Krishna Shishupala War at Rajasuya


1-3. Seeing those highly worried mighty kings who had run away along with horses and elephants, overpowered by Krishna’s lustre, tormented and terrorised by the hero of the Vrishnis, leaving the king of Chedi in front of the army, Shishupala approached Krishna all alone in a chariot, his eyes red with anger, as a moth approaches fire.

Vaishampayana said:
4. Then seeing the king of Chedi ready for battle, Yudhishthira, the wisest of men, told Narada.

Yudhishthira said:
5-6. There is nothing that you do not know, either in the heavens or on the earth. Oh great sage, I wish to hear from you in their entirety of the different omens and portents that are born on the earth and in the skies that bespeak of the destruction of kings.

Vaishampayana said:
7. When asked thus by the intelligent Yudhishthira, king of the Kurus, the wise Brahmin, Narada of great fame, proceeded to narrate everything unhurriedly.

Narada said:
8-10. The forward movement of the planets, the path they take to make that movement, their meeting and separation, their ascendance, movements in one another’s direction, rays moving very close to each other or drawing away from each other, the visible ones becoming invisible and the invisible ones becoming visible, their loss of power, growth and diminution, their strengths and weaknesses – oh Best of Kurus, the masters of the study of planets, the astrologers, should study all this to understand portents.

11. While all auguries are created by the gods, it is the terrestrial ones that appear first in the world and then the heavenly ones follow.

12. When the shadows of creatures do not change though the sun has gone to the other side, then that should be understood as a sign of ruins to come.

13. When the chaityaka trees are seen to have clear reflection-like shadows when there should be no shadows, understand that as an indication of great fear to come.

14. When fresh leaves and sprouts fall off the chaityakas, when leaves dry on them, or when leaves are affected by diseases, that too is an omen of destruction.

15. And when you see lively, bright leaves on the chaityakas, the trees looking charming, then understand that things are fine, without any doubt.

16. When flowers are born from flowers and fruits hang down from fruits, that means either the king or the royal minister is going to die.

17. When flowers and fruits appear out of season, whether in the rainy season, autumn, winter or spring, that is an indication of bad times for the country.

18-19. When rivers start suddenly flowing out of season, that is an indication of great fear to come. When a mighty tree, one that is offered ritual worship or otherwise, suddenly splits open due to the winds, or breaks or bends low, then understand that there is reason for fear from either fire or winds; it is also possible that someone superior or noble will die.

20-24. If a tree lets out a screaming sound while being felled or while falling, then all the directions are set ablaze and the king gets thoroughly confounded. The whole country will have to cry along with the tree if that happens. For this reason, if any man in his anger cuts down that tree, then the one who cuts it and the one who splits it as well as the owner of the tree comes to a quick destruction. The fall of idols of gods, the destruction of mandapas, quaking of mountains – all these augur evil times. If a rainbow is seen at night, that too portents great fear. The fear though is only for the one who sees it, and not for others. If one sees a rainbow at night, then he should leave the country and go away.

25. When the idols of gods dance, howl and laugh, open their eyes and close them, that portents disturbance for the country. 

26-27. When rocks are seen to secrete oils and other liquids, or other unnatural substances, that is a reason for fear. Either the king with all his dependants, or the chief minister, becomes sick; or epidemics spread through the city and there may be disorder and confusion in the whole province or even the whole state.

28-29. When it is seen that honey has seeped into the dwellings of gods, the palace of the king, the storehouse or the armouries, it is a sign that there is a reason for unexpected fear; such places should be burnt down in their entirety so that great damage is not brought about.

30-31. When plants secrete red blood, that indicates a king’s fall from power; when elephants secrete blood from the end of their tusks, that is a sign that the king will become confused and deluded; when bulls do so from the ends of their horns, cows and brahmanas will be destroyed.

32. When the umbrella of a king falls onto the ground, that king, along with whole kingdom, is soon destroyed. 

33-34. When in the houses of the gods, in the palace of the king or the abodes of snakes, things are seen misshapen, that kingdom is going to suffer, or alternatively, the king or the city will come to ruin. There is also the fear of famine and terrible scarcity in such a case.

35. When the idol of a god is broken, there will be fear from the lords of the planets. When the weapon praharana is broken, understand the destruction of the commander of the army.

36. If an idol brought to the city does not find a place for it within six months, the king will have to quit that city.

37. When in a country the earth splits or noises are heard from within the earth, the king dies and that kingdom comes to destruction.

