The slaying of Jarasandha – Part III

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, II and III first:

Jarasandha removed his diadem and royal garments and dressed up in the attire fit for a wrestling bout. They all went to the wrestling arena. Krishna blessed Bheem and advised him of the right moves, attacks and defences against an opponent as formidable as Jarasandha.

The warriors fell against each other in full earnest and their slaps against their own thighs and forearms echoed throughout the city. They both tried all the skills known to them and drag each other down. Evenly matched, they parried hard trying out different holds and locks. When their foreheads dashed against each other sparks flew. They would try to grip each other by the waist and hit out with their foot.

The blows were terrible. Each blow by either had the strength of felling a fully grown elephant. But each was so well stocked and built that these blows did not deter them a bit. When locks and body blows failed to work, they tried to crush each others’ heads.

They fought relentlessly. Sometimes, Bheem would writhe in pain and sometimes Jarasandha. The loud body slaps, blows to one another, their roars alerted all the citizens and they rushed to see what was going on. There they all saw their king in combat with an equally powerful man.

Meanwhile each combatant was trying to wear down the other, make him collapse in exhaustion and then trap him. The fight went on ceaseless for days and nights. But so far no one was willing to concede an inch. Both men were of immense strength and they delighted in testing the might of the opponent. They were anxious for a quick win and looked for all vulnerabilities in their rival. And so the fight went on for a full thirteen days and nights continuously.

On the fourteenth day, Jarasandha, the elder of the two, looked like tiring and falling behind. He was now taking on more blows and landing much few less. Perceiving this, Krishna said, “An exhausted foe should not be pressed too hard. He may even loose his life. You must fight him with reduced and matched strength. As such is the rule of wrestling.”

Bheem understood that the time had come to end Jarasandha’s life. He said, “This wretch who dared to challenge me to a wrestling bout to death does not deserve to be spared.” So Krishna said, “Bheem, bring forth the awesome form that you have inherited from your father Vayu.” Bheem raised Jarasandha over his head, whirled him in air a hundred times and brought him crashing down. Then pressing his knee on Jarasandha’s spine, he tore his body into two pieces, thus finally killing him.

(Certain translations, and folklore stories are slightly different. They claim that when Bheem tore Jarasandha’s body into two pieces, they would automatically come together, join up and Jarasandha would come back to life. Finally, Krishna attracted Bheem’s attention, picked up a long grass leaf, tore it vertically into two pieces and threw each piece in opposite direction. Bheem understood this signal and next time he tore Jarasandha into two pieces and flung both pieces in opposite direction. This brought about the ultimate demise of the powerful and mighty Jarasandha.)

After the slaying of Jarasandha, the triumphant trio marched to the city prison and set free the imprisoned kings. The grateful kings were overjoyed and like true kshatriyas who always repaid debts asked what they could do in return. Krishna told them about Yudhishthir’s plan for Rajasuya and asked them to accept the overlordship of Yudhishthir. All the kings acceded to the request.

Meanwhile, Sahadev, the son of Jarasandha (not to be confused with Sahadev, the Pandava), came forth with his retinue, and brought forth gifts in form of silk garments, ornaments, gold and jewels. He accepted that his kingdom was vanquished and paid respects to the trio. Krishna then explained that their purpose was to end the life of his evil father and free the imprisoned kings and not to annexe the kingdom. He accepted the gifts and then with the royal priests around crowned Sahadev as the new king of Magadha reminding him to assist Yudhishthir in his quest for the Rajasuya yagya.

Having vanquished their foe and achieving the task they had set forth to do, Krishna, Bheem and Arjun returned back to Indraprastha. There, he met Yudhishthir and said to him, “By the grace of God and good fortune, Bheem was able to overcome and slay Jarasandha in single combat. The 86 kings have been freed and they swear their allegiance to you now. So does Sahadev, the new king of Magadha.” Yudhishthir embraced Krishna, Bheem and Arjun and pleased said, “O best amongst men, it was by your grace alone that we were able to achieve victory in our task. Thanks to you that all three of you are safe and sound. I now see no impediment in my quest for the Rajasuya yagya.”

Krishna then bade farewell to his aunt and his cousins. He met Subhadra and the young Abhimanyu. He then took his leave and returned to Dwaraka.


Meanwhile, Yudhishthir announced his full intention of holding the Rajasuya sacrifice. He then set forth his army commanded by his brothers on all four directions. Arjun went North and North-East, Bheem to the East, Nakul to the South and Sahadev to the west. Everywhere, they went, the retinue of Yudhishthir was warmly welcomed. None chose to fight. Powerful kings like Shishupal of Chedi, Bhaggadatta of Pragjyoshpur, Balhika of Bahlikas, etc., accepted the invitation. The Pandavas were already backed by the powerful kingdoms of Panchal and Dwaraka. Hastinapur was their own kith and kin – and Dhritarashtra along with Bhishm, Vidur, Kripa and Drona blessed Yudhishthir. Sahadev was warmly received by his uncle Shalya. The other kingdoms saw no point in useless tussle with the (now) all powerful Pandavas. Some did put up a fight but soon were vanquished. All paid or were made to pay rich tributes in form of gold, precious gems and grains to Yudhishthir.

When all four returned from their victory marches, Yudhishthir treasury was overflowing with untold wealth. He was now an undisputed master of all Bharata. He had earned the title of Chakravarti – meaning the one who has conquered all directions. He now decided to consult his rajpurohit, sage Dhaumya for the most auspicious day to perform the Rajasuya.


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