Providence. I was only waiting for an opportune moment when I could make you debt-free.

Lesson learnt: The ability to forget and forgive is a true measure of the depth of friendship. Unless you are ‘you’ with your friend, there are a few more tests to pass to approve your relation as friendship.

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When Lord Krishna planned His end …

What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. [T S Eliot]

Who knows this better than who made all the beginning? When Lord Krishna was certain that Good had started to rule over Evil after His concerted efforts to restore order in an anarchic world, He did plan His end in a way that would have many questions for posterity to ponder about. While He was resting peacefully in the lap of Mother Nature at Prayag, a place nearby Dwaraka, Jara Sabara was on his hunting expedition. While Jara released his arrow to hit a deer’s ear amidst the jungle, little did he know, what he aimed at was not deer’s ear but Lord Krishna’s lotus feet that resembled a deer’s ear. [Earlier, if Rukmini had taken Saint Durbasha’s order seriously, perhaps Jara’s arrow wouldn’t have pierced Krishna’s feet. To know more, read an earlier post.]

When Lord Krishna was in acute pain and Jara was at his apologetic best, the Lord wished Jara to get Arjuna to that place, for their last meeting. That was perhaps a death wish, Jara deciphered. Jara reached the Pandava brothers and told them that Lord Krishna in His last times wished to meet Arjuna as He was about to depart for good. Shocked at Jara’s revelation, all the Pandava brothers got ready to go on to meet Lord Krishna. Jara reiterated Krishna’s wish to meet Arjuna specifically and not all of them. The Pandava brothers got disappointed, but had no other option than sending Arjuna alone to meet Krishna.

As Arjuna was taking leave from his brothers, Sahadeva, who had the rare ability to see everything that would happen in future but would never be vocal about that, advised Arjuna not to touch Lord Krishna when they would meet. When Arjuna wished to know the reason, Sahadeva told that Lord Krishna would take away all his skills (that He bestowed on Arjuna earlier) if and when they would touch each other. As Arjuna was yet to come out of the shock, he nodded his head and accompanied Jara to Prayag.

Arjuna, seeing his friend, philosopher and guide reeling in acute pain, was moved to tears. Lord Krishna expressed His desire for Arjuna’s last hug before He would depart. But Sahadeva’s prophecy was ringing so loud in Arjuna’s mind that he had to fight a battle with his own self to restrict himself from giving in to Lord Krishna’s last wish. The omniscient Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to extend his arrow and touch Him by that. Arjuna thought for a while and then did extend his arrow towards Lord Krishna. In a fleet second, Lord Krishna took away the divine skills that He bestowed on him before. Many wonder why Lord Krishna did that. Now when the world was in safe hands, there was no reason for Arjuna to carry those divine skills with him. And when the Lord Himself departs, who would tame the skilled Arjuna? There was chance Arjuna might even misuse the skills. (Arjuna, whom the world reckoned as the invincible warrior, was unable to even lift his bow and arrow when his skills were taken away.)

Lesson learnt: Just know that you are a non-entity when the umbilical chord (represented by your faith and devotion) is cut from the Supreme Being. Your skills and abilities that you flaunt to this world are not your own and are the gifts of the Supreme Being.