Jāmbavān and the Story of the Syamantaka Jewel
There was a king of the name Satrājit within the jurisdiction of Dvārakādhāma. He was a great devotee of the sun-god, who awarded him the benediction of a jewel known as Syamantaka. Because of this Syamantaka jewel, there was a misunderstanding between King Satrājit and the Yadu dynasty. Later on the matter was settled when Satrājit voluntarily offered Kṛṣṇa his daughter, Satyabhāmā, along with the jewel Syamantaka. Not only was Satyabhāmā married to Kṛṣṇa on account of the Syamantaka jewel, but Jāmbavatī, the daughter of Jāmbavān, was also married to Kṛṣṇa. These two marriages took place before the appearance of Pradyumna, as described in the last chapter. How King Satrājit offended the Yadu dynasty and how he later on came to his senses and offered his daughter and the Syamantaka jewel to Kṛṣṇa is described as follows.
Since he was a great devotee of the sun-god, King Satrājit gradually entered into a very friendly relationship with him. The sun-god was much pleased with him and delivered to him an exceptional jewel known as Syamantaka. When this jewel was worn by Satrājit in a locket around his neck, he appeared exactly like an imitation sun-god. Putting on this jewel, he would enter the city of Dvārakā, and people would think that the sun-god had come into the city to see Kṛṣṇa. They knew that Kṛṣṇa, being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was sometimes visited by the demigods, so while Satrājit was visiting the city of Dvārakā all the inhabitants except Kṛṣṇa took him to be the sun-god himself. Although King Satrājit was known to everyone, he could not be recognized because of the dazzling effulgence of the Syamantaka jewel.
Once, mistaking him to be the sun-god, some of the important citizens of Dvārakā immediately went to Kṛṣṇa to inform Him that the sun-god had arrived to see Him. At that time, Kṛṣṇa was playing chess. One of the important residents of Dvārakā spoke thus: "My dear Lord Nārāyaṇa, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Your plenary portion of Nārāyaṇa or Viṣṇu, You have four hands with different symbols--the conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower. You are actually the owner of everything, but in spite of Your being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, You have descended in Vṛndāvana to act as the child of Yaśodāmātā, who sometimes used to tie You up with her ropes, and You are celebrated, therefore, by the name Dāmodara."
That Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, as accepted by the citizens of Dvārakā, was later on confirmed by the great Māyāvādī philosophical leader, Śaṅkarācārya. By accepting the Lord as impersonal, he did not reject the Lord's personal form. He meant that everything which has form in this material world is subjected to creation, maintenance and annihilation, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, does not have a material form subjected to these limitations. In order to convince the less intelligent class of men who take Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary human being, Śaṅkarācārya therefore said that God is impersonal. This impersonality means that He is not a person of this material condition. He is a transcendental personality without a material body.
The citizens of Dvārakā addressed Lord Kṛṣṇa not only as Dāmodara, but also as Govinda, which indicates that Kṛṣṇa is very affectionate to the cows and calves; and just to refer to their intimate connection with Kṛṣṇa, they addressed Him as Yadunandana. He is the son of Vasudeva, born in the Yadu dynasty. In this way, the citizens of Dvārakā concluded that they were addressing Kṛṣṇa as the supreme master of the whole universe. They addressed Kṛṣṇa in many different ways, proud of being citizens of Dvārakā who could see Kṛṣṇa daily.
When Satrājit was visiting the city of Dvārakā, the citizens felt great pride to think that although Kṛṣṇa was living in Dvārakā like an ordinary human being, the demigods were coming to see Him. Thus they informed Lord Kṛṣṇa that the sun-god, with his appealing bodily effulgence, was coming to see Him. The citizens of Dvārakā confirmed that the sun-god's coming into Dvārakā was not very wonderful, because people all over the universe who were searching after the Supreme Personality of Godhead knew that He had appeared in the family of the Yadu dynasty and was living in Dvārakā as one of the members of that family. Thus the citizens expressed their joy on this occasion. On hearing the statement of His citizens, the all-pervasive Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, simply smiled. Being pleased with the citizens of Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa informed them that the person whom they described as the sun-god was actually King Satrājit, who had come to visit Dvārakā City to show his opulence in the form of the valuable jewel obtained from the sun-god.
Satrājit, however, did not come to see Kṛṣṇa; he was instead overwhelmed by the jewel of Syamantaka. He installed the jewel in a temple to be worshiped by brāhmaṇas he engaged for this purpose. This is an instance of a less intelligent person worshiping a material thing. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that less intelligent persons, in order to get immediate results from their fruitive activities, worship the demigods who are created within this universe. The word "materialist" means one concerned with gratification of the senses within this material world. Although Kṛṣṇa later asked for this Syamantaka jewel, King Satrājit did not deliver it to him, but he installed the jewel for his purposes of worship. And who would not worship that jewel? The Syamantaka jewel was so powerful that it was daily producing a large quantity of gold. A quantity of gold is counted by a measurement called a bhāra. According to Vedic formulas, one bhāra is equal to sixteen pounds of gold; one mound equals eighty-two pounds. The jewel was producing about 170 pounds of gold every day. Besides that, it is learned from Vedic literature that in whatever part of the world this jewel is worshiped there is no possibility of famine; not only that, but wherever the jewel is present, there is no possibility of anything inauspicious, such as pestilence or disease.
Lord Kṛṣṇa wanted to teach the world that the best of everything should be offered to the ruling chief of the country. King Ugrasena was the overlord of many dynasties and happened to be the grandfather of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa asked Satrājit to present the Syamantaka jewel to King Ugrasena. Kṛṣṇa pleaded that the best should be offered to the King. But Satrājit, being a worshiper of the demigods, had become too materialistic and, instead of accepting the request of Kṛṣṇa, thought it wiser to worship the jewel in order to get the 170 pounds of gold every day. Materialistic persons who can achieve such huge quantities of gold every day are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sometimes, therefore, in order to show special favor, Kṛṣṇa takes away great accumulations of materialistic wealth from a person and thus makes him a great devotee. But Satrājit refused to abide by the order of Kṛṣṇa and did not deliver the jewel to Him.
After this incident, Satrājit's younger brother, in order to display the opulence of the family, took the jewel, put it on his neck and rode on horseback into the forest making a show of his material opulence. While the brother of Satrājit, who was known as Prasena, was moving here and there in the forest, a big lion attacked him, killing both him and the horse on which he was riding, and took away the jewel to his cave. The news was received by the gorilla king, Jāmbavān, who then killed that lion in the cave and took away the jewel. Jāmbavān had been a great devotee of the Lord since the time of Lord Rāmacandra, so he did not take the valuable jewel as something he very much needed. He gave it to his young son to play with as a toy.
In the city, when Satrājit's younger brother Prasena did not return from the forest with the jewel, Satrājit became very upset. He did not know that his brother had been killed by a lion and that the lion had been killed by Jāmbavān. He was thinking instead that because Kṛṣṇa wanted that jewel and it had not been delivered to Him, Kṛṣṇa might have therefore taken the jewel away from Prasena by force and killed him. This idea grew into a rumor which was being spread by Satrājit in every part of Dvārakā.
