Krishna’s Death – How did Lord Krishna die in Mahabharata? Who killed Krishna in Mahabharata? What was Krishna’s death reason?
Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. So in that sense, he himself is God. But a common question arises that if Krishna is God himself then how God can die. Also if he died, then how? Who has the power to kill him? Let’s see how the proceedings unfold and how Lord Krishna died in Mahabharata.
After the Kurukshetra war ended, there was destruction everywhere. Pandavas in spite of winning the war were not happy.
Blindfolded Gandhari was shedding tears seeing the death of her 99 sons in the battle. According to her, this mass killing can be avoided.
Her husband, blind king Dhritarashtra stood by her side, looking helpless.
Gandhari curses Krishna:
Krishna and Pandavas came up to her, to offer apologies and condolences. But suddenly her grief turned into vengeance. Ignoring Pandavas, she aggressively came up to Krishna and said, “This is what you wanted. You whom I worship as the avatar (incarnation) of supreme Lord Vishnu, aren’t you ashamed of doing this.”
She continued, “You can easily avert the war using your divine power, but you did not. Is that what you wanted from your own creation. I have requested you each and every day to avert this horrific event from happening but you did not answer my prayers. Ask your mother, Devaki, the pain of losing a child. Seven of her children were killed just after their birth and now hundred of my children have been killed in the war, the war that can be avoided if you wish to do so.”
After hearing this, Krishna laughed gently. In anger, she said, “You are smiling after this horrific event. What kind of a person are you?”
Then the moment arrived, which probably Krishna knew already when Gandhari curses Krishna saying if her devotion towards Lord Vishnu is true and if she is true to her husband then 36 years from today, you will die and Dwaraka will be flooded and your entire Yadava clan will be destroyed, the same way you made kins of Kuru to kill one another.
Krishna wanted the destruction of his own race:
Soon after cursing Krishna, she realised that she gets carried away and feel down on her knees and starts crying. Krishna lifted her up and smile.
Hearing these words, the high-souled Vasudeva, addressing the venerable Gandhari, said unto her these words, with a faint smile, ‘There is none in the world, save myself, that is capable of exterminating the Vrishnis. I know this well. I am endeavouring to bring it about. In uttering this curse, O thou of excellent vows, thou hast aided me in the accomplishment of that task. The Vrishnis are incapable of being slain by others, be they human beings or gods or Danavas. The Yadavas, therefore shall fall by one another’s hand.’ – Stri Parva – Section 25
He said to her that your curse will take effect not only because of her true devotion towards him but due to the fact that change is inevitable and that change is the law of the universe.
He knew that someday, everything is going to change. Yadavas under his protection were very powerful and nobody could defeat them.
So when Gandhari curses Krishna, he was very happy as now he has the reason which led to the destruction of his own race. Otherwise, his own race will become a burden on Earth.
Sages curse Krishna’s son Samba:
Years passed by. Yudhishthira becomes the king of Hastinapura. He turned out to be an excellent king. Everyone was living happy, peaceful and luxurious life.
Similarly, people in Dwarka were enjoying a blissful life.
Once great sages like Vishwamitra, Durvasa, Vashista and many more were on a pilgrimage.
After visiting many places, they visited Dwarka to meet Lord Krishna and his elder brother Balarama. A group of Yadava boys on seeing the sages decided to play a prank on them to test their powers.
They dress up Samba, the son of Krishna and Jambavati, like a woman and make him look like a pregnant woman. They visit the sages and Samba, in the attire of a woman asks them, whether she was going to give birth to a boy or a girl.
Hear now, O king, what those ascetics, attempted to be thus deceived, said: ‘This heir of Vasudeva, by name Samva, will bring forth a fierce iron bolt for the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. Ye wicked and cruel ones, intoxicated with pride, through that iron bolt ye will become the exterminators of your race with the exception of Rama and Janardhana. The blessed hero armed with the plough will enter the ocean, casting off his body, while a hunter of the name of Jara will pierce the high-souled Krishna while lying on the ground.’ – Mausala Parva – Section 2
Sages due to their divine powers realised that it is a boy in the attire of a woman. This misconduct of Yadava boys makes them furious.
They curse Samba that on the very next day he will give birth to a lump of iron which led to the destruction of the entire Yadava race.
Child of Samba – The Lump of Iron:
Soon after hearing the curse, boys started laughing and go back as they thought that it was a joke. But the curse turned out to be true.
Samba developed labour pain and deliver a lump of iron from within him.
…for the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, Samva brought forth, through that curse, a fierce iron bolt that looked like a gigantic messenger of death. – Mausala Parva – Section 2
All of them were shocked and scared at the same time. As what if the other curse of the sages that this lump of iron will lead to the destruction of their race becomes true. To avoid that they immediately crushed the lump of iron into the fine powder and cast it into the sea.
They grind the lump finely except a sharp triangular iron piece which was extremely hard to grind so they left it as it is. They throw the fine powder and the remaining sharp triangular iron piece into the sea.
After casting everything into the sea, they become relaxed and happy.
There was an announcement made throughout the city that no one will manufacture wines and intoxicating spirits of any kind. Whoever tried to do so will be impaled alive with all his kinsmen.
Time passed by.
A fish swallowed that triangular piece of iron. A hunter named Jara catches this fish underwater.
He finds that iron piece in the fish’s entrails. He used that iron piece to craft a fine poisonous arrow.
The fine powder, on the other hand, washed back ashore and deposited itself by the coast of Dwaraka. A certain grass grew in lush abundance in the area where the powder was deposited.
