Story of Jarasandha – from Cradle to the Grave

The King of Magadha, Bruhadratha, was very powerful and was a religious man too. He was married to the twin sisters from the religious place of Kashi. But he did not have any children. Despite all the remedies that a king could afford those days, he was not successful in becoming a father. Disheartened, he lost interest in the royal affairs and decided to go to the forest in exile.

He used to spend the days inside the forest like an ascetic. One day, he came across Sage Chandrakoushika and expressed his interest to offer services to him. When the Sage agreed, Bruhadratha continued to serve him as a disciple. After a few days, the Sage was pleased with his sincerity and demeanour, and granted him a boon.

As expected, Bruhadratha expressed his desire to father a child. The Sage offered him a ripe mango and told him that if his wife, the Queen, ate the mango, she could bear a child. Bruhadratha was elated and returned to his palace. As he had two queens, he cut the ripe mango into two equal halves and gave a half each to them. As prophesied by the Sage, with the passage of time, both the queens became pregnant. In due course, each of the queens gave birth to a half of a child. Scared by such a horrific incident, the King ordered the handicapped kids outside the palace premises.

At the night-break, the demoness Jara was roaming in the dark in search of food. She could trace the dead bodies of the handicapped kids. When she was about to eat the dead bodies dreaming of their tender flesh, something mysterious happened – the two halves combined into one live kid and the kid started crying.

Amazed at such an astonishing incident, Jara thought she might be rewarded if she brought this to the King’s notice. She rushed to the King’s place and explained the incident in detail before the King. The King became elated and rewarded the demoness Jara and named the boy as Jarasandha after her.

Jarasandha later grew up to become the invincible king of Magadha. He was a devotee of Lord Shiva; but as the demoness Jara helped breathe life into him at the beginning, he had inherited many qualities of a demon. Jarasandha had deep respect for the Brahmins. Every day, after taking bath, he used to pray Lord Shiva. And then he was offering goodies/alms to the Brahmins who met him.

Jarasandha used to maintain a good rapport with all the powerful kings around, in order to expand his image and stature. He married off his two daughters, Asti and Prapti, with the infamous Kamsha, the King of Mathura. He also had a friendly relationship with Shishupala, the King of Chedi, and Rukma, Rukmini’s brother.

After Shri Krishna killed Kamsha, the two widows came back to Magadha. To avenge this, Jarasandha attacked Mathura seventeen times and was defeated by Shri Krishna every time. But to save the precious lives of the countrymen, Shri Krishna sent them all to the island kingdom of Dwaraka. Later, when Shri Krishna eloped with Rukmini, which enraged all – Shishupala (Jarasandha’s friend), Rukma (Rukmini’s brother), and Jarasandha himself.

Some days later, Jarasandha reared a strange wish in his mind. He wished to kill 100 kings and offer Lord Shiva a garland made of their heads. For that, he invaded all the kingdoms in Aryabartta and made their kings prisoners. He was falling short of 100, the magic number, by four, when the prisoned kings prayed Shri Krishna by sending him messages secretly. At that time, Shri Krishna was a guest at his cousins, the Pandavas. Yudhisthira was preparing to begin the Rajasuya Yajna, which would need him to lord over all the kings of Aryabartta. Shri Krishna encouraged the Pandavas to kill Jarasandha and release the prisoned kings under him. That way, Shri Krishna accompanied Bhima and Arjuna to Magadha.

Shri Krishna was well aware of the weaknesses of the opponents. So, all three of them disguised themselves as Brahmins and entered the kingdom of Magadha. After worshipping Lord Shiva, when Jarasandha was waiting to fulfil the wishes of all the Brahmins, all three of them came to the fore and invited him to a wrestling duel. Jarasandha, from their voices and outfits, got a doubt about their true identities and questioned them. Shri Krishna and the two Pandava brothers revealed their true identities.