38. The king perishes when in a country frogs seize snakes, serpents, lizards or peacocks.

39. When rice grows without the grains being separated from one another, or they do not ripen, but the grains rot or decay, that rice is not fit for consumption.

40-41. Oh Yudhishthira, where water grows on its own without reasons in wells, or it collects in still vessels and then overflows; where women give birth to children without feet, with three feet, with two heads or with four feet, that place will be destroyed soon.

42. When the female elephant, the she buffalo, or the cow gives birth to camels, pigs and other such animals, understand that as indicative of ruin to come.

43. Where rams and goats, women, cows, sheep and other species give birth before age, and to deformed children, there will destruction there.

44. When the river draws back muddy water towards its source, when the directions are not clearly visible, understand that as auguries of destruction.

Narada said:
45. These omens and other earthly or heavenly portents that are there, understand that they are all born of Keshava alone.

46. The sun and the moon, the stars and the planets, the air, fire, water, the earth, oh Bharata, are all from Janardana.

47. When he wants to prosper a country or damage it, he causes in that country the aforesaid omens as appropriate.

48. There is no doubt that Govinda is communicating to us in his own way the destruction of the king of Chedi that is about to happen.

49-50. Look, the earth is quaking, evil winds are blowing, Rahu has pounced on the moon out of time, meteors fall, a whirlwind blows, thick darkness is covering everything – Hari has created all this for the destruction of the king of Chedi.

Vaishampayana said:
51-52. Having said these words, Narada became quiet as the battle between those two lions among men was about to begin. All the kings there, oh Bharata, saw terrible evil omens aplenty in all directions.

53. Inauspicious cries of jackals, oh king, were heard. The entire earth with its mountains, trees and cities, was filled with these cries.

54-55. At noon, out of time, Rahu swallowed the sun. Then, oh scorcher of enemies, at the top of Chediraja’s flag-post adorned with several kinds of precious stones, a sharp-beaked vulture fell from the skies. From the countryside and from the forests delighted birds and animals set up a terrible din as the battle was about to start.

56-60. These and other such earthly and heavenly evil omens were seen as Krishna, the wielder of Sharnga, became furious.

Vaishampayana said:
Then, stretching the bow greatly the king of Chedi, approaching Krishna told the destroyer of Madhu thus: 

“You are my only enemy, Madhava. So killing you today I shall become the protector of the earth stretching right up to the ocean. The single combat with you, Vasudeva, that I have desired for long has now fortunately come finally. Today I shall slay you along with Bheeshma and the Pandavas.”

61. Saying thus the king of Chedi began the battle by attacking the best of the Yadus with sharp arrows that had piercing tips.

62. Arrows fitted with feathers of herons leaving the bow of the Chedi king then pierced Krishna’s body even as snakes enter mountains.

63. The arrows shot with enormous power by the unyielding Chedi king flew through the air exactly like the winds of a storm – no difference was seen between the two.

64. Then just as a cloud rains water on a mountain, the cloud that was the Chedi king filled with arrows that were the water in the great cloud, showered on Krishna a torrent of arrows.

65. Krishna, killer of hostile heroes, then, fixing arrows on his Sharnga, the slayer of enemies, told Shishupala thus:

66. “This great, sharp, swift arrow of mine will pierce you, Chediraja, just as the thunderbolt pierces a mountain.”

67. Even as Govinda spoke thus, Chediraja again shot several more sharp arrows at Krishna.

68. Then Krishna, tormented by the arrows, raising his shining bow Sharnga released sharp arrows by their hundreds and thousands.

69. Chediraja then cut off those arrows with showers of arrows of his own and then the best of Chedis smote Krishna with six more arrows.

70. Then Krishna, the Lord of the Universe, quickly released one more powerful arrow which the king of the Chedis destroyed with another arrow.

71-72. At this, attacking Krishna with tens of thousands of flatjointed arrows from all sides, the mighty Shishupala roared aloud in a terrible fury and then filled with wrath, that slayer of foes spoke thus to Krishna:

73-74. “Killing you here, along with your sons and ministers, along with these mighty Pandavas, I shall today free myself from the debt to the wise Jarasandha, and to Kamsa, Keshi and Naraka.”

75. Having spoken thus, Shishupala, his eyes red with anger, himself becoming invisible, attacked Krishna from all around with a rain of arrows.

