The Story of the Syamantaka Jewel

March 24, 2012 in Articles, Narasimha Dasa by Nityananda Rama dasa

(A Summary Study)

This story from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, which Srila Prabhupada presents in two chapters in Krsna Book, is very interesting and instructive. (Krsna Book, Chapters 55 and 56.) What follows is a brief summary and explanation from these chapters of Krsna Book, including some of my own comments. (Direct quotes from Srila Prabhupada are in bold.)

The Sun God gave the Syamantaka jewel to King Satrajit, the father of Princess Satyabhama, who later became Lord Krishna’s third wife due to the influence of this jewel. This jewel was so powerful that it produced 170 pounds of gold daily. Although Krishna advised Satrajit to deliver the jewel to Him so He could give the jewel to King Urgasena, the emperor of the Yadu Dynasty, Satrajit did not comply with this request. Instead he installed the jewel in a private temple to be worshipped by brahmins he employed. Although Satrajit was a devotee and later came to his senses, he was bewildered by the material opulence and prestige this jewel provided him and his family.

One day Satrajit’s brother, Prasena, took the jewel and wore it around his neck to show off the wealth of his family. At one point, while riding his horse through a forest, he was attacked by a huge lion that killed him and his horse. When Jambuvan, the gorilla king, heard about this event he immediately went to the scene, killed the lion with his bare hands and took the jewel, which he gave to his son for a toy. Because Jambavan was a liberated pure devotee, he was not much attracted to the material opulence of this jewel.

Later on, when Prasena did not return with the jewel, Satrajit was very upset. He guessed that Krishna had killed Prasena and taken the jewel because Satrajit had previously denied Lord Krishna’s request to deliver the jewel to Him. What started out as a mere speculation on the part of one mentally-disturbed man, Srila Prabhupada explains, turned into a rumor that was spread like wildfire.”

This story illustrates that even Krishna is sometimes defamed by false rumors originating from mentally disturbed or materially attached devotees. All this happened in Dvaraka Dhama, even before the advent of the internet. In this day and age, any foolish person can spread malicious rumors about devotees via the internet, and by repeating such rumors over and over again, foolish offenders try to establish facts without solid proof, and thus become candidates for severe misfortune.

Krishna did not like be defamed in this way, therefore He decided that He would go to the forest and find the Syamantaka jewel, taking with Him some of the inhabitants of Dvaraka. Along with important men of Dvaraka, Krishna, went to search out Prasena, the brother of Satrajit, and He found him dead, killed by the lion.”

Srila Prabhupada relates elsewhere in Krsna Book that even in Dvaraka City there were outlaws and prostitutes, although such persons were generally not prominent. The important men and women of Dvaraka were pure devotees who were never victimized by false rumors, sinful actions or criminal behavior. Pure devotees in Dvaraka are always conscious of Krishna’s position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to Caitanya-Caritamrta, the pure devotees of Dvaraka Dhama are not covered by yoga-maya or maha-maya. Thus, as related above, Krishna took with Him “important men of Dvaraka.” He didn’t take with Him society girls or outlaws.  Even though such persons may be devotees, they can never be fully trusted because they are influenced by illusion, as was even King Satrajit, who later became Lord Krishna’s father-in-law.

Krishna realized that Jambuvan had killed this great lion with his bare hands, without the use of any weapon. Krishna and the inhabitants of Dvaraka then found in the forest a great tunnel, said to be the path to Riksha’s (Jambuvan’s) house.”

This Jambavan was the same Jambuvan who was one the main commanders of Sugriva’s army of Varanas, which was engaged in the direct divine service of Sri Ramachandra and Lakshmana. He was one of the principle associates of Hanuman and Sugriva in the fight against the demon Ravana. According to Srila Prabhupada, Jambuvan was the most powerful living entity of that time. He and had been living on Earth for a very long time. Similarly, Dvivida Gorilla, whom Lord Balarama killed, was another one of these powerful Varanas, who were half demigod and half gorilla. Dvivida was formerly the minister of King Sugriva and thus had direct contact with Lord Ramachandra and Hanuman. Dvivida, however, became intoxicated with his superhuman strength. He became enraged when Krishna killed his friend Bhaumasura, and so he began a campaign to offend sages and rishis by destroying their homes and gardens and polluting their sacrificial arenas. In the outlying regions near Dvaraka, he burned down villages of cowherd men and kidnapped and raped many aristocratic women. He caused great havoc before Sri Baladeva finally killed him.

