KB 50: Kṛṣṇa Erects the Dvārakā Fort
Upon Kaṁsa’s death, his two wives became widows. According to Vedic civilization, a woman is never independent. She has three stages of life: in childhood a woman should live under the protection of her father, a youthful woman should live under the protection of her young husband, and in the event of the death of her husband she should live under the protection of her grown-up sons, or if she has no grown-up sons she must go back to her father and live as a widow under his protection. It appears that Kaṁsa had no grown-up sons. Therefore, after his wives became widows they returned to the shelter of their father. Kaṁsa had two queens, Asti and Prāpti, and both happened to be the daughters of King Jarāsandha, the lord of the Bihar Province (known in those days as Magadha). After reaching home, the two queens explained their awkward position following Kaṁsa’s death. The King of Magadha, Jarāsandha, was mortified on hearing of the pitiable condition of his daughters. When informed of the death of Kaṁsa, Jarāsandha decided on the spot that he would rid the world of all the members of the Yadu dynasty. He decided that since Kṛṣṇa had killed Kaṁsa, the whole dynasty of the Yadus should be killed.
He began to make extensive arrangements to attack the kingdom of Mathurā with his innumerable military phalanxes, consisting of many thousands of chariots, horses, elephants and infantry soldiers. Jarāsandha prepared thirteen such military phalanxes to retaliate the death of Kaṁsa. Taking with him all his military strength, he attacked the capital of the Yadu kings, Mathurā, surrounding it from all directions. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who appeared like an ordinary human being, saw the immense strength of Jarāsandha, which appeared like an ocean about to cover a beach at any moment. He also perceived that the inhabitants of Mathurā were overwhelmed with fear. He began to think within Himself about His mission as an incarnation and how to tackle the present situation before Him. He thought that since He was not going to conquer the kingdom of Magadha, to kill the King of Magadha, namely Jarāsandha, was useless. His mission was to diminish the overburdening population of the whole world; therefore He took the opportunity to face so many men, chariots, elephants and horses. The military strength of Jarāsandha had appeared before Him, and He decided to kill the entire force of Jarāsandha so that he would go back and reorganize his military strength.
While Lord Kṛṣṇa was thinking in that way, two beautiful chariots, fully equipped with drivers, weapons, flags and other paraphernalia, arrived for Him from outer space. Kṛṣṇa saw the two chariots present before Him and immediately addressed His elder brother, Balarāma, who is also known as Saṅkarṣaṇa: “My dear elder brother, best among the Āryans, You are the Lord of the universe, and, specifically, You are the protector of the Yadu dynasty. The members of the Yadu dynasty sense great danger before the soldiers of Jarāsandha, and they are very much aggrieved. Just to give them protection, Your chariot is also here, filled with weapons. I request You to sit on Your chariot and kill all these soldiers, the entire military strength of the enemy. The two of Us have descended to this earth just to annihilate such unnecessary bellicose forces and give protection to the pious devotees. So We have the opportunity to fulfill Our mission. Please let Us execute it.” Thus Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, the descendants of Daśārha, decided to annihilate the thirteen military companies of Jarāsandha.
After equipping Themselves with military dress, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma mounted Their chariots. Kṛṣṇa rode the chariot of which Dāruka was the driver. With a small army They came out of the city of Mathurā, blowing Their respective conchshells. Curiously enough, although the other party was equipped with greater military strength, when they heard the vibration of Kṛṣṇa’s conchshell their hearts were shaken. When Jarāsandha saw Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa, he was a little bit compassionate because They happened to be related to him as grandsons. He specifically addressed Kṛṣṇa as puruṣādhama, meaning “the lowest among men.” Actually Kṛṣṇa is known in all Vedic scriptures as Puruṣottama, the highest among men. Jarāsandha had no intention of addressing Kṛṣṇa as Puruṣottama, but great scholars have determined the true meaning of the word puruṣādhama to be “one who makes all other personalities go downward.” Actually no one can be equal to or greater than the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Jarāsandha said, “It will be a great dishonor for me to fight with boys like Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.” Because Kṛṣṇa had killed Kaṁsa, Jarāsandha specifically addressed Him as the killer of His own relatives. Kaṁsa had killed many of his own nephews, yet Jarāsandha did not take notice, but because Kṛṣṇa had killed His maternal uncle, Kaṁsa, Jarāsandha tried to criticize Him. That is the way of demoniac dealings. Demons do not try to find their own faults or those of their friends, but try to find the faults of their enemies. Jarāsandha also criticized Kṛṣṇa for not even being a kṣatriya. Because He was raised by Mahārāja Nanda, Kṛṣṇa was not a kṣatriya but a vaiśya. Vaiśyas are generally called guptas, and the word gupta can also be used to mean “hidden.” So Kṛṣṇa was both hidden and raised by Nanda Mahārāja. Jarāsandha accused Kṛṣṇa of three faults: that He killed His own maternal uncle, that He was not even a kṣatriya,
Next he turned toward Balarāma and addressed Him: “You, Balarāma! If You like You can fight along with Him, and if You have patience, then You can wait to be killed by my arrows. Thus You can be promoted to heaven.” It is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that a kṣatriya can benefit in either of two ways while fighting. If a kṣatriya gains victory in the fight, he enjoys the results of victory, but even if killed he is promoted to the heavenly kingdom.
