Gayathriji from Boston beautifully discoursed on the Syamantaka-gem story.
We all know that Lord Krishna married Rukmini. She wrote a letter to the Lord expressing her deep love for the Lord. In the same letter she says, “Oh Lord! I have heard all about your wonderful character. For such a person with all the splendid character, which woman will not be attracted to you?”
So this very line shows that Lord Krishna got married to other Mahishis, Jambhavati, Sathyabhama, Sathya and Kalindi.
Lord Krishna was ruling Dwaraka along with Rukmini. The Yadava clan did not realize that Lord Krishna was indeed Bhagavaan. It is said that “Harim meena ivodupam”. Just like a fish swimming in water, when looking at a big boat/ship in water and unable to get full sight of the ship, thinks that the ship is yet another big fish compared to itself. There is a marked difference between ship and fish. If we take the fish from the water, the fish is bound to die. The very purport of the ship is to bring the people ashore. The Lord having married to Rukmini is now leading the life of a house-holder [samsari] in order to bring all the house-holders out of the ocean of samsara.
The Yadavas presumed that Lord Krishna is yet another Yadava but is indeed a smarter one and hence he is a minister and a king! They never looked him as the very Lord. One fine morning they came running to the Lord and started to hail, “Oh Narayanana, Oh Damodara “. The Lord was taken aback. He was wondering the reason for the yadavas to call him by those names. No sooner did he wonder than he realized that the yadavas replied that “Oh Lord Krishna! The Surya Bhagawan himself is coming to see you”. The Lord immediately thought that the moment the yadavas realize that the person who was approaching was not Surya Bhagawan, they would stop calling him as the Lord. He looked at the person arriving and it was one of the Yadavas by name Satrajit. He was wearing a very luminous dollar in a chain that made everybody think that he was none other than the sun god himself. As soon as Satrajit took his seat, all the Yadavas stopped looking at the Lord and were starring at Satrajit and his shining dollar with gape. Lord Krishna then asked Satrajit about the luminous dollar. He mentioned that it was bestowed to him by the Sun God as he was pleased with the penance he performed on him. He further added that it was called Syamantaka-gem and that he was wearing it as a pendant. So Lord Sri Krishna asked Satrajit on the significance of the Syamantaka gem. Satrajit replied that it will bestow one with longevity and prosperity and peace will prevail ever lastingly and it will also yield two and half kilos of gold every day. So Lord Sri Krishna asked Satrajit if he can have the Syamantaka gem. The Lord told him that he can very well keep the fortunes [gold] at his place but only give the Syamantaka Gem to him so that he can guard the precious stone very well. Satrajit politely refused and said that since it was Sun god’s gift and that he preferred to guard it.
Days passed by. One day it was Satrajit’s brother Prasenan’s birthday. So he requested Satrajit if he could have the Syamantaka Gem for just that day. Satrajit couldn’t refuse since it was his brother and with half heart he gave the precious stone to his sibling, Prasenan. He very happily took the stone and went around the town wearing the Syamantaka gem. The Yadavas slowly started to feel that they did not gain anything by being devoted to Lord Krishna and thought that they should have been devout to Surya Bhagawan. Prasenan then left to the forest for hunting but he never returned back. Unfortunately he was hunted by a lion and was killed. Days passed by and people started to talk ill about Lord Krishna. News started to spread throughout Dwaraka that Lord Krishna had killed Prasenan since Satrajit had denied the Semantaka Gem to Lord Krishna earlier. Instead of calling the Lord as Navaneeta Chora, they started to call him as “Semantaka Gem chora”. The Lord was obviously not very happy to hear his new name and decided to set things right and left to the forest to find out what had happened. He found out that Prasenan was killed by a lion since his body contained lion’s claw’s marks and he followed the lion’s footsteps and he reached the mouth of a cave where he found out that the lion was killed by a bear. With much effort, he reached a cave and that cave led to a kingdom and a palace. Upon reaching the kingdom, he spotted a child playing with the Semantaka Gem and he was escorted by a lady care-taker. When she heard the Lord’s anklets sound and she cried “Oh Father”. The bear king, Jambhavan immediately came out and asked the Lord for his presence in the kingdom. And Yes, it is the same Jambavan from Ramayana. The Lord replied that the Semantaka Gem belonged to him and that he had come to take possession of it. The bear king immediately replied that it belonged to him since he killed the lion to take possession of the semantaka gem. Anything that a warrior [kshtriya] wins over another by waging a war belongs to the winner. So Jambavan replied that he cannot give it to Lord Krishna. So the Lord replied that if war is the criteria for Syamantaka, he told Jambavan that they can wage a war between the two. The winner of the war will have the Syamantaka-gem . Jambavan was very excited to hear this. He happily agreed for the war. Initially they started uprooting the trees and started throwing them at each other. They then uprooted the mountains, hills and huge stones and started pelting each other. It was indeed a tumultuous battle. They then started to wrestle, pummel and scratch each other. It is said that the Mahabharata war endured for eighteen days.