76. And then the Lord with his own arrows chopped off those many arrows and then, after he had finished destroying all those arrows, he too proceeded to make himself invisible.

77-78. When those two mighty, splendorous heroes had disappeared from sight, from the sky was heard the sound of all kinds of beings shouting, “Well done, well done! Never have we seen a battle like this in the past.” Shishupala then smote Krishna with three quick arrows.

79. And Krishna too wounded Shishupala with five arrows in that battle. The strong Shishupala attacked Krishna with seventy iron-tipped arrows.

80. By this time Shishupala had been terribly wounded by Krishna and had gone mad with anger. He wounded Krishna in the middle of his chest with sharp arrows.

81. Once again, finding an opportunity, the king shot three more arrows at Krishna and then roared aloud. Then a dreadfully fierce battle of arrows began between them.

82. They attacked each other as two tigers attack each other with their nails, two mighty elephants attack each other with their tusks, two lions with their fangs, two cocks with their beaks.

83. Tearing each other with their sharp arrows, they then released at each other unsurpassed rains of arrows.

84. Chopping off arrows with arrows both those splendid men engaged each other in a fierce battle of arrows that can be described only as superhuman.

85. The mighty Shishupala released an Agneyastra and Keshava destroyed it with a Varunastra.

86. Chediraja then suddenly shot a Kuberastra and the lord of the universe destroyed it with another Kuberastra.

87. Inspired by the lord of the death, a furious Shishupla then released a Yamastra and Krishna destroyed that Yamyastra with a Yamyastra of his own.

88-89. The lord destroyed a Gandharvastra with a Gandharvastra, a Manavastra with a Manavastra, a Vayavyastra with a Vayavyastra, a Rudrastra with a Rudrastra, an Indrastra with an Indrastra, a Vaishnavastra with a Vaishnavastra and thus engaging each other with their weapons the two formidable warriors fought each other in a
deadly battle.

90-91. Shishupala, the mighty son of Damaghosha, then used illusions and rained on Krishna maces, pestles, shaktis, lances, missiles, battle axes and musunthis, and the lord destroyed them all with his never failing arrows.

92. Seeing this, Shishupala unleashed a terrible rain of rocks on Keshava and getting into a wrath, the lord reduced it all to powder with a Vajrastra.

93. The best of the Chedis then created a terrible torrent and Krishna scattered it away with a Vayavyastra.

94. After the punisher of evil men had destroyed all of Shishupala’s illusory weapons, the mighty warrior Krishna quickly engaged Shishupala for a while in single combat.

95. Engaged in a battle with arrows, Chediraja, the son of Damaghosha, then spoke these impudent words to the scion of the Yadus.

96-99. “My arrows are going to put an end to you today, Krishna,” saying thus, the wicked one, that tiger among men, released another rain of terrible arrows at Krishna that tormented Krishna’s body. In a moment Krishna’s whole body was oozing blood profusely. Then neither the charioteer, nor the chariot nor the mountain-like horses were visible, for the whole universe had become a confused mess covered by arrows. Seeing Krishna in that state, all beings wailed aloud.

100-102. Krishna’s charioteer Daruka, the slayer of brave foes, told Krishna then: “I have never seen a battle like this. It is only because of your power, because you want it to stay, oh Madhava, that my life is still in my body – otherwise I will not be able to hold back my pranas. Consider this, oh Govinda and quickly do the killing.”

Vaishampayana said:
As the Soota said this, Keshava spoke thus:

103. “This man was in the past the mighty Hiranyakashipu, the enemy of the gods, lord of the Daityas, who had become arrogant because of a boon he received.

104. “And then he was the lord of the Rakshasas, the supremely powerful Ravana, who was arrogant with the same power, forgetful of my power.

105. “I have been the evil one’s death again and again, time after time. You have no reason for fear, oh Soota, not in the least, so long as I am here.”

106. Saying thus the lord, the one with Garuda on his flag, filled his great conch Panchajanya with his breath and blew it.

107. Using his power of delusion, the lord then invoked his wheel and using it, chopped off the head of Shishupala in that battle.

The above translation is of the BORI Supplementary Verses in The Mahabharata (Sabhaparva), for the first time critically edited, Sukthankar, Vishnu S. et al., eds. 1933-59. 37 fascicules.
Bhandarker Oriental Research Institute, Pune. 
(After 2.42.16, S (in N3 after 16a) insertion)


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