The slaying of Jarasandha – Part II
p/s. This long descriptive story is necessary to describe the true story of Jarasandha. Even then, it is heavily edited and curtailed. After all, the Mahabharat can hardly be written in a few pages and yet do justice. So my request … please BE PATIENT and READ with full heart. Thank you.
Please read part I and II first:
Having decided to challenge and kill Jarasandha, Krishna, Bheem and Arjun set forth to their tasks. They dressed themselves as Snatak brahmins (neo-brahmins or learned people who have mastered the vedas but are not real brahmins by birth). They travelled north-east to the Kalakoota mountains (border of modern day Uttaranchal and China) and then proceed South-east via the foothills of Himalayas (traversing modern day Nepal). They reached Mithila and then changed South-west to Magadha. Arriving at the hills of Goratha, they saw the capital of Magadha, a vast, beautiful and wealthy city with perennial water supply, well equipped houses and happy citizens. Krishna said to his companions, “Behold the city of Girivraja, the capital of Magadha, guarded by the chain of five hills.”
They approached the city but instead of entering by its main gate, they went to the nearby mountain peak Chaityaka, attacked the peak and raised it to the ground. The destruction of the mountain made a loud and terrible noise which struck fear in the citizens. The debris from the mountain rolled down into the city. In the great panic and confusion, the three quietly slipped in. They walked down the main road, forcibly seized some garlands from a flower vendor and wore them on their necks.
Meanwhile, the terrified priests and brahmins went to their king and reported the evil omens. The king thereupon started sacrificial rituals to ward off the evil. Meanwhile, the three heroes, in colourful garments, anointed with sandalwood paste and garlands around their neck marched into Jarasandha’s palace. They fearlessly marched ahead and approached the king. The king on seeing three brahmins approach, stood up in reverence and received them in honour. He said to them, “I welcome you. What can I do for you?”
While Bheem and Arjun stood silent, Krishna said, “These two are observing a special ritual and shall not speak before midnight tonight. We will meet you at that hour and will have the pleasure of receiving you then.”
At midnight, Jarasandha went to visit the three. He waited on them respectfully. The three raised their arms and said, “Fare you well.”
At this time, Jarasandha fully noticed the three brahmins. Their bodies, hands and fingers were scarred. The three were powerfully built and looked like ones who frequently exercised a lot. Then he requested them to sit down and said,
“Sandalwood paste, garlands and this attire of yours are not worn by snatak brahmins. You wear garlands and yet your fingers show clear marks of bow-string. You bodies show battle scars. You are not snatak brahmins. Tell me, who you are?”
Krishna replied, “Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are also competent to uphold the vows of a snatak. You can therefore take us as such. Some snataks observe general vows, some special. Kshatriyas who observe special vows attain prosperity.”
Jarasandha said, “I saw that destruction of the Chaityaka mountain. My spies reported to me of you entrance from that side. You entry does not bode you well. It was a reckless trespass. Though you claim to be brahmins, your speech, authority in voice and arrogance, show clear marks of kshatriya trait. Why are you reluctant to accept my worship?”
Krishna replied, “Brave men enter the abode of their enemy through an irregular gate and that of a friend through the regular one. We entered your city the way we did because we consider you our enemy.”
Jarasandha said, “Even after much thought, I cannot ever recall any incident in which I did any harm to any one of you. When I am innocent and have not hurt you in any manner, how do I become your enemy?”
Krishna said, “You have committed a lot of crimes. You have imprisoned 86 kings with the intention of sacrificing them over a yagya. How can you claim that you are innocent?”
Jarasandha laughed and said, “I have not imprisoned any king whom I did not vanquish in battle. To subdue other kshatriyas and kings by valour is the moral duty of another kshatriya.”
Krishna again juxtaposed, “Yes. But sacrificing them is not the act that befits your race. You debase your entire race and creed by this act. Know this, O King, we are no ordinary brahmins. I am Krishna and these two are the middle sons of Pandu. Either free those kings or proceed to the domain of death, for we have come to slay you otherwise.”
Jarasandha laughed out loud and retorted, “I have imprisoned these kings by my might and ability. I fully intend to complete my sacrifice when ready. I am a mighty and powerful warrior. I will not release these kings out of fear of you. I shall fight. So how shall it be? Am I to fight you with my army and yours? Or am I to fight all three of you together, or two of you or with any one of you in a duel to death? Either way, I am not afraid and ready to do your bidding.”
Krishna then said, “O King, we choose to have a wrestling duel with you as a single combat. One of us will fight with you. The victor takes the spoils. You are free to choose any one of us as we are the aggressors and you are the offended party. So which one of us will you fight with?”
Jarasandha looked at each one of them and his eyes finally rested on Bheem. Compared to other two, he looked the strongest. His natural ego urged him on to take on this finely built man. He adressed Bheem thus, “I will fight with you. The other two are insult to my might. It is better to go down fighting with a real, full man.”
And so the battle began.