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Mahabharat Episode 61: Krishna’s End

Mahabharat Episode 61: Krishna’s End

“Affluence made them completely forget how Krishna brought them from Mathura and the hardship with which they built the new city.”

—Sadhguru

What has happened so far: After the war, the Pandavas returned to Hastinapur, met Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, who made failed attempts to kill Yudhishthira and Bhima, and subsequently retire to the forest, where they eventually die in a forest fire.

Gandhari’s Curse

Sadhguru: Krishna went back to Dwaraka along with his Yadavas – Satyaki, Uddhava, and Kritavarma. They built their empire in a big way. When the war was over, after Gandhari burned Durdasa, thinking it is Yudhishthira, and she was going to leave the palace, she told Krishna, “You are the real culprit in this whole situation. You could have brought peace anytime. You could have played down the enmity that was there between the cousins. Instead, you took the side of the Pandavas and ensured that all my sons are dead today. May your Yadavas have a similar end. May they fight among themselves and their clan extinguish. And may you, who is known and worshipped as a god, die like any common human being. May you not have a glorious death like my sons who died in the battlefield. You must die like a common human being. And the Yadavas shall kill each other like you made the Kurus do.”

Krishna smiled and said, “Mother, what you are saying is anyway written, because who else can kill the Yadavas unless they kill each other? Yadavas cannot be killed by anyone else but each other, so let it be so. And how I exit this world does not matter for me, as I anyway know how to exit. Do not worry about my destiny. Focus on yours.” 

Decadence Becomes a Curse 

The Yadavas grew in prosperity. And as they grew in prosperity, they started drinking. They say that there was a party in Dwaraka every night. They lost their morality. Affluence made them completely forget how Krishna brought them from Mathura and the hardship with which they built the new city. Particularly the next generation of Yadavas became really loose. 

One day, a group of sages came to town. Krishna’s son Samba went to them along with his friends, dressed as a pregnant woman, and asked the sages, “Tell me, will I have a boy or a girl?” The sages looked at him and said, “You have the imprudence to come, disturb our way of life, and try to fool us? You will deliver an iron mace, and that mace will be the end of you and your filthy clan.” So Samba delivered an iron mace. Fearing that it may destroy his clan, he took it to the beach, smashed it into powder, and threw it in the ocean – except for one last piece that he could not beat into dust and left it there. A hunter walked by, saw this sharp piece of metal, thought it would make a good arrowhead, and took it with him. The dust that Samba had thrown in the ocean, the ocean threw it back on the beach, where weeds were growing. 

From Bragging to Self-Destruction 

The Yadavas’ lecherous life continued. They were drunk every day. When people get drunk, the same conversations come back again and again. Whenever they got drunk, the discussion was always the Kurukshetra war, “How I killed this guy!” or “You know what I did to that one?” – all this macho talk and bragging happened – one story taller than the other. As the alcohol content in the body kept increasing, the stories kept getting longer and longer. They talked the same old rubbish every time. It made sense only to them because they had lost their sense. 

Again, they were discussing the Kurukshetra war. In the heat of bragging, Satyaki accused Kritavarman, “You fought against us on the side of Kauravas. Only because you are a coward, you survived the war. Otherwise, I would have taken your head off.” So Kritavarman said, “I know whose head you can take off – an old man’s whose fighting arm has been severed. And you call yourself a warrior!” This initial debate grew into an argument, then a brawl, then a fight, then it became a battle. Foreseeing this, Krishna and Balarama had confiscated the Yadavas’ weapons. There were no arms in town. Otherwise, because of the way these guys were drinking, they would have pulled out their swords or bow and arrow anytime and used them. 

Now they started beating each other with their hands and sticks. When that was not enough, they went and plucked weeds that were growing near the beach, and these weeds had caught the shards of iron from the mace that Samba had crushed and thrown into the ocean. They say the weeds were as hard as steel. The Yadavas beat and killed each other with these weeds. A kind of civil war happened in which the Yadavas decimated themselves. Only a handful were left. 

Balarama’s and Krishna’s Death

The great city of Dwaraka was filled with the wailing of the widows, mothers, and children, because most Yadava men had killed each other. Seeing this, Balarama was greatly distressed and decided to leave his body. When he left, he became a large serpent. They say he became Adi Shesha, Vishnu’s bed. Krishna saw how his children Pradyumna, Samba, and others, were all involved in the fight. There was a little sadness, but he smiled. Everything was going according to script, as it should.

He went and sat under a banyan tree, with his leg outstretched, and he started shaking it. A hunter, who was hunting in the forest, saw the movement through the bush, thought it was a deer, and shot it. An arrow pierced Krishna’s heel, with the arrowhead that the hunter had picked up on the beach. In the initial shock and pain of being pierced in the heel, Krishna lurched a bit, then he smiled and closed his eyes. And Krishna left the body.

Arjuna: The Ultimate Defeat

Arjuna, having heard of this disaster, rushed from Hastinapur to Dwaraka. Seeing only women, children, and a few old people, he decided that the best thing would be to take them to Hastinapur. He started taking them towards Hastinapur. On the way, they were attacked by bandits, who took all that they had, and abducted the young women and children. Arjuna, the great hero, tried to pick up his Gandiva and fight them, but he found that suddenly, he was totally ineffective.

Arjuna was no more the great archer and warrior that he used to be. He could not even protect the Yadava women and children against common bandits. It left him in utter shame and distress. He fell on the ground and cried. “Why does it have to be this way that I cannot even use my archery to protect these women and children who trusted me? I could have died in the battle. Why do I have to be put through this?” He rolled on the ground and cried.

To be continued…

Editor's Note: A version of this article was originally published in the Forest Flower magazine, June 2020. To subscribe online, click here

The Mahabharat series is based on Sadhguru’s talks during the one-time Mahabharat program that took place in February 2012 at the Isha Yoga Center. Through the lives and stories of the varied characters, Sadhguru takes us on a mystical exploration into the wisdom of this immortal saga.

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