The Birth of Jarasandha

We discussed about Jarasandha, Hamsa, and Dimbak in our last article. Before killing the Jarasandha within us, both the other warriors must die first. They are killed by our continuous effort of self-observation. Dimbak means a young child – it comes from the Sanskrit root ‘dip’ meaning to gather or heap. Hamsa comes from the root ‘swan’ meaning to laugh or open up. All of us have a weakness wherein we like to laugh at and expound other people’s weaknesses. As we grow in our power of observing we are able to collect and see people’s weaknesses. We also like to talk about them when we have an audience. This process of collecting people’s weaknesses is called Dimbak and that of making fun of them is called Hamsa. Hamsa and Dimbak had already died before Sri Krishna, Bhima, and Arjuna set out to kill Jarasandha.

In our last article we saw how Sri Krishna extolled the power of Jarasandha. Then, Yudhisthira tells Sri Krishna “We are totally dependent on your intelligence, strength and power. If you yourself feel incapable of defeating Jarasandha, then how can I call myself powerful? You are all powerful and mean everything to me, so how can I even think of defeating him.

At this Bhimasen said, “If a king does not act because of his fear, then he surely is headed for self-destruction. With the power of his will even a weak king can defeat powerful one. Just out of fear, how can we not start a campaign against Jarasandha?

To this, Sri Krishna replied “Only a naïve fool will start on a mission with no concern of the consequences. We see that all the great kings, even with their immense wealth and power, worship Jarasandha. But Jarasandha does not have the maturity to digest this. He treats these very kings that worship him with cruelty and contempt, and here lies his weakness. These kings, in turn, wish him dead. He has a wish to sacrifice the lives of a hundred kings to the Lord Pasupatinath. He has already imprisoned eighty-six kings, only fourteen remain. Once he performs this sacrifice, he will become invincible. If you want to become emperor, we must act quickly and kill him before he is able to capture another fourteen kings. I am sure that fighting him together Arjuna, Bhima and I can defeat him.

Arjuna added “The strength of will is second to none; through will we become powerful and defeat our enemies. If we can perform the auspicious yagna of defeating Jarasandha and freeing the kings he has imprisoned, we would have performed the greatest deed of our lives. We are quite capable of making you the emperor and so we must go quickly and fight Jarasandha.

Sri Krishna re-iterated that “Arjuna is right; none had become immortal without fighting. For any effort to be successful there has to be a proper planning based on an apt strategy and also there must be right and timely execution of the plan. Then the enemy can be vanquished. But if one strikes just out of bravery, without a proper strategy and with no regard to execution or time, then even the one who has been destined to win the battle will lose. So let us plan our action in such a way that our weaknesses remain protected but we are able to exploit our enemies. Just like a river in flood can uproot any tree, so we too will defeat our enemies. There is no way we can beat Jarasandha when he is with his army. So, in disguise, let us quietly enter his palace and challenge him to a hand to hand duel, in which I am sure Bhima will kill him.

Yudhisthira asked Sri Krishna “O Janardhana, who is this Jarasandha? Where has he got his strength and enterprise from? You yourself are like a fire and he a moth who has touched the fire and still not been burned.

Sri Krishna explained that there once was a great king of Magadha, called Brihadratha. He was as powerful as Indra, had the lustre of the Sun, was merciful like the earth, possessed the anger of Yama, the God of Death, and was equal in wealth to Kubera. His fame and enterprise encompassed the four corners of the land. He had married the two beautiful daughters of the king of Kashi. He had promised his wives that he would treat both of them equally and would never favour one over the other.

The king’s youth was spent in enjoyment with his two queens but still he was not blessed with a son to continue his lineage. For the sake of a son, he performed many charities and yagnas. He then heard that a great rishi of the Gautama line, the son of Kakshivan called Chandkaushik had come to Magadha. The king with his two wives went and paid his respects to the sage. The sage granted the king a boon and he asked for a son. At that time, the sage was sitting under a mango tree. He closed his eyes and went into deep meditation and a mango fruit fell in his lap. It was full of juice and untouched by the parrots that lived on the branches of the tree. The rishi blessed the fruit and gave it to the king.

At an auspicious time the king gave the fruit to his two queens. They cut it into equal halves, each eating one. After some time, both became pregnant and the king was overjoyed. In due course each of the queens delivered half a child. Each half body had one eye, one hand, one leg, half a stomach and half a mouth. The queens were shocked and started shivering when they saw this terrible sight. They decided to throw away both the pieces, which were alive. They asked their maids to leave them in the forest outside the palace.

We will continue the story of the birth of Jarasandha in our next article.