Legacy YM

Chapter 20 - Jarasandha

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THE Pandavas ruled Indraprastha in all glory. Those who surrounded Yudhishthira urged him to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice and assume the title of Emperor. It is evident that imperialism had an irresistible glamour even in those days.

Yudhishthira sought Sri Krishna's advice in this matter. When Krishna learnt that Dharmaputra desired to see him, he set out in a chariot harnessed with swift horses and reached Indraprastha.

Yudhishthira said: "'My people urge me to perform Rajasuya, but as you know, only he who can secure the respect and allegiance of all kings, can perform that sacrifice and win the status of emperor. Advise me, you are not among those whose affection makes them blind and partial. Nor are you one of those who advise to please and whose counsel is pleasant rather than true or wholesome."

Krishna replied: "Quite so and that is why you cannot be emperor while the mighty Jarasandha of Magadha is alive and unconquered. He has conquered many kings and holds them in subjection. All the kshatriyas, including the redoubtable Sisupala himself, are afraid of his prowess and are submissive to him. Have you not heard of the wicked Kamsa, the son of Ugrasena? After he had become the son-in-law and ally of Jarasandha my people and I attacked Jarasandha. After three years of continuous fighting we had to acknowledge defeat and we left Mathura and moved to Dwaraka in the west, and built a new city where we are living in peace and plenty. Even if Duryodhana, Karna and others do not object to your assuming the title of emperor, Jarasandha will certainly oppose it. And the only way to overcome his opposition is to defeat and kill him. You can then not only perform the Rajasuya but also rescue and win the adherence of the kings who languish in his prisons."

At these words of Krishna, Yudhishthira said: "I agree. I am but one of the many kings who rule their kingdoms with fairness and justice and lead happy unambitious lives. It is mere vanity and vainglory to desire to become an emperor. Why should not a king rest satisfied with his own kingdom? So, I shall give up this desire to be an emperor. And really, the title has no temptations for me. It is my brothers who wish it. When you yourself are afraid of Jarasandha what can we hope to do?"

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Bhima did not at all like this spirit of cowardly contentment.

Bhima said: "Ambition is the noblest virtue of a king. What is the good of being strong if one does not know his own strength? I cannot reconcile myself to live a life of idle ease and contentment. He who casts off indolence and properly employs political means, can conquer even those stronger than himself. Strength reinforced by stratagem will surely do much. What, indeed, cannot be accomplished by a combination of my physical strength, Krishna's wisdom and Arjuna's dexterity? We can conquer Jarasandha's might, if we three join and set about it without doubts or fears."

Krishna interposed: "Jarasandha should certainly be slain and fully deserves it. He has unjustly cast eighty-six princes in prison. He has planned to immolate a hundred kings and is waiting to lay hold of fourteen more. If Bhima and Arjuna agree, I shall accompany them and together we will slay that king by stratagem and set free the imprisoned princes. I like this suggestion."

Yudhishthira was not pleased with this advice. He said: "This may really mean sacrificing Bhima and Arjuna who are to me as my two eyes, merely to gratify a vain desire to be an emperor. I do not like to send them on this dangerous errand. It seems to me far better to give up the idea altogether."

Arjuna said: "What is the use to us of an existence without heroic deeds, born as we are of an illustrious line? A Kshatriya though endowed with all other good qualities, will not become famous if he does not exert himself. Enthusiasm is the mother of success. We can seize fortune if we do our duties energetically. Even a powerful man may fail if, through lassitude, he does not employ the means he has. Failure is due, in the vast majority of cases, to ignorance of one's own strength. We know we are strong, and we are not afraid of using our strength to the utmost. Why should Yudhishthira suppose that we are incapable of this? When we have become old, it will be time to assume the ochre robe, resort to the forest and pass the rest of our days in penance and austerities. Now, we should lead strenuous lives and do heroic deeds worthy of the traditions of our race."

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Krishna was delighted to hear these words and said: "What else can Arjuna, born of Kunti in the Bharata race, advise? Death comes to all, the hero as well as the sluggard. But the noblest duty of a kshatriya is to be true to his race and faith, and overcoming his foes in righteous battle, to win glory."

Finally Yudhishthira assented to the unanimous opinion that their duty lay in slaying Jarasandha.

This conversation has a curiously modern ring about it and shows that powerful men in ancient days used very much the same specious reasoning as now.


