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This article is about semi-mythical king of Magadha. For the Kannada film, see Jarasandha (film).
Bhima Slays Jarasandha.jpg
Painting showing Bhima slaying Jarasandha
Brihadratha King
Predecessor Brihadratha
Successor Sahadeva
Issue Sahadeva
Dynasty Brihadratha
Father Brihadratha

According to the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Jarasandha (Sanskrit: जरासन्ध) was the king of Magadha. He was a descendant of King Brihadratha, the founder of the Barhadratha dynasty of Magadha. He was also a great devotee of the Hindu god Shiva. He was a great senapati and a Maharathi, but he is generally held in a negative light owing to his enmity with the Yadava clan in the Mahabharata.


The word Jarasandha is a combination of two Sanskrit words, Jara (जरा) and sandha (सन्ध), "joining". Jara was a demoness who put the two halves of Jarasandha together after finding them by a tree. In return for saving Brihadratha's son, he named Jarasandha after her. The meaning of Jarasandha is 'the one who is joined by Jara'.[1]

Legend about his birth[edit]

Birth of Jarasandha
Jara merges two parts of Jarasandha

Soon both wives became pregnant and gave birth to two halves of a human body. These two lifeless halves were very horrifying to view. So, Brihadratha ordered these to be thrown in the forest. A Rakshasi (demoness) named Jara (or Barmata) found the two pieces and held each of them in her two palms. Incidentally, when she brought both of her palms together, the two pieces joined giving rise to a living child. The child cried loudly which created panic for Jara. Not having the heart to eat a living child, the demoness gave it to the king and explained to him all that had happened. The father was overjoyed to see him.[2]

Chandakaushika arrived at the court and saved the child. He prophesied to Brihadratha that his son wwould be specially gifted and would be a great devotee of the god Shiva.[3]


Battle between Balarama and Jarasandha. Illustration from a Bhagavata Purana series.

Jarasandha attacked Mathura and the Yadavas seventeen times but was defeated by Krishna and Balarama. Then Jarasandha resorted to a cunning strategy. He provoked Kala Yavana, the king of Mlechchas to attack Yadavas. In the war that followed Yadavas, efficiently led by Balarama and Krishna routed Yavanas, killing Kalayavana. As Yadavas were returning after this great victory, suddenly Magadha forces attacked. Exhausted Yadavas being unable to withstand this sudden treacherous attack fled to Dwarka safely being led by Krishna and Balarama.[citation needed]

Jarasandha had also participated in the Swayamvara of Draupadi, and after being unable to lift the bow, left the place.[4]


Bhima and Jarasandh Wrestling

Following the war with Yadavas, Jarasandha planned to conduct a Yagna to please the god Shiva. For this Yagna, he had imprisoned ninety-five kings and was in need of five more, after which he was planning to perform the Yagna, sacrificing all one hundred kings. Jarasandha thought that this Yagna would make him an all-powerful emperor in the whole of Arya Vartha.[citation needed]

Like Karna, Jarasandha was also very good at giving charity donations. After performing his Shiva pooja, he used to give whatever the Brahmins asked for. On one such occasion Krishna, Yudhishthira's brothers Arjuna and Bhima in the guise of Brahmins met Jarasandha. Krishna asked Jarasandha to choose any one of them for a wrestling match. Jarasandha chose Bhima, the strongman, to wrestle. Both of them fought for fourteen days. Bhima lost hope to win the battle and sought Krishna's help. Krishna, who then knew of the secret of Jarasandha's weakness, took a twig, split it into two and threw the left part to the right side and the right part to the left side. Bhima understood the clue and split Jarasandha's body into two and threw them in opposite directions, slaying the king.[5]


Further information: Śalākāpuruṣa

Jainism is another ancient Indian religion. The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe.[6] According to Jain literature, Jarasandha was the ninth and last Prati-Vasudeva (Prati-Narayana) of the current half time cycle (Avasarpini) in Jain cosmology and was slayed (killed) by Krishna who was the ninth and last Vasudeva (Narayana). The mention of this story comes in Acharya Jinasena's Harivamsa Purana. Jarasandha attacked Krishna with his most powerful weapon, Sudarshana Chakra. Sudarshan Chakra instead of killing Krishna, accepted Krishna as its owner and killed Jarasandha. In Jainism, Mahabharata was the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha as opposed to the Hindu version of the epic and Kauravas and Pandavas were mere generals.[7]


  1. ^ "Jarasandha was a very powerful king of Magadha, and the history of his birth and activities is also very interesting - Vaniquotes". vaniquotes.org. Retrieved 2015-12-31. 
  2. ^ Chandrakant, Kamala (1977). Krishna and Jarasandha. India Book House Ltd. pp. 3–5. ISBN 81-7508-080-9. 
  3. ^ "Slaying of Jarasandha - Indian Mythology". www.apamnapat.com. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  4. ^ Squarcini, Frederico (2011). Boundaries, Dynamics, and Constructions of Traditions in South Asia. 244 Madison Ave, #116, New York,NY: Anthem Press. p. 117. ISBN 9780857284303. 
  5. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Rajadharmanusasana Parva: Section V", sacred-texts.com 
  6. ^ "BBC - Religions - Jainism: Jainism at a glance". Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Download Limit Exceeded". citeseerx.ist.psu.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-31.