Indra got furious and thought that how could a mere mortal dared to ignore him, the king of Gods. His anger knew no limits and without thinking he struck him on the head with the thunderbolt - his weapon. He was even more surprised to see that the ascetic did not fall dead. Instead, a terrible column of fire came roaring out of his head towards Indra. Indra was horrified and realized that the sage was none other than Lord Shiva himself. Immediately, Indra fell at Shiva's feet and profusely apologized for his behavior. Shiva selflessly pardoned him.
However, the fire that came from Shiva's anger did not die out. It rose into the sky and from there it came down and vanished into the ocean. In the ocean, the fire took the form of a baby that lay rocking in the waves of the ocean, crying lustily. The baby was rescued and taken to Lord Brahma. In a fervent try to stop its loud cries, Brahma took it into his lap. But the baby took hold of his beard in its tiny fist and pulled it so hard that the great Brahma yelled in pain and tears filled his eyes.
Brahma was asked to choose a name for the baby and he declared that since the baby was really very strong and he managed to bring Jala (water) into my eyes, he should be named Jalandhara. Years passed away and Jalandhara grew up. Everyone noticed that he showed a preference for the demons and before joining the demons; he had proved himself as a valuable leader and a crowned king of the demons. Jalandhara married Brinda, who was the daughter of a demon. Jalandhara's strength and courage were renowned and under his command, the demons managed to conquer the larger part of the earth. The kings of the earth had no choice but to accept him as their autonomous leader.
However, this victory was not enough for Jalandhara and he aimed to become the master of the three worlds. To do this, he must conquer the gods and also surmount heaven. One day he organized a huge army of demons and took over heaven. The gods were startled and not ready for this act from Jalandhara. Stunned by this assault, the Gods got very less time to arrange the defence. However, they fought heroically under their king, Indra, to shield their fort from the demons. At the end of a long battle, the helpless Gods were defeated. Jalandhara and his demons took control of heaven. The gods were driven out of their home and did not know what to do.
Then they decided to visit Lord Shiva and seek his help. In the meanwhile, it was well known that Jalandhara had been born out of Shiva's anger, thus it was only possible for Shiva to defeat him. Indra led a group of Gods to Kailash and called upon Lord Shiva to explain their situation. They unanimously asked Shiva to ask Jalandhara to go back to his kingdom and give back heaven to the Gods. If Jalandhara does not agree to Lord Shiva, the Gods had no other way to restore their abode other than fight and kill him.
Lord Shiva agreed and went to heaven to met Jalandhara, who behaved very rudely with Him. He also explained Jalandhara that his actions were unfair and asked him to return the kingdom and restore Heaven to its rightful owners. Lord Shiva also warned Jalandhara of the terrible consequences. The audacious Jalandhara only laughed derisively. Lord Shiva realized that talking to Jalandhara would serve no purpose and returned to Mount Kailash to inform the anxious gods about the failure of his mission.
Lord Shiva assured the Gods to help them all the way to retain heaven. Thus, the gods gathered their forces and with Shiva as their head and together waged a war against Jalandhara. The battle was a long and difficult one, raged on for many days. Finally, the demons emerged as the owner of heaven. Shiva, with all his might, could not defeat him and finally the gods had to retreat with all the humiliation.
The secret behind Jalandhara's power was his wife, Brinda, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. As soon as her husband left for war, she used to sit in meditation, praying to Vishnu to bring him back safe from the battleground. The power of her prayer was such that no authority could harm Jalandhara as long as she was praying Lord Vishnu for him. Soon the gods realized that it was Vishnu's grace that protected Jalandhara and kept on preventing all their attempts to kill him.
They rushed to meet Lord Vishnu and pleaded him to see the reality that Jalandhara has thrown them out of their abode and thus he deserves death. But instead of helping the Gods to punish him, how could Lord Vishnu protect him. Vishnu replied that he was helpless and reminded them of his duty to protect his devotees and answer to their prayers. Brinda, being his ardent devotee, he was duty-bound to save her and her husband. Indra answered that if his devotees are only to be considered, it is an unfair act. Jalandhara is a danger to creation itself and it Lord Vishnu's duty, as the sustainer of life, to destroy him in order to save the tree worlds. After much argument, back and forth and finally Vishnu was convinced and reluctantly promised to help the Gods and asked them to go to battle with Jalandhara once more.
Eventually, the battle started and as usual, Brinda was sitting in her prayer room, meditating. Brinda vowed not to get up, eat or sleep until her husband returned home. Vishnu knew that Jalandhara could only be defeated by a trick, which was not fair, but it has to be done for a greater good. Disguised as Jalandhara, Vishnu came to his palace and called for Brinda. She was delighted to see her husband and was assured that he returned victorious. She stopped her prayer and got up happily to welcome him.
At that very moment, in the battlefield Shiva's trident stabbed Jalandhara's heart and he died. Just when Brinda stopped her prayer, Jalandhara's protection was gone and he was easily vanquished. When Brinda came to know the truth, she was heartbroken. Frantically she railed at her respected Lord and said that she trusted him but he had played a contemptible trick on her. She, out of boundless anger, cursed Vishnu that the Lord will turn into a stone. With that, she fell into her husband's funeral pyre and died.
Brinda's curse came true because she was so virtuous and in due course, the spirit of Vishnu is still contained in the small stones that are found on the bank of the river Gomti, called 'saligrams' and thus they are considered sacred even today. As Brinda was very dear to Vishnu, he could not bear to lose her and so blessed her that she would take birth again as the sacred Tulsi plant. Out of her ashes, sprang up Tulsi plant that is considered a mark of virtue and worshipped to this day.
|More Articles in Mahabharata (239)|