Saturday, 22 October 2011

Jarasandha. Visiting Mahabharata 55

 I choose Samhita's version and her pictures. This story is better with pictures!

Krishna tells Bheema and Arjuna the story of Jarasandha as they proceed towards Maghada. 'Jarasandha's father had twin sisters for wives. He loved them equally and they loved him in return. But neither of them bore him a son. Worried about the question of the next heir to the throne of Maghadha, the king visited a great and a holy sage in the forest, taking with him many gifts.'

'The sage gave Jarasandha's father a mango and told him to give it to his wife. But before the king could mention that he had two wives, the sage had gone back to his meditation. Leaving the gifts at the ashram, the king headed back to the city.  He cut the mango in half and gave one to each of his wives. The sisters, in due course, gave birth to half a son each. But they quarrelled with each other and left the two halves as castaways near a rubbish dump.'

'Soon a demoness named Jara smelled the flesh and came to eat it. But she saw it was a baby who appeared to be cut in half. She had  magical powers and joined the halves. The baby started to cry loudly. On hearing this, the king and his queens rushed out. The demoness blessed the baby with immortal life and gave him to the queens. They named him Jarasandha, after Jara who had joined him.'

'When Jarasandha grew up, the king took him to the same sage who been the cause of his birth. The sage blessed him and said, 'Jarasandha, you will be the king of kings. Now Jarasandha has fulfilled the sage's prophecy. He is merciless and never forgets an insult.' concludes Krishna

Samhita had an answer to the question 'why only one mango?'  In Kamala's story, just one mango dropped from the tree under which the sage was sitting. Also Jara accidentally put the two halves together and a miracle happened. The body became alive and she did not have the heart to kill the baby and took it to the king. As usual details vary.

Notice that a demoness or rakshasi can be a good person. Actually the second in the epic. The first was Hidimbi who fell in love with Bheema.

Interesting that great people, in this case a sage, show such a short attention span even to a king. I am sure many who had to deal with big bosses can relate to this brief window of opportunity the high and mighty give to lesser mortals.

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