Third time around – Part 3


<< PART 2 >>

Things reached a point where kings belonging to the Kuru dynasty, Matsya dynasty, Kekaya dynasty and Srnjaya dynasty became infuriated and took up arms to kill Sisupala as a punishment for his insults. However, Krishna did not want the holy ceremony to be disrupted with unnecessary bloodshed and personally restrained these kings from any martial action.

Even the sight of these might kings taking up their arms did not dissuade Sisupala who continued to abuse Krishna. Little did he know that Krishna was keeping count of all the offences committed by him, and what was worse was that he was running out of his quota of one hundred offences.

And then when the count ran out, Krishna addressed the gathering thus – Listen all you people present here. As promised to my aunt, I have pardoned one hundred offences of Sisupala. This number has now been exceeded by him, and in the presence of all you honored people, I shall now slay him.

Saying so, Krishna summoned his mighty disc, the Sudarsana Chakra and beheaded Sisupala. When the mighty armed Sisupala’s body fell down to the ground, there was a fierce burst of energy akin to that of the sun, which emanated out of the lifeless body of Sisupala and entered Krishna.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thus, one of the doorkeepers of Vaikunta had been provided with salvation for a third time.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

King Salva was a good friend of Sisupala and was part of the bridegroom’s party when Sisupala went to marry Rukmini. However, Krishna had other plans and managed to kidnap Rukmini just before she got married to Sisupala. And in the ensuing battle between Sisupala and his friends’ armies and the Yadu army, Salva was defeated badly. This defeat at the hands of the Yadu army rankled Salva very much and he undertook severe penance and austerities in order to obtain the good favor of Shiva.

Pleased with Salva’s austerities and devotion, when he was granted a boon by Shiva, the king asked for a flying machine, an airplane which would be so strong that it could not be destroyed by any demigod, demon, human, Gandharva, Naga or Rakshasa. He also desired that the airplane be allowed to fly anywhere without restraints and be especially useful in combat situations.

Shiva granted Salva his boon and with the help of the divine architect Maya, the king manufactured this magical airplane. With the help of this indestructible airplane, Salva attacked Dwaraka when Krishna was attending the Rajasuya Yagna conducted by Yudhisthira in Indraprastha. And when Krishna came back to Dwaraka after the yagna, he saw his city Dwaraka and its inhabitants in great danger.

Krishna immediately ordered his charioteer to take him to the place on the battlefield from where Salva was launching his attack on the city and its inhabitants. Despite Salva’s best efforts, Krishna managed to unleash a shower of sixteen powerful arrows which overpowered Salva’s magical airplane. Despite Salva’s best efforts and use of unworldly magic to try and convince Krishna that he had kidnapped his father Vasudeva and kept him hostage, Krishna was not fooled. He beheaded Salva and rid the world of the terror of this evil ruler.

Almost immediately, Salva’s good friend, Dantavakra appeared on the scene of the battlefield and set to avenge his friend’s death. He was so agitated with the killing of his good friend that he attacked Krishna without proper armor and weapons. In fact, he was so blinded with rage that he ran towards Krishna on foot without even mounting his chariot, with just a club in his hand.

Following the military etiquette of the day, Krishna also dismounted his chariot and armed himself with a club to meet Dantavakra in battle. And in a quick matter of minutes, Krishna managed to kill Dantavakra as well with strong strikes to his head and chest with his club.

Dantavakra

Thus, both the doorkeepers of Vaikunta, Jaya and Vijaya were granted salvation by Lord Vishnu a third time over, fulfilling the conditions of the curse placed upon them by the Manu Kumaras.

Advertisements

Third time around – Part 2


<< PART 1 >>

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Years later, when the Pandava king Yudhisthira, another cousin of Krishna was performing a Rajasuya Yagna at Indraprastha, both Krishna and Sisupala were honored guests at the ceremony. One of the important parts of the Rajasuya Yagna was that one of the guests would be offered what was termed the Agrapuja – the first person to be worshipped. This honor was usually given to the most exalted of all the warriors and kings present at the ceremony and would be chosen by the audience present.

