The Liberation of King Jarāsandha
In the great assembly of respectable citizens, friends, relatives, brāhmaṇas, sages, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas – in the presence of all, including his brothers – King Yudhiṣṭhira directly addressed Lord Kṛṣṇa as follows: “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, the sacrifice known as the Rājasūya-yajña is to be performed by the emperor, and it is considered the king of all sacrifices. By performing this sacrifice, I wish to satisfy all the demigods, who are Your empowered representatives within this material world, and I wish that You will kindly help me in this great venture so that it may be successfully executed. As far as the Pāṇḍavas are concerned, we have nothing to ask from the demigods. We are personally fully satisfied to be Your devotees. As You say in the Bhagavad-gītā, ‘Persons bewildered by material desires worship the demigods.’ But my purpose is different. I want to perform this Rājasūya sacrifice and invite the demigods to show that they have no power independent of You – that they are all Your servants and You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Foolish persons with a poor fund of knowledge consider Your Lordship an ordinary human being. Sometimes they try to find fault in You, and sometimes they defame You. Therefore I wish to perform this Rājasūya-yajña. I wish to invite all the demigods, beginning from Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and other exalted chiefs of the heavenly planets, and in that great assembly of demigods from all parts of the universe, I want to substantiate that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that everyone is Your servant.
“My dear Lord, those who are constantly in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and who think of Your lotus feet or Your shoes are certainly freed from all contamination of material life. Such persons, who engage in Your service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, who meditate upon You only and offer prayers unto You, are purified souls. Being constantly engaged in Kṛṣṇa conscious service, they are freed from the cycle of repeated birth and death. Or, even if they do not want to be freed from this material existence but desire to enjoy material opulences, their desires are also fulfilled by their Kṛṣṇa conscious activities. In fact, those who are pure devotees of Your lotus feet have no desire for material opulences. As far as we are concerned, we are fully surrendered unto Your lotus feet, and by Your grace we are so fortunate as to see You personally. Therefore, naturally we have no desire for material opulences. The verdict of the Vedic wisdom is that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I want to establish this fact, and I also want to show the world the difference between accepting You as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and accepting You as an ordinary powerful historical person. I wish to show the world that one can attain the highest perfection of life simply by taking shelter at Your lotus feet, exactly as one can satisfy the branches, twigs, leaves and flowers of an entire tree simply by watering the root. If one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his life becomes fulfilled both materially and spiritually.
“This does not mean that You are partial to the Kṛṣṇa conscious person and indifferent to the non-Kṛṣṇa conscious person. You are equal to everyone; that is Your declaration. You cannot be partial to one and not interested in others, for You sit in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul and give everyone the respective results of his fruitive activities. You give every living entity the chance to enjoy this material world as he desires. As the Supersoul, You sit in the body with the living entity, giving him the results of his own actions as well as opportunities to turn toward Your devotional service by developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. You openly declare that one should surrender unto You, giving up all other engagements, and that You will take charge of him, giving him relief from the reactions of all sins. Still, the living entity remains attached to material activities and suffers or enjoys the reactions without Your interference. You are like the desire tree in the heavenly planets, which awards benedictions according to one’s desires. Everyone is free to achieve the highest perfection, but if one does not so desire, then Your awarding of lesser benedictions is not due to partiality.”
On hearing this statement by King Yudhiṣṭhira, Lord Kṛṣṇa replied as follows: “My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, O killer of enemies, O ideal justice personified, I completely support your decision to perform the Rājasūya sacrifice. After you perform this great sacrifice, your good name will remain well established forever in the history of human civilization. My dear King, I may inform you that all the great sages, your forefathers, the demigods and your relatives and friends, including Me, desire that you perform this sacrifice, and I think that it will satisfy every living entity. But I request that you first conquer all the kings of the world and collect all the requisite paraphernalia for executing this great sacrifice. My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, your four brothers are direct representatives of important demigods like Vāyu and Indra. [It is said that Bhīma was born of the demigod Vāyu, and that Arjuna was born of the demigod Indra, whereas King Yudhiṣṭhira himself was born of the demigod Yamarāja.] As such, your brothers are great heroes, and you are the most pious and self-controlled king and are therefore known as Dharmarāja. All of you are so qualified in devotional service to Me that I have automatically been conquered by you.”