Jarasandha decided not to fight against Shri Krishna calling him as an escapist and as someone from the cowherd community. Arjuna too was not fit for him to get into a duel with, because of his normal human physique. So, Bhima alone could win a chance for direct wrestling duel with Jarasandha. Both of them were equally powerful. So, their wrestling duel continued beyond twenty-seven days. On the twenty-eighth day, Bhima was at his furious best and tore Jarasandha’s body into two equal halves. As he was about to celebrate his victory, the two halves joined together again, bringing back Jarasandha to his previous form. Even repeated attempts to kill him did not get the desired result for Bhima. Disappointed at such mysterious results, Bhima looked at Shri Krishna for a cue. Shri Krishna picked up a piece of straw lying nearby, made that into two pieces, and then threw them in two opposite directions – the right part to the left side, and the left part to the right side.

Bhima could decipher the message from Shri Krishna and did the same with the two parts of Jarasandha’s body. That brought an end to Jarasandha’s life. After that, Shri Krishna made Jarasandha’s son the King of Magadha and suggested him to work under the aegis of the Pandavas. The ninety-six kings prisoned earlier by Jarasandha were let free. Yudhisthira took all of them along with Jarasandha’s son to begin the Rajasuya Yajna.

Lessons learnt:

  • Physical strength alone may not win you a battle – when the Providence is on your side, your win is certain, come what may.

[Published earlier at StoryMirror]

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Muchukunda’s Weird Wish and Kala Jabana’s Death

Prince Muchukunda, son of King Mandhata, was a warrior par excellence. When there was a battle between the gods and the demons (that is, asuras), there were none to take up the role of commander-in-chief in the war from the gods’ side. Lord Indra, therefore, requested Muchukunda to assume that role. Muchukunda conceded to the request and kept himself busy in that war for quite some time. Later, when Lord Kartikeya proved himself eligible to lead the gods in the war, Muchukunda was freed from his responsibilities.

Lord Indra, pleased at Muchukunda’s selflessness, integrity and industriousness wished to grant him a boon. At that, Muchukunda thought that he would need to have a satisfying sleep for a long time, maybe a few years, to get rid of his fatigue in the war. When Lord Indra found such a wish to be weird, Muchukunda justified that since there would be neither his kingdom nor his home on earth after those many years, he had nothing to do, and hence, the wish. Lord Indra happily granted his wish, and added that whoever would wake him up before he did have a satisfying sleep would be burnt to ashes at his first look.

Even though Muchukunda longed to win ‘liberation from birth’ (that is, moksha) as a boon, which Lord Bishnu only could grant one, he was satisfied with his long sleep wish being fulfilled. He chose to sleep inside a cave in Mathura where there was less disturbance, and slept there for years together.

Many years later, after Kamsa was killed by Lord Krishna, his two queens, Asti and Prapti, returned to their paternal home and requested their father Jarasandha to take revenge for their husband’s murder.

Therefore, Jarasandha attacked Mathura for seventeen times, but Lord Krishna defeated him on all occasions. As a last resort, Jarasandha persuaded his friend Kala Jabana to attack Mathura. Kala Jabana was blessed by Lord Shiva not to be killed by any weapon. Lord Krishna knew this. So, when Kala Jabana attacked Mathura, Lord Krishna feigned fearfulness and fled from the place. Kala Jabana followed Lord Krishna wherever he went. Lord Krishna led him to the cave where Muchukunda was in deep sleep, covered his body with his own clothes, and hid himself in a corner. As it was too dark inside, Kala Jabana assumed Muchukunda to be Lord Krishna by the clothes and started kicking him. Muchukunda woke up and looked at Kala Jabana in anger. In a fraction of second, Kala Jabana was burnt to ashes. Then, Muchukunda could see Lord Krishna, who is an avatar of Lord Bishnu. Lord Krishna narrated the incident to Muchukunda, and then, granted him ‘moksha’ that he was longing for.

This was just one of the numerous instances when the omniscient and omnipotent Lord Krishna didn’t have to use a weapon to win a battle.

Lesson learnt:

  • Even if you are divinely blessed with rare skills and have no fierce competitors to challenge you, never take the liberty to misuse your skills. And, never challenge the Almighty.
  • At times, if you can explore the power of your ‘mind’, you can forgo the ammunition in a battle field.