ISKCON Press


The Marriage of Sāmba

Duryodhana, the son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, had a marriageable daughter by the name of Lakṣmaṇā. She was a very highly qualified girl of the Kuru dynasty, and many princes wanted to marry her. In such cases, the svayaṁvara ceremony is held so that the girl may select her husband according to her own choice. In Lakṣmaṇā’s svayaṁvara assembly, when the girl was to select her husband, Sāmba appeared. He was a son of Kṛṣṇa’s by Jāmbavatī, one of the chief wives of Lord Kṛṣṇa. This son Sāmba is so named because he was a very bad child, and he always lived close to his mother. The name Sāmba indicates a son who is very much his mother’s pet. Ambā means mother, and sa means with. So this special name was given to him because he always remained with his mother. He was also known as Jāmbavatīsuta for the same reason. As previously explained, all the sons of Kṛṣṇa were as qualified as their great father, Lord Kṛṣṇa. Sāmba wanted the daughter of Duryodhana, Lakṣmaṇā, although she was not inclined to have him. Therefore Sāmba kidnapped Lakṣmaṇā by force from the svayaṁvara assembly. id1

Because Sāmba took Lakṣmaṇā away from the assembly by force, all the members of the Kuru dynasty, namely, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Bhīṣma, Vidura, Ujahan and Arjuna, thought it an insult to their family tradition that the boy, Sāmba, could possibly have kidnapped their daughter. All of them knew that Lakṣmaṇā was not at all inclined to select him as her husband and that she was not given the chance to select her own husband; instead she was forcibly taken away by this boy. Therefore, they decided that he must be punished. They unanimously declared that he was most impudent and that he had degraded the Kurus’ family tradition. Therefore, all of them, under the counsel of the elderly members of the Kuru family, decided to arrest the boy but not kill him. They concluded that the girl could not be married to any boy other than Sāmba since she had already been touched by him. (According to the Vedic system, once being used by some boy, a girl cannot be married or given to any other boy. Nor would anyone agree to marry a girl who had already thus associated with another boy.) The elderly members of the family, such as Bhīṣma, wanted to arrest him. All the members of the Kuru dynasty, especially the great fighters, joined together just to teach him a lesson, and Karṇa was made the commander-in-chief for this small battle. id2

While the plan was being made to arrest Sāmba, the Kurus counseled amongst themselves that upon his arrest, the members of the Yadu dynasty would be very angry with them. There was every possibility of the Yadus’ accepting the challenge and fighting with them. But they also thought, “If they came here to fight with us, what could they do? The members of the Yadu dynasty cannot equal the members of the Kuru dynasty because the kings of the Kuru dynasty are the emperors whereas the kings of the Yadu dynasty are able to enjoy their landed property.” The Kurus thought, “If they come here to challenge us because their son was arrested, we will nevertheless accept the fight. All of us will teach them a lesson, so that automatically they will become subdued under pressure, as the senses are subdued by the mystic yoga process, prāṇāyāma.”(In the mechanical system of mystic yoga, the airs within the body are controlled, and the senses are subdued and checked from being engaged in anything other than meditation upon Lord Viṣṇu.) id3

After consultation and after receiving permission from the elderly members of the Kuru dynasty, such as Bhīṣma and Dhṛtarāṣṭra, six great warriors—Karṇa, Śala, Bhurisrava, Yajñaketu and Duryodhana, the father of the girl—all mahā-rathīs and guided by the great fighter Bhīṣmadeva, attempted to arrest the boy Sāmba. There are different grades of fighters, including mahā-rathī, eka-rathī and rathī, classified according to their fighting capacity. These mahā-rathīs could fight alone with many thousands of men. All of them combined together to arrest Sāmba. Sāmba was also a mahā-rathī, but he was alone and had to fight with the six other mahā-rathīs. Still he was not deterred when he saw all the great fighters of the Kuru dynasty coming up behind him to arrest him. id4

Alone, he turned towards them and took his nice bow, posing exactly as a lion stands adamant in the face of other animals. Karṇa was leading the party, and he challenged Sāmba, “Why are you fleeing? Just stand, and we shall teach you a lesson!” When challenged by another kṣatriya to stand and fight, a kṣatriya cannot go away; he must fight. Therefore, as soon as Sāmba accepted the challenge and stood alone before them, he was overpowered by showers of arrows thrown by all the great warriors. As a lion is never afraid of being chased by many wolves and jackals, similarly, Sāmba, the glorious son of the Yadu dynasty, endowed with inconceivable potencies as the son of Lord Kṛṣṇa, became very angry at the warriors of the Kuru dynasty for improperly using arrows against him. He fought them with great talent. First of all, he struck each of the six charioteers with six separate arrows. Another four arrows he used to kill the charioteers’ horses, four on each chariot. One arrow was used to kill the driver and one arrow was used for Karṇa as well as the other celebrated fighters. While Sāmba was so diligently fighting alone with the six great warriors, they all appreciated the inconceivable potency of the boy. Even in the midst of fighting, they admitted frankly that this boy Sāmba was wonderful. But the fighting was conducted in the kṣatriya spirit, so all together, although it was improper, they obliged Sāmba to get down from his chariot, now broken to pieces. Of the six warriors, four took care to kill Sāmba’s four horses, and one of them managed to cut the string of Sāmba’s bow so that he could no longer fight with them. In this way, with great difficulty and after a severe fight, Sāmba was left bereft of his chariot, and they were able to arrest him. Thus, the warriors of the Kuru dynasty accepted their great victory and took their daughter, Lakṣmaṇā, away from him. Thereafter, they entered the city of Hastināpura in great triumph. id5

The great sage Nārada immediately carried the news to the Yadu dynasty that Sāmba was arrested and told them the whole story. The members of the Yadu dynasty became very angry at Sāmba’s being arrested, and improperly so by six warriors. Now, with the permission of the head of the Yadu dynasty’s king, Ugrasena, they prepared to attack the capital city of the Kuru dynasty. id6

Although Lord Balarāma knew very well that by slight provocation people are prepared to fight with one another in the age of Kali, He did not like the idea that the two great dynasties, the Kuru dynasty and the Yadu dynasty, would fight amongst themselves, even though they were influenced by Kali-yuga. “Instead of fighting with them,” He wisely thought, “let Me go there and see the situation, and let Me try to see if the fight can be settled by mutual understanding.” Balarāma’s idea was that if the Kuru dynasty could be induced to release Sāmba along with his wife, Lakṣmaṇā, then the fight could be avoided. He therefore immediately arranged for a nice chariot to go to Hastināpura, accompanied by learned priests and brāhmaṇas, as well as by some of the elderly members of the Yadu dynasty. He was confident that the members of the Kuru dynasty would agree to this marriage and avoid fighting amongst themselves. As Lord Balarāma proceeded towards Hastināpura in His chariot, accompanied by the learned brāhmaṇas and the elderly members of the Yadu dynasty, He looked like the moon shining in the clear sky amongst the glittering stars. When Lord Balarāma reached the precincts of the city of Hastināpura, He did not enter, but stationed Himself in a camp outside the city in a small garden house. Then He asked Uddhava to see the leaders of the Kuru dynasty and inquire from them whether they wanted to fight with the Yadu dynasty or to make a settlement. Uddhava went to see the leaders of the Kuru dynasty, and he met all the important members, including Bhīṣmadeva, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Droṇācārya, Bali, Duryodhana and Bāhlīka. After offering them due respects, he informed them that Lord Balarāma had already arrived at the garden, outside the city door. id7

The leaders of the Kuru dynasty, especially Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Duryodhana, were very joyful because they knew very well that Lord Balarāma was a great well-wisher of their family. There were no bounds to their joy on hearing the news, and so immediately they welcomed Uddhava. In order to properly receive Lord Balarāma, they all took auspicious paraphernalia for His reception in their hands and went to see Him outside the city door. According to their respective positions, they welcomed Lord Balarāma by giving Him in charity nice cows and argha (an assortment of articles such as ārātrika water, sweet preparations of honey, butter, etc., and flowers, and garlands scented with pulp). Because all of them knew the exalted position of Lord Balarāma as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they bowed their heads before the Lord with great respect. They all exchanged words of reception by asking one another of their welfare, and when such formality was finished, Lord Balarāma, in a great voice and very patiently, submitted before them the following words for their consideration. “My dear friends, this time I have come to you as a messenger with the order of the all-powerful King Ugrasena. Please, therefore, hear the order with attention and great care. Without wasting a single moment, please try to carry out the order. King Ugrasena knows very well that you warriors of the Kuru dynasty improperly fought with the pious Sāmba, who was alone, and that with great difficulty and tactics you have arrested him. We have all heard this news, but we are not very agitated because we are most intimately related to each other. I do not think we should disturb our good relationship; we should continue our friendship without any unnecessary fighting. Please, therefore, immediately release Sāmba and bring him, along with his wife, Lakṣmaṇā, before Me.” id8