Lord Kṛṣṇa told King Yudhiṣṭhira that He is conquered by the love of one who has conquered his senses. One who has not conquered his senses cannot conquer the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the secret of devotional service. To conquer the senses means to engage them constantly in the service of the Lord. The specific qualification of all the Pāṇḍava brothers was that they always engaged their senses in the Lord’s service. One who thus engages his senses becomes purified, and with purified senses the devotee can actually render transcendental loving service to the Lord and conquer Him.
Lord Kṛṣṇa continued, “There is no one in the three worlds of the universe, including the powerful demigods, who can surpass My devotees in any of the six opulences, namely wealth, strength, reputation, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. Therefore, if you want to conquer the worldly kings, there is no possibility of their emerging victorious.”
When Lord Kṛṣṇa thus encouraged King Yudhiṣṭhira, the king’s face brightened like a blossoming flower because of transcendental happiness, and thus he ordered his younger brothers to conquer all the worldly kings in all directions. Lord Kṛṣṇa empowered the Pāṇḍavas to execute His great mission of chastising the infidel miscreants of the world and giving protection to His faithful devotees. In His Viṣṇu form, the Lord carries four weapons in His four hands – a lotus flower and a conch shell in two hands, and in the other two hands a club and a disc. The club and disc are meant for the infidel miscreants and demons, and the lotus flower and conch shell are for the devotees. But because the Lord is the Supreme Absolute, the result of all His weapons is one and the same. With the club and the disc He chastises the miscreants so that they may come to their senses and know that they are not all in all, for above them there is the Supreme Lord. And by bugling with the conch shell and offering blessings with the lotus flower, He always assures the devotees that no one can vanquish them, even in the greatest calamity. King Yudhiṣṭhira, being thus assured by the indication of Lord Kṛṣṇa, ordered his youngest brother, Sahadeva, accompanied by soldiers of the Sṛñjaya tribe, to conquer the southern countries. Similarly, he ordered Nakula, accompanied by the soldiers of Matsyadeśa, to conquer the kings of the western side. He sent Arjuna, accompanied by the soldiers of Kekayadeśa, to conquer the kings of the northern side, and he ordered Bhīmasena, accompanied by the soldiers of Madradeśa (Madras), to conquer the kings on the eastern side.
It may be noted that by dispatching his younger brothers to conquer in different directions, King Yudhiṣṭhira did not actually intend that they declare war upon the kings. Actually, the brothers started for different directions to inform the respective kings about King Yudhiṣṭhira’s intention to perform the Rājasūya sacrifice. The kings were thus informed that they were required to pay taxes for the execution of the sacrifice. This payment of taxes to Emperor Yudhiṣṭhira meant that the king accepted subjugation before him. In case of a king’s refusal to act accordingly, there was certainly a fight. Thus by their influence and strength the brothers conquered all the kings in different directions, and they were able to bring in sufficient taxes and presentations, which they brought before King Yudhiṣṭhira.
King Yudhiṣṭhira was very anxious, however, when he heard that King Jarāsandha of Magadha did not accept his sovereignty. Seeing King Yudhiṣṭhira’s anxiety, Lord Kṛṣṇa informed him of the plan explained by Uddhava for conquering King Jarāsandha. Bhīmasena, Arjuna and Lord Kṛṣṇa then started together for Girivraja, the capital city of Jarāsandha, dressing themselves in the garb of brāhmaṇas. This was the plan devised by Uddhava before Lord Kṛṣṇa started for Hastināpura, and now it was given practical application.
King Jarāsandha was a very dutiful householder, and he had great respect for the brāhmaṇas. He was a great fighter, a kṣatriya king, but he was never neglectful of the Vedic injunctions. According to the Vedic injunctions, the brāhmaṇas are considered to be the spiritual masters of all other castes. Lord Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna and Bhīmasena were actually kṣatriyas, but they dressed themselves as brāhmaṇas, and at the time when King Jarāsandha was to give charity to the brāhmaṇas and receive them as guests, they approached him.
