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Krishna, Balarama, and the Yadavas fighting each other with sticks

Samba: The Boy who Ended a Dynasty

Samba was the son of Lord Krishna and his wife Jambavati. He was cursed multiple times due to his impetuosity. One of these curses eventually led to the complete destruction of the Yadava dynasty.

Family

  • Father: Krishna
  • Mother: Jambavati
  • Brothers: Sumitra, Purujit, Shatajit, Sahasrajit, Vijaya, Chitraketu, Vasuman, Dravida, Kratu
  • Wife: Lakshmanaa, Gunavati

Birth

This story is told in the Devi Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 4

All of the other wives of Krishna had given birth to many children, but Jambavati still hadn’t given birth to a single child. She approached Krishna and requested him to give her a son like Pradyumna. Krishna went to the hermitage of Sage Upamanyu and per his advice, started doing penance to please Lord Shiva. He did penance in different states and postures for six months. After six months, Shiva was pleased and appeared before Krishna in his Ardhanarishwara form (half-male, half-female). Krishna asked for a son from Jambavati, and the boon was granted. Soon, a son was born to Jambavati. Since Shiva’s Ardhanarishvara form is also called Samba, Jambavati’s son was named Samba.

Shiva and Parvati appear in front of Krishna

Later, Jambavati gave birth to other sons: Sumitra, Purujit, Shatajit, Sahasrajit, Vijaya, Chitraketu, Vasuman, Dravida, and Kratu. From a young age, Balarama trained Samba in the use of weapons.

Samba at Indraprastha

This story is told in the Mahabharata, Sabha Parva

When Samba became old enough, Krisha sent him to Indraprastha to live with the Pandavas. Samba and other Yadava princes such as Satyaki learned archery from Arjuna. Samba became a potent chariot-fighter. Soon, Samba became part of Yudhistira‘s court and his administration. Samba participated in Yudhistira’s Rajasuya yagna and Abhimanyu‘s marriage.

Samba Births an Iron Rod

This story is told in the Mahabharata, Mausala Parva and Vishnu Purana, Book 5

Once, the sages Vishwamitra, Asita, Kanva, Durvasa, Bhrigu, Angiras, Kashyapa, Vamadeva, Atri, Vashishta, Narada, and others visited Krishna at Dwarka. After that, they went to a holy place called Pindraka. At Pindraka, the young princes of the Yadava dynasty decided to play a prank. They had Samba dress up as a pregnant woman and approach the sages. The princes approached the sages and said, “Oh sages, this pregnant lady is the wife of Babhru and is about to give birth. Since you are great sages, she wants to ask you whether her child will be a boy or a girl.”

Narada was enraged. He glared at the princes and cursed them, saying:

Fools. She will give birth to an iron club which will destroy the entire Yadava dynasty.

– Narada’s Curse on Samba

The princes were terrified. They uncovered Samba’s belly and found an iron club in his belly. Soon, the iron club came out of Samba. The boys sorrowfully went back to Dwarka and showed King Ugrasena the iron club. King Ugrasena ordered the club to be powdered and thrown into the sea. But one part of the club, an iron spike, couldn’t be destroyed, so it was just thrown into the sea.

Remember this iron club, as it will reappear later in the story…

Cursed by his own Father

This story is told in the Samba Purana (one of the 18 Upapuranas), the part about Samba and Krishna’s wives is in the Padma Purana, Shrsti Khanda

Once, Krishna’s junior wives were bathing in a pond. Samba approached and they became attracted to his beauty. Samba and the wives consorted in the pond. When Krishna learned about what had happened, he was furious. He cursed Samba with leprosy. Krishna then turned to his junior wives and cursed that they would be abducted by bandits. The wives were extremely depressed, so Krishna said that after they are kidnapped and enjoyed by fishermen for many years, Sage Dalbhya will teach them a vrata that will liberate them.

Meanwhile, Samba, unable to tolerate his leprosy, went to sage Kataka for help. Kataka advised him to do penance and please Surya (the sun god). Thus, Samba went to banks of the Chandrabhaga river in Mitravana. He constructed a Surya temple and then performed twelve years of arduous penance to please Surya. Finally, Surya gave him darshan and told him to bathe in the river. Samba did as instructed and his leprosy was cured. It is said that the Multan Sun Temple and Konark Sun Temple were both built by Samba after this incident.