The false rumor that Kṛṣṇa had killed Prasena and had taken away the jewel was spread everywhere like wildfire. Kṛṣṇa did not like to be defamed in that way, and therefore He decided that He would go to the forest and find the Syamantaka jewel, taking with Him some of the inhabitants of Dvārakā. Along with important men of Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa went to search out Prasena, the brother of Satrājit, and He found him dead, killed by the lion. At the same time, Kṛṣṇa also found the lion which had been killed by Jāmbavān, who is generally called by the name Ṛkṣa. It was found that the lion had been killed by the hand of Ṛkṣa without the assistance of any weapon. Kṛṣṇa and the citizens of Dvārakā then found in the forest a great tunnel, said to be the path to Ṛkṣa's house. Kṛṣṇa knew that the inhabitants of Dvārakā would be afraid to enter the tunnel; therefore He asked them to remain outside, and He Himself entered the dark tunnel alone to find Ṛkṣa, Jāmbavān. After entering the tunnel, Kṛṣṇa saw that the very valuable jewel known as Syamantaka had been given to the son of Ṛkṣa as a toy, and in order to take the jewel from the child, He went there and stood before him. When the nurse who was taking care of Ṛkṣa's child saw Kṛṣṇa standing before her, she was afraid, thinking the valuable Syamantaka jewel might be taken away by Him. She began to cry loudly out of fear.
Hearing the nurse crying, Jāmbavān appeared on the scene in a very angry mood. Jāmbavān was actually a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, but because he was in an angry mood he could not recognize his master; he thought Him to be an ordinary man. This brings to mind the statement of the Bhagavad-gītā in which the Lord advises Arjuna to get free from anger, greed and lust in order to rise up to the spiritual platform. Lust, anger and greed run parallel in the heart and check one's progress on the spiritual path.
Not recognizing his master, Jāmbavān first challenged Him to fight. There was then a great fight between Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavān in which they fought like two opposing vultures. Whenever there is an eatable corpse the vultures fight heartily over the prey. Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavān first of all began fighting with weapons, then with stones, then with big trees, then hand to hand, until at last they were hitting one another with their fists, and the blows were like the striking of thunderbolts. Each was expecting victory over the other, but the fighting continued for days, both in daytime and at night, without stopping. In this way the fighting continued for twenty-eight days.
Although Jāmbavān was the strongest living entity of that time, practically all the joints of his bodily limbs became slackened and his strength reduced to practically nil after being constantly struck by the fists of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Feeling very tired, with perspiration all over his body, Jāmbavān was astonished. Who was this opponent who was weakening him? Jāmbavān was quite aware of his own superhuman bodily strength, but when he felt tired from being struck by Kṛṣṇa, he could understand that Kṛṣṇa was no one else but his worshipable Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This incident has a special significance for devotees. In the beginning, Jāmbavān could not understand Kṛṣṇa because his vision was obscured by material attachment. He was attached to his boy and to the greatly valuable Syamantaka jewel, which he did not want to spare for Kṛṣṇa. In fact, when Kṛṣṇa came there he became angry, thinking that He had come to take away the jewel. This is the material position; although one is very strong in body, that cannot help him understand Kṛṣṇa.
In a sporting attitude, Kṛṣṇa wanted to engage in a mock fight with His devotee. As we have experienced from the pages of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has all the propensities and instincts of a human being. Sometimes, in a sportive spirit, He wishes to fight to make a show of bodily strength, and when He so desires, He selects one of His suitable devotees to give Him that pleasure. Kṛṣṇa desired this pleasure of mock fighting with Jāmbavān. Although Jāmbavān was a devotee by nature, he was without knowledge of Kṛṣṇa while giving service to the Lord by his bodily strength. But as soon as Kṛṣṇa was pleased by the fighting, Jāmbavān immediately understood that his opponent was none other than the Supreme Lord Himself. The conclusion is that he could understand Kṛṣṇa by his service. Kṛṣṇa is sometimes satisfied by fighting also.