Lord Kṛṣṇa, in the dress of a brāhmaṇa, said to the king, “We wish all glories to Your Majesty. We three guests at your royal palace have come from a great distance to ask you for charity, and we hope that you will kindly bestow upon us whatever we ask from you. We know about your good qualities. A person who is tolerant is always prepared to tolerate everything, even though distressful. Just as a criminal can perform the most abominable acts, a greatly charitable person like you can give anything and everything for which he is asked. For a great personality like you, there is no distinction between relatives and outsiders. A famous man lives forever, even after his death; therefore, any person who is completely fit and able to execute acts which will perpetuate his good name and fame and yet does not do so becomes abominable in the eyes of great persons. Such a person cannot be condemned enough, and his refusal to give charity is lamentable throughout his whole life. Your Majesty must have heard the glorious names of charitable personalities such as Hariścandra, Rantideva and Mudgala, who used to live only on grains picked up from the paddy field, and the great Mahārāja Śibi, who saved the life of a pigeon by supplying flesh from his own body. These great personalities have attained immortal fame simply by sacrificing the perishable body.” Lord Kṛṣṇa, in the garb of a brāhmaṇa, thus convinced Jarāsandha that fame is imperishable but the body is perishable. If one can attain imperishable name and fame by sacrificing his perishable body, he becomes a very respectable figure in the history of human civilization.
While Lord Kṛṣṇa was speaking in the garb of a brāhmaṇa along with Arjuna and Bhīma, Jarāsandha marked that the three of them did not appear to be actual brāhmaṇas. There were signs on their bodies by which Jarāsandha could understand that they were kṣatriyas. Their shoulders were marked with impressions due to carrying bows, they had beautiful bodily structure, and their voices were grave and commanding. Thus he definitely concluded that they were not brāhmaṇas but kṣatriyas. He also thought that he had seen them somewhere before. But although these three persons were kṣatriyas, they had come to his door begging alms like brāhmaṇas. Therefore he decided that he would fulfill their desires in spite of their being kṣatriyas, because they had already diminished their position by appearing before him as beggars. “Under the circumstances,” he thought, “I am prepared to give them anything. Even if they ask for my body, I shall not hesitate to offer it to them.” In this regard, he began to think of Bali Mahārāja. Lord Viṣṇu in the dress of a brāhmaṇa appeared as a beggar before Bali and snatched away all of his opulence and his kingdom. He did this for the benefit of Indra, who, having been defeated by Bali Mahārāja, was bereft of his kingdom. Although Bali Mahārāja was cheated, his reputation as a great devotee able to give anything and everything in charity is still glorified throughout the three worlds. Bali Mahārāja could guess that the brāhmaṇa was Lord Viṣṇu Himself and had come to him just to take away his opulent kingdom on behalf of Indra. Bali’s spiritual master and family priest, Śukrācārya, repeatedly warned him about this, yet Bali did not hesitate to give in charity whatever the brāhmaṇa wanted, and at last he gave up everything to that brāhmaṇa. “It is my strong determination,” thought Jarāsandha, “that if I can achieve immortal reputation by sacrificing this perishable body, I must act for that purpose; the life of a kṣatriya who does not live for the benefit of the brāhmaṇas is certainly condemned.”
Actually King Jarāsandha was very liberal in giving charity to brāhmaṇas, and thus he informed Lord Kṛṣṇa, Bhīma and Arjuna: “My dear brāhmaṇas, you may ask from me whatever you like. If you so desire, you may take my head also. I am prepared to give it.”
After this, Lord Kṛṣṇa addressed Jarāsandha as follows: “My dear king, please note that we are not actually brāhmaṇas, nor have we come to ask for food or grain. We are all kṣatriyas, and we have come to beg a duel with you. We hope that you will agree to this proposal. You may note that here is the second son of King Pāṇḍu, Bhīmasena, and the third son of Pāṇḍu, Arjuna. As for Myself, you may know that I am your old enemy Kṛṣṇa, the cousin of the Pāṇḍavas.”
When Lord Kṛṣṇa disclosed their disguise, King Jarāsandha laughed very loudly, and then in great anger and in a grave voice he exclaimed, “You fools! If you want to fight with me, I immediately grant your request. But, Kṛṣṇa, I know that You are a coward. I refuse to fight with You because You become very confused when You face me in fighting. Out of fear of me You left Your own city, Mathurā, and now You have taken shelter within the sea; therefore I must refuse to fight with You. As far as Arjuna is concerned, I know that he is younger than me and is not an equal fighter. I refuse to fight with him because he is not in any way an equal competitor. But as far as Bhīmasena is concerned, I think he is a suitable competitor to fight with me.” After speaking in this way, King Jarāsandha immediately handed a very heavy club to Bhīmasena, he himself took another, and all of them went outside the city walls to fight.
