Krishna was the proverbial large tree, under which no other tree could grow or thrive. A well known father, whose son/s were not so well known. Though Krishna’s sons were not very well known, Samba was an exception as he had a small role to play in the epic Mahabharata and a larger role in the ultimate decimation of the Yadava community.
Samba was the son of Krishna and his wife, Jambavati (Read http://utkarshspeak.blogspot.in/2014/06/one-tale-and-two-wives-of-krishna.html ). Samba was very handsome like his father, but notorious. Though many felt that Samba resembled Krishna, Krishna however felt that Samba was like Lord Shiva and in every respect.
It is said that Lord Krishna had a desire for a son, but no ordinary son. He wanted a son like Lord Shiva. To appease Lord Shiva, he meditated for years to seek his blessings. When Shiva was pleased with his meditation, Krishna sought to be blessed with a son like Shiva himself. Krishna wanted a son who had the destructive powers of Shiva as he could foresee the decline of the Yadava’s who would be needed to be eliminated in future.
|Pic Courtesy - Wikipedia|
Soon Jambavati gave birth to a son, who was named Samba, after the name of Lord Shiva. Samba grew up to be a handsome boy, b ut was notorious for pranks and was also extremely frivolous. One of his well-known pranks is said to have led to the ultimate decimation of the Yadava community. According to this, once some sages were taking rest under a tree. Samba dressed up as a pregnant woman, along with his friends, went to the sages to seek their blessings. When the friends asked the sages as what would the pregnant ‘woman’ give birth to, the sages were angry. They cursed that whatever came out of the belly of the ‘woman’ would lead to the ultimate end of the entire community. Samba was carrying an iron pestle under his dress.
The boys were worried about the curse and they approached King Ugrasena, father of Kamsa, who was reinstated as the King of Mathura after Krishna killed Kamsa. The king was ashamed of the acts of the boys and suggested that they ground the iron pestle and throw away the powder in the sea. The powder however, washed ashore the coast of Dwarka which was covered by bamboo trees. It is said that these were the same iron-like bamboo sticks which were used by the Yadava’s when a fight broke out amongst themselves, after nearly thirty years of the war of Kurukshetra.
A single piece of the iron which could not be grounded was found inside a fish by a fisherman, who sold it to an ironsmith, which was later made into the tip of an arrow. It was this arrow, which killed Krishna, the last of the Yadavas.
However, this is not the only claim to fame, or ill-fame, of Samba. Duryodhan had a beautiful daughter, by the name of Lakshmana. When she was of age, many Kings desired that she be married to their sons. Duryodhan decided to hold a swayamvar for his daughter and invited all the princes for the event. Samba secretly desired Lakshmana, though she did not fancy Samba. When Samba realised that on her own Lakshmana would never marry him, he forcibly abducted Lakshmana from the swayamvar. The Kauravas and the court of Hastinapur were up in arms on the kidnapping of Lakshmana, all the more since they knew that Lakshamana was not inclined towards Samba.
Under the leadership of Karna, an army was sent to get Lakshmana and Samba back. Samba, though alone fought bravely till Karna and others, destroyed his chariot and weapons. They brought both of them back and imprisoned Samba. Narada related the whole incident to the Yadavas, who were angry for imprisoning Samba. Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna decided to go and get Samba back.
Balarama took an army to Hastinapur, but camped outside the city and sent a message to Duryodhan that he wanted to meet them. Duryodhan was pleased and he along with Bhishma, Drona, etc. went to meet Balarama. During the meeting Balarama expressed his dislike for the way Samba was imprisoned, and that the least he would have expected that they be made aware of what had happened. However, he was willing to forget and forgive, provided they freed Samba and his wife Lakshmana.
Duryodhan and others were angry at the tone and by the sense of superiority, with no mention of Samba’s act of kidnapping. Soon there was a war of words, with both sides flaring at the incident. Balarama was so angry that he took his plough and struck the ground of Hastinapur and with all the force started to drag the city to be drowned in the Ganga. Seeing the earth shaking and tremors destroying the city, they brought Samba and Lakshmana to Balarama and apologised for their behaviour. Duryodhan arranged for a grand wedding of his daughter with Samba and soon all was forgotten.
|Pic Courtesy - Brooklyn Museum|
According to another tale, at one point of time, Krishna was so angry with Samba for not listening to anybody, that he cursed him with the debilitating disease of leprosy. Samba began suffering and his mother Jambavati, could bear no more. She urged Krishna to do something to lessen his pain and relieve him of the disease. Krishna then asked Samba to pray to the Sun and then take a dip in the river Chandrabhaga (near Konarak temple, Odisha) to cure himself. But by then Samba had become too weak to move by himself. On pleading by Jambavati, Krishna took Samba to the river and gave him a dip in the river, which cured Samba of the disease.
Till date, mothers in Odisha, observe Samba-dashami (10th day of the Sukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon in Paush month of the local calendar, which falls in the months of Dec-Jan). Mothers observe special rituals and worship the Sun god on this day for the well-being of their children. As a part of the ritual, the legend of ‘Samba Dasami Brata Katha’ or the story of Samba is read aloud. Till some time back, a dip in the river (now reduced to a trickle), was considered to be a sure cure for leprosy.
What is interesting that though the story does not find any significant mention in the epics, there exists a ritual in Odisha which centres around the son of Krishna. Also, one hardly finds mention about Krsihna’ sons, and needless to mention that none of them were as illustrious as the father – isn’t that something that can be seen even in modern times?