When Lord Balarāma spoke in a commanding tone full of heroic assertion, supremacy and chivalry, His statements were not appreciated by the leaders of the Kuru dynasty. Rather, all of them became agitated, and with great anger they said: “Hello! These words are very astonishing but quite befitting the age of Kali; otherwise how could Balarāma speak so vituperatively? The language and tone used by Balarāma are simply abusive, and due to the influence of this age, it appears that the shoes befitting the feet want to rise to the top of the head where the helmet is worn. We are connected with the Yadu dynasty by marriage, and because of this they have been given the chance to come live with us, dine with us, and sleep with us; now they are taking advantage of these privileges. They had practically no position before we gave them a portion of our kingdom to rule, and now they are trying to command us. We have allowed the Yadu dynasty to use the royal insignias like the whisk, fan, conchshell, white umbrella, crown, royal throne, sitting place, bedstead and everything befitting the royal order. They should not have used such royal paraphernalia in our presence, but we did not check them due to our family relationships. Now they have the audacity to order us to do things. Well, this is enough of their impudence! We cannot allow them to do any more of these things, nor shall we allow them to use these royal insignias. It would be best to take all these things away; it is improper to feed a snake with milk, since such merciful activities simply increase his venom. The Yadu dynasty is now trying to go against those who have fed them so nicely. Their flourishing condition is due to our gifts and merciful behavior, and still they are so shameless that they are trying to order us. How regrettable are all these activities! No one in the world can enjoy anything if the members of the Kuru dynasty like Bhīṣma, Droṇācārya and Arjuna do not allow them to. Exactly as a lamb cannot enjoy life in the presence of a lion, without our desire it is not even possible for the demigods in heaven, headed by King Indra, to find enjoyment in life, not to speak of ordinary human beings!” Actually the members of the Kuru dynasty were very puffed up due to their opulence, kingdom, aristocracy, family tradition, great warriors, family members and vast expansive empire. They did not even observe common formalities of civilized society, and in the presence of Lord Balarāma they uttered insulting words about the Yadu dynasty. Speaking in this unmannerly way, they returned to their city of Hastināpura. id9

Although Lord Balarāma patiently heard their insulting words and simply observed their uncivil behavior, from His appearance it was clear that He was burning with anger and was thinking of retaliating with great vengeance. His bodily features became so agitated that it was difficult for anyone to look at Him. He laughed very loudly and said: “It is true that if a man becomes too puffed up because of his family, opulence, beauty and material advancement, he no longer wants a peaceful life but becomes belligerent toward all others. It is useless to give such a person good instruction for gentle behavior and peaceful life, but on the contrary, one should search out the ways and means to punish him.” Generally, due to material opulence a man becomes exactly like an animal. To give an animal peaceful instructions is useless, and the only means is argumentum vaculum. In other words, the only means to keep animals in order is a stick. “Just see how impudent the members of the Kuru dynasty are! I wanted to make a peaceful settlement despite the anger of all the other members of the Yadu dynasty, including Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. They were preparing to attack the whole kingdom of the Kuru dynasty, but I pacified them and took the trouble to come here to settle the affair without any fighting. Still these rascals behave like this! It is clear that they do not want a peaceful settlement, but that they are factually warmongers. With great pride they have repeatedly insulted Me by calling the Yadus dynasty ill names. id10

“Even the King of heaven, Indra, abides by the order of the Yadu dynasty; and you consider King Ugrasena, who is the head of the Bhojas, Vṛṣṇis, Andhakas and Yādavas, to be the leader of a small phalanx! Your conclusion is wonderful! You do not care for King Ugrasena, whose order is obeyed even by King Indra. Consider the exalted position of the Yadu dynasty. They have forcibly used both the assembly house and the pārijāta tree of the heavenly planet, and still you think that they cannot order you. Don’t you even think that Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can sit on the exalted royal throne and command everyone? All right! If your thinking is like that, then you deserve to be taught a very good lesson. You have thought it wise that the royal insignias like the whisk, fan, white umbrella, royal throne and other princely paraphernalia not be used by the Yadu dynasty. Does this mean that even Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the whole creation and the husband of the goddess of fortune, cannot use this royal paraphernalia? The dust of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet is worshiped by all the great demigods. The Ganges water is inundating the whole world, and since it is emanating from His lotus feet, its banks have turned into great places of pilgrimage. The principal deities of all planets engage in His service, and they consider themselves most fortunate to take the dust of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa on their helmets. Great demigods like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, and even the goddess of fortune and I are simply plenary parts of His spiritual identity, and still you think that He is not fit to use the royal insignia or even sit on the royal throne? Alas, how regrettable it is that these fools consider us, the members of the Yadu dynasty, to be like shoes and themselves like helmets. It is clear now that these leaders of the Kuru dynasty have become mad over their worldly possessions and opulence. Every statement they made was full of crazy proposals. I should immediately take them to task and bring them to their senses. If I do not take steps against them, it will be improper on My part. Therefore, on this very day, I shall rid the whole world of any trace of the Kuru dynasty. I shall finish them off immediately!” While talking like this, Lord Balarāma seemed so furious that He looked as if He could burn the whole cosmic creation to ashes. He stood up steadily, and taking His plow in His hand, began striking the earth with it. In this way the whole city of Hastināpura was separated from the earth. Lord Balarāma then began to drag the city toward the flowing water of the river Ganges. Because of this, there was a great tremor throughout Hastināpura, as if there had been an earthquake, and it seemed that the whole city would be dismantled. id11