Bhīmasena and King Jarāsandha engaged themselves in fighting, and with their respective clubs, which were as strong as thunderbolts, they began to strike each other very severely, both of them being eager to fight. They were both expert fighters with clubs, and their techniques of striking each other were so beautiful that they appeared to be two dramatic artists dancing on a stage. When the clubs of Jarāsandha and Bhīmasena loudly collided, the impact sounded like that of the big tusks of two fighting elephants or like a thunderbolt in a flashing electrical storm. When two elephants fight together in a sugarcane field, each of them snatches a stick of sugarcane, holds it tightly in its trunk and strikes the other. At that time the sugarcane becomes smashed by such heavy striking. Similarly, when Bhīmasena and Jarāsandha were heavily striking each other with their clubs on different parts of their bodies – namely the shoulders, arms, collarbone, chest, thighs, waist and legs – their clubs were torn to pieces. In this way, all of the clubs used by Jarāsandha and Bhīmasena became ruined, and so the two enemies prepared to fight with their strong-fisted hands. Jarāsandha and Bhīmasena were very angry, and they began to smash each other with their fists. The striking of their fists sounded like the striking of iron bars or like the sound of thunderbolts, and the two warriors appeared to be like two elephants fighting. Neither was able to defeat the other, however, for both were expert in fighting, they were of equal strength, and their fighting techniques were also equal. Neither Jarāsandha nor Bhīmasena became fatigued or defeated in the fighting, although they struck each other continuously. At the end of each day’s fighting, they lived at night as friends in Jarāsandha’s palace, and the next day they fought again. In this way they passed twenty-seven days in fighting.
On the twenty-eighth day, Bhīmasena told Kṛṣṇa, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, I must frankly admit that I cannot conquer Jarāsandha.” Lord Kṛṣṇa, however, knew the mystery of Jarāsandha’s birth. Jarāsandha had been born in two different parts from two different mothers. When his father saw that the baby was useless, he threw the two parts into the forest. There they were later found by a witch named Jarā, who was skilled in the black arts. She managed to join the two parts of the baby from top to bottom. Knowing this, Lord Kṛṣṇa therefore also knew how to kill him. He hinted to Bhīmasena that since Jarāsandha had been brought to life by the joining of the two parts of his body, he could be killed by the separation of these two parts. Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa transferred His power into the body of Bhīmasena and informed him of the device by which Jarāsandha could be killed. Lord Kṛṣṇa plucked a twig from a tree, took it in His hand, and bifurcated it. In this way He hinted to Bhīmasena how Jarāsandha could be killed. Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is omnipotent, and if He wants to kill someone, no one can save that person. Similarly, if He wants to save someone, no one can kill him.
Informed by the hints of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Bhīmasena immediately took hold of Jarāsandha’s legs and threw him to the ground. When Jarāsandha fell, Bhīmasena immediately pressed one of Jarāsandha’s legs to the ground and took hold of the other leg with his two hands. Catching Jarāsandha in this way, he tore his body in two, from the anus up to the head. As an elephant breaks the branches of a tree in two, Bhīmasena separated the body of Jarāsandha. The audience standing nearby saw that Jarāsandha’s body was now divided into two halves, so that each half had one leg, one thigh, one testicle, half a backbone, half a chest, one collarbone, one arm, one eye, one ear and half a face.
As soon as the news of Jarāsandha’s death was announced, all the citizens of Magadha began to cry, “Alas! Alas!” while Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna embraced Bhīmasena to congratulate him. Although Jarāsandha was killed, neither Kṛṣṇa nor the two Pāṇḍava brothers made a claim to the throne. Their purpose in killing Jarāsandha was to stop him from creating a disturbance to the proper discharge of world peace. A demon always creates disturbances, whereas a demigod always tries to keep peace in the world. The mission of Lord Kṛṣṇa is to protect the righteous and kill the demons who disturb a peaceful situation. Therefore Lord Kṛṣṇa immediately called for the son of Jarāsandha, whose name was Sahadeva, and with due ritualistic ceremonies the Lord asked him to occupy the seat of his father and reign over the kingdom peacefully. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the master of the whole cosmic creation, and He wants everyone to live peacefully and execute Kṛṣṇa consciousness. After installing Sahadeva on the throne, He released all the kings and princes who had been imprisoned unnecessarily by Jarāsandha.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the seventy-second chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Liberation of King Jarāsandha.”