Defeat of Vajranabha

This story is told in the Harivamsa, Vishnu Parva

Vajranabha was a demon who had pleased Brahma and attained a lot of power. When he came to Swarga and asked Indra for the throne, Indra didn’t know what to do. He approached Krishna, who said he would help when the time came. Indra then told his swans to go tell Prabhavati (Vajranabha’s daughter) about the handsome Pradyumna and tell Pradyumna about the beautiful Prabhavati. The swans obeyed his orders. Pradyumna, Krishna, Samba, Balarama, and others went to Vajranabhapura. They performed four amazing plays and pleased everyone in the city, including Vajranabha. During the night, Pradyumna met up with Prabhavati and they spent the night together. When Prabhavati’s cousins Chandravati and Gunavati heard about the secret meeting, they requested Prabhavati to find them husbands among the Yadava troupe. Prabhavati introduced them to Balarama and Samba. Pradyumna then started a war with Vajranabha and killed him. Pradyumna, Samba, and Balarama took the three sisters to Dwarka. Pradyumna married Prabhavati, Balarama married Chandravati, and Samba married Gunavati.

Samba Abducts Lakshmanaa

This story is told in the Vishnu Purana, Book 5

Duryodhana was hosting a swayamvara for his daughter Lakshmanaa. He invited lots of kings, but no Pandavas or Yadavas. Krishna’s son Samba had always wanted to marry Lakshmanaa. He broke into the assembly and kidnapped Lakshmanaa. The Kurus were enraged and started chasing him. As the Kauravas neared, Lakshmanaa pleaded that Samba doesn’t hurt her relatives, so Samba couldn’t use force. Eventually, Karna, Duryodhana, Bhishma, and others captured Samba. They brought Samba and Lakshmanaa back to Hastinapura. Samba was imprisoned.

When the Yadavas heard about what had happened, they were enraged and decided to attack Hastinapura. However, Balarama said he would go alone and bring back Samba. Balarama went to Hastinapura, where he hospitably received. He then said, “King Ugrasena insists that you set Samba free.” The Kurus were aghast and refused to let him go. Balarama’s eyes reddened with rage. He furiously struck the ground with his plough. Balarama started destroying Hastinapura with his plough. The terrified Kurus placed Samba and Lakshmanaa in front of Balarama and pacified him. Balarama took Samba and Lakshmanaa to Dwarka and they were married in the presence of Krishna and Jambavati. Samba and Lakshmanaa’s marriage turned out to be a happy one.

The Destruction of the Yadavas

This story is told in the Mahabharata, Mausala Parva and Vishnu Purana, Book 5

Remember the iron club that had been thrown into the sea… The bits of the iron club were carried to the shore by the sea, where they turned into sharp canes. The unbreakable iron spike was swallowed by a fish. This fish was killed by the fisherman Jara, who fixed the iron spike to the end of his arrow.

After the Mahabharata War, Gandhari cursed the Yadavas that they would destroy themselves. Gandhari’s curse started coming true when the evil omens began. Throughout the Yadava cities, evil omens started showing. The Yadavas became sinful. Lord Krishna, who knew that it was time for Gandhari’s curse to come true, called a Yadava meeting in the Sudharma royal court. He told all of the Yadavas to go to Prabhasa-Kshetra to purify themselves. After the purification rites, the Yadavas started drinking alcohol. The drunk Satyaki started criticizing Kritavarma, and soon, all of the Yadavas started fighting amongst each other. They used the sharp canes made of the iron bits to slaughter each other. In the midst of the fighting, Samba was also slain.

After the slaughter, only Krishna and Balarama and remained. Balarama was extremely saddened and his soul departed from his mortal body. Krishna sent a messenger to Arjuna. He knew that Dwarka would drown within seven days, so he wanted Arjuna to rescue the Yadava women. Krishna then sat under a tree and started meditating. At that time, the hunter Jara approached that location. He mistook Krishna’s feet as a deer and shot him with the same iron-tipped arrow that came from Samba’s belly. He later repented, but Krishna consoled him and said that this was all meant to happen. Krishna then departed from his mortal body and went back to Vaikuntha.

Jara repents in front of Krishna, who blesses him

Conclusion

Thus, Samba’s foolish and mischievous acts inadvertently ended the Yadava dynasty. Samba was a trouble to the Yadava dynasty throughout his life. From the abduction of Lakshmanaa to the insult of the sages, he caused a lot of trouble, although he was a very respectable warrior. But all of this was meant to happen. Samba was just an instrument of Krishna in his purpose of ending the Yadava dynasty.

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2 thoughts on “Samba: The Boy who Ended a Dynasty”

  1. Why a dynasty should end? Why should Gandhari and sages curse entire dynasty for single person?

    1. The dynasty was meant to end. It was Lord Krishna’s wish. The Mahabharata was supposed to be an event that ends the old dynasties of India.

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