Sage Durvasa’s Curse on Bhanumati

- November 18, 2022


By Srinidhi Murthy

Sage Durvasa was known for his irