Mahabharat Episode 28: Jarasandha – Born Divided
Krishna said to Yudhisthara, “If he performs this yagna, hundred kings will die at a time, and your Rajasuya Yagna will not succeed. And anyway, Jarasandha is not going to accept you as emperor. You cannot defeat him in battle, because your army is not yet strong enough to fight Jarasandha’s. We must kill him, one way or the other. One thing is I owe it to him that he must be dead. And if you want your Rajasuya to be successful, you have to eliminate him.”
Jarasandha’s Split Birth
Now the question was, how to kill Jarasandha? He was a mighty king and quite an indomitable human being. Disguised as Brahmanas, Bhima, Arjuna, and Krishna travelled to Magadha. As was the custom in those days, they, as Brahmanas, were welcomed in the city. They said they wanted to meet the king. The king gave them an audience.
Then they told Jarasandha that Bhima wanted to wrestle with him. Jarasandha was known to be a great wrestler, and his birth had been quite unusual. Jarasandha’s father, when he did not have offspring, went to a sage and asked for a blessing. The sage gave him a mango and said, “Give this fruit to your wife. She will bear you a son.” He had two wives and loved both of them. And when he came back with the fruit, he met both of them together. He did not want to decide to which one to give the mango, so he cut the fruit in two and gave one half each to his wives.
When the due date arrived, both wives delivered half a baby. When they saw this, they were terrified. They wanted to immediately do away with this. They did not want the people to know that such a monstrosity has happened in the palace. So they gave the two halves of the infant to a maid to secretly go and bury them in the forest. The maid went to the forest, but instead of burying the two pieces, she just threw them there, too lazy to dig a hole, and assuming that wild animals would eat them anyway.
Jara, who was from a cannibalistic tribe, passed by. She saw these two pieces of flesh, picked them up, wrapped them into her clothing, and went deeper into the forest to eat. But after wrapping the two halves of the infant together, they got joined, and suddenly, the child started to cry. Never before had she seen such a tender piece of life. Looking at this helpless little baby, her maternal instincts did not allow her to eat it. She held the child, and when she realized he had come from the palace, she found someone to take him back to the king.
When a wonderful baby boy came home from two pieces of flesh, the king was so happy that he named his son after Jara who found him. He called his son Jarasandha – one who was put together by Jara. Jarasandha became a great king. He was just, capable, and strong in every sense. But he hated Krishna, so he was on the wrong side of the story.
To be continued...
Editor's Note: A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower.