On the Killing of Sisupala by Dr. A. Harindranath SignUp
Boloji.com
Boloji
Home Kabir Poetry Blogs BoloKids Writers Contribute Search Contact Site Map Advertise RSS Login Register
Boloji
Channels

In Focus

Analysis
Cartoons
Education
Environment
Going Inner
Opinion
Photo Essays

Columns

A Bystander's Diary
Business
My Word
PlainSpeak
Random Thoughts

Our Heritage

Architecture
Astrology
Ayurveda
Buddhism
Cinema
Culture
Dances
Festivals
Hinduism
History
People
Places
Sikhism
Spirituality
Vastu
Vithika

Society & Lifestyle

Family Matters
Health
Parenting
Perspective
Recipes
Society
Teens
Women

Creative Writings

Book Reviews
Ghalib's Corner
Humor
Individuality
Literary Shelf
Love Letters
Memoirs
Musings
Quotes
Ramblings
Stories
Travelogues
Workshop

Computing

CC++
Computing Articles
Flash
Internet Security
Java
Linux
Networking
Hinduism Share This Page
On the Killing of Sisupala
by Dr. A. Harindranath Bookmark and Share
 
 

nabhavisyadiha cejjanardano
namarisyadathava sa cedirat
apatisyatadhunatra samgaro
ghora ityanususoca naradah


[Rajasuyam Prabandham - Melpputtur Narayana Bhattatiri (A.D. 1560 - 1648)]

We are in Sabha Parva at the Rajasuya of Yudhisthira. All-knowing Narada had this vision [1]:

Aho! What more marvellous than this -
thought Narada - than that
the Self-Born Svayambhu himself should take away
all these powerful Ksatriyas! (II. 36. 19)

The arghya offering to Krishna is about to take place, enraging Sisupala who will attempt the disruption of the Rajasuya yajna.

Let us rewind to the beginning of Sabha Parva where Narada pays a visit to Yudhisthira's Sabha. Narada has just returned from visiting the Sabhas of Indra, Yama, Kubera and Brahma. In the Sabha of Yama, where all the past kings of the earth reside, he has met Pandu. Narada has come with a request from Pandu to Yudhisthira to conduct Rajasuya so that he (Pandu), like Hariscandra in the past, can live blissfully in Indra's Sabha. After telling Yudhisthira to act according to your father's wishes, Narada, who is most knowledgeable in the happening of time cycles(purakalpavi sesavit) adds:

This maha-yajna is the most difficult of all yajnas ...
... Say the yajna has begun -
suddenly a war breaks out,
and all Ksatriyas are killed - the world's destroyed!
One never knows
how the slightest obstacle can magnify into a calamity.
Think deeply, therefore, O Indra-among-rajas
what is best for you. (II. 12. 31-33)

Yudhisthira doesn't ask any questions. But the listener is too well aware that according to Vyasa, desire for Heaven is the gateway to Hell. After the disastrous dice game, in his tirthayatras, Yudhisthira will be told to visit Somatirtha where taking a ritual bath brings one the merits of Rajasuya. Yudhisthira doesn't ask why.

Towards the end of the war, in Salya Parva, we hear about Balarama's tirthayatra, where he will first visit Yamunatirtha and then Somatirtha. We learn from Vaisampayana that Yamunatirtha is where Varuna conducted Rajasuya and a great war took place between Devas and Asuras [2]. Somatirtha is where Soma conducted Rajasuya and, again, a great war took place [3].

Now fast forward to the Bhavisya Parva (Knot of the Future), the last Parva of Harivamsa, the khila (appendix) to the Mahabharata. Janamejaya, having listened carefully to the entire (disastrous) history of his great grandfathers, having learned about the Rajasuyas of Varuna and Soma and the accompanying great wars, now confronts Vyasa. He correctly deduces that Yudhisthira's Rajasuya was the root cause of the destruction of Kurus. Being the progenitor of his great grandfathers, being knowledgeable in both past and future, why didn't Vyasa give them the right advice?

Vyasa replies:

kalenadya paritaste tava vatsa pitamahah
na mam bhavisyam papracchurna caprsto bravimyaham 
[4]

"Being seized by Time, 
your great grandfathers 
did not ask me about the future. "
Not being asked, I do not tell."

In Valmiki Ramayana, it is significant that Rama, after the war, thought of conducting Rajasuya, citing the previous ones conducted by Mitra (Varuna) and Soma. It is Bharata who, citing the disastrous consequences of Rajasuya (rajakulaksayam), prevents Rama from conducting it [5].

The hells Hariscandra and the world had to suffer as a result of his conducting Rajasuya are well-documented in the Markandeya Purana [6].

Now back to the impending doom and Narada at Yudhistira's Rajasuya. Having recalled the purpose of Krishnavatara, knowledgeable in both past and future, he is all excited about the immediate great war which will lead to the destruction of Kstriyas, thereby relieving Goddess Earth of her unbearable burden.

What follows next is the offering of arghya to Krishna at the advice of Bhisma. Sisupala, Krishna's cousin and the king of Cedi gets flared up. On what basis one can justify this, he wants to know [7]. Bhisma replies which makes Sisupala even angrier.


Sisupala mocking Krishna

Through the words of Bhisma and Krishna, Sisupala's (and Krishna's) past and present lives unravel before the listener. With his cakra, Krishna cuts of Sisupala's head thereby preventing the disruption of Yudhisthira's yajna.


Krishna Kills Sisupala

It is important to note that the southern recension [8] of Mahabharata contains, prior to the killing of Sisupala by Krishna using cakra, a detailed description of portents by Narada who is replying to a query by Yudhisthira. This is followed by a full-fledged, one-to-one war between Krishna and Sisupala. It is interesting that when the killing of Sisupala is recounted by Dhrtarastra in Udyoga Parva [9], a one-to-one war is mentioned; but there is no mention of Krishna's use of cakra.

If we expected a shower of flowers from heaven to follow Krishna's act, we are in for a surprise. Vyasa says:

anabhre pravavarsa dyauh papata jvalita sanih
krsnena nihate caidye cacala ca vasumdhara
 (II. 45. 29)

On the killing of Sisup ala by Krishna, from cloudless sky came down drenching rain, blazing Vajrayudha struck, Earth trembled. Why three types of portents, divyah, antariksah and parthivah, follow the fall of Sisupala? What makes Indra and (Goddess) Earth upset about this action of Krishna?

For the answer, we don't have to wait for long. In between the seemingly successful conclusion of Rajasuya and the beginning of the disastrous dice game we are told of a conversation between departing Vyasa and Yudhisthira. Troubled by the omens following Sisupala's death, Yudhisthira queries Vyasa about their meaning. Vy asa replies:

O  Raja, for thirteen years
these portents will continue;
they will end in the complete annihilation
of all the Ksatriyas.
You will be cause ... (II. 46. 11-12)

Yudhisthira is further told that he will soon have a vision of Rudra - Siva. Of course. We simply need to recall [10]

namah sabh abhyah sabhapatibhyasca vo namah.
(Salutation to Rudra in the form of members of the Sabh a!
Salutation to Rudra in the form of Lords of the Sabh a!)

The stage is set for moving from one Sabh a to another. Soon Duryodhana will experience great shame in this Sabha and the roles will be reversed in the next Sabha. The great war which has to accompany Rajasuya, after all, will take place. In this war Krishna will not bear weapon, thus paving the way for total destruction.

By killing Sisupala thereby protecting Yudhisthira's yajna, Krishna simply postponed the great war which was to accompany the Rajasuya as usual. Now Indra has to wait next thirteen years to welcome the slain heroes to heaven; Goddess Earth has to suffer the unbearable burden for thirteen years more. No wonder, they are greatly upset.