The confrontation between the Lord and Jambhavan persisted for eighteen days and nights without any break. Jambhavan did not completely enquire about his opponent, Lord Krishna, before the war. Why did Lord Krishna spare Jambavan for eighteen nights, when he could have killed him in a second akin to Kamsa? It is because whenever Jambhavan delivered a blow on Lord Krishna he said, – “Vibha Ragupathe Jaya Jaya”. Since he chanted the divine names of the Lord, which is verily calling Lord Krishna himself, he no choice but to accept his blows. So the battle prolonged for eighteen nights. Finally Jambahavan was tired and whispered to himself, “Who else in this world, other than Lord Rama himself has the ability to fight against me?” That very moment Lord Sri Krishna disappeared and Lord Rama appeared in front of Jambhavan. The Lord said to Jambavan that in Ramayana, he was not given a fair chance in the battle field and that Hanuman and Sugreeva themselves took care of most of the things. The Lord further added , “Oh jambavan there was no strong men in the opponent team with such valor to fight against you excepting me “. You were hesitant to fight against me and hence to fulfill your desire to fight a war against me, I descended on the earth as Lord Krishna. Upon hearing this, Jambavan was very happy and immediately prostrated unto the holy feet of the Lord. He offered his daughter, Jambavati and the Syamantaka-gem gem as a gift to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna married Jambavathi and returned to Dwaraka along with Jambavathi and Syamantaka-gem .
Meanwhile in Dwaraka, since Lord Krishna was not to be seen in the town for eighteen days, the yadavas who had earlier bad mouthed Lord Krishna started to talk ill about Satrajit. They blamed him for Lord Krishna’s disappearance. Rukmini was also worried about Lord Krishna’s disappearance for eighteen days. At that very moment, Lord Krishna appeared victorious and returned with Syamantaka-gem and Jambavathi. Rukmini was very happy and she offered a very warm welcome to Jambavathi. Lord Krishna then assembled his court and summoned Satrajit. He then told Satrajit that the Syamantaka-gem indeed belonged to him for two reasons. Firstly he won the combat against the bear king and that he got the gem as a gift from the bear king, Jambavan. Having said that, the Lord was however willing to give it to Satrajit and gave it to him. The Lord thus got rid of the blame that he stole the Syamantaka-gem .
Now, the Yadavas started to talk ill about Satrajit. They accused Satrajit for falsely accusing Lord Krishna that he stole the Syamantaka-gem . He felt very depressed upon hearing and went to his to plot a plan to wipe off his bad name. His wife devised a beautiful plan. She said, “Why not we get related to Lord Krishna?” Let’s make Lord Sri Krishna as our bridegroom. Satrajit welcomed this idea and got his daughter Sathyabama married to Lord Sri Krishna. He also gave the Syamantaka Gem as a gift to Lord Krishna for their wedding. However, the Lord did not accept it. If Satrajit had given the gem earlier with whole heart he would have gladly accepted. We all know the great quality of our Lord. If we offer anything to the Lord with whole heart he would only snatch it from us. This great quality of the Lord was seen in Kuchela’s story, where he snatched the beaten rice from Kuchela.
Days passed by and one day Lord Krishna and his sibling, Lord Balarama went to Indrapastha to enquire on the Pandavas. Meanwhile everyone including Akrura Bhagavatar in Dwaraka was jealous about Satrajit and wanted to take possession of the Syamantaka gem. So one day when Lord Krishna was in Indraprasta, Akrura summoned Sathadanva who was related to Satyabama. He said “Oh Satadanva! Are you shameless? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? “ . Satrajit had earlier agreed to get his daughter Satyabama married to you. He did not keep up his words and she is now married to Lord Krishna. This is all for the Semantakagem. So he advised Satadanva to steal the gem from Satrajit’s place. Satadanva agreed to this malicious prepense. Making use of Lord Krishna’s absence, he went and slaughtered Satrajit and took the gem with him.
