One of the important didactic fables in Hindu mythology which throws light on
human behavior as well as grace of the divine is the tale of Syamantaka Mani. It finds
place in Srimad Bhagavatam and even a great personality like Sri Krishna had to face
calumny due to a pre-existing curse on Chaturthi, the fourth lunar day. In this article we will discuss the story with its astrological and spiritual implications. In a way, this story when listened to or read blesses the listener or reader with the grace of Lord Krishna as well as Lord Ganesha. Now we will move on to the story.
After his marriage to Rukmani, Sri Krishna was residing at Dwaraka. There happened to live in Dwaraka, at that time, two brothers by name Satrajit and Prasena. Satrajit was a devotee of Lord Surya. Sun is worshipped as a living God, whom we daily see with our eyes being one of the nine planets in Astrology. The hymns which are undertaken to worship the Sun are Surya Gayathri, Gayathri as chanted in Trikala Sandhya, Surya Namaskar, Aditya Hridayam and Mayura Satakam. Blessed with the devotion of Satrajit, the Sun – God presented him with the rare gem known as “Syamantaka” or “Syamantaka mani” and told him that no disease or sorrow will ever visit the house where it is present. However if the owner of the gem did not observe cleanliness and other forms of proper conduct, then it might do harm.
Any treasure that you come across belongs to the King. On this premise,Satrajit was suspicious that Sri Krishna, would like to take away the gem and to avert this, he handed it over to his brother Prasena. Mind you, the Sun – God’s condition was that the owner of the gem should observe cleanliness and we do not know whether Prasena was aware of this condition.
On his own, Prasena went on a hunting expedition and while in the forest it is difficult to observe cleanliness. Apparently the gem started working against Prasena and he was killed and eaten up by a lion. The lion also caught hold of the Syamantaka gem and carried it in his mouth. In a cave in the forest, lived Jambavan, the bear who helped the monkey army of Sri Rama. Jambavan had a baby boy (or rather a baby bear) by name Sukumara. To give him something to play with, Jambavan fought with the lion, got hold of the gem and gave it to Sukumara as a toy.
Meanwhile the search for Prasena, who had not returned from the hunting expedition started and Sri Krishna joined the search. It was getting dark and Lord Krishna looked at the sky and saw the crescent moon on the fourth lunar day, Sukla Chaturthi. This was the starting point of all his problems. It is said that anyone who looks at the moon on the fourth lunar day will eventually be blamed for a mistake or a crime, they never committed. Unable to trace Prasena in the dark Sri Krishna and his followers returned to Dwaraka. Satrajit suspected Krishna of foul play. His suspicion was that Krishna in order to possess the gem had sent his followers to the forest, killed Prasena and got the gem. The twin charges suspicion was there against Krishna were (1) murder of Prasena and (2) theft of Syamantaka Mani.
Sri Krishna and his retinue ,once again entered the forest and resumed their search. They noticed the carcass of a lion and the footprints of a bear. This led them to Jambavan’s cave. A battle ensured between Jambavan and Sri Krishna for 21 days. Finally Jambavan could not continue and politely told Sri Krishna, “I will hand over the gem to you.Moreover, I will give, my daughter Jambavati, a gem of a girl, in marriage to you.”This is how the marriage of Jambavati with Sri Krishna got solemnized.
Sri Krishna returned the gem to Satrajit. Satrajit in a manner similar to Jambavan offered not only the gem but also his daughter Satyabhama, in marriage to Sri Krishna, who rejected the former and accepted the latter. Satyabhama was the only daughter of Satrajit and he felt that in due course, his property would be inherited by Satyabhama. So Sri Krishna by consenting to marry Satyabhama would become the eventual owner of the gem along with Satyabhama. Shatadanva, Akrura and Krita Varman had an eye on Satyabhama and when the marriage was announced, they came on a common platform of hatred towards Satrajit, who had become father-in- law to Sri Krishna. Shatadanva became the “Hired killer” and he in a deceitful way killed Satrajit. Please note that Prasena was killed because he was physically not clean, while Satrajit was mentally not clean (having suspected Sri Krishna ) and therefore was killed. Surya Bhagwan’s words had come true. Everything has a price and even the precious Syamantaka mani was a double edged sword.Sri Krishna killed Shatadanva in a one-to- one combat. The gem had accounted for the death of three people, Prasena, Satrajit and Shatadanva. What was the reason?
At this juncture Narada Maharishi arrives on the scene and discusses the matter with Sri Krishna. Krishna broods over the fact that everybody looks at him with distrust. Why?
