Upon hearing Krishna’s challenge Jarasandha responded- I have captured and imprisoned all these kings with the sole intention of sacrificing them. How can I therefore let them go just because you ask me to?
I accept your challenge, against two of you or all three of you, if you so desire.
He then proceeded to install his son Sahadeva on the throne and prepared himself for the challenge issued by Krishna.
Mindful of the fact that Jarasandha was destined to be slain by Bhima, Krishna did not want to kill the king himself. Addressing the king he said- O king, who amongst us three do you desire to fight? Which of us three needs to prepare for the fight against you?
Addressing Bhima, the king said- O mighty one, I choose you to battle against. I would rather fight the strongest opponent.
Saying so, he rushed at Bhima with great energy, thereby signaling the start of the fight.
The two warriors then engaged in a fierce unarmed duel which brought out the best of their abilities. With bare arms as their only weapons and roaring like wild beasts, they struck each other like mad elephants encountering each other. Incensed at each other’s’ blows, they fought like enraged lions jumping at each other vengefully. Since both of them were well versed with the skills and techniques of wrestling, they tried a lot of moves on each other and gave a wonderful display of the same.
The sound made by both of them brought forth almost the whole of the capital city of Magadha to the arena. Both of them were so evenly matched that their fight continued for thirteen days and nights without a break. On the fourteenth day, to prod Bhima to fulfill his destiny, Krishna addressed him- O son of Pandu, your foe is greatly exhausted, put forth all the strength you can muster and finish him off.
Hearing Krishna say so, Bhima dug deep into his reserves of energy and prepared himself for the final assault on the king of Magadha. He lifted Jarasandha up high above his head and began to whirl him. He then brought him down, pressed his knee on his backbone and broke his body in half. Having killed him thus, Bhima let out a mighty roar in jubilation.
The trio then proceeded to Jarasandha’s dungeons and freed all the kings and monarchs that the evil king had imprisoned over the years. To express their gratitude for having received their freedom all the kings pledged their allegiance to Yudhisthira, his brothers and Krishna.
A lot of popular versions of Jarasandha’s story suggest that at the end of thirteen days, Bhima was clueless as to how to defeat the king. Despite his best attempts and skillful fighting, Jarasandha refused to be defeated. And it was at this juncture that Krishna suggested that the king be torn into two vertical halves and each half be thrown in opposite directions.
Krishna is supposed to have made this suggestion by taking a small stick, breaking it in half and throwing the halves in opposite directions (ie, threw the left piece on the right side and the right piece on the left side) when Bhima was looking at him. By doing so, Bhima would ensure that Jarasandha’s two halves (by virtue of his miraculous birth) would not be able to fuse together again to form a whole.
Following Krishna’s instructions Bhima proceeded to tear the evil king in half and threw his right half on the left side and his left half on the right side, thereby preventing the halves from joining together.
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