Jāmbavān therefore said to the Lord, "My dear Lord, I can now understand who You are. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, the source of everyone's strength, wealth, reputation, beauty, wisdom and renunciation." This statement of Jāmbavān's is confirmed by the Vedānta-sūtra, wherein the Supreme Lord is declared to be the source of everything. Jāmbavān identified Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality, Lord Viṣṇu: "My dear Lord, You are the creator of the creators of the universal affairs." This statement is very instructive to the ordinary man, who is amazed by the activities of a person with an exceptional brain. The ordinary man is surprised to see the inventions of a great scientist, but the statement of Jāmbavān confirms that although a scientist may be a creator of many wonderful things, Kṛṣṇa is the creator of the scientist. He is not only the creator of one scientist, but of millions and trillions, all over the universe. Jāmbavān said further, "You are not only creator of the creator, but You are also creator of the material elements which are manipulated by the so-called creators." Scientists utilize the physical elements or laws of material nature and do something wonderful, but actually such laws and elements are also the creation of Kṛṣṇa. This is actual scientific understanding. Less intelligent men do not try to understand who created the brain of the scientist; they are simply satisfied by seeing the wonderful creation or invention of the scientist.
Jāmbavān continued: "My dear Lord, the time factor which combines all the physical elements is also Your representative. You are the supreme time factor in which all creation takes place, is maintained, and is finally annihilated. And not only the physical elements and the time factors but also the persons who manipulate the ingredients and advantages of creation are part and parcel of You. The living entity is not, therefore, an independent creator. By studying all factors in the right perspective, one can see that You are the supreme controller and Lord of everything. My dear Lord, I can therefore understand that You are the same Supreme Personality of Godhead whom I worship as Lord Rāmacandra. My Lord Rāmacandra wanted to construct a bridge over the ocean, and I saw personally how the ocean became agitated simply by my Lord's glancing over it. And when the whole ocean became agitated, the living entities like the whales, alligators and timiṅgila fish, all became perturbed. [The timiṅgila fish in the ocean can swallow big aquatics like whales in one gulp.] In this way the ocean was forced to give way and allow Rāmacandra to cross to the island known as Laṅkā [now supposed to be Ceylon]. This construction of a bridge over the ocean from Cape Comorin to Ceylon is still well-known to everyone. After the construction of the bridge, a fire was set all over the kingdom of Rāvaṇa. During the fighting with Rāvaṇa, each and every part of Rāvaṇa's limbs was slashed and cut into pieces by Your sharp arrows, and his head fell to the face of the earth. Now I can understand that You are none other than my Lord Rāmacandra. No one else has such immeasurable strength; no one else could defeat me in this way."
Lord Kṛṣṇa became satisfied by the prayers and statements of Jāmbavān, and to mitigate the pains of his body, He began to smear the lotus palm of His hand all over the body of Jāmbavān. Jāmbavān at once felt relieved from the fatigue of the great fight. Lord Kṛṣṇa then addressed him as King Jāmbavān, because he and not the lion was actually the king of the forest; with his naked hand, without a weopon, Jāmbavān had killed the lion. Kṛṣṇa informed Jāmbavān that He had come to him to ask for the Syamantaka jewel because since the Syamantaka jewel had been stolen His name had been defamed by the less intelligent. Kṛṣṇa plainly informed him that He had come there to ask him for the jewel in order to be free from this defamation. Jāmbavān understood the whole situation, and to satisfy the Lord he not only immediately delivered the Syamantaka jewel, but he also brought his daughter Jāmbavatī, who was of marriageable age, and presented her to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
The episode of Jāmbavatī's marriage with Kṛṣṇa and the delivery of the jewel known as Syamantaka was finished within the mountain cave. Although the fighting between Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavān went on for twenty-eight days, the inhabitants of Dvārakā waited outside the tunnel for twelve days, and after that they decided that something undesirable must have happened. They could not understand what had actually happened for certain, and being very sorry and tired, they had returned to the city of Dvārakā.
"Rama’s allies, from the left, all standing in profile, Sugriva, king of the vanaras, followed by Angada and Jambavan, king of the bears. Sugriva carries a flower in his right hand and a garland of red flowers hangs over his chest. All three wear dhotis with the angavastra (shawl) elegantly draped around their hips. Angada carries a sword and shield and Jambavan has a long stick."