Chapter1 - Ganapati
Chapter2 - Devavrata
Chapter3 - Bhishma's Vow
Chapter4 - Amba And Bhishma
Chapter5 - Devayani And Kacha
Chapter6 - The Marriage Of Devayani
Chapter7 - Yayati
Chapter8 - Vidura
Chapter9 - Kunti Devi
Chapter10 - Death Of Pandu
Chapter11 - Bhima
Chapter12 - Karna
Chapter13 - Drona
Chapter14 - The Wax Palace
Chapter15 - The Escape Of The Pandavas
Chapter16 - The Slaying Of Bakasura
Chapter17 - Draupadi's Swayamvaram
Chapter18 - Indraprastha
Chapter19 - The Saranga Birds
Chapter20 - Jarasandha
Chapter21 - The Slaying Of Jarasandha
Chapter22 - The First Honor
Chapter23 - Sakuni Comes In
Chapter24 - The Invitation
Chapter25 - The Wager
Chapter26 - Draupadi's Grief
Chapter27 - Dhritarashtra's Anxiety
Chapter28 - Krishna's Vow
Chapter29 - Pasupata
Chapter30 - Affliction Is Nothing New
Chapter31 - Agastya
Chapter32 - Rishyasringa
Chapter33 - Fruitless Penance
Chapter34 - Yavakrida's End
Chapter35 - Mere Learning Is Not Enough
Chapter36 - Ashtavakra
Chapter37 - Bhima And Hanuman
Chapter38 - I am No Crane
Chapter39 - Wicked Are Never Satisfied
Chapter40 - Duryodhana Disgraced
Chapter41 - Sri Krishna's Hunger
Chapter42 - The Enchanted Pool
Chapter43 - Domestic Service
Chapter44 - Virtue Vindicated
Chapter45 - Matsya Defended
Chapter46 - Prince Uttara
Chapter47 - Promise Fulfilled
Chapter48 - Virata's Delusion
Chapter49 - Taking Counsel
Chapter50 - Arjuna's Charioteer
Chapter51 - Salya Against His Nephews
Chapter52 - Vritra
Chapter53 - Nahusha
Chapter54 - Sanjaya's Mission
Chapter55 - Not a Needle-Point Of Territory
Chapter56 - Krishna's Mission
Chapter57 - Attachment and Duty
Chapter58 - The Pandava Generalissimo
Chapter59 - Balarama
Chapter60 - Rukmini
Chapter61 - Non-Cooperation
Chapter62 - Krishna Teaches
Chapter63 - Yudhishthira Seeks Benediction
Chapter64 - The First Day's Battle
Chapter65 - The Second Day
Chapter66 - The Third Day's Battle
Chapter67 - The Fourth Day
Chapter68 - The Fifth Day
Chapter69 - The Sixth Day
Chapter70 - The Seventh Day
Chapter71 - The Eighth Day
Chapter72 - The Ninth Day
Chapter73 - The Passing Of Bhishma
Chapter74 - Karna and the Grandsire
Chapter75 - Drona in Command
Chapter76 - To Seize Yudhishthira Alive
Chapter77 - The Twelfth Day
Chapter78 - Brave Bhagadatta
Chapter79 - Abhimanyu
Chapter80 - The Death Of Abhimanyu
Chapter81 - A Father's Grief
Chapter82 - The Sindhu King
Chapter83 - Borrowed Armor
Chapter84 - Yudhishthira's Misgivings
Chapter85 - Yudhishthira's Fond Hope
Chapter86 - Karna And Bhima
Chapter87 - Pledge Respected
Chapter88 - Somadatta's End
Chapter89 - Jayadratha Slain
Chapter90 - Drona Passes Away
Chapter91 - The Death Of Karna
Chapter92 - Duryodhana
Chapter93 - The Pandavas Reproached
Chapter94 - Aswatthama
Chapter95 - Avenged
Chapter96 - Who Can Give Solace?
Chapter97 - Yudhishthira's Anguish
Chapter98 - Yudhishthira Comforted
Chapter99 - Envy
Chapter100 - Utanga
Chapter101 - A Pound Of Flour
Chapter102 - Yudhishthira Rules
Chapter103 - Dhritarashtra
Chapter104 - The Passing Away Of The Three
Chapter105 - Krishna Passes Away
Chapter106 - Yudhishthira's Final Trial

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