The Syamantaka Saga – 04 – Akrura’s story


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In the meantime, Akrura who was in possession of the Syamantaka gem lived in peace in Dwaraka. Since nobody knew that he had the gem with him, he did not face any issues due to it. Knowing fully well the magical powers of the gem, he constantly celebrated religious rites and thus purified with holy prayers, he lived a long affluent life of 52 years. By virtue of the gem being in the vicinity, the city of Dwaraka also enjoyed a bountiful existence with no dearth of all the good things of life.

However, due to his alliance with the Satwata family, Akrura had to flee the city of Dwaraka due to their quarrels with the Bhojas. The moment he left the city with the gem, it was beset by various calamities, ill omens, snakes, scarcity, plague and other similar bad events. Krishna therefore called for a council of all the Yadava elders along with Ugrasena and Balarama to try and figure out the reasons for all these bad things simultaneously happening to Dwaraka.

At the council, Andhaka, one of the Yadava elders narrated to them the story of Akrura and his lineage –

Akrura’s father Swaphalka was known to be a carrier of good fortune wherever he went or stayed. Famine, dearth, plague and other vagaries of nature were unknown to the cities where he went. Once when the kingdom of Kasiraja wanted rain, they invited Swaphalka to come there, and as was wont to happen, the rains poured down as soon as he visited the city. As luck would have it, the queen of Kasiraja also conceived at the same time and was diagnosed as having a daughter in her womb. But after the pregnancy, when the time of the delivery arrived, the child did not come out of the womb. Twelve long years passed by and the child still did not come out of the womb.

Anguished Kasiraja spoke to his daughter in the womb. “Oh daughter, why is your birth so delayed? Why do you provide this protracted suffering for your mother? Why do you cheat me, your father, who so desires to hold you in his arms?” The infant answered “Oh father, if you present a cow every day to the Brahmans dutifully, then at the end of three years, I shall be born.” The king accordingly presented a cow to a Brahman daily for the next three years, and true to her word, his daughter was born at the end of the third year. He named her Gandini, and subsequently gave her hand in marriage to Swaphalka when he came to the kingdom. As long as she lived, Gandini made it a point to donate a cow to a Brahman every day.

Akrura was her son by Swaphalka. And given his lineage he was bound to have uncommon intelligence and was endowed with divine gifts.

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The Syamantaka Saga – 03 – Satadhanwan’s death


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Krishna then returned to Dwaraka and after having delighted the Yadavas with his sheer presence went on to give the gem back to Satrajit and remove the stain of his honor when he was accused of having stolen it from him. Feeling scared of the repercussions of having falsely blamed Krishna of having stolen the gem, Satrajit gave his beautiful daughter Satyabhama’s hand in marriage to Krishna. This angered her other suitors, Akrura, Kritavarma and Satadhanwan so much that they decided that Satadhanwan would kill Satrajit and take the Syamantaka gem for himself as retribution for him having turned them down as suitors for Satyabhama’s hand.

In the meantime, Krishna received news that the Pandavas had been burned to death in the house of wax. Despite knowing the truth about this incident, Krishna set off to Varnavata to meet Duryodhana and try and assuage Duryodhana’s animosity against his cousins, the Pandavas.

Taking advantage of Krishna’s absence, Satadhanwan killed Satrajit in his sleep and took possession of the gem. Enraged by this cowardly turn of events, Satyabhama immediately took a chariot and left to Varnavata to narrate the events to her husband. She informed Krishna of how Satadhanwan had extracted revenge on her father because he had rejected him and married her to Krishna. The usually placid Krishna was enraged by this turn of events and requested an audience with his brother, Balarama.