When Bhishma and all the elders present decided that Krishna was to be given this honor, this irked Sisupala a lot. He already had issues with Krishna having killed his good friend Jarasandha with Bhima’s assistance (read that story here) and also because Krishna had managed to kidnap marry Rukmini, his bride-to-be a few days earlier.

Therefore, when it was announced in the court that Krishna was to receive the Agrapuja, he addressed the court thus –

Ladies and gentlemen, the Vedas state that time is the only predominating factor in nature. In spite of all our endeavors to the contrary, time keeps moving forward and executes its own plan without any opposition. I also see that with the passage of time, the intelligence of all the honored guests at this ceremony has been misdirected.

While I agree with the fact all the elders and kings present here are competent enough to take a wise decision regarding the recipient of the Agrapuja, I simply cannot accept that this august gathering has found Krishna worthy of this honor.

In this gathering, there are many personalities who have performed severe austerities, who are highly learned and who have performed many penances. There are wise men here whose knowledge knows no boundaries and also many self-realized persons and brahmanas. How could this wise gathering have selected this cowherd Krishna as the recipient of this honor by overlooking such personalities?

We cannot even ascertain what caste Krishna belongs to and what his occupation is. He does not belong to a royal family or enjoy royal lineage. Almost all his actions so far since his childhood have not prescribed to any societal or religious norms. He always acts outside of religious principles, Vedic injunctions and regulative guidelines of the day.

Krishna is so foolish that he chose to abandon Mathura and build a fort at Dwaraka in the middle of the ocean. And whenever he proceeds out of his fort at Dwaraka, he loots and pillages armies of other kings and destroys their kingdoms.

In his anger, Sisupala insulted Krishna even further, and tried to provoke Krishna into action. However Krishna, remaining unperturbed by all the utterances of Sisupala calmly remained seated in his place, all the while sporting a beatific smile on his face. This agitated the young king so much that he started hurling abuse after abuse on Krishna to the extent that many of the wise men and kings present in the assembly covered their ears unable to hear the insults and abusive language that was being used by Sisupala.

<< PART 3 >>

Third time around – Part 1


In my earlier series on the Varaha Avatar (read Part 1 here) I had alluded to the curse placed on the doorkeepers of Vaikunta, Jaya and Vijaya where they would attain salvation only at the hands of the Supreme Godhead, Lord Vishnu three times over as human beings.

The first instalment of the salvation was when Hiranyaksha was killed by the Varaha avatar (read that series here) and Hiranyakasipu was killed by the Narasimha avatar (read that series here). The second instalment of the salvation was when Ravana and Kumbhakarna were killed by Rama in the great epic, the Ramayana.

This series of posts will narrate the third and final instalment of the salvation where Jaya and Vijaya take birth as Sisupala and Dantavakra and how they attain salvation by being killed by Lord Vishnu in his avatar as Krishna.

At the outset, let me confess that some versions of the story and religious texts state that Kamsa was one of the doorkeepers, but a majority of the versions of the religious texts allude to Sisupala and Dantavakra as the third time that Jaya and Vijaya were born as human beings.

————

Sisupala was born to the king of Chedi with three eyes and four hands. It is said that as soon as he was born he screamed and cried with sounds similar to the ones that a donkey makes. Beholding these extraordinary omens, the king and queen of Chedi (who happened to be Krishna’s paternal aunt, ie, Vasudeva’s sister) resolved to abandon this abnormal child.

However, a celestial voice addressed the king and the queen, with the court ministers and priests in attendance – This son of yours who has been born thus, will have good fortune and extraordinary strength. You need not fear him or his appearance. He is not destined to die anytime soon. His time has not yet come. The one that will slay him has also been born.

Hearing these words, Sisupala’s mother, rendered anxious due to the affection for her son addressed the invisible voice – I desire to hear who will slay my son.

