The slaying of Jarasandha – Part I

Please read part I first: Rajasuya Yagya/Sacrifice – Part I

After Narad’s departure, the Pandavas continued to live peacefully at Indraprastha, but Yudhishthir was contemplating how he might perform the Rajasuya sacrifice. The thought excited him and worried him at the same time. On one side were all the benefits, the “punya” that he will beget, a place amongst the best of the best and a guaranteed membership of Indra’s court to him and his father as well.

But Yudhishthir was plagued with self doubts. First of all such a sacrifice will demand huge wealth. He would also have to subjugate all the kings. Many were world known warriors and a separate class by themselves. They were well established and had great wealth and power. The Pandavas were just about started and setting themselves up. Would it be possible for his nascent kingdom and small army to defeat such great heroes? No doubt Bheem and Arjun were unconquerable but that did not mean that others were pushovers. Besides some kings would never accept his overlordship.

Yudhishthir contemplated and consulted with many – his courtiers, his priests, his well-wishers, and finally his brothers. Most of the time he received positive feelers and his brothers were extremely eager that he performs the Rajasuya sacrifice. Yudhishthir’s kingdom was flourishing under his leadership, and his citizens were devoted to piety. They had everything they desired. The Pandavas saw the citizens as family. Yudhishthir was more than a father to them, and no one in the kingdom entertained any hostile feelings toward him. Gradually he became known as Ajatasatru, “one without an enemy.” And due to his religious leadership the gods were also pleased, and thus the kingdom was not afflicted by fire, disease or other natural disturbances. Based on these observations everybody advised him to go for it. And yet, Yudhishthir was not satisfied and could not arrive at a firm decision.

Finally he decided to consult the best well wisher of the Pandavas – Lord Krishna himself. He again consulted his chief priest, sage Dhaumya. He too whole-heartedly agreed to the idea. Accordingly, Yudhishthir set forth an invitation to Krishna at Dwaraka.

In due course, Krishna arrived. After mutual greetings, preliminary exchange of pleasantries and when Krishna was well rested, Yudhishthir and his brothers approached him. Yudhishthir told Krishna of his intentions of performing the Rajasuya sacrifice. He said,

“O Krishna, our beloved and well wisher, I wish to perform the Rajasuya yagya. But it cannot be performed by mere wishing. He alone can perform it who commands respect everywhere and who is the master of all.”

“All my friends say that I should perform this sacrifice. But O Madhusudana, some of them say because of their affection to me and may be failing to see my shortcomings. Some give me encouragement out of selfish intentions. Buy you, O Krishna, are above and beyond all such motives. You alone can give me a sincere and impartial advice bereft of any such feelings. Please tell me what I should do?”

Krishna smiled knowingly and said, “O great king, you are indeed most qualified to perform the Rajasuya yagya. You have all the necessary piousness and you deserve to rule all the kshatriyas. But you will not be able to perform this sacrifice as long as the powerful but vile Jarasandha is alive”.

Krishna then narrated the might and evil of Jarasandha.

“By the grace of Lord Shiva, he has acquired immense strength. He has vanquished and imprisoned many kings. He has vowed to sacrifice these kings in his yagya. Once his sacrifice is complete, he will be even more mighty and unconquerable. Jarasandha attacked us many times when we, Yadavs, were residents of Mathura. Though I managed to defeat him once, his repeated attacks made us flee from Mathura and we settled in Dwaraka.

Jarasandha has already captured 86 kings. He needs 14 more to start his cruel sacrifice. The one who foils him in this attempt and triumph over him will earn the eternal gratitude of not only these kings but all the surrounding kings will automatically recognize this person as the supreme. If you intend to perform the Rajasuya, you must bring about Jarasandha’s death and set free these kings.”

Yudhishthir then asked, “O Krishna, your might is my refuge. When you express doubts and say that you were unable to kill him, then what chance do I have? I am plagued by these doubts.”

Bheem spoke, “Dear brother, do not fear. I think that we can defeat and kill Jarasandha. Krishna knows the strategy, Arjun has the will (to win), and I possess the strength. Together, we can accomplish what single-handedly, we alone cannot do.” Krishna nodded in ascent.

Yudhishthir said, “When the great Yama himself cannot bring death to Jarasandha, how will you fare against him dear brother? How can I send you, Krishna and Arjun to face Jarasandha, merely because I covet the status of a chakravarti emperor? Life without the three of you will be meaningless to me. I would be bereft of Dharma, Artha and Kama. If Bheem and Arjun and my eyes, you, O Krishna, are my soul and mind. I cannot survive without my eyes and mind. It appears that the Rajasuya yagya is ill-fated. It forebodes of disaster and danger and it oppresses my mind. I think that I should not perform this sacrifice.”

Then Arjun said, “I have full faith in our strength and valour. And then what is the use of our birth and living if we shy away from the kshatriya dharma? The valourous quell over their foes. He who is devoid of valour gains nothing but mirth and insults. It is our duty to slay the evil Jarasandha and free the captive kings. Any shying away from this attempt will make us look incompetent. When we have so much to gain, why do you waver, O King?”

Krishna too advised on similar lines and urged Yudhishthir to take up the challenge. He reiterated what Bheem said about him possessing the strategy, Bheem possessing the strength and Arjun, the will to win. He said that Jarasandha cannot be defeated in open battle even by the Gods and Asuras. He then explained the birth secret of Jarasandha – The background of Jarasandha. He then outlined the plan. The three of them will travel to Magadha alone and challenge Jarasandha to a single combat in wrestling. Jarasandha was proud and his pride would naturally seek out Bheem, the mightiest looking of them all. Bheem would then kill Jarasandha.

Yudhishthir was finally convinced and gave his nod to the plan. He said to Krishna, “Now that I have your guidance, I can clearly foresee the death of Jarasandha, the release of the 86 kings and my own completion of the Rajasuya. O best amongst men, do all that is needed to complete this task undeterred.”

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