The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...

The Jewel Syamantaka

Krishna’s wife was Satyabhama and Satyabhama’s father was Satrajit.

Satrajit sat down on the shores of the ocean and began to pray to Surya. Surya was pleased with his prayers and appeared before Satrajit.

Satrajit could not see Surya very well and said, “Lord, the sky you appear like a burning ball of fire. Yet you have appeared before me and I am not able to see much.”

Surya was wearing a jewel known a syamantaka on his throat. On hearing what Satrajit had said, Surya took off this jewel and laid it aside. Satrajit could now see Surya properly. Surya’s eyes were brownish yellow and his body was birht, short and of a copper colour. Satrajit bowed down before Surya and Surya offered to grant him a boon. As a boon. Satrajit wanted the jewel and Surya granted this wish.

Satrajit put it round his neck and entered the city of Dvaraka. But because he was wearing the jewel, his body was radiant and energy seemed to flow out of him. The citizens of Dvaraka at first thought that it was Surya himself who was entering the city.

Satrajit kept the jewel in his house. Every day it produced gold. And thanks to its influence, disease, drought, wild animals, fire and theft disappeared from the kingdom. Krishna thought that the syamantaka jewel should really belong to the king, Ugrasena. Satrajit was aware of this desire of Krishna’s. Scared that he might be compelled to part with the jewel, he gave it to his brother Prasena for safe keeping. The jewel had the property that if someone pure held it, it would produce gold. But if someone impure held it, it would kill the holder.

One day Prasena wore the jewel around his neck and went off on a hunt. In the forest he was killed bya lion. The lion was about to go off with the jewel, when Jambavan, the king of the bears, arrived on the scene. Jambavan killed the lion and took the jewel. He returned to his home land gave it to his young son to play with.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Dvaraka noticed that Prasena was not returning from the hunt. There was a general impression that Krishna had had his eyes on the jewel. So a rumour went around that it was Krishna who had killed Prasena and stolen the syamantaka. To put an end to such rumours, Krishna followed Prasena’s trail into the forest. There he discovered Prasena’s trail into the forest. Ther ehe discovered two dead bodies, Prasena’s and the lion’s. He quessed what must have happened. He followed the trail right upto Jambavan’s hole and discovered Jambavan’s son playing with the jewel. The child’s nursemaid raised an alarm on seeing Krishna and Jambavan quickly arrived. A terrible fight raged between Krishna and Jambavan. This fight went on for twenty-one days. Several Yadava soldiers had also followed Krishna upto Jambavan’s hole. When seven or eight days had passed and still there was no sign of Krishna, they concluded that Krishna must have been killed. They, therefore, spread the news of Krishna’s death.

Krishna’s friends arranged a shraddha ceremony and the offerings made at this funeral ceremony served to increase Krishna’s strength. Krishna finally defeated Jambavan and Jambavan bowed down before him, The two became friends and Jambavan married off his daughter Jambavati to Krishna. He also returned the syamantaka jewel.

The citzens of Dvaraka were delighted to see Krishna and Jambavati. Krishna told them what had happened and returned the jewel to Satrajit. Satrajit was ashamed that he had ever doubted Krishna. He therefore gave his daughter Satyabhama in marriage to Krishna.

But there were other Yadavas like Akrura, Kritavarma and Shatadhanva who had also wanted to marry Satyabhama and they were not at all happy at this turn of events. They thought that they had been insulted. Hearing that the Pandavas had been burnt to death in the house of lac, Krishna went on a trip to Varanavata. Taking advantage of Krishna’s absence, Shatadhanva killed Satrajit while the latter was sleeping and stole the jewel.

Satyabhama was furious that her father had been killed. She got up on her chariot and drove it to Varanavata to tell Krishna what had happened. Krishna came back to Dvaraka and told Baladeva that the two of them should get together and kill Shatadhanva. Shatadhanva ran for help to Kritavarma, but Kritavarma refused to oppose Krishna and Baladeva. Shatadhanva then, ran to Akrura¸only to be met with another refusal. Shatadhanva then asked Akrura to at least keep the jewel for him. This Akrura agreed to do, provided that Shatadhanva did not tell anyone where the jewel was.

Shatadhanva got up on a fast horse and fled. But Krishna and Baladeva followed him on a chariot. After travelling for a long distance, Shatadhanva came to the forests on the outskirts of Mithila. His horse died. He started to flee on foot. At this, Krishna said that he would follow Shatadhanva on foot. He asked Baladeva to wait for him in the chariot.

Krishna caught up with Shatadhanva and sliced of his head. But despite searching all Shatadhanva’s belongings, he could not find the jewel. He came and reported this to Baladeva. But unfortunately, Baladeva did not believe this . He said, “Krishna , you are not a brother I would like to associate with. Go your own way and I will go mine. We do not belong together.” Baladeva went off to the kingdom of Videha and lived there as a guest of King Janaka’s. It was then that Duryodhana learnt from Balaeva how to fight with the mace (gada). Krishna reutrned to Dvaraka. After three years had passed. Vabhru., Ugrasena and the other Yadavas managed to convince Baladeva that Krishna had indeed not stolen the jewel. Baladeva then returned to Dvaraka.

Meanwhile, Akrura started to perform many yajnas. It is a crime to kill someone who is performing a yajna. Akrura reasoned that even if Krishna got to know that he possessed the jewel, Krishna would not kill him as long as he was performing a sacrifice. The sacrifices went on for sixty-two years. And because the jewel was in Dvaraka, disease and other evil things disappeared from the city.

But some relatives of Akrura’s killed some other yadavas and fled the city. Akrura also fled with them. And the moment this happened, wild beasts, drought and disease returned to Dvaraka. At first people thought that this was happening because a holy man like Akrura had left the city. Akrura was therefore brought back and immediately the wild beasts, drought and disease disappeared.

Krishna, however, reasoned that all this could not be happening simply because Akrura was a holy man. There must be more to it than that. How was it that Akrura performed one yajna after another? Where did he get the money? He was not a rich man. He must therefore have the jewel.

Krishna called an assembly of the Yadavas in his house. And there he told Akrura. “We all know that Shatadhanva had left the syamantaka jewel with you. Let the jewel remain with you, there is no harm in that. We are all gaining from its presence here in the city. But Baladeva suspects that I have stolen it. Will you please show it to him once to set his suspicions at rest?”

Akrura reasoned that if he lied, they might search his clothes and discover the jewel. So he took out the jewel from a golden box that he kept hidden inside his clothes. He offered it to the Yadava who was most worthy of it.

The jewel was so attractive that Baladeva also began to covet it. So did Satyabhama, since she thought that if the jewel had belonged to her father it was now rightfully hers. Krishna felt that a quarrel was imminent and intervented. He said, “this jewel brings happiness to the kingdom only if someone pure wears it. If someone impure wears it, the wearer is destroyed. I should not wear it, I am not really pure, I have sixteen thousand wives. For the same reason, let not Satyahama possess it. Nor should Baladeva have it, he drinks all the time. Let the jewel stay with Akrura.” And this was agreed to.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: