20.THE SLAYING OF JARASANDHA
The king was immensely delighted and handed it over to his two wives. This child became known as Jarasandha. He grew up in to a man of immense physical strength. But his body had one weakness namely, that being made up by the fusion of two separate parts, it could be split again into two, if sufficient force were used. This interesting story embodies the important truth that two sundered parts joined together will still remain weak, with a tendency to split. When the conquest and slaying of Jarasandha had been resolved upon, Sri Krishna said: "Hamsa, Hidimbaka, Kamsa, and other allies of Jarasandha are no more. Now that he is isolated, this is the right time to kill him. It is useless to fight with armies. He must be provoked to a single combat and slain." According to the code of honor of those days, a kshatriya had to accept the challenge to a duel whether with or without weapons. The latter sort was a fight to the death with weighted gauntlets or a wrestling to the death in catch-as-catch-can style. This was the kshatriya tradition to which Krishna and the Pandavas had recourse for slaying Jarasandha. They disguised themselves as men who had taken religious vows, clad in robes of bark-fibre and carrying the holy darbha grass in their hands. Thus they entered the kingdom of Magadha and arrived at the capital of Jarasandha. Jarasandha was disturbed by portents of ill omen. To ward off the threatened danger, he had propitiatory rites performed by the priests and himself took to fasts and penance. Krishna, Bhima, and Arjuna entered the palace unarmed. Jarasandha received them with respect as their noble bearing seemed to indicate an illustrious origin. Bhima and Arjuna made no reply to his words of welcome because they wished to avoid having to tell lies. Krishna spoke on their behalf: "These two are observing a vow of silence for the present as at part of their austerities. They can speak only after midnight." Jarasandha entertained them in the hall of sacrifice and returned to the palace. It was the practice of Jarasandha to meet noble guests who had taken vows and talk to them at their leisure and convenience, and so he called at midnight to see them. Their conduct made Jarasandha suspicious, and he also observed that they had on their hands the scars made by the bowstring and had besides the proud bearing of kshatriyas.