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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Ahalya’s tale: A case of Agony and Atonement

When the supreme creator Lord Brahma created the most beautiful lady ever Ahalya, he never had an inkling of how arduous a task it would be to find a suitable groom for such a pretty lady. After much thought and sincere search, he finally decided to get her married to Sage Goutam. Sage Goutam was a wise man no doubt; but age was not on his side then. He was an old man, so was never an ideal match for the damsel in Ahalya, for whom the whole male lot of the universe was ready to do the impossible if they could win her hand.

Ahalya too was unhappy with that decision of Lord Brahma; but she didn’t have a way to oppose her creator’s wish. She took that as her destiny and agreed for the marriage.

But Lord Indra was so blind in love for Ahalya that despite her marriage to Sage Goutam, he kept his desire of winning Ahalya alive. He kept an eye on both Ahalya and her husband’s daily activities. He sensed he was quite close to his goal when he got to know that Sage Goutam used to walk far from his ashram early in the morning to take bath in the river and meditates there for quite some time after the bath. Lord Indra shamelessly approached Lord Chandra to do him a favour by misleading Sage Goutam about his early morning schedule. Lord Chandra was hesitant initially, but later gave in to Lord Indra’s request and made a rooster’s crowing sound hours before it was dawn, hearing which Sage Goutam started for his bath.

Little later, Lord Indra came inside the ashram in the guise of Sage Goutam and approached Ahalya for making love. That was quite an unusual thing for Ahalya, so she had strong doubts in her mind. She meditated, and divinely created as she was, she could know about Lord Indra’s identity. But her physical desire to make love with a debonair male like Lord Indra overpowered her conscience. She gave in to Indra’s wishes, and immediately after the immoral act, she felt ashamed and pleaded before Indra to desert the place. As luck would have it, Sage Goutam reached the ashram at that moment, and by his supreme intelligence, could make out the whole incident.

A wise man’s fury is a dangerous thing to deal with. In the height of his anger, he cursed all involved in the incident. He cursed Lord Chandra to have black marks on his body (which we can see even now, the black mark visible on moon). He wished Lord Indra to have his body full of thousands of vaginas and become impotent. He wanted Ahalya to be converted to a mere stone idol, and she hung her head in shame for the wrong deed and owned the curse. But little later, the husband in Sage Goutam realized the pain that a young lady like her had gone through by agreeing to marry her, and so asked her to wait for the divine touch of Lord Bishnu in the avatar of Lord Rama to get rid of the curse.

Lord Indra felt so much ashamed of his physical change that he hid himself in deep forest. As a result of his prolonged absence, there was chaos in heaven. Knowing this, Lord Brahma asked Lord Indra to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, being happy with Lord Indra’s thousand years of meditation, converted the thousand vaginas into thousand eyes and returned him his potency.

Ahalya kept lying like a neglected stone until Lord Rama’s arrival. Lord Rama along with Rishi Biswamitra and younger brother Lakshmana was going to Mithila when he kept his feet on the stone idol of Ahalya. That touch gave back Ahalya her original beauty and then she sought the blessings of Lord Rama to join her husband Lord Goutam in the Himalayas.

Lessons learnt:

  • Own your mistakes, and do what you can, to atone for the wrong you have done.
  • Practice forgiveness. It might not change the past, but it does change the future.