All the members of the family, namely the mother of Kṛṣṇa, Devakī, His father Vasudeva, and His chief wife Rukmiṇī, along with all other friends, relatives and residents of the palace, became very sorry when the citizens returned home without Kṛṣṇa. Because of their natural affection for Kṛṣṇa, they began to call Satrājit ill names, for he was the cause of Kṛṣṇa's disappearance. They went to worship the goddess Candrabhāgā, praying for the return of Kṛṣṇa. The goddess was satisfied by the prayers of the citizens of Dvārakā, and she immediately offered them her benediction. Simultaneously, Kṛṣṇa appeared on the scene accompanied by His new wife Jāmbavatī, and all the inhabitants of Dvārakā and relatives of Kṛṣṇa became joyful. The inhabitants of Dvārakā became as joyful as someone receiving a dear relative back from the dead. The inhabitants of Dvārakā had concluded that Kṛṣṇa had been put into great difficulties due to the fighting; therefore, they had become almost hopeless of His return. But when they saw that Kṛṣṇa had actually returned, not alone but with a new wife, Jāmbavatī, they immediately performed another celebration ceremony.
King Ugrasena then called for a meeting of all important kings and chiefs. He also invited Satrājit, and Kṛṣṇa explained before the whole assembly the incident of the recovery of the jewel from Jāmbavān. Kṛṣṇa wanted to return the valuable jewel to King Satrājit. Satrājit, however, became ashamed because he had unnecessarily defamed Kṛṣṇa. He accepted the jewel in his hand, but he remained silent, bending his head downwards, and without speaking anything in the assembly of the kings and chiefs, he returned home with the jewel. Then he thought about how he could clear himself from the abominable action he had performed by defaming Kṛṣṇa. He was conscious that he had offended Kṛṣṇa very grievously and that he had to find a remedial measure so that Kṛṣṇa would again be pleased with him.
King Satrājit was eager to get relief from the anxiety he had foolishly created due to being attracted by a material thing, specifically the Syamantaka jewel. Satrājit was truly afflicted by the offense he had committed toward Kṛṣṇa, and he sincerely wanted to rectify it. From within, Kṛṣṇa gave him good intelligence, and Satrājit decided to hand over to Kṛṣṇa both the jewel and his beautiful daughter, Satyabhāmā. There was no alternative for mitigating the situation, and therefore he arranged the marriage ceremony of Kṛṣṇa and his beautiful daughter. He gave in charity both the jewel and his daughter to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Satyabhāmā was so beautiful and qualified that Satrājit, in spite of being asked for the hand of Satyabhāmā by many princes, was waiting to find a suitable son-in-law. By the grace of Kṛṣṇa he decided to hand his daughter over to Him.
Lord Kṛṣṇa, being pleased upon Satrājit, informed him that He did not have any need of the Syamantaka jewel. "It is better to let it remain in the temple as you have kept it," He said, "and every one of us will derive benefit from the jewel. Because of the jewel's presence in the city of Dvārakā, there will be no more famine or disturbances created by pestilence or excessive heat and cold."
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, First Chapter, of Kṛṣṇa, "The Story of the Syamantaka Jewel."
* Syamantaka mani - radiant gem (Ruby) given by Surya to Satrajit
"If all the prāṇa of the countless living entities in all the billions of universes were brought together, and if all the strengths of all the senses (oja), minds (saha) and bodies (bala) were brought together in one place, still I understand that all this would be You alone, since all these are Your vibhūtis.
Thus how can Your strength be countered by the strength of one entity like me? It is like a butterfly trying to defeat Garuda. You are the all pervading Śrī Viṣṇu and I am a single localized individual. You are the primeval person and I am a recently manifest person. You are all powerful (prabhaviṣṇum) and I am powerless. You are the supreme controller of all (adhiśvaram) and I am the controlled." (from Śrila Viśvanāth's commentary to SB 10.56.26)