By Nirooshitha Sethuram, Yogaratna
Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow
After Jarasandha agreed to have a duel with Bhima, a fierce duel began. It attracted a large crowd of people. For thirteen days they remained engaged in a ferocious battle with no winner in sight. They both showed no signs of exhaustion. On the fourteenth day, Krishna addressed Bhima encouragingly, “The enemy looks very tired so don’t attack him with all your force, as it’s sure you would kill him if you did. Also don’t use your divine powers, with which you are so blessed by the Wind God.”
Bhima got the message that it was time to put an end to Jarasandha’s life on earth. Bhima attacked Jarasandha in full fury, lifted him up in the air and tossed him down with a thud. Jarasandha was lying there for a moment, trying to regain his strength. Krishna caught Bhima’s attention by tearing a leaf into two. Bhima took this as a signal. He tore Jarasandha’s body into two in the same manner. As described earlier in the story, Jarasandha’s body was a vertical join of two halves of bodies, joined by the demoness Jara. So, Bhima could tear his body apart into two pieces without much difficulty.
He threw the pieces, each on its own side, and turned towards Krishna and his brother with joy. But the happiness didn’t last long. When he turned back, he was horrified to see that the two parts of Jarasandha’s body drew closer and closer together and in no time joined again. Jarasandha was standing right in front of Bhima with a fierce look on his face.
Again, the duel continued. Again and again, Bhima tried his best, tearing Jarasandha’s body apart a few times relentlessly. But each time the same thing happened. The two parts of Jarasandha’s body drew closer and closer and joined together, again and again. Bhima felt quite helpless seeing this. So, he turned his eyes towards Krishna with frustration. He saw Krishna tearing a leaf vertically and throwing the halves in opposite directions.
Bhima was able to understand the hint. He fell upon Jarasandha, flung him down and tore his body into two pieces once again. Now he threw the right side of his body to the left and the left side to his right. To his astonishment, the torn pieces didn’t move from where they had been thrown. That was the end of Jarasandha.
Krishna along with Bhima and Arjuna freed all the imprisoned kings. The kings expressed their heartiest gratitude to Krishna and the two Pandava brothers for freeing them. Accepting that with humility, they invited each one of them to take part in the Rajasuya Yajňa at Indraprastha.
Krishna, along with Bhima and Arjuna, were cordially invited into the palace of Jarasandha by his son Sahadev. He apologized on behalf of his father for his behavior and his arrogance. The three of them decided to forgive Sahadev and crowned him as the next king of Magadha kingdom. He wore his father’s crown with humility and gratitude. All congratulated and blessed him whole heartedly.
Bhima’s victory was celebrated at the uppermost level. He was praised highly for his skill in wrestling. Sahadev praised Bhima for his immense prowess. But Bhima remained modest and attributed the credit of his success to his cousin Krishna. Krishna was duly honored and respected too. Krishna and the Pandava brothers then said their farewells to all and departed to Indraprastha.
As soon as the three of them returned to Indraprastha, they conveyed the successful news about Bhima slaying Jarasandha. Yudhishthira was very happy to hear the news of Jarasandha’s end. He was so pleased with Krishna that he celebrated him and, as a token of gratitude, presented a beautiful chariot to him.
Yudhishthira was now cleared of all obstacles toward performing the Rajasuya Yajňa. Invitations were sent to saints and learned brahmins to participate in the yajňa. Invitations were also sent to all kings, respected merchants and other prominent citizens from all kingdoms to take part in the yajňa. Yudhishthira sent one of his brothers to Hastinapura in order to invite grandsire Bhishma, Vidura, Guru Drona, Kripacharya, Dhritarashtra and all the Kaurava princes. All of them came with valuable gifts for the Pandava King.
As Saint Dhaumya was the Pandava’s royal priest, he was appointed as the chief priest to perform the yajňa. After all arrangements had been completed Yudhishthira inaugurated the yajňa. Sage Vyasa was there to supervise all rituals, making sure they were done according to the scriptures. By the grace of God, the yajňa was completed successfully without any interruption.
