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I have heard many stories regarding the end of lord Krishna. How exactly did lord Krishna die?

I also heard that some arrow killed him and that arrow also have some history. Is that true?

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The story of Krishna's death is told in the Mausala Parva of the Mahabharata, but what led up to it starts earlier, in the Stri Parva. Right after the Mahabharata war, when Gandhari went to the battlefield of Kurukshetra where her sons' bodies were lying dead, she was overcome with anger at Krishna for not stopping such a deadly war, so she gave him the following curse:

Since thou wert indifferent to the Kurus and the Pandavas whilst they slew each other, therefore, O Govinda, thou shalt be the slayer of thy own kinsmen! In the thirty-sixth year from this, O slayer of Madhu, thou shalt, after causing the slaughter of thy kinsmen and friends and sons, perish by disgusting means in the wilderness. The ladies of thy race, deprived of sons, kinsmen, and friends, shall weep and cry even as these ladies of the Bharata race.

Krishna accepted the curse willingly, because it was all part of his divine plan to eliminate the Yadava race who had become a burden on the earth.

But the sequence of events immediately leading up to the Krishna's death is described in the Mausala Parva. 36 years after the Mahabharata war, the sages Vishwamitra, Kanva, and Narada came to Dwaraka, and Krishna's son Samba along with his friends decided to play a trick on the sages. They dressed up Samba as a woman, and asked the sages what kind of son this woman would have. The sages saw through the disguise, and enraged by this act of disrespect, they issued the following curse:

This heir of Vasudeva, by name Samba, will bring forth a fierce iron bolt for the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. Ye wicked and cruel ones, intoxicated with pride, through that iron bolt ye will become the exterminators of your race with the exception of Rama and Janarddana. The blessed hero armed with the plough will enter the ocean, casting off his body, while a hunter of the name of Jara will pierce the high-souled Krishna while lying on the ground.

And indeed, the next day Samba really did give birth to an iron bolt! When Ugrasena (the king of Dwaraka) heard about this, he ordered his men to make the bolt into a fine powder and then throw the powder into the sea. And the production of alcohol was banned, because the curse mentioned that the Yadavas would destroy their own race while drunk.

But then shortly thereafter, the entire Yadava race went to the sea coast to bathe in the sacred waters of Prabhasa, and there they started to drink. A drunken brawl soon ensued, and lacking weapons they started plucking Eraka grass out of the ground, which magically transformed into iron bolts with the power of thunder:

Indeed ... whoever amongst them took up in wrath a few blades of the Eraka grass, these, in his hands, became soon converted into a thunderbolt... Every blade of grass there was seen to be converted into a terrible iron bolt. All this ... was due to the curse denounced by Brahmanas. He who hurled a blade of grass saw that it pierced through even such things as were utterly impenetrable. In fact, every blade was seen to become a terrible bolt having the force of thunder.

You see, some of the powder from the iron bolt of Samba had washed up on the shore of Prabhasa and had magically grown into that Eraka grass. In any case, using the weapons furnished by the grass, the Yadavas soon annihilated each other. Then Krishna's brother Balarama started engaging in meditation and soon gave up his body, turning back into Vishnu's serpent Adiseshan:

Proceeding then to the forest, Keshava [i.e. Krishna] beheld Rama sitting in a solitary spot thereof. He also saw that Rama had set himself to Yoga and that from out his mouth was issuing a mighty snake. The colour of that snake was white. Leaving the human body (in which he had dwelt so long), that high-souled naga of a 1,000 heads and having a form as large as that of a mountain, endued besides with red eyes, proceeded along that way which led to the ocean.

Krishna then sat down in the forest, knowing that it was time for him to depart the earth. He was shot by the hunter Jara, who mistook Krishna's left foot for the mouth of a deer:

A fierce hunter of the name of Jara then came there, desirous of deer. The hunter, mistaking Keshava, who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey. Coming up, Jara beheld a man dressed in yellow robes, rapt in Yoga and endued with many arms. Regarding himself an offender, and filled with fear, he touched the feet of Keshava. The high-souled one comforted him and then ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour. When he reached Heaven, Vasava and the twin Ashvinis and Rudra and the Adityas and the Vasus and the Viswedevas, and Munis and Siddhas and many foremost ones among the Gandharvas, with the Apsaras, advanced to receive him.

Jara's shaft was made of the remaining powder of Samba's iron bolt, which had been swallowed by a fish, where it had solidified into a piece of iron. Jara caught the fish and made the iron into a shaft for hunting. Thus, just as the sages had prophesied, Krishna and his Yadava clan were destroyed by an iron bolt.