Krishna knew the inhabitants of Dvaraka would be afraid to enter the tunnel; therefore He asked them to stay outside, and He Himself entered the dark tunnel alone to find Riksha, Jambavan.”

Although the inhabitants of Dvaraka who had accompanied Krishna were important devotees in Dvaraka, Krishna understood they would be afraid to enter such a fearful tunnel. Although they were willing to enter the dark tunnel to help Krishna, Krishna asked them to remain outside. Krishna never wants to put his devotees in fearful situations, and He knows everyone’s level of spiritual advancement. The cowherd boys of Vrindaban, by contrast, although simple village boys, had no fear to enter the open mouth of the great demon Agasura–just for the fun of it. They were fully confident of Krishna’s protection. The highest pure devotees, like Srila Prabhupada and Sri Prahlada Maharaja, are abhaya-charana, forever fearless at the lotus feet of Krishna.

[In Kishkindya Kshetra, the home territory of the Varanas, there are innumerable caves and tunnels that go deep into the mountains. Many people believe great rishis and nagas still reside in these caves, which are like entryways to the nether regions.  Some people believe the still missing Vijayanagar treasures are hidden in one of these caves, but most people are afraid to enter them deeply. Sometimes adventurers and treasure hunters enter some these caves and are never heard from again. Such caves and tunnels are very fearful places.]

After entering this deep tunnel, Lord Krishna soon found the jewel in the hands of Jambuvan’s child. Krishna went and stood before the child to recover the jewel, but the child’s nurse began screaming loudly. This aroused Jambavan, who immediately came there in a very angry mood. Srila Prabhupada comments that because Jambuvan was in an angry mood, he could not recognize Krishna, even though he was His great devotee. Lust, anger and greed run parallel in the heart and check one’s progress on the spiritual path.”

[Srila Prabhupada has warned that in the Krishna consciousness movement there are many malicious and belligerent persons among the devotees. It is practically seen that such persons lose their discrimination and usually misunderstand Srila Prabhupada, his instructions, and his disciples.]

After a fight that continued for 28 days, Jambuvan became materially exhausted and surrendered to Krishna. Because Krishna wanted to fight in a sporting mood, Jambuvan served the Lord in this way without full knowledge. Yet by his service, Srila Prabhupada explains, Jambuvan became enlightened after he had exhausted himself materially. Jambuvan then offered prays to Lord Krishna and happily gave Him the jewel, as well as his daughter, Jambavati. Krishna then married her immediately, then and there.

All the residents of Dvaraka became extremely joyful when Krishna finally returned. They had almost given up hope for His safe return. They had begun to call Satrajit ill names, blaming him for Krishna’s disappearance.

After this incident King Satrajit realized his mistake and felt very sorry. He then decided to offer his daughter, Satyabhama, along with the Syamataka jewel, to Krishna. Krishna married Satyabhama but told Satrajit to keep the jewel in the temple, as he had done before, for the benefit of all the inhabitants of Dvaraka. Srila Prabhupada explains that Krishna could understand that Satrajit was still attached to keeping the jewel in his possession and for this reason He had declined to accept it. After this, Satrajit remained very attached to the jewel and kept it with him at all times.

The Killing of Satrajit and Satadhanva

When a messenger brought the false news that the Pandavas had been killed in a devastating fire at the house of shellac, Krishna and Balarama decided to go to Hastinapura to join in the bereavement of the Kuru dynasty—even though They both understood that the Pandavas could not have possibly perished in this fire.

While They were away, there was a conspiracy to take the Syamantaka jewel away from Satrajit. The chief conspirator was a powerful outlaw name Satadhanva, who had wanted to marry Satyabhama. He had been frustrated in his hopes when Krishna had married her, and he was angry at Satrajit for this reason. Other princes had also hoped to marry Satyabhama and were thus frustrated, and for this reason they also joined this conspiracy. Apart from these frustrated princes, even the devotees Akrura and Kritavarma joined this conspiracy.