It was customary to select one guest as the special honored guest, to be honored before honoring everyone else who were present. Yudhishthira chose to leave this choice to the assembly of kings who were gathered. He addressed the assembly, requesting them to choose the best participant so that the ritual of honoring can be initiated, then all the participants could be honored thereafter. Sahdev, the King of Magadha stood up and proposed Krishna’s name. Bhishma seconded along with Guru Drona.
Even though a large number of kings agreed with the decision, a small group of kings opposed the proposal. They suggested either Bhishma or Drona should be honored as the best participant. The opposition group was led by Shishupala, a cousin of Krishna from his father’s side. He stood up and started attacking Sahadev verbally for proposing Krishna. He went to the extent of insulting Bhishma and Drona for supporting the proposal. Then he demanded that Krishna refuse to accept the honor, as Shishupala thought that Krishna was not worthy of it.
Shishupala kept launching abusive words towards Krishna who was standing quietly and patiently. Calling him a mere cowherd, Shishupala insisted that Krishna was worthless to be honored. The Kauravas were thoroughly enjoying all the verbal abuses, especially the ones targeted at Krishna and the Pandavas.
Bhishma stood up, asked Shishupala to calm down, then addressed the assembly. He said, “Among the kshatriyas the most valiant deserves this honor. In my opinion, Krishna stands above all of us in many ways. His courage, fame and his knowledge of Vedas and scriptures, as well as the wisdom and patience that he has, which he demonstrated at the moment when Shishupala used abusive words to insult him.”
Shishupala was outraged by this praise of Krishna by Bhishma and burst into fury, now starting to use abusive and offensive language towards Grandsire Bhishma. Insulting Bhishma, Shishupala called his great vow to remain celibate throughout his life an act of cowardice.
When Krishna heard the impolite words used against the elderly honorable Bhishma, he stood up and addressed the assembly. He said “Shishupala, my cousin, has repeatedly caused a lot of distress to me and my family. Every time when I tried to punish Shishupala for his misdeeds, his mother, my aunt came to me, begging to spare his life. So, I promised my aunt that I would pardon Shishupala for his first hundred offenses. I have been counting his misdeeds. They have already come to hundred. One more offence and I will have to punish him, as an example for all who don’t follow righteousness.”
When Krishna said this, Shishupala laughed and again came out cursing and insulting Krishna using vulgar language. When these words were uttered by Shishupala, Krishna wielded his Sudarshana Chakra, which whirled around and went straight to targeting Shishupala. It chopped his head off his body, killing him on the spot.
All who were witnessing this stood frozen to their feet. Krishna consoled them all, then helped and guided Shishupala’s son to perform the last rites for his father. Krishna also crowned Shishupala’s son as the next king of Chedi. Shishupala was none other than Jaya, the gatekeeper of Vaikuntha. This was his third and last birth before his return to Vaikuntha. Thus, Jaya ended his three-birth curse on earth at Krishna’s hand, as promised by Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha.
As for Vijaya, he was born as Dantavakra, a cousin of Shishupala from his mother’s side, who was also a cousin of Krishna. He was very fond of Shishupala, thus hated Krishna. He refused to go to the Rajasuya Yajňa of Yudhishthira as he was furious about the death of his other friend, Jarasandha. To protest the killing of Jarasandha, he had not attended the Yajňa.
When he heard about the death of Shishupala, he was outraged. To avenge Shishupala’s death, Dantavakra attacked Krishna on his way home to Dwaraka after the Rajasuya Yajňa. Dantavakra was killed by Krishna in a duel with maces during this attack. Thus Vijaya, born as Dantavakra, also successfully completed his third lifetime on earth due to the curse. He joined his brother Jaya, returning to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu. Both Jaya and Vijaya were very thankful to Lord Vishnu, who was on earth as Krishna, for liberating them from their curse. They were delighted to be back in Vaikuntha, awaiting their Lord’s return.
More to come…