Satyabama was shocked to hear the news about her father’s death and went to Indrapastha to inform Lord Krishna. The Lord upon hearing the news broke down, lamenting the death of his father-in-law and consoled Satyabama. Even though the Lord is omniscient, since he is leading a house-holder life, he had lament for Satrajit’s death. Lord Krishna and Balarama returned to Dwaraka and started their search for the Semantaka. Satadanva became nervous and tensed upon the arrival of Lord Krishna in Dwaraka. He was scared that he would be slaughtered by Lord Krishna and ran to Akrura Bhagavathar to seek advice. It was indeed Akrura who had earlier advised him to steal the Syamantaka gem. Now when Satadanva went to him for advice, he asked him as to why he killed Satrajit to steal the Syamantaka. He handed the Syamantaka Gem to Akruar. Satadanva thought Lord Krishna would spare his life if he came to know that he did not possess the Syamantaka gem. When Akrura took possession of the Syamantaka, he left Dwaraka. Akrura who had ruled over the Brindavan, seeking the darshan of Lord Krishna now went to Kasi.
Lord Krishna and Balarama came to know that Satadanva had the Syamantaka Gem and started to chase him. Finally at the border of Koshala, Lord Krishna slaughtered him. Lord Krishna killed him not because he stole the Syamantaka but for killing Satrajit. They found out that he did not have the sementakgem. Balarama told Lord Krishna that he would have a sojourn at Koshala since the king of Koshala was Balarama’s pal. He also instructed Lord Krishna to look out for the Syamantaka-gem . Days passed by and Balarama returned to Dwaraka. Revathy, Balarama’s wife told her husband that Lord Krishna was not able to locate the Syamantaka-gem . Balarama swiftly replied back to Revathy that Lord Krishna does have the semantaka gem and that he is very sure about this. Revathy added that she is also of the same opinion as she noticed Rukmini securing something in her safety vault. So this kind of suspicious talk started to sprang up in Lord Krishna and Balarama’s homes. The Syamantaka gem brought misunderstanding in the Lord’s family itself.
Meanwhile the whole town started to talk about Akrura since he was missing for a while from Dwaraka. Akrura’s father was once invited to Kasi to perform spiritual austerities since the city was devoid of rain for a while. People started to talk that Akrura must have also been invited to Kasi at present, since Kasi is now receiving heavy downpours since he must have been performing some austerities.
Lord Krishna pondered over the missing Akruar. He thought that if he had left Dwaraka by missing the Lord’s darshan, then there is something more important than the Lord’s darshan itself. So he decided to go and meet Akrura in Kasi. When he met Akrura, he was indeed performing a sacrifice with utensils all made of gold. What else would Akrura do with two and half kilograms of gold from Syamantaka on a daily basis. The Brahmins who rendered the divine hymns were given gold as dakshana.
Lord Krishna started talking to Akrura. He told him that he was indeed a great Bhagavatha and that he rolled in the sands of Brindavan and that none can match his bhakti. After saying this, he asked Akrura if we wished to earn a bad name for him. Akrura swiftly denied. Lord Krishna in reply told him that he took possession of the Syamantaka gem and relocated to Kasi, while the inhabitants of Dwaraka are thinking that it is indeed he who has the Syamantaka gem. So Lord Krishna told Akrura, “Please come with me to Dwaraka, I shall summon the court. Please let the whole Yadava clan know that it is indeed you who possess the Syamantaka and not me. You can however retain the gem with you.” So Akrura implicitly followed Lord Krishna’s instruction and the Lord kept his word and gave the Syamantaka to the great sage.
If we ponder on Lord Krishna’s actions, why did he give the Syamantaka to Akrura? When Satrajit explained the significance of the gem in the court, he mentioned that anybody who possessed this great gem would be blessed with longevity, not face unexpected death and will lead a very prosperous life and that it would bestow with two and half kilograms of gold daily.
But we clearly saw that it brought unexpected death to everybody, right from Satrajit, Prasenan to Satadanva. The characteristics of Syamantaka hold good only if the gold from the Syamantaka was used for dharmic purport [right use]. The motive of artha is dharma. It was only Akrura who put the gold for right usage. That’s indeed why Akrura was not harmed.
Srimad Bhagavatham explains the pala stuthi of the Syamantaka Gem story that it will remove any infamy [appakrithi], absolves one from their sins and blesses one with prosperity and with peace of mind.
The satsang concluded with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.