During one of the happy days when the inauguration festival was taking place, the sage Narada arrived in Indra-prastha and was led to visit the Sabha. He too was thrilled with the opulence and beauty that permeated every corner of the structure.
“I have visited all the Sabhas in the universe,” he said, “and I can assure you that this is the most beautiful, even more so than those of Brahma, Kuvera, Yama, Surya and Indra.”
Narada described those five Sabhas and again highly praised that of the Pandavas, while telling stories of valor and righteousness about their ancestors.
Then he said:
“I have not come here only to admire your glory, but also to bring you a message. I recently met your father Pandu in the celestial planets. He is happy with what you are doing, but he would like something more from you:
“Tell my children that I would like them to make that great and famous sacrifice called Rajasuya which gives every Kshatriya great merit and fortune”.
“If you do so, Pandu will achieve great prestige on the planet where he lives”, Narada concluded.
From that day on, Yudhisthira and his brothers could not think or talk about anything else. Moreover, it would have granted the elder brother the title of emperor. It was a desire expressed directly by the father, so they had to do it; but they wondered if they would be up to it. Eventually, they decided to call the most respected people among their allies, friends, relatives, and all those who cared about their well-being for advice. On that occasion Krishna also came from Dvaraka, accompanied by Satyaki and other Vrishnis.
The discussion, in that conclave of Brahmanas, saints and virtuous monarchs, went on for some time. Finally it was decided that Yudhisthira could surely aspire to what was considered a coveted goal.
But Krishna raised an objection to Yudhisthira.
“To make this sacrifice achievable,” he said, “a serious problem must first be solved. You know king Jarasandha, and you know how much he is your archenemy. He will be one of those who will never accept your Rajasuya. So, he will surely move his troops and those of his allies against you. You must kill him. It must be recognized that he possesses unparalleled physical powers and in a battle he could defeat you. It is best to face him alone, without the help of his soldiers, after which you can perform your sacrifice.”
“Jarasandha is an incredible fighter,” Bhima retorted, “and his strength is comparable to that of many elephants united together; therefore he is a formidable opponent. But it must be taken into account that he is evil, and consequently, he is not blessed with the Devas’ virtues. I will challenge him to a duel and will kill him. Do not doubt me.”
Krishna pondered for a few minutes, then spoke again:
“There is no doubt that Bhima is capable of killing the monarch of Magadha, but it must be dealt with without underestimating him, or he could become dangerous. It is important for all of you to know his story:
“Not long ago the king of Magadha was the valiant Brihadratha, who had received the blessing of possessing all the things that are desirable in this world. His life was happy, his kingdom was prosperous, and the people were content. He had no problems, except one that particularly tormented him: none of his two wives had given him children.
“In the kingdom lived a sage named Chandra Kausika who, having learned of the matter, went to see the king with the intention of offering him a solution. He told him:
“Take this fruit. If your wife eats it, she will give you a son”.
“The king, who was just minded and was equally fond of both wives, did not want to do any wrong and decided to split the fruit in two. So, he handed them a piece each.
“The months passed and the two queens gave birth to an aborted baby cut vertically in half, in the same way the king had divided the fruit. Believing they were lifeless, Brihadratha requested that they be discarded.
“On that day, a Rakshasi named Jara, who lived by consuming human flesh and blood, was passing by the royal gardens and found the aborted children. She took them with her, convinced that she had gotten the meal of the day. But when she arrived at the cave where she lived, she casually brought the two parts closer and these, as if by magic, reunited giving rise to a normal child, who immediately began to cry with hunger. Then the witch, hoping that they would richly reward her, brought back the king’s son to court. As he had been reunited by Jara, the child was named Jarasandha.
“Since his childhood,” Krishna continued, “he has always been a great devotee of Shiva, and has undergone severe austerities and unparalleled sacrifices, for which Mahadeva as a reward has bestowed upon him superhuman strength. Over the years he has developed a deep resentment towards me and towards all the Vrishnis, and he has already declared war on me seventeen times. Of course he never managed to defeat me, and yet I found myself forced to abandon Mathura and found my kingdom in Dvaraka, where it is easier to defend. Now Jarasandha has married Duryodhana’s sister and has become his faithful friend and ally, so that since that day his hostility towards me has extended to you as well.
“Rest assured, dear friends, that for as long as he lives, Jarasandha will never accept Yudhisthira’s appointment as emperor without a fight. He hates us all, and indeed a fearsome enemy like him, combined with Karna and Duryodhana, can be really dangerous. Let’s kill him, after which Yudhisthira will be able to carry on the best of yajnas, the one called Rajasuya, without any worries.”
The discussion went on for a long time and eventually Krishna, Arjuna and Bhima decided to go to Magadha disguised as Brahmanas.
Presenting themselves in the presence of Jarasandha, they asked to speak to him.
“What do you want from me?” Asked the king. “Know that whatever a Brahmana has asked of me up to now I have always made sure to please him.”
“We are not Brahmanas, but Kshatriyas, your enemies. I am Krishna, and these two are Bhima and Arjuna. As you have promised to satisfy us in any request, accept a challenge; choose one of us and fight.”
Jarasandha laughed out loud.
“Do you want to fight against me? Of course, I accept that, in whatever way you wish. With you, Krishna, I will not fight because your birth is not noble enough and neither with you, Arjuna, because you are young and certainly less strong than me. But against Bhima yes, I will fight him, because I know he is strong enough.”
The duel between the two lasted for days and days and only after great effort and anxiety Bhima managed to kill Jarasandha, dividing his body right where it had been reunited by Jara.
Having eliminated one of his most formidable enemies, Yudhisthira was free to fearlessly celebrate the prestigious Rajasuya-yajna.
This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.
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