The Symbology behind Jarasandha

In the last article we saw how each of the two queens gave birth to a half-body son. They asked their maids to leave the two halves in the forest. A female demon by the name ‘Jara’, who secretly lived in the king’s palace, was roaming the forest. The smell of human flesh attracted her and she saw the two separate halves of a new born child. In order to carry the two easily, she aligned the two parts together; they immediately joined and a young baby prince started crying. Jara was shocked, she tried lifting the child but he was too heavy for her. The child started crying very loudly and this made the king, his two queens, and all the people living in the palace run out immediately. The sound of the child crying made the two queens lactate.

The demon Jara surmised the situation in an instant. She knew that the young child was too strong for her to handle. She noticed the king’s eagerness for a child and also saw the motherhood in the expression of the two queens. She addressed the king, “For years I have lived in your palace without your knowing it. O king Brihadratha, this child was born to you by the blessings of the great sage. The maids of the queen had discarded the two parts here in the forest. I joined them and looked after your child, please accept him from me.

The king asked Jara “O lotus eyed one, who are you who have given me my child?” She replied “O king, may you ever be victorious. The great Lord Brahma had created me ages ago. Even though I am a female demon, he created me to be the nemesis of demons. For that, he made me beautiful so I could ensnare them. Even though I am childless, any person who draws my form as a mother on his wall and worships that form, will always be prosperous and happy.” Jara then became invisible and left the palace. The king performed all the ceremonies for the newly born prince and named him Jarasandha after the demon. The word ‘sandha’ meaning to join and Jara means joining the two parts.

Sri Krishna continued reciting the story of Jarasandha to Yudhisthira. He said “After many years, Rishi Chandkaushik came to Magadha again. The king went to meet him along with his son, who had then grown into a young boy. The rishi blessed the boy saying he would defeat all the kings and gain immense power and wealth. The king then crowned him as the king of Magadha and went into the forest to perform tapas, accompanied by his two queens. Like the rishi had foretold, Jarasandha became a great king. It was only after Balarama and I killed Kamsa that the desire for revenge took birth in him and thereafter he became wicked and imprisoned other kings. He was helped by the two brothers, Hamsa and Dimbak, whose story I have already told you. With Kamsa dead and both Hamsa and Dimbak gone, the time has come for us to plan the death of Jarasandha. Let us do so with no further delay.” Saying these words, Sri Krishna stopped speaking.

Now let us take the symbology starting from the last episode. The king’s name was Brihadratha. The word ‘brihad’ means to expand; ‘ratha’ means a chariot or the body-brain system. Expansion can be of consciousness or of the ego. Here we see that there was a pious ego, that he treated both his queens equally. The king goes to the rishi with the desire to have a son and heir. The rishi gives him an ‘amrafala’ or mango fruit. This comes from the root ‘amba’ meaning to go, so the desire is fulfilled. The fruit has not been touched by the parrots. This symbolises memory and imagination, thus when the rishi gave the fruit, he was totally in the present moment and was free of the workings of the mind. This blessing helped make the king very powerful. The fruit came from a higher mind or a higher state of consciousness. The king interpreted this with his lower or logical mind, with his conditioned sense of justice, and thus asked both queens to have half each. He should not have split the fruit between two. All of us have an intuitive mind and a logical mind. In the intuitive mind everything is one and indivisible, here there is direct knowing. In the logical mind, we split everything into parts and know through analysis.

A son was born in two parts. This is the fruit of our logical minds; we become a victim of duality or the law of the pendulum. A pendulum swings from one side to another, similarly when we live in our lower mind we swing from one state to another. Our inner states swing between two opposites from happiness to sadness, desire to frustration, love and hate, and certainty to doubt. We are always divided into opposite camps and live under the illusion that something is either true or untrue. The beauty is that at any one time, we are attached to one pole but blind to the other. For example, when we see love someone, we cannot see the hate hidden in some part of the unconscious mind. The fact is it was lying there, even when we were madly in love and when it comes to the surface, we say it is not the same person we loved. We are completely blind and oblivious to the other pole and this is the cause of all our suffering.

We must rise above our normal habit of thinking; only when we see the opposites as complimentary, are we able to rise to a higher level of thinking. Then love is not the opposite of hate but love and hate complement each other and we have to rise above both of these. Only then, will we experience a different kind of love – one which has no opposite. To rise above duality, we must kill our inner Jarasandha, the two parts that were joined to make one.

Next week we will see how Sri Krishna, Arjuna, and Bhima kill Jarasandha.