After hearing Jarāsandha speak in that way, Kṛṣṇa answered, “My dear King Jarāsandha, heroes do not talk much. Rather, they show their prowess. Because you are talking a great deal, it appears that you are assured of your death in this battle. We do not care to hear you any longer, for it is useless to hear the words of a person who is going to die or of one who is very distressed.” To fight with Kṛṣṇa, Jarāsandha surrounded Him from all sides with great military strength. As the sun appears covered by cloudy air and dust, Kṛṣṇa, the supreme sun, was covered by the military strength of Jarāsandha. Kṛṣṇa’s and Balarāma’s chariots were marked with pictures of Garuḍa and palm trees, respectively. The women of Mathurā all stood on the tops of the houses, palaces and gates to see the wonderful fight, but when Kṛṣṇa’s chariot was surrounded by Jarāsandha’s military force and was no longer visible to them, they were so frightened that some of them fainted. Kṛṣṇa saw Himself overwhelmed by the military strength of Jarāsandha. His small army of soldiers was being harassed, so He immediately took up His bow, named Śārṅga.
He took His arrows from their quiver, and one after another He set them on the bowstring and shot them toward the enemy. They were so accurate that the elephants, horses and infantry soldiers of Jarāsandha were quickly killed. The incessant arrows shot by Kṛṣṇa appeared like a whirlwind of blazing fire killing all the military strength of Jarāsandha. As Kṛṣṇa released His arrows, all the elephants gradually began to fall, their heads severed by the arrows. Similarly, all the horses fell, their necks severed, and the chariots fell also, along with their flags and the fighters and drivers on the chariots. Almost all the infantry soldiers fell on the field of battle, their heads, hands and legs cut off. In this way, many thousands of elephants, horses and men were killed, and their blood flowed just like the waves of a river. In that river, the severed arms of men appeared like snakes and their heads like tortoises. The dead bodies of the elephants appeared like small islands, and the dead horses appeared like sharks. By the arrangement of the supreme will, there was a great river of blood filled with paraphernalia. The hands and legs of the infantry soldiers floated just like different kinds of fish, the hair of the soldiers floated like seaweed and moss, and the floating bows of the soldiers resembled waves of the river. And all the jewelry from the bodies of the soldiers and commanders seemed like many pebbles flowing down the river of blood.
Lord Balarāma, who is also known as Saṅkarṣaṇa, began to fight with His club in such a heroic way that the river of blood created by Kṛṣṇa overflooded. Cowards became very much afraid upon seeing the ghastly and horrible scene, and heroes began to talk delightedly among themselves about the heroism of the two brothers. Although Jarāsandha was equipped with a vast ocean of military strength, the fighting of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma converted the whole situation into a ghastly scene far beyond ordinary fighting. Persons of ordinary merit cannot estimate how it could be possible, but when such activities are accepted as pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, under whose will everything is possible, then this can be understood. The Supreme Personality of Godhead creates, maintains and dissolves the cosmic manifestation merely by His will. For Him to create such a vast scene of devastation while fighting with an enemy is not so wonderful. And yet, because Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were fighting with Jarāsandha just like ordinary human beings, the affair appeared wonderful.
When all the soldiers of Jarāsandha had been killed and he was the only one left alive, certainly he was very much depressed. Śrī Balarāma immediately arrested him with great strength, just as one lion captures another. But while Lord Balarāma was binding Jarāsandha with the rope of Varuṇa and ordinary ropes also, Lord Kṛṣṇa, with a greater plan in mind for the future, asked Lord Balarāma not to arrest him. Kṛṣṇa then released Jarāsandha. As a great fighting hero, Jarāsandha was ashamed, and he decided that he would no longer live as a king but would resign from his position in the royal order and go to the forest to practice meditation under severe austerities and penances.
