Moving on to the book five of the Krishnavatara series, with the story of Satyabhama. In the forward, Sri K M Munshi, admits the different versions of this tale, and there could be different regional and linguistic variations of the Syamantaka tale. He decided to go with more appropriate tale, in line with the characterisation of Krishna, that was built over the previous editions.
In essence, this is the story of Satyabhama, a young yadava maiden, carrying a hidden infatuation on Krishna. Her father, Satrajit, one of the leaders of the Yadava clan, is not in terms with Krishna and the other Yadava rulers. He had always stayed away from the decisions of the elders, often causing embarrassment to the clan. He believe, Krishna is one of the causes, for their plight, and their constant life in danger. He and his few remaining associates, continued their resistance to the rest of the Yadava leaders. When Krishna requested the Yadava leaders to come forward and help Pandavas to build their empire, by donating half of their wealth including their arsenal, their gold, their battle ready horses, Satrajit and his friends, stayed away, giving additional burden on the others ( in order to keep the promises given by Krishna).
Satrajit's arrogance and his strength lies in the magical stone, 'Syamantaka', given to him by the God Surya ( sun) pleased with his dedication and devote. Syamantaka, is the origin of all the wealth that he accumulated over the years and continue to receive. When Krishna advised him to surrender the stone to the eldest , as it has to be the source of prosperity for the community, Satrajit, attacked Krishna and threatened with dire consequences. Taking up the challenge, Krishna assured him that before sunset the next day Syamantaka will be in the hands of Akrura, the Yadava elder, controlling the financial matters of the community.
It is now, the clever ploy by Satrajit comes into play. Sending his brother-in-law with the Magical Stone into the forest for safe keeping, he declared to the world that the Magic stone is stolen and he had seen Krishna stealing it under the cover of darkness. As the issue blew out of proportion, and became the talking point of the town, Krishna came forward and made a public oath that he will return with Syamantaka, failing which he will self immolate in front of all. The search for Syamantaka is now on. Satyaki, his close friend along with Satyavati ( who had some clues to the whole disappearance) decided to do it by themselves.
As it turned out, the brother-in-law of Sathrajit, who was travelling with Syamantaka, on the directive of Sathrajit, was attacked and killed by a Lion, who was in turn killed by a bear. The same bear, kidnapped Satyaki with them, abandoned Satyavati in the scene. Krishna, comes to the rescue, and along with her ( already in cloud nine being with Krishna) , they reach the bear kingdom. With further exploits of Krishna, and yet another marriage ( to the daughter of Jambavan , the bear king) , the triumphant trio ( plus the newly wed bride) returns to the land of Yadavas, with the Magic Stone, clearing up the doubts and the ego of Satrajit.
K M Munshi, narrated the story in its own, without much changes. Unlike the previous books, I hardly found any insight, those analytical brilliance from the writer. While he did attempt to demystify the Syamantaka tale and the 'Jambavan's kingdom', it did not have those moments of high intellect, which was visible in the earlier ( especially book 2 and 3) books. and But the part of Satyabhama , is captured fabulously well. A good refresh of the tale , you grew up listening to, is all the book was worth.
The Book of Satyabhama ( 1967)
K M Munshi
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan