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Shishupal

Shishupal was a major character in the Mahabharata. Shishupal was an incarnation of Jaya, Vishnu’s attendant. He was the son of King Damaghosha of Chedi and was the cousin of Krishna, but disliked him a lot. Shishupal was also called Sunitha. Shishupal was a friend of Kansa and Jarasandha.

Family

  • Father: Damaghosha
  • Mother: Shrutashrava
  • Brothers: Dasgreeva, Ramya, Bali, Kushadhysha
  • Sons: Dhristaketu, Satyaketu, Sarabha, Suketu
  • Daughter: Karenumati

Birth and Deformity

Jaya and Vijaya, who were the gatekeepers of Vaikuntha, had once refused to let the 4 Kumaras enter Vaikuntha. The Kumaras got angry and cursed Jaya and Vijaya that they would be born on Earth 3 times each as an enemy of Vishnu. In the end, they would be slain by one of Vishnu’s incarnations. Jaya’s third birth was as Shishupal.

Shishupal was born with 3 eyes and 4 arms. When he was born, a voice came out of the sky: This child’s extra arms and extra eyes shall vanish when a certain person puts the child on his lap. He will die by the hands of that same person.

Shrutshrava didn’t like Shishupal’s deformity. She took Shishupal to many rishis and kings and he made young Shishupal sit on their laps. But none of them were the one that would get rid of her son’s deformity.

Once, Krishna came to Chedi to visit his aunt Shrutshrava. He put baby Shishupal on his lap. Instantly, Shishupal’s 2 extra arms and his extra eye disappeared. Shrutshrava was watching and she was horrified. According to the divine voice, this meant Krishna would be the one who would kill Shishupal.

“Forgive him a hundred times before you kill him, Krishna. Please,” Shrutshrava begged.

Krishna agreed. He then left Chedi and went back to Vrindavana.

Abduction of Rukmini

Shishupal’s father soon died and he became king of Chedi. A great dislike towards Krishna formed in Shishupal’s mind. It increased when Shishupal got to know that Krishna had killed his friend Kansa. Shishupal made a friendship and alliance with Jarasandha, the powerful king of Maghada. Shishupal made all sorts of plans against Krishna. Once, while Krishna was at Pragjyotisha to kill Narakasura, Shishupal went with a huge army and burned Dwarka. He also attacked the king of Bhoja, who was an ally of Krishna. Shishupal even kidnapped the princess of Visala, viz. Bhadra, who was going to marry the king of Karusha.

At the kingdom of Vidarbha, it was time for Rukmini, the princess, to get married. Her brother Rukmi was a friend of Shishupal. Rukmi convinced his father Bhishmaka to get Rukmini married to Shishupal. When Rukmini heard that she was getting married to Shishupal, she was horrified. She had wanted to marry Krishna. She sent a brahmin that she trusted named Sunanda to Krishna with a message. The message said that Krishna should kidnap her during the marriage. Krishna got the message and immediately set out to the capital of Vidarbha.

Meanwhile, Jarasandha knew that Krishna was going to try to disrupt the marriage. He sent a division of soldiers with Shishupal as he went to Vidarbha. At the morning of the marriage, Rukmini went to the Indrani Temple. As she stepped out, she saw Krishna approaching on a chariot. Krishna swept Rukmini into the chariot. Shishupal noticed them and sent Jarasandha’s forces after them. Balarama kept Jarasandha’s army at bay. Rukmi chased after Krishna’s chariot and caught up. After a small duel, Krishna was about to kill Rukmi when Rukmini begged Krishna not to kill her brother. Krishna spared him, but cut his hair off.

Shishupal soon married another princess and had four sons: Dhristaketu, Satyaketu, Sarabha, and Suketu. He had also had a daughter named Karenumati who was wedded with Nakula.

When Yudhistira decided to perform the Rajasuya yagna, he sent Bhima to subjugate Chedi. Shishupal let Bhima take over his kingdom and gave Bhima loads of tribute. Bhima stayed at Chedi for many days before continuing on his eastern military campaign.

One Hundred Insults

Yudhistira invited Shishupal to his Rajasuya yagna. After the yagna rituals were over, Yudhistira called Krishna to partake the offerings from the yagna.

“As per Bhishma’s advice, I am giving you these offerings as a mark of respect,” Yudhistira said.

At this, Shishupal was infuriated. “You’re honoring this foolish cowherd who claims to be supreme!” Shishupal roared.

Bhima seethed with anger at this comment and rushed to kill Shishupal, but Krishna held him back. Shishupal kept on calling Krishna names and insulting him. Krishna listened silently.

“Why would you listen to this old man. The man who abducted Amba when she wanted to marry someone else!” Shishupal said in fury.

Shishupal kept insulting Krishna and Bhishma. Krishna counted how many times Shishupal insulted him. Soon, Krishna had to kill him. Over the years, Krishna had been counting how many times Shishupal insulted him and this had been the hundredth time. Krishna invoked his Sudarshan Chakra and threw it at Shishupal. Shishupal’s head was instantly cut off.

Krishna is sitting on a throne, surrounded by kings and attendants, and he is throwing his Chakra at Shishupal

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