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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 22

Defeat of Jarasandha

1-8Parāśara said: —The mighty Kansa had married the two daughters of Jarāsandha, one named Asti, the other Prāptī. Jarāsandha was king of Magadhā, and a very powerful prince[1]; who, when he heard that Kṛṣṇa had killed his son-in-law, was much incensed, and, collecting a large force, marched against Mathurā, determined to put the Yādavas and Kṛṣṇa to the sword. Accordingly he invested the city with three and twenty numerous divisions of his forces[2]. Rāma and Janārddana sallied from the town with a slender, but resolute force, and fought bravely with the armies of Magadhā. The two youthful leaders prudently resolved to have recourse to their ancient weapons, and accordingly the bow of Hari, with two quivers filled with exhaustless arrows, and the mace called Kaumodaki, and the ploughshare of Balabhadra, as well as the club Saunanda, descended at a wish from heaven. Armed with these weapons, they speedily discomfited the king of Magadhā and his hosts and reentered the city in triumph.
9-12Although the wicked king of Magadhā, Jarāsandha, was defeated, yet Kṛṣṇa knew that whilst he escaped alive he was not subdued; and in fact he soon returned with a mighty force, and was again forced by Rāma and Kṛṣṇa to fly. Eighteen times[3] did the haughty prince of Magadhā renew his attack upon the Yādavas, headed by Kṛṣṇa; and was as often defeated and put to the rout by them, with very inferior numbers.
13-18That the Yādavas were not overpowered by their foes, was owing to the present might of the portion of the discus-armed Viṣṇu. It was the pastime of the lord of the universe, in his capacity of man, to launch various weapons against his enemies; for what effort of power to annihilate his foes could be necessary to him, whose fiat creates and destroys the world? but as subjecting himself to human customs, he formed alliances with the brave, and engaged in hostilities with the base. He had recourse to the four devices of policy, or negotiation, presents, sowing dissension, and chastisement; and sometimes even betook himself to flight. Thus imitating the conduct of human beings, the lord of the world pursued at will his sports.

NOTES:

[1] See page 456.
[2] With twenty-three Akṣouhinis, each consisting of 109,300 infantry, 65,610 horse, 22,870 chariots, and as many elephants. The Hari Vaṃśa enumerates, as the allies or tributaries of Jarāsandha, a number of princes from various parts of India, but this is a gratuitous embellishment.
[3] The Bhāgavata and Hari Vaṃśa say ‘seventeen times.’ The latter indulges in a prolix description of the first encounter; nothing of which occurs in the Bhāgavata, any more than in our text.

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