The voice then said – He shall be slain by the person, upon whose lap when he is placed his third eye and additional arms will drop off.

The king of Chedi then undertook an exhaustive exercise where he placed his son on the lap of all the kings assembled there to witness this abnormal son of his. And though the child was placed on the laps of a thousand kings, the prophesied ‘slayer’ was not revealed.

A few days later, Balarama and Krishna representing the Yadavas arrived at the court of the king of Chedi. After paying due obeisance to their elders, when the brothers took their seats at the court, the queen with great pleasure placed their young cousin Sisupala in Krishna’s lap.

As soon as the child was placed on Krishna’s lap, his third eye and additional arms dropped off. Alarmed at this turn of events and in anticipation of her son’s long life, the queen then asked Krishna for a boon. O Krishna, assurer of afflicted ones and dispeller of fears, grant me a boon that you will forgive my son Sisupala’s offences, for my sake – she said.

Krishna granted her the boon saying – O aunt, do not despair, even when your son will deserve to be slain, I shall grant him pardon for a hundred offences. 

<< PART 2 >>

Parasurama in the Mahabharata


Parashurama_with_axe

You can also read about Parasurama in the Ramayana by clicking here.

Bhishma, the patriarch of the Kuru dynasty attended the swayamvara conducted by the king of Kasi and proclaimed that he was taking the three princesses of the kingdom as brides for his step-brother Vichitravirya, the king of Hastinapur. He issued an open challenge to all the kings and princes assembled there to engage him in combat if they dared to do so.

Unknown to him or anybody else in the gathering was the fact that the eldest princess Amba was in love with the king Salwa. Before the swayamvara, she had decided that she would choose him as her husband and her desire to become his queen would be fulfilled, before Bhishma showed up at the event to spoil her plans. What was worse was that Salwa was defeated by Bhishma when he tried to prevent the patriarch from taking away the princesses to Hastinapur.

In Hastinapur, when Amba approached Satyavati and Bhishma and informed them of her love for Salwa and that she would want to be married to him, they allowed her to go to him unharmed and also provided an escort as well. However, when she reached the court of king Salwa, he declared that he no longer wished to marry her as he had been fairly defeated by Bhishma and that she belonged to him now. Despite her entreaties to the contrary, the king refused to take her as his wife and queen and sent her away.

Dismayed by this turn of events Amba took refuge in an ashram which was occupied by ascetics. Here, a sage Saikhavatya listened to her tale and offered her his assistance in her quest for justice. He first advised her to return to her father as there were only two true protectors of a woman; a father and a husband. When Amba declined and professed her decision to practice austerities, he advised her to approach Parasurama with her grievances and request him to seek retribution against Bhishma who she blamed for her current situation.

Parasurama after hearing her story and understanding her grievances offered to summon Bhishma and advise him to marry the princess himself as he had forcibly taken her away from her father’s kingdom. He also promised her that in case Bhishma didn’t heed to his words, he would surely engage him in battle. However, Amba was not pleased with this conciliatory approach taken by the great sage and wanted him to slay Bhishma who she held responsible for her plight.

Parasurama then goes to Kurukshetra and approaches Bhishma with Amba’s grievance. When the patriarch refuses to budge from his earlier stand, he then challenges him to engage with him in battle. Seeing no other option available to him, Bhishma agrees to engage in combat with the angry sage. Despite the efforts of Goddess Ganga, Bhishma’s mother to reconcile both men, neither of them budged from their stands and therefore the conflict was inevitable.

Both the formidable warriors then engaged in a battle which lasted for twenty three long days where neither of them had a distinct advantage over the other. Both of them matched each other in valor, skill and courage during this period and did not allow the other to gain an upper hand. Finally, when both of them had lost their patience with the combat, they started using celestial weapons one after the other wreaking havoc on the entire battlefield and the surrounding areas. Disturbed with this sudden serious turn of affairs, Narada and other celestial sages from the heavens appeared before both the combatants, Bhishma and Parasurama and advised them to desist from fighting each other.