Destruction of Yadava clan:
After 36 years, as per the curse of Gandhari, the time has come for the destruction of the Yadava clan.
One day, the Yadavas gathered on the beach. They were drunk and lost their senses
They started teasing one another, bringing up the gory pasts and gruesome mistakes of each other. All of them started blaming each other by remembering their gruesome pasts and the blunders they have made in the Kurukshetra war.
Satyaki beheads Kritavarma:
…Yuyudhana, inebriated with wine, derisively laughing at and insulting Kritavarma in the midst of that assembly, said, ‘What Kshatriya is there who, armed with weapons, will slay men locked in the embraces of sleep and, therefore, already dead? Hence, O son of Hridika, the Yadavas will never tolerate what thou hast done.’ – Mausala Parva – Section 3
Satyaki (also known as Yuyudhana) had fought alongside Pandavas in the battle of Kurukshetra. On the other hand Kritavarma was on the Kauravas side.
Drunk Satyaki laughed at and insulted Kritavarma for killing the Pandava army in midst of their sleep.
Pradyumna, son of Krishna applauded Satyaki for this. In response, Kritavarma taunted Satyaki by saying that he had slain the armless Bhurishravas in cold blood. Satyaki then narrated the incident when Kritavarma tried to kill Satrajit.
He reminded Kritavarma of how he and Ashwathama killed Pandavas sons in their sleep.
Enraged Satyaki rushed towards Kritavarma and cut his head off. The friends of Kritavarma jumped on Satyaki and a great riot followed.
Curse of sages and Gandhari fructified:
Innocent Pradyumna was also killed in the fight.
Since they have come to the seashore for a pleasure, they did not carry any weapons along with them. They saw the long grown grass in abundance along the seashore.
They picked up the grass stems and beat and killed each other. Those grass stems are nothing but blades made with the powder of the same lump of iron born to Samba.
Thus the curse of sages and Gandhari fructified.
Hearing this, Krishna told Darukato immediately go to Hastinapura and inform Dharmaja about the mass massacre of Yadavas and bring Arjuna here. Accordingly, Daruka rushed towards Hastinapura in a chariot.
Death of Krishna and Balarama:
Balarama was in deep meditation under a tree. Krishna went to the place where Balarama was sitting and sit in meditation along with him.
But there was no reply from Balarama. A long serpent came out of the face of Balarama. Balarama left this mortal body. His soul travelled into the sky through the sea. As Balarama was the incarnation of Adi Sesha, Naga community welcomed back Balarama. Balarama attained Vaikuntha (celestial adobe of Lord Vishnu) and joined him.
Krishna saw Balarama putting an end to his incarnation. Krishna thought that time has come for him to leave this world and go back to his original abode.
Rishi Durvasa Prophecy about Krishna’s death:
Krishna started thinking about the ways and means to leave this body. He remembered the words of Rishi Durvasa.
Once, as per the wish of saint Durvasa, he applied Payasam (liquid food prepared with milk, sugar and rice) throughout his body. As his legs were resting on the ground, he could not apply it to his feet. Durvasa observed it and said: “Krishna! You have not applied Payasam to my foot. Your death is in your foot.”
Krishna’s death by a hunter name Jara:
A fierce hunter of the name of Jara then came there, desirous of deer. The hunter, mistaking Keshava, who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey… – Mausala Parva – Section 4
Krishna laid down under a tree and went into Yoga Samadhi (dhyana or meditation). At that time a hunter Jara entered that forest.
That hunter misunderstood the moving foot of Krishna as a hidden deer and shot a lethal arrow that pierced into Krishna’s feet.
As soon as the hunter reached Krishna, he realised his mistake and pleaded the lord for forgiveness. Lord Krishna consoles him and tells him how his death was inevitable.
Krishna says that in his previous birth as Rama in the Treta Yuga, Rama killed Vali (Sugriva’s brother) from behind. So, he has now reaped the price for the same through Jara who was king Vaali in his previous birth.
This story beautifully brings out the very important fact that, even for the Ruler of the Universe, the laws of Karma remain the same.
Hence, Lord Krishna left the mortal world. The time from which Lord Krishna died is considered to be the beginning of Kaliyuga.
Arjuna reached Dwarka:
Daruka, sent by Krishna, met Pandavas and informed them about the tragic deaths. On hearing this, Pandavas plunged into great grief. Arjuna reached Dwarka.
Dwarka was supposed to be flooded within seven days of Krishna’s death; hence, Arjuna decided to take the leftover people to Indraprastha. Krishna’s father left for heavenly abode while being in meditation.
The wives of Krishna and Balarama jumped into the fire as Sati. Arjuna performed the last rites for Krishna and his kinsman.
Dwarka sank into the sea:
All the ladies and children started moving towards Indraprastha along with Arjuna. As the people walked away from the Dwaraka city, the city sank into the sea.
On the way, some thieves of saw that only one man with a bow accompanied the ladies. They tried to rob them.
Arjuna who was once a very great archer found it very difficult to even lift his bow. When he tried to invoke his Divya astras, he forgot all those mantras. The thieves killed many people and kidnapped the women.
Some of the ladies fell into the nearby river and gave up their lives. Some burnt themselves alive. Arjuna arrived at Hastinapur in a disheartened condition.
Pandavas journey towards the Himalayas:
The Pandavas visited sage Veda Vyasa and narrated the Yadavas destruction, Krishna’s death and Arjuna’s inability to save the Yadava women.
The sage consoled the Pandavas. He told them that they have served their purpose on Earth. Thus, the Pandavas coroneted Parikshit as king of Hastinapura and embarked on their final journey towards the Himalayas.