Posted: 27 March 2006 at 3:34am | IP Logged
Jay and Vijay were the gatekeepers at the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu. Wanting to spend some undisturbed moments with his wife Lakshmi, Vishnu once instructed Jay and Vijay not to allow any visitors. It so happened that the four Sanakas dropped in to meet Vishnu. They were the sons of Brahma created from his mental powers. Though they were eternally young, they were very learned and highly respected. When Jay and Vijay refused to let them in, they promptly let loose a curse on the gatekeepers. Jay and Vijay would have to take birth twelve times on earth as mortals. Jay and Vijay protested stating that they were only following their master's instructions and a commotion ensued. Vishnu was forced to leave an enraged Lakshmi and come to the gate. He reprimanded the gatekeepers for letting the situation get out of hand but also ignored the visitors indicating his displeasure at their hasty action. Realising that Jay and Vijay were not at fault he offered them a partial reprieve. They would have to take birth only three times instead of twelve but there was a string attached. In these births they would be evil demons. Vishnu himself would appear on earth and kill them. Jay and Vijay accepted their master's proposal.
Jay and Vijay first took birth as twin demon brothers, Hirnyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. Hirnyaksha was killed by Vishnu in his Varaha (Boar) incarnation. This incensed Hiranyakashipu, who banned all forms of prayers and worship. However, his own son Prahlada became an ardent devotee of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu went to the extent of attempting to kill Prahlada and Vishnu had to intervene as Narasimha (Lion-Man). He killed Hiranyakashipu with his claws.
Jay and Vijay then took birth as Ravana, the evil king of Lanka, and Kumbhakaran, his younger brother. During this period Vishnu took birth as Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Ravana abducted Sita, Rama's wife and in the battle that ensued Rama killed both Ravana and Kumbhakaran.
Finally, Jay and Vijay took birth as Shishupal and Dantavakra during Vishnu's incarnation as Krishna. They played relatively minor characters. One theory is that the effect of the curse was wearing of and they were being born as progressively less evil characters. Both were first cousins of Krishna, born to two sisters of Krishna's father. When Shishupal was born, he had horns and four arms. His mother Shrutushravaa was horrified and wanted to kill him, but there was a prophecy that said that the extra protuberances would fall of when a certain person took Shishupal in his lap. However that person would eventually slay Shishupal. When Krishna went to see his young cousin and took the baby Shishupal on his lap the extra appendages fell off. Shrutushravaa was aghast that her nephew would kill her son. She pleaded with Krishna. Krishna said that he was powerless against destiny, but would forgive a hundred offences before letting the prophecy take effect. Dantavakra was born with protruding and jagged teeth. Dantavakra literally means "crooked teeth". His mother Shrutudevaa too was aghast at his ugliness but was hopeful that his deformity would be rectified in due course.
Both Shishupal and Dantavakra grew up together. Shishupal's father Damghosh was the king of Chedi and Dantavakra's father Vriddhasaman was the king of Karusha. Both were under the sovereignty of Jarasandh, emperor of Magadha. Shishupal and Dantavakra grew up under Jarasandh's tutelage. Jarasandh's attempt to subjugate all around him had been thwarted by Krishna and hence he hated Krishna. This hatred was naturally shared by Shishupal and Dantavakra.
During Yudhishthir's coronation, Shishupal objected to Krishna presiding over the ceremony. How can a cowherd be given this exalted position when so many kings and sages are present he argued. He then began to insult and abuse Krishna in front of the August assembly. Shishupal had then transgressed the count of hundred offences and Krishna released his Sudarshan Chakra and beheaded Shishupal.
Shalva was a small time king, a friend of Shishupal, who had an axe to grind with Krishna. In fact his bride-to-be had eloped with Krishna. He attacked Dwarka, Krishna's kingdom, but was killed on the battlefield by Krishna. Dantavakra decided to avenge Shalva's death. Proud and overconfident he fought without armour. On the battlefield he engaged Krishna in a duel with maces. Like Shishupal before him he heaped abuses on Krishna. Krishna easily bore the brunt of Dantavakra's attack and ultimately he tore open Dantavakra heart with his mace, known as Kaumodaki.
It is said that after the deaths of Shishupal and Dantavakra, those present could see the souls of the deceased merging into Krishna. This signified the end of the ordeal of Jay and Vijay. They were now free from the curse and would reside with Vishnu forever.