“First it was Prasena and then it was Satrajit who had the Syamantaka gem, and now that both of them are dead, the gem rightfully belongs to us now. Therefore dear Balarama, it is now your duty to kill Satadhanwan and reclaim the gem that is ours.”

balaramaHearing about Balarama’s intentions, when Satadhanwan approached his co-conspirators Akrura and Kritavarma, both of them refused to help him citing the fact that Krishna and Balarama were warriors who even immortals were afraid of confronting. Satadhanwan then requested Akrura to keep the gem safe, and mounted his trusted mare and fled the city of Dwaraka.

When Krishna heard of Satadhanwan’s flight, he immediately harnessed his four horses to his chariot and accompanied by Balarama set off in pursuit. By the time Satadhanwan reached Mithila, his mare was exhausted from all the exertion and perished, after which he continued his flight on foot. When Krishna and Balarama reached the place where the mare had died, Krishna asked Balarama to remain in the chariot while he continued his pursuit on foot. He stated that since the soil and ground of the region was bad, the horses would struggle pulling the chariot through this terrain. Balarama agreed and stayed in the chariot.

Krishna did not have to walk for too long before he came across the fleeing Satadhanwan. Using his famous discus, the Sudarsana Chakra, Krishna easily beheaded Satadhanwan from a distance. When Krishna carefully examined the dead warrior’s body, he did not find the gem on his person, as he was unaware of Akrura currently keeping it safe.

He then returned to Balarama and narrated all that had happened. When he learnt of the fact that Satadhanwan had now been killed for no plausible reason, Balarama flew into a rage and scolded Krishna for being so greedy for wealth. He then broke off all ties with Krishna and Dwaraka and went away despite Krishna’s entreaties against these actions. Balarama went to Videha where he was received hospitably by King Janaka and decided to remain there. It was during his stay at Videha that Duryodhana, the Kaurava prince came to him and under his tutelage learnt the art of combat with the mace.

Three years after this incident, when Ugrasena and the other Yadava chiefs were convinced that Krishna did not have the gem with him, went to Videha and appeased Balarama’s anger, and brought him back home.

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The Syamantaka Saga – 02 – Krishna and Jambavat


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Prasena who used to hang the gem around his neck went out into the woods one day to hunt. During the hunt, he was mauled and killed by a lion. After killing Prasena, when the lion was about to go in search of other prey, he suddenly noticed the bright red gem on the neck of his victim. He then managed to take the jewel from Prasena and having stored it in his mouth was about to leave the place.

Jambavat_killing_lionHowever, Jambavat, the king of bears had noticed the lion taking the Syamantaka gem in his mouth. He therefore challenged the lion to a fight. After having killed the lion, the gem was then taken by Jambavat to his cave in the jungle. There, he gave the gem to his son Sukumara to play with.

When Prasena did not return from the hunt for a few days, rumors started floating within the Yadava population that Krishna had probably killed Prasena himself or would have had him executed in order to possess the Syamantaka gem for himself.

Distressed by these rumors, Krishna put together a band of trusted Yadavas and decided to find the whereabouts of Prasena. Tracking his horse’s hoof tracks, they reached the place in the jungle where the horse and its rider had been mauled and killed by the lion. From this spot onwards, the group tracked the lion’s hoof tracks and reached the place where the lion had been killed by Jambavat, the bear king. Following the foot marks of the bear, they arrived at the foot of a mountain.

Krishna asked his fellow Yadava companions to wait at the foot of the mountain and continued tracking the foot prints. He discovered a cavern and was about to enter it when he heard voices – “The lion killed Prasena, your father Jambavat killed the lion. Weep not Sukumara, the Syamantaka is yours now

Having been assured that he was on the right track, when Krishna entered the cavern, he saw the bear prince playing with his nurse who had uttered the earlier statement. Seeing Krishna approach them, and noticing his unflinching gaze on the precious gem, then nurse raised the alarm which almost immediately brought an angry Jambavat to the place.

Thus began a wild, bloody fight between the bear king and Krishna who had intruded his domain with the intention of stealing the Syamantaka gem. When the fight went on for seven-eight days, the Yadava companions believed that Krishna must have died in the fight and therefore returned to Dwaraka and announced that Krishna had been killed.

