King Brihadratha of Magadha was married to the twin daughters of the King of Kashi. Brihadratha loved both his wives equally and had all the material joys of the world, but no son. This
left him in a depressed state.
The sage Chandakaushika visited his
kingdom and Brihadratha served him with respect. Being pleased with his
service, the sage granted Brihadratha a boon. Brihadratha asked the sage
for a son and the sage gave him a mango, which Brihadratha was to give
one of his wives. Now Brihadratha loved both his wives equally so he cut
the mango in two equal halves and fed both of them.
Nine months later, both his wives
gave birth to a child, or rather half a child each. Seeing this the queens
attendants were horrified and decided that they must dispose of the two halves, so they dumped them outside the kingdom. Now outside the kingdom, there lived a demoness named Jara. Sensing human flesh, she found the two halves of the child. Hoping to carry them home to eat them, she placed both the halves side by side in a basket and lo behold the halves miraculously
joined up, making one complete human child. Jara realized that this must
be the son of the King of Magadha, and wanting a reward, took the child
to the palace. The King was overjoyed and named the child Jarasandha in
order to honor Jara, the demoness who had saved him.
Jarasandha grew up and became a very
powerful king. He defeated many other kings and made them promise their
allegiance to him making him supreme emperor. He gave both his daughters
in marriage to Kamsa of Mathura.
Now Krishna killed Kamsa, making
Jarasandha an enemy. Jarasandha attacked Mathura seventeen times and Krishna
decimated his army, sparing Jarasandha alone.
Krishna had five cousins, the Pandavas,
who had just acquired a kingdom -Indraprastha. The eldest Pandava, Yudishtra
wanted to perform the Rajasuya Yagya. In order to perform the Rajasuya
Yagya, a king had to be declared emperor and all the surrounding kingdoms
had to recognize the emperor as their overlord. In order for this to happen,
Yudishtra would have to defeat Jarasandha and obtain the title of emperor.
Yudishtra, not knowing how to go about this, asked Krishna for help. Krishna
said that he, Arjuna (the third Pandava) and Bheema (the second Pandava)
would dress up like brahmans and go to Magadha and challenge Jarasandha
to a wrestling match.
Upon reaching Magadha, Krishna, Arjuna
and Bheema challenged Jarasandha to a wrestling match. Jarasandha seeing
their physiques realised that these were not brahmans and asked them who
they were. Krishna revealed their identities and told Jarasandha that they
had come to challenge him and that Jarasandha must pick an opponent. Jarasandha
said that he would not fight Krishna as he was a cowherd and he did not
match his dignity and social standing. He then refused to fight Arjuna
saying that Arjuna was too young, but he agreed to fight Bheema as Bheema
seemed mighty and a worthy opponent.
Bheema and Jarasandha fought for
days, both equally matched and neither succumbed to the other's blows.
Bheema realizing that Jarasandha was an equal match looked to Krishna for
help. Now Krishna who knew the story of Jarasandha's birth, picked up a
twig from the floor, broke it in two halves and threw the two halves far
away from each other.
Bheema now knew what he must do.
He threw Jarasandha to the ground, held his legs and split his body in
two. He then threw the two halves of Jarasandha far away from each other
so that they might not join. Bheema had defeated Jarasandha and Krishna
installed Jarasandha's son as the king of Magadha. In return, Jarasandha's
son agreed to be a vassal to the Pandavas.
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