Birth of Shishupala

Shishupala (Sanskrit: शिशुपाल, lit. protector of child, IAST: Śiśupāla; sometimes spelt Sisupala) was the son of Damaghosha, king of Chedi, by Srutashrava, sister of Vasudeva and Kunti. He was slain by Krishna, his cousin and an avatar of Vishnu, at the great coronation ceremony of Yudhishthira in punishment for the opprobrious abuse made against his august personage. He was also called Chaidya, being a member of Chedi kingdom.[1]

He and his maternal cousin Dantavakra (crooked teeth) are considered to be the third and last birth of Vishnu's gatekeepers Jaya-Vijaya. After their demise, each was allowed to reenter Vishnu's sacred realm, Vaikuntha!

In the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata states that Shishupala was born with three eyes and four arms. His parents were inclined to cast him out, but were warned by a voice not to do so, as his time had not come. It also foretold that his superfluous members should disappear when a certain person took the child into his lap, and that he would eventually die by the hands of that same person. Coming to visit his cousin, Krishna placed the child on his knees and the extra eye and arms disappeared, thus indicating Shishupala's death was destined at the hands of Krishna. In the Mahabharata, Shishupala's mother persuaded her nephew, Krishna, that he would pardon his cousin Shishupala for a hundred offenses.

Rukmi, the prince of Vidarbha, was very close to Shishupala. He wanted his sister Rukmini to marry Shishupala. But before the ceremony could take place, Rukmini was carried away by Krishna (according to her wish). This made Shishupala hate Krishna.

When Yudhishthira underwent the Rajasuya Yajna, he sent Bhima to obtain the fealty of Shishupala, now king after his father's death. Shishupala accepted Yudhishthira's supremacy with no protest, and was invited to the final ceremony at Indraprastha.

At that event, the Pandavas decided that Krishna would be their honored guest. At that time Shishupala insulted Krishna as a cowherd and worthless to be honoured as a king.[2] At the same event, he committed his 100th sin and was pardoned by Krishna. On insulting him again, which was considered as the 101st sin, Krishna released his Sudarshana Chakra on him and killed him on the spot.

The Shishupala Vadha is a work of classical Sanskrit poetry (kāvya) composed by Māgha in the 7th or 8th century. It is an epic poem in 20 sargas (cantos) of about 1800 highly ornate stanzas[3] and is considered one of the six Sanskrit mahakavyas, or "great epics". It is also known as the Māgha-kāvya after its author. Like other kavyas, it is admired more for its exquisite descriptions and lyrical quality than for any dramatic development of plot.


  1. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 80.
  3. S. S. Shashi (1996), Encyclopaedia Indica: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., p. 160, ISBN 978-81-7041-859-7
  • Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology
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