When all the members of the Kuru dynasty saw that their city was about to fall into the water of the Ganges and when they heard their citizens howling in great anxiety, they immediately came to their senses and understood what was happening. Thus without waiting another second they brought forward their daughter Lakṣmaṇā. They also brought Sāmba, who had forcibly tried to take her away, keeping him in the forefront with Lakṣmaṇā at his back. All the members of the Kuru dynasty appeared before Lord Balarāma with folded hands just to beg the pardon of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now using good sense, they said: “O Lord Balarāma, You are the reservoir of all pleasures. You are the maintainer and support of the entire cosmic situation. Unfortunately we were all unaware of Your inconceivable potencies. Dear Lord, please consider us most foolish. Our intelligence was bewildered and not in order. Therefore we have come before You to beg Your pardon. Please excuse us. You are the original creator, sustainer and annihilator of the whole cosmic manifestation, and still Your position is always transcendental. O all-powerful Lord, great sages speak about You. You are the original puppeteer, and everything in the world is just like Your toys. O unlimited one, You have a hold on everything, and like child’s play You hold all the planetary systems on Your head. When the time for dissolution comes, You close up the whole cosmic manifestation within Yourself. At that time nothing remains but Yourself lying in the Causal Ocean as Mahā-Viṣṇu. Our dear Lord, You have appeared on this earth in Your transcendental body just for the maintenance of the cosmic situation. You are above all anger, envy and enmity. Whatever You do, even in the form of chastisement, is auspicious for the whole material existence. We are offering our respectful obeisances unto You because You are the imperishable Supreme Personality of Godhead, the reservoir of all opulences and potencies. O creator of innumerable universes, let us fall down and offer You our respectful obeisances, again and again. We are now completely surrendered unto You. Please, therefore, be merciful upon us and give us Your protection.” When the prominent members of the Kuru dynasty, beginning with grandfather Bhīṣmadeva down to Arjuna and Duryodhana, had offered their respectful prayers in that way, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Balarāma, immediately became softened and assured them that there was no cause for fear and that they need not worry. id12

For the most part it was the practice of the kṣatriya kings to inaugurate some kind of fighting between the parties of the bride and bridegroom before the marriage. When Sāmba forcibly took away Lakṣmaṇā, the elder members of the Kuru dynasty were pleased to see that he was actually the suitable match for her. In order to see his personal strength, however, they fought with him, and without any respect for the regulations of fighting, they all arrested him. When the Yadu dynasty decided to release Sāmba from the confinement of the Kurus, Lord Balarāma came personally to settle the matter, and as a powerful kṣatriya, He ordered them to free Sāmba immediately. The Kauravas became superficially insulted by this order, so they challenged Lord Balarāma’s power. They simply wanted to see Him exhibit His inconceivable strength. Thus with great pleasure they handed over their daughter to Sāmba, and the whole matter was settled. Duryodhana, being affectionate towards his daughter Lakṣmaṇā, had her married to Sāmba in great pomp. For her dowry, he first gave 1,200 elephants, each of which were at least sixty years old; then he gave 10,000 nice horses, 6,000 chariots, which were dazzling just like the sunshine, and 1,000 maidservants who were decorated with golden ornaments. Lord Balarāma, the most prominent member of the Yadu dynasty, acted as guardian of the bridegroom, Sāmba, and very pleasingly accepted the dowry. Balarāma was very satisfied after His great reception from the side of the Kurus, and accompanied by the newly married couple, He started towards His capital city of Dvārakā. id13

Lord Balarāma triumphantly reached Dvārakā, where He met with many citizens who were all His devotees and friends. When they all assembled, Lord Balarāma narrated the whole story of the marriage, and they were astonished to hear how Balarāma had made the city of Hastināpura tremble. It is confirmed by Śukadeva Gosvāmī that the site of Hastināpura is now known as New Delhi, and the river flowing through the city is called the Yamunā, although in those days it was known as the Ganges. From authorities like Jīva Gosvāmī it is also confirmed that the Ganges and Yamunā are the same river flowing in different courses. The part of the Ganges which flows through Hastināpura to the area of Vṛndāvana is called the Yamunā because it is sanctified by the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The part of Hastināpura which slopes towards the Yamunā becomes inundated during the rainy season and reminds everyone of Lord Balarāma’s threatening to cast the city into the Ganges. id14

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Sixty-eighth Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Marriage of Sāmba.” id15

Previous PageBack to overviewNext Page