Finally heeding to these wise words Parasurama ended the conflict and the battle was declared a draw. Parasurama then went  to Amba and addressed her thus – O Amba, as you are well aware I fought Bhishma for twenty three days now and have been unable to defeat him despite my best efforts, power, might and celestial weapons. You have no other option than to seek his protection.

Amba refused to heed to his words and told him that she intended to undertake severe austerities and seek celestial blessings in her quest to extract revenge on Bhishma for the situation she found herself in. She would then go on to conduct a twelve year long penance which resulted in her being given a boon by none other that Shiva himself.

 

You can also read about Parasurama in the Ramayana by clicking here.

Parasurama in the Ramayana


ParasuramaRamayana

<< Part 2 >>

Parasurama is a unique avatar in the sense that he makes an appearance in the story of Rama, another avatar of Lord Vishnu.

King Janaka had laid down the condition that he would offer his daughter Sita’s hand in marriage to anybody who would be able to string Shiva’s celestial bow which was in his possession. When Rama arrives at Janaka’s court and very easily manages to string the bow, he becomes eligible to marry Sita. After the wedding, when the procession leaves Mithila, the capital city of Janaka and proceeds towards Ayodhya, they suddenly witness strange omens and a fierce tempest.

Out of the darkness and dust that had engulfed the procession, there emerged the fearsome form of Parasurama dressed in tiger skins with matted locks of hair on his head. The warrior sage Parasurama had a reputation as being a fierce warrior who had single-handedly overcome the Kshatriya race on earth multiple times. He now stood before the procession with his battle-axe in one hand and an arrow which resembled lightning in the other hand.

After accepting the honor accorded to him by Dasharatha’s priests, Parasurama addresses Rama O Rama, I have heard of your strength and prowess. By stringing and breaking Shiva’s bow, you have performed an incredible feat.

You have surely heard of my vow against the Kshatriyas. How can I tolerate such prowess in a Kshatriya such as yourself? I have here another sacred bow of Vishnu. Fit this celestial arrow upon this bow and draw it to its full strength. If you are able to do, I challenge you to single combat.

Dasaratha was horrified at this turn of events. Parasurama’s unforgiving hatred against all Kshatriyas was something that all of them had heard about and learnt to be scared of from the time they were all little children. He approached the sage with folded arms and entreated him to spare the young prince. Parasurama ignored him and continued to address Rama.

Both the bow broken by you and the one I carry now were crafted by the architect of the gods, Visvakarma. The one you broke earlier belonged to Shiva, but this one belonged to Vishnu and is therefore more powerful.

This bow has been passed on by Vishnu to my ancestors and thereafter to me. I now offer it to you, Rama. Considering your sacred duty as a warrior to always accept a challenge, exhibit your strength to me.

Unperturbed by Parasurama’s anger and demeanor, Rama addressed him thus You are a Brahmin sage and are therefore worthy of my worship. However since you despise the entire Kshatriya class, you despise me and I therefore have no choice but to display my prowess to you.

Rama took the bow and arrow from Parasurama, easily fit the arrow in the bow and drew it to its fullest extent, and asked the sage Where shall I discharge this deadly arrow? As you are my superior, I cannot aim it at you.

Impressed and astonished Parasurama immediately realized that this was no ordinary Kshatriya standing there in front of him. You surely must be Lord Vishnu himself. I accept defeat but am not ashamed as you are indeed the lord of all the worlds.

You have already divested me of all my power and my pride. Please release this arrow on my desires for heavenly pleasures and burn them to ashes. The only thing that I now desire is to become your eternal servant.

Saying so Parasurama bowed down before Rama who released the arrow. The sage immediately vanished along with the arrow. Varuna, the god of the water then appeared before Rama and gave him the celestial bow to keep, on behalf of all the gods.