According to Madhvacarya [11], Mahabharata has three layers of languages (samadhi, darsana, and guhya) and delineates three subjects (Manvadi, Astikadi, and Uparicaradi). So far we found the episode occupied with the first two, namely, Manvadi and Astikadi. Nilakantha [12] saw in the killing of Sisupala, in addition to the story, brahmani jivasya layam, the dissolution of Jiva in Brahma.

... Balarama went 
to the Yamuna-tirtha. (11)

Where, O lord of the earth,
Aditi's maha -
fortune-favoured son,
fair-complexioned Varuna,
once performed
the Rajasuya sacrifice. (12)

Slayer-of-hosile-heroes
Varuna performed
that sacrifice
after he defeated
human beings and gods in a great battle. (13)

After the completion of
that excellent sacrifice,
a battle that terrifed
the three worlds
took place between the gods
and the Danava antigods. (14)
O Janamejaya!
After the completion of
the nest-of-sacrifices
the Rajasuya, fearfully
fierce battles afflicted
the ksatriya race. (15)

... he proceeded
to the maha-meritorious
tirtha called Soma. (46)

That is the tirtha
where in the past
Indra-of-the-earth-lords
Soma performed
the Rajasuya yajna,
the yajna whose hotr-
priest was the finest 
of-the-twice-born
mahatma Atri. (47)

When that yajna gave over
a horriffic battle
took place between
the Gods and the Danavas,
Daityas and Raksasas -
a battle that is known
as Taraka in which
the antigod Taraka
was killed by Skanda. (48)

That was the time
when the destroyer of the Daityas
Mahasena-Skanda,
became the general
of the army of the gods.
There beneath a plaksa-raja
huge waved-leaf fig-tree,
Kartikeya-Kumara-Skanda
is present in person.
Always. (49)

Images from Rajasuya episode of Krishnanattam at Guruvayur Temple, Kerala.

Footnotes:
[1] All Mahabharata sloka translations quoted in this note are from the The Mahabharata of Vyasa, transcreated by P. Lal, Writers Workshop, Kolkata, (1968 - 2006).
[2] IX 49.
... Balarama went
to the Yamuna-tirtha. (11)
Where, O lord of the earth,
Aditi's maha -
fortune-favoured son,
fair-complexioned Varun. a,
once performed
the Rajasuya sacri ce. (12)
Slayer-of-hosile-heroes
Varun. a performed
that sacri ce
after he defeated
human beings and gods in a great battle. (13)
After the completion of
that excellent sacri ce,
a battle that terrifed
the three worlds
took place between the gods
and the Danava antigods. (14)
O Janamejaya!
After the completion of
the nest-of-sacri ces
the Rajasuya, fearfully
erce battles aicted
the ks.atriya race. (15)
[3] IX 43.
... he proceeded
to the maha-meritorious
tirtha called Soma. (46)
That is the tirtha
where in the past
Indra-of-the-earth-lords
Soma performed
the Rajasuya yaj~na,
the yaj~na whose hotr. -
priest was the nestof-
the-twice-born
mahatma Atri. (47)
When that yaj~na gave over
a horri c battle
took place between
the Gods and the Danavas,
Daityas and Raks.asas -
a battle that is known
as Taraka in which
the antigod Taraka
was killed by Skanda. (48)
That was the time
when the destroyer of the Daityas
Mahasena-Skanda,
became the general
of the army of the gods.
There beneath a plaks.a-raja
huge waved-leaf g-tree,
Kartikeya-Kumara-Skanda
is present in person.
Always. (49)
[4] Harivamsa being the Khila or Supplement to Mahabharata, edited by Parashuram Lakshman Vaidya, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. Vol. I, Introduction, Critical Text and Notes, (1969). (115. 24).
[5] Valmiki Ramayan. a, Uttara Kan.d. a, Sarga Seventy four. Available on the internet at
http://ff.mum.edu/vedicreserve/itihas.htm.
[6] Markan.d. eya Puran. a, Adhyayas Eight and Nine, available on the internet at
http://ff.mum.edu/vedicreserve/puran.htm.
[7] .. for many of Vyasa's characters who grow on our sympathies - for Duryodhana, Gandhari, Utta _ nka, Balarama, even Sisupala, and, on some strong occasions, Draupadi - the Mahabharata is an argument with God." Alf Hiltebeitel, in Rethinking the Mahabharata: A Reader's Guide to the Education of the Dharma King, University of Chicago Press (2001).
[8] The Mahabharata, for the rst time critically edited, Sukthankar, Vishnu S. et al., eds. 1933-59. 37 fascicules. Bhandarker Oriental Research Institute, Pune. Available on the internet at http://bombay.oriental.cam.ac.uk/john/mahabharata/ statement.html thanks to Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Muneo Tokunaga and John Smith. The variations in manuscripts consulted by the editors of the critical edition of Mahabharata are available at this site.
[9] Dhr.taras.t.ra's narration to Sam_ jaya, section 22, Udyoga Parva, Mahabharata (Critical Edition).
[10] Satarudriyam, with introduction and commentary in Malayalam by Swami Prakasananda, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Puranattukara, Thrissur, Kerala, Third Edition, (1995). (III.16)
[11] Mahabharata Tatparya Nirn. aya, Madhvacarya, available on the internet at http://www.dvaita.org/sources/mbtn. English translation of the rst three chapters is available in the book, Sri  Anandatirthabhagavatpadacaryaviracitah. Mahabharatatatparyanirn. ayah. , translated by K. T. Pandurangi, Sriman Madhva Siddhantonnahini Sabha, Chirtanur, (Near Tirupati), (1993).
[12] Srimanmahabharatam with the Bharatabhavadipa commentary of Nilakan.t.ha, edited by Pandit Ramchandrashastri Kinjawadekar, reprinted by Oriental Book Reprint Corporation, New Delhi, Second Edition (1979).
 