By the way, it is said that Jara was the reincarnation of Sugriva's brother Vali, whom Vishnu had killed from behind in his incarnation as Rama, so Jara was killing Krishna the way Rama had killed Vali.

  • "slayer of Madhu?" Did Gandhari know about divinity of Krishna? Also, you can write about Krishna's penance to Shiva, to born as Samba. – The Destroyer Nov 24 '15 at 11:49
  • @AnilKumar Unlike the case of Rama, it was public knowledge that Krishna was an incarnation of Vishnu; see my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/3427/36 There were people like Duryodhana who refused to believe it, but it was at least publicly available information. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 24 '15 at 13:37
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Okay here is the shruti....

Lord Krishna was killed by a shephard who was none other than Angada, Bali's sone from treta. While departing Lord Rama asked everyone who helped during war with Ravana, Angada demanded that, though you are the ultimate God, still I want revenge of my fathers' death.

Lord Rama obliged, and told him that he will be reborn as a shephard in Dwapar, and will get a chance to kill him.

Then the story mentioned here happened. Arujuna was with Lord Krishna at that time, and he wanted to remove the arrow, Lord Krishna told arjun that "if he removes this, he will no longer be able to lift Gandiv, as it was a shudra's arrow." , still Arjuna insisted, and he removed the arrow, and hence he could never lift Gandiv thereafter.

Lord Krishna left earth in the aftermath of it, and Angada had his revenge.

-- for those asking for reference, if you believe in Hinduism, and all the texts written and said over in our scriptures, I am from one of brahmin clans who are the direct 'descendants of Lord Agni, and thats how we take "Aachamani", we recite, "Agni Putro-aham" during achmani, so I believe whatever we have been told by our elders is right enough, and needs no reference. We are given compulsory education at home of the vedas and everything related to hinduism, in the form that our elders have heard from their elders till 12 yrs of age along with modern education.

If anyone finds any reference in any texts about above story let me know

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Lord Krishna was killed by a hunter after reaching 125 years on Earth. While he was sitting beside the bush, his leg was visible and the hunter, thinking it was the leg of an animal, shot his foot with a poisonous arrow.

The hunt was due to Gandhari, the mother of Kauravas. She cursed Lord Krishna, that he will die after 36 days from the time when she spoke it, and that his kin will kill each other and the whole Yaduvansh will end like the Kauravansh.

Note : The hunter who hunted Lord Krishna, was a reincarnation of Bali, brother of Sugreev, who was killed by Lord Ram, on the contrary Lord told him that he would give him a chance to do similar to him.

Source Details.

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There is a story behind his disappearance, he didn't die.

There are many misconceptions about this because some people do not study the Vedic texts properly and out of curiosity and half-knowledge makes some baseless conclusions like Lord Krishna died from just an arrow by Hunter Jara.

The Story of Jara shoots an arrow at Krishna’s lotus feet should be studied properly.

We should first understand how can a Greatest Kshatriya die from just an arrow which just hit the foot of Lord Krishna? Are the Kshatriyas so weak (I’m talking this on the material plane)? And the person who makes alive the son of his guru and took him back from the abode of Yama (the god of death) to his father (guru) can really die?

The story is as follows:

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.45.45 — The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Suffering the bondage of his past activity, My spiritual master’s son was brought here to you. O great King, obey My command and bring this boy to Me without delay.

SB 10.45.46 — Yamarāja said, “So be it,” and brought forth the guru’s son. Then those two most exalted Yadus presented the boy to Their spiritual master and said to him, “Please select another boon.”

Ref: Vedabase.com/en/sb/10/45

Lord Krishna defeated Indra as well as Mahakala (The god of god of death) Shiva. //Lord Krishna is the original Mahakala as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita.

When Lord Krishna defeated Lord Shiva and Banasura, Lord Shiva said:

SB 10.63.38 — You are the original person, one without a second, transcendental and self-manifesting. Uncaused, you are the cause of all, and You are the ultimate controller. You are nonetheless perceived in terms of the transformations of matter effected by Your illusory energy — transformations You sanction so that the various material qualities can fully manifest.

Ref: Vedabase.com/en/sb/10/63

Moreover, by the mercy of Lord Krishna, Hunter Jara went to the abode of Lord Krishna without leaving his body:

SB 11.30.39 — The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Jarā, do not fear. Please get up. What has been done is actually My own desire. With My permission, go now to the abode of the pious, the spiritual world.

SB 11.30.40 — So instructed by the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, who assumes His transcendental body by His own will, the hunter circumambulated the Lord three times and bowed down to Him. Then the hunter departed in an airplane that had appeared just to carry him to the spiritual sky.