Akrura and Kritavarma joined the conspiracy because they wanted the jewel for Krishna. They knew that Krishna wanted the jewel and that Satrajit had not delivered in properly. Others joined the conspiracy because they were disappointed in not having the hand of Satyabhama. Some of them incited Satadhanva to kill Satrajit and take away the jewel.”

Why did a great devotee like Akrura join this horrible conspiracy? Srila Prabhupada explains:The answer given by great authorities like Jiva Gosvami is that although Akrura was a great devotee, he was cursed by the inhabitants of Vrindaban because of his taking Krishna away from their midst… Similarly, Kritavarma was a devotee, but because of his intimate association with Kamsa, he was contaminated by sinful reactions, and he also joined the conspiracy.” This instance shows the dangers of offending pure devotees and associating with envious persons. It seems that even great personalities like Akrura and Bhismadeva can be affected by bad association or offenses to pure Vaisnavas.

One night the sinful Satadhanva, a man of abominable character, snuck into the house of Satrajit and killed him while he was sleeping and took away the Syamantaka jewel. Satyabhama was in her father’s house that night because her newly married husband, Lord Krishna, was away in Hastinapura. She and other ladies of the house saw Satadhanva and cried loudly when they found Satrajit murdered. Satyabhama greatly lamented the death of her father and then quickly left for Hastinapura to inform Lord Krishna and Balarama, Who immediately returned with her to Dvaraka City.

Satadhanva, having been found out, knew that Krishna would be coming to get him, so he immediately fled from Dvaraka, after leaving the jewel in the care of Akrura. He had first begged Akrura and Kritavarma for help, but both told him there was nothing they could do to protect him. Krishna and Balarama soon caught up with Satadhanva, and Krishna immediately cut off his head with His Sudarshana Cakra. Srila Prabhupada explains in the connection that one who has rebelled against a superior person must be punished according to the severity of the offense. Satadhanva had mercilessly butchered a superior person, Satrajit, Krishna’s father-in-law.

Later Krishna learned that the jewel was in the care of Akrura, who turned it over to Him. Akrura had also left Dvaraka for fear of Krishna’s wrath, but Krishna had asked him to return to Dvaraka. Rather than punish Akrura, He treated him as a superior, because Akrura was Krishna’s uncle and a highly elevated pious devotee of the Lord. Krishna then told Akrura to keep the jewel in his care for the benefit of all the inhabitants of Dvaraka City.

Srila Prabhupada comments, “In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that anyone who hears the story of the Syamantaka jewel or describes it or simply remembers it will be free from all kinds of defamation and the reactions of all impious activities and thus will attain the highest perfectional condition of peace.”

Final note: It is interesting that Akrura and Kritavarma, although involved in the conspiracy that resulted in the murder of Satrajit, were not punished by Lord Krishna. They had become involved in this sinful conspiracy only for the purpose of handing over the Syamantaka jewel to Lord Krishna. They understood that Satrajit was materially attached to the jewel and was hoarding it for himself rather than properly engaging it in the service of Krishna and the inhabitants of Dvaraka. This story indicates that if one’s motive is to please Krishna or His pure devotee, he can perform all kinds of work without getting a material reaction, although the same work done by a self-motivated materialist might bring a severely harmful reaction.

On the other hand, although one may be engaged in clean brahminical work, such as Deity worship in the temple or holy place, if one’s motive is sense gratification, he becomes degraded. Srila Prabhupada has explained that those who make a business of Deity worship in Mathura Mandala, with the motive of material profit, must be punished and will thus take birth as animals in the their next life. Generally such persons see the Deity as a statue or metal prop for collecting money, and they tend to judge Vaisnavas according to bodily designations of caste, race or country. (Cc. Antya, 294, Purport) Similarly, those who adopt the profession of spiritual masters for the sake sense gratification are also punishable and become narakis, “candidates for hellish life”. Other candidates for hellish life include uneducated, self-righteous pretenders whose business is to pick fights with bona fide preachers due to malicious envy or for the sake of name and fame. Srila Prabhupada has several times warned about such wolves in sheep’s clothing, as did Jesus Christ.