16-May-2010
More by :  Dr. A. Harindranath
 
Views: 2976
Article Comment Do you know which scripture says that after killing Sisupala with discus, Krishna's finger was bleeding and Draupadi took a part of her sari and wrapped his finger? I don't find this in Ganguli's translation of Mahabharata.
korsnas
08/03/2011
Article Comment I guess I had the wrong impression that in Kathakali, only the heroes had green faces. Here Sisupala is green also, in fact a 3rd character is green. [Balarama perhaps ?]
I saw Draupadi bathing her hair in Dusasena's blood back in '07.
injamaven
04/11/2011
Article Comment Dear Dr Harindranath,

Thank you for posting this insightful and interesting piece for us to read. It seems the article should come with a bibliography and/or other footnotes, as suggested by the citation numbers in brackets appearing frequently in the text. However, they are not to be found here. Would it be possible for you to share them with us as well?

Specifically, I wanted to look up the section in the Udyoga Parva in which Dhritarastra mentions the one-on-one duel between Krishna and Shishupala which lead to the latter's death.

Thanks once again.

-Satya-
Satya Venugopal
04/11/2011
 
Top | Hinduism







    A Bystander's Diary     Analysis     Architecture     Astrology     Ayurveda     Book Reviews
    Buddhism     Business     Cartoons     CC++     Cinema     Computing Articles
    Culture     Dances     Education     Environment     Family Matters     Festivals
    Flash     Ghalib's Corner     Going Inner     Health     Hinduism     History
    Humor     Individuality     Internet Security     Java     Linux     Literary Shelf
    Love Letters     Memoirs     Musings     My Word     Networking     Opinion
    Parenting     People     Perspective     Photo Essays     Places     PlainSpeak
    Quotes     Ramblings     Random Thoughts     Recipes     Sikhism     Society
    Spirituality     Stories     Teens     Travelogues     Vastu     Vithika
    Women     Workshop
RSS Feed RSS Feed Home | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Site Map
No part of this Internet site may be reproduced without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
Developed and Programmed by ekant solutions