Etymology of Jarsasandha
The word Jarasandha is a combination of two Sanskritwords: Jara being the name of a demon and Sandha means joining. The meaning of Jarasandha is 'the one who is joined by Jara'.
Legend surrounding Jarasandha’s Birth
There is a mythical story relating to the birth of Jarasandha. Brihadratha, Jarasandha’s father was the ruling King of Magadha and had two wives who were twin princesses of Kashi. He led a happy life and was a renowned king but had no children. Mentally disturbed, Brihadratha went to the forest and served a Rishi or Sage called Chandakaushika. The Rishi Brihadratha and gave him a mango as a boon. The fruit was blessed with fertility, and he instructed Brihadratha to give it to his wife. The sage was unknown to the fact that Brihadratha had two wives.
Brihadratha did not want to upset either of his wives, so he cut the fruit into 2 halves and gave both the queens a share. Soon enough, his wives became pregnant and gave birth to two lifeless halves of a baby which was gruesome to look at. Disgusted at the sight, Brihadratha ordered they be thrown outside his city.
In the forest, a man-eating witch called Jara came across the lifeless halves and picked the two half and joined them together to carry them off. When the two halves of the body were joined then a boy was formed and he cried out loud. Not having the heart to kill a living child, the Jara gave it up to the king, explaining what had happened. Brihadratha named the boy Jarasandha after the witch, because he had been put together by ‘Jara’.
Chandakaushika, the sage came to the kingdom of Magadha. He saw the child and forecasted to Brihadratha that his son would be specially gifted, and would be prominent as a disciple of Lord Shiva.
Jarasandha as the King of Magadha
Jarasandha became a renowned and powerful king, extending his father’s kingdom far and wide. He succeeded over many rulers and was made the monarch of Magadha. On one hand Jarasandha’s power continued to grow but on the other hand he had anxiety about his future, as he had no male heir.
Jarasandha had a close friend King Banasura and upon his suggestion Jarasandha decided to get his two daughters, Asti and Prapti married to the Crown-Prince of Mathura, Kansa. Jarasandha also provided his army to Kansa.
When Kansa was killed by Lord Krishna, Jarasandha developed extreme revulsion for him and was strong-minded to defeat and kill him. Jarasandha was very discontented when he saw his widowed daughters. He promised to attack Mathuraand take over the Kingdom from Krishna. But he failed before Lord Krishna and Balarama.
Jarasandha failed repeatedly but still attacked Mathura and continued this for 18 times. After his last attack, Krishna persuaded King Ugrasena and his father, Crown-Prince Vasudeva not to support Jarasandha and instead establish a new kingdom at Dwarka.
Death of Jarasandha by Lord Krishna
Many kings were under the imprisonment of Jarasandha. When Krishna returned from Dwarka, he, with Bhima and Arjuna, went to Jarasandha’s capital for the purpose of killing him. Jarasandha was against Yudhisthira becoming the Emperor by performing the ‘Rajasuya Yajna’ and liberating the kings.
Krishna with the two Pandavas, disguise as three Brahmins went to meet Jarasandha and told Jarasandha to choose one of them to fight with. Jarasandha preferred Bhima, renowned for his strength and stature. He refused to release the kings, and accepted the alternative of a combat, in which he was killed by Bhima. The fight or the wrestling lasted long, for 27 days. Bhima tore apart Jarasandha in two pieces sideways and threw away the two pieces in opposite directions. Jarasandha could not be joined together. After his death, all the imprisoned Kings were released and Lord Krishna granted his more virtuous son to succeed his throne, making him the ally of Indraprastha.