As he was returning home with his royal friends, however, they advised him not to retire but to regain strength to fight again with Kṛṣṇa in the near future. The princely friends of Jarāsandha instructed him that ordinarily it would not have been possible for him to be defeated by the strength of the Yadu kings; the defeat he had experienced was simply due to his ill luck. The princely order encouraged King Jarāsandha. His fighting, they said, was certainly heroic; therefore, he should not take his defeat very seriously, since it was due only to his past misdeeds. After all, there was no fault in his fighting.
In this way, Jarāsandha, the King of Magadha Province, having lost all his strength and having been insulted by his arrest and subsequent release, could do nothing but return to his kingdom. Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa conquered the soldiers of Jarāsandha. Although Kṛṣṇa’s army was tiny in comparison to Jarāsandha’s, not a pinch of His strength was lost, whereas all of Jarāsandha’s men were killed.
The denizens of heaven were very much pleased, and they offered their respects by chanting in glorification of the Lord and showering Him with flowers, accepting the victory with great appreciation. Jarāsandha returned to his kingdom, and Mathurā City was saved from the danger of imminent attack. The citizens of Mathurā organized the combined services of professional singers like sūtas and māgadhas, along with poets who could compose nice songs, and they began to chant the victory glorification of Lord Kṛṣṇa. When Lord Kṛṣṇa entered the city after the victory, many bugles, conches and kettledrums sounded, and the vibrations of various musical instruments like bherīs, tūryas, vīṇās, flutes and mṛdaṅgas all joined together to make a beautiful reception. While Kṛṣṇa was entering, the whole city was cleansed, all the different streets and roads were sprinkled with water, and the inhabitants, being joyous, decorated their respective houses and shops with flags and festoons. The brāhmaṇas chanted Vedic mantras at numerous places. The people constructed road crossings and gates at entrances to lanes and streets. When Lord Kṛṣṇa was entering the nicely decorated city of Mathurā in a festive attitude, the ladies and girls of Mathurā prepared different kinds of flower garlands to make the ceremony most auspicious. In accordance with the Vedic custom, they took yogurt mixed with fresh green grass and strewed it here and there to make the victory jubilation even more auspicious. As Kṛṣṇa passed through the street, all the ladies and women regarded Him with eyes bright with great affection. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma carried various kinds of ornaments, jewels and other booty carefully collected from the battlefield and presented it all to King Ugrasena. Kṛṣṇa thus offered His respect to His grandfather because Ugrasena was at that time the crowned king of the Yadu dynasty.
Jarāsandha, the King of Magadha, besieged the city of Mathurā not only once but seventeen times in the same way, equipped with the same number of military phalanxes. Each and every time, he was defeated and all his soldiers were killed by Kṛṣṇa, and each time he had to return home disappointed. Each time, the princely order of the Yadu dynasty arrested Jarāsandha in the same way and again released him in an insulting manner, and each time Jarāsandha shamelessly returned home.
While Jarāsandha was attempting his eighteenth attack, a Yavana king somewhere to the south of Mathurā became attracted by the opulence of the Yadu dynasty and also attacked the city. It is said that the King of the Yavanas, known as Kālayavana, was induced to attack by Nārada. This story is narrated in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. Once, Garga Muni, the priest of the Yadu dynasty, was taunted by his brother-in-law. When the kings of the Yadu dynasty heard the taunt they laughed at him, and Garga Muni became angry at the Yadu kings. He decided that he would produce someone who would be very fearful to the Yadu dynasty, so he pleased Lord Śiva and received from him the benediction of a son. He begot this son, Kālayavana, in the wife of a Yavana king. This Kālayavana inquired from Nārada, “Who are the most powerful kings in the world?” Nārada informed him that the Yadus were the most powerful. Thus informed, Kālayavana attacked the city of Mathurā at the same time that Jarāsandha tried to attack it for the eighteenth time. Kālayavana was very eager to declare war on a king of the world who would be a suitable combatant for him, but he had not found any. However, being informed about Mathurā by Nārada, he thought it wise to attack this city with thirty million Yavana soldiers.