Ref: Vedabase.com/en/sb/11/30

The Person, whose pastimes are divine, can he really die and that is too by just an arrow? If we look at the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam carefully that when the hunter shot an arrow at Lord Krishna’s feet, he realized that He was the Lord, he was aghast. He came there, but there is no description that he removed the blood or he treated the wound over there. That arrow just touched the Krishna’s Lotus feet because his body is Fully Transcendental. He was actually very repentful and he was very prayerful, begging forgiveness. So actually it was just a Lila of the Lord to leave this material world.

When Krishna was talking with Daruka, Lord Krishna abandoned his four arm form and appeared in his own original two hand form, this is confirmed in the following verses of Srimad Bhagavatam (SB):

SB 11.30.45 — All the divine weapons of Viṣṇu rose up and followed the chariot. The Lord, Janārdana, then spoke to His chariot driver, who was most astonished to see all this.

SB 11.30.46 — O driver, go to Dvārakā and tell Our family members how their loved ones destroyed one another. Also tell them of the disappearance of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa and of My present condition.

SB 11.30.47 — You and your relatives should not remain in Dvārakā, the capital of the Yadus, because once I have abandoned that city it will be inundated by the ocean.

SB 11.30.48 — You should all take your own families, together with My parents, and under Arjuna’s protection go to Indraprastha.

SB 11.30.49 — You, Dāruka, should be firmly situated in devotion to Me, remaining fixed in spiritual knowledge and unattached to material considerations. Understanding these pastimes to be a display of My illusory potency, you should remain peaceful.

SB 11.30.50 — Thus ordered, Dāruka circumambulated the Lord and offered obeisances to Him again and again. He placed Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet upon his head and then with a sad heart went back to the city.

Ref: Vedabase.com/en/sb/11/30

After this incident, Lord Krishna manifests his last divine pastime and disappears from the material world:

SB 11.31.1 — Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then Lord Brahmā arrived at Prabhāsa along with Lord Śiva and his consort, the sages, the Prajāpatis and all the demigods, headed by Indra.

SB 11.31.2-3 — The forefathers, Siddhas, Gandharvas, Vidyādharas and great serpents also came, along with the Cāraṇas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Kinnaras, Apsarās and relatives of Garuḍa, greatly eager to witness the departure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As they were coming, all these personalities variously chanted and glorified the birth and activities of Lord Śauri [Kṛṣṇa].

SB 11.31.4 — O King, crowding the sky with their many airplanes, they showered down flowers with great devotion.

SB 11.31.5 — Seeing before Him Brahmā, the grandfather of the universe, along with the other demigods, who are all His personal and powerful expansions, the Almighty Lord closed His lotus eyes, fixing His mind within Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

SB 11.31.6 — Without employing the mystic āgneyī meditation to burn up His transcendental body, which is the all-attractive resting place of all the worlds and the object of all contemplation and meditation, Lord Kṛṣṇa entered into His own abode.

SB 11.31.7 — As soon as Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa left the earth, Truth, Religion, Faithfulness, Glory and Beauty immediately followed Him. Kettledrums resounded in the heavens and flowers showered from the sky.

SB 11.31.8 — Most of the demigods and other higher beings led by Brahmā could not see Lord Kṛṣṇa as He was entering His own abode, since He did not reveal His movements. But some of them did catch sight of Him, and they were extremely amazed.

SB 11.31.9 — Just as ordinary men cannot ascertain the path of a lightning bolt as it leaves a cloud, the demigods could not trace out the movements of Lord Kṛṣṇa as He returned to His abode.

SB 11.31.10 — A few of the demigods, however — notably Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva — could ascertain how the Lord’s mystic power was working, and thus they became astonished. All the demigods praised the Lord’s mystic power and then returned to their own planets.

Ref: Vedabase.com/en/sb/11/31

Lord Krishna says:

Bg 4.6 — Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.

Ref: Vedabase.com/en/bg/4

There is another famous misconception about Hunter Jara that is he was a re-incarnation of Vali but there is no single statement from shastra to support such claim. Valmiki Ramayana says vali attained Moksha after getting killed by Lord Rama himself.