Narada says: “You saw the Moon on Bhadrapada Sukla Chathurthi. This got for you the curse of Lord Vinayaka”.
Please note that the day mentioned by Sage Narada is the day we celebrate as Ganesh Chathurthi. For every deity there is one special thithi that occurs either when the Moon is waxing or when it is waning. For Siva, it is the fourteenth day when Moon is waning, the day we call “Siva Rathri”. Rama Navami is the birthday of Lord Rama when the thithi is Navami while Moon is waxing. For Sri Krishna it is Ashtami, while Moon is waning. For Goddess Durga it is the Full Moon day,; for Lord Subrahmanya it is Shashti when Moon is waxing. The significant aspect of Lord Ganapathi is that the Chathurthi day is special to him both in the waning phase as also in the waxing phase. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the waxing phase of the Bhadrapad month. “Sankata Hara Chaturthi” is celebrated in the waning phase, all through the twelve months.
Usually Panchangs show the third lunar day as “Chandra Darshan”. If you see Moon on the Tritiya day in waxing phase, you are absolved of all sins. But, be careful. If you see the Panchangs and commit an error, you might get into trouble, seeing the Moon on fourth lunar day. When confronted by this dilemma what Lord Krishna did was to worship Lord Ganapathi both on Sukla Chaturthi as well as Krishna Chaturthi. Lord Ganapathi appeared before Lord Krishna and said “You have taken birth in this world. Therefore you are liable to get into problems.
However, you are leading a life which is so perfect, everybody should emulate you. Unfortunately, as a human being, you have come under the curse, which I pronounced on the Moon. Now, you will come out of all your problems like the Moon coming out of a cloud.”
At this juncture, Lord Krishna placed one request to Lord Ganesha. Please note that Lord Krishna does not care for happiness or grief and his concern is only for the well being of the world. Lord Krishna said, “Your blessing only solves my personal problems. Why don’t you say something and bless the world?” Lord Ganesha said “Even I have similar intentions. Earlier, I said that if you see the Moon on Tritiya, then the effect of accidentally viewing the Moon on Sukla Chathurthi will disappear. For that the public will need to wait for one full month. Now I declare that whosoever reads the story of Syamantaka gem and are thereby reminded of Lord Krishna’s experiences after viewing the Crescent Moon on fourth day will get their stigma eliminated immediately and become free from the curse pronounced earlier.” All experiences of Avatara Purushas eventually benefit the world. This story is no exception.
As predicted by Lord Ganesha, the stigma on Lord Krishna got neutralized in a few days. In Benaras, there was bounty everywhere whereas in Dwaraka, there was a lull in trade and Commerce. The reason was simple. Akrura was camping in Benaras with the Syamantaka gem and conducting free food camps, free medical service, building temples, so on and so forth. Sri Krishna sent some messengers to meet Akrura requesting him to return to Dwaraka and restore prosperity to the Kingdom, through the efficacy of the celestial gem. Akrura being a devotee of Sri Krishna, immediately returned to Dwaraka and returned the gem to Sri Krishna, but the latter politely declined the same. Meanwhile Balarama, who had some misunderstanding with Sri Krishna, returned to Dwaraka and expressed his apology for doubting Krishna’s integrity Lord Krishna said, “ Balarama, it is not your fault. All that I underwent is due to Ganesha’s curse on those viewing the Moon on Chaturthi.
I accidentally saw Moon on Chaturthi and that triggered all these untoward events.” While Ganesha,in general is worshipped for removal of obstacles, Sri Krishna worshipped Ganesha mainly to safeguard his reputation.
In this story. Lord Ganesha represents Ketu. Ketu affects the Moon, who is represented by Lord Krishna.Satrajit who got the jewel as a gift from Sun,represents the Sun. Jambavan being a devotee of Lord Rama, represents Mercury.
Shatadanva who killed Satrajit represents Mars, while Prasena who got the Jewel as a gift from Satrajit was unclean and therefore represents Saturn. Akrura represents the masculine aspects of Venus such as knowledge and devotion whereas the feminine features are represented by Satyabhama and Jambavati. Narada Maharishi represents Jupiter while Kritavarman ,who had sinister designs ,represents Rahu.
In a way, this story highlights the fact, that planetary influences affect not only human beings but also gods who choose to incarnate on earth. The suggestions of Avatars give us directions on how to overcome adverse planetary influences.
This year Ganesh Chaturthi falls on 17 th September, 2015.