When Mathurā was thus besieged, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa began to consider, in consultation with Baladeva, how much the Yadu dynasty was in distress, being threatened by the attacks of two formidable enemies, Jarāsandha and Kālayavana. Time was growing short. Kālayavana was already besieging Mathurā from all sides, and it was expected that the day after next, Jarāsandha would also come, equipped with the same number of divisions of soldiers as in his previous seventeen attempts. Kṛṣṇa was certain that Jarāsandha would take advantage of the opportunity to capture Mathurā when it was also being besieged by Kālayavana. He therefore thought it wise to take precautionary measures for defending against an attack upon Mathurā from two strategic points. If both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were engaged in fighting with Kālayavana at one place, Jarāsandha might come at another to attack the whole Yadu family and take his revenge. Jarāsandha was very powerful, and having been defeated seventeen times, he might vengefully kill the members of the Yadu family or arrest them and take them to his kingdom. Kṛṣṇa therefore decided to construct a formidable fort where no two-legged animal, either man or demon, could enter. He decided to keep His relatives there so that He would then be free to fight the enemy. It appears that formerly Dvārakā was also part of the kingdom of Mathurā. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that Kṛṣṇa constructed the fort in the midst of the sea. Remnants of the fort Kṛṣṇa constructed still exist in the Bay of Dvārakā.
Kṛṣṇa first of all constructed a very strong wall covering ninety-six square miles, and the wall itself was within the sea. It was certainly wonderful and was planned and constructed by Viśvakarmā. No ordinary architect could construct such a fort within the sea, but an architect like Viśvakarmā, who is considered to be the engineer among the demigods, can execute such wonderful craftsmanship anywhere in the universe. If huge planets can float in weightlessness in outer space by the arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, surely the architectural construction of a fort covering ninety-six square miles within the sea was not very wonderful.
It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that this new, well-constructed city, developed within the sea, had regular planned roads, streets and lanes. There were also well-planned parks and gardens filled with plants known as kalpa-vṛkṣas, or desire trees. These desire trees are not like the ordinary trees of the material world; the desire trees are found in the spiritual world. By Kṛṣṇa’s supreme will, everything is possible, so such desire trees were planted in Dvārakā, the city constructed by Kṛṣṇa. The city was also filled with many palaces and gopuras, or big gates. These gopuras are still found in some of the larger temples. They are very high and constructed with fine artistic skill. Such palaces and gates held golden waterpots (kalaśas). These waterpots on the gates or on the palaces are considered auspicious signs.
Almost all the palaces were skyscrapers. In each and every house there were underground rooms containing big golden and silver pots for stocking grain. And there were many golden waterpots within the rooms. The bedrooms were all bedecked with jewels, and the floors were mosaic pavements of marakata jewels. The Viṣṇu Deity, worshiped by the descendants of Yadu, was installed in each house in the city. The residential quarters were so arranged that the different castes—brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras—had their respective quarters. It appears from this that the caste system mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā existed even at that time. In the center of the city was a residence made specifically for King Ugrasena. This was the most dazzling of all the houses.
When the demigod Indra saw that Kṛṣṇa was constructing a particular city of His own choice, he sent the celebrated pārijāta tree of the heavenly planets to be planted in the new city, and he also sent a parliamentary house, Sudharmā. The specific quality of this assembly house was that anyone participating in a meeting within it would overcome the influence of invalidity due to old age. The demigod Varuṇa presented a horse, which was all white except for black ears and which could run at the speed of the mind. Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods, presented the art of attaining the eight perfectional stages of material opulence. In this way, all the demigods began to present their respective gifts according to their different capacities. There are thirty-three million demigods, each entrusted with a particular department of universal management. All the demigods took the opportunity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s constructing a city of His own choice to present their respective gifts, making the city of Dvārakā unique within the universe. This proves that while there are undoubtedly innumerable demigods, none of them is independent of Kṛṣṇa. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇa is the supreme master, and all others are His servants. So all the demigods took the opportunity to render service to Kṛṣṇa when He was personally present within this universe. This example should be followed by all, especially those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious, for they should serve Kṛṣṇa by their respective abilities.
When the new city was fully constructed according to plan, Kṛṣṇa transferred all the inhabitants of Mathurā and installed Śrī Balarāma as the city father. After this He consulted with Balarāma, and, being garlanded with lotus flowers but carrying no weapons, He came out of the city to meet Kālayavana, who had already surrounded Mathurā.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fiftieth Chapter of