When the kinsmen and family of Krishna heard the news, they were saddened beyond belief. As per the norms of those days, they performed Krishna’s last rites. The food and water so offered to Krishna by them as part of his shraadh formalities served to sustain Krishna and keep him invigorated in his fight with Jambavat. The bear king however did not have any source of nourishment and therefore his strength to fight Krishna was slowly but surely eroding.

Finally overcome by Krishna, Jambavat surrendered before him and said “You, mighty one, are destined to be invincible by the demons, the spirits of heaven, hell and earth, much less by humans, even less by creatures such as myself born of brute origin. You surely are a portion of my sovereign lord Narayana, the defender of the universe.

Pleased by the fact that Jambavat had recognized him, Krishna explained that he had taken this form to take upon himself the burden of the earth, and saying so alleviated the bear king of all the wounds that he had suffered as a result of the conflict. Honored by this gesture of Krishna, the bear king offered the hand of his daughter Jambavati to Krishna and also handed over the Syamantaka gem to him as well. Given that his personal reputation was at stake, Krishna took the gem from Jambavat and proceeded to Dwaraka with the gem and his bride Jambavati.

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The Syamantaka Saga – 01- The magical gem

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Satrajit was one of the Yadava princes in the lineage of Satwata and enjoyed the friendship of Surya, the Sun God. Once when Satrajit was walking along the seashore, he thought of Surya and meditated in his memory. When Surya presented himself as a great ball of fire, he requested the Sun God to do him a favor and appear in a more distinguishable form. Acceding to this request, Surya took off the jewel called Syamantaka from his neck which allowed Satrajit to see Surya in his true form, with a body like burnished copper and slightly reddish eyes.

satrajitBeing among the few mortals to have ever seen Surya in his true form, Satrajit was extremely thankful to him and started singing his praises. Pleased with the devotion shown in him Surya granted a boon to Satrajit, to which he requested that the Syamantaka gem be given to him. The Sun God then gave the gem to him and took back his place in the skies.

Satrajit wore the gem on his neck and was now as irradiant as Surya himself and when he returned to Dwaraka, the citizens thought that Purushottama, the eternal male who sustained the burden of earth for all time had come to visit Krishna. When they approached Krishna and informed him of this, he just smiled and told them that it was not Surya, but Satrajit who was coming back from the seashore wearing the Syamantaka gem that had been given to him.

Satrajit kept the jewel in his home which yielded eight loads of gold every day, which made him very wealthy. The gem also dispelled all fear of portents, wild beasts, fire, robbers and famine, which rendered its owner practically invulnerable.

As time went by and the marvelous powers of the gem became public knowledge, Krishna was of the opinion that Ugrasena, the Yadava king should be given possession of the same. Although Krishna could easily have taken the gem from Satrajit and given it to Ugrasena, he did not do so because he did not want to cause any unnecessary disagreements due to this in the family.

Satrajit however was very fearful that Krishna might forcibly take the gem away from him and therefore gave it to his brother, Prasena for safekeeping. The Syamantaka gem in addition to its wonderful attributes also had a peculiar property. Although it was an inexhaustible source of good to a virtuous person, if a man of bad character ever wore it, then it would cause his death.

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Bhakta Kanakadasa


Kanakadasa was not allowed into the Udupi Krishna temple because he did not belong to the upper castes and was in those days it was considered sacrilegious to allow somebody from the lower castes into the temple. However, even the Gods bow to true devotion.

Kanakadasa stood outside the temple singing songs composed by him in honor of Lord Krishna, who deigned to turn to the West and gave a glimpse of his divine self to his devotee through a small window.

Such was the devotion that Kanakadasa showed through the medium of his devotional songs.


This post has been written for the Velvet Verbosity 100 Words #356 prompt where the post had to include the word glimpse.

Read more about Kanakadasa at this Wikipedia article [Link to article]