  • how come this story contradicts MBH ? – Rakesh Joshi Mar 7 '17 at 5:57
  • @RakeshJoshi i didn't get it. do you mean the story contradicts MBh? – Manohar Patil Mar 7 '17 at 7:28
  • @ManoharPatil refer to the mahabharata section posted by Keshav above... – Rakesh Joshi Mar 7 '17 at 7:59
  • @RakeshJoshi actually it doesn't contradict at all. On material level or lower level you may see it as contradiction but there exists higher and lower view or knowledge..Such difference exists because of level of perception differs due to people of different nature (shuddha sattva, sattva, rajasa and tamasa) Read the following purport by Acharya Srila Vishwanatha chakravarty thakura on Srimad Bhagavatam 11.30.37: – Manohar Patil Mar 7 '17 at 12:26
  • Part 1: Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarty Thakura Acharya's purport on Srimad Bhagavatam 11.30.37: Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains that the fratricidal battle of the Yadu dynasty and the hunter’s attack upon Lord Kṛṣṇa are clearly activities of the Lord’s internal potency for the purpose of fulfilling the Lord’s pastime desires. According to the evidence, the quarrel among the members of the Yadu dynasty occurred at sunset; then the Lord sat down on the bank of the Sarasvatī River. – Manohar Patil Mar 7 '17 at 12:27
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I know this answer is coming very late and we have one good answer that was accepted as well. However I feel the most authentic and detailed information comes out of Srimad Bhagavatam which is the purest of the texts (as glorified in the text as well and other scriptures as well) and is the best preserved purana through parampara among various traditions.

The summary to 11th canto Chapter 1 gives an overview of the curse upon the Yadu dynasy:

Lord Sri Krsna expertly arranged the great Kuruksetra battle between the Kurus and the Pandavas and thus removed to a great extent the earth’s burden. But the Supreme Lord, whose influence is inconceivable, was not yet satisfied, because of the continued presence of the undefeatable Yadu family. The Lord desired to bring about the destruction of the Yadu dynasty so that He could completely wind up His pastimes on the earth and go back to His own abode. Using the pretense of a curse by an assembly of brahmanas, He withdrew His entire dynasty from the surface of the earth.

By Sri Krsna’s desire, many great sages, headed by Narada and Visvamitra, assembled at the holy place named Pindaraka, near the city of Dvaraka. The young boys of the Yadu family, absorbed in a playful mood, also arrived there. These boys dressed Samba in the guise of a pregnant woman about to give birth and inquired from the sages about the fruitfulness of Samba’s so-called pregnancy. The sages cursed the mocking boys by saying, “She will give birth to a club that will destroy your family.” The Yadus, frightened by this curse, immediately lifted the garment from Samba’s abdomen and found a club. Hurrying to the assembly of Ugrasena, the King of the Yadus, they offered a report of everything that had taken place. Fearing the brahmanas’ curse, Yaduraja Ugrasena ordered the club ground to powder and thrown into the ocean. Within the ocean, a fish swallowed the last remaining lump of iron, and the waves carried all the bits of ground powder to the shore, where they were implanted and eventually grew into a grove of canes. Fishermen caught the fish, and a hunter named Jara used the iron lump found in its belly to fashion an arrow. Although the Supersoul, Lord Sri Krsna, understood what was happening, He did not wish to do anything to counteract it. Rather, in the form of time He sanctioned these events.

Using the canes that grew from the powder of the club described above yadus attack each other and leave the world. The arrow the hunter Jara uses is also made from that lump of the club as described here.

Just then a hunter named Jara, who had approached the place, mistook the Lord’s foot for a deer’s face. Thinking he had found his prey, Jara pierced the foot with his arrow, which he had fashioned from the remaining iron fragment of Samba’s club.

The specific disappearance pastime of Lord Krishna can be read in the Bhagavatam, specifically last two chapters of 11th canto talks about this:

  1. http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/30/chapter-view

  2. http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/31/chapter-view

Some important things we should be consider are:

  1. Lord Krishna's disappearance is not like the death of ordinary humans. So 'killed' and 'death' doesn't really apply like they do to ordinary humans. That is why we say He disappeared, i.e., He just left our vision.
  2. Before the Lord was shot, He was in His four armed Vishnu form and He delivered the hunter who shot the arrow at His lotus feet. This shows His divinity as opposed to normal humans.
  3. He already planned for all this as you can understand from reading the above chapters. So His being shot was not accidental but a clearly planned pastime.
  4. Sukadeva Gosvami, the speaker of Bhagavatam tells Maharaja Pariksit in the 11th canto chapter 31:

Lord Krsna brought the son of His guru back from the planet of the lord of death in the boy’s selfsame body, and as the ultimate giver of protection He saved you also when you were burned by the brahmastra of Asvatthama. He conquered in battle even Lord Siva, who deals death to the agents of death, and He sent the hunter Jara directly to Vaikuntha in his human body. How could such a personality be unable to protect His own Self?

Although Lord Krsna, being the possessor of infinite powers, is the only cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of innumerable living beings, He simply did not desire to keep His body in this world any longer. Thus He revealed the destination of those fixed in the self and demonstrated that this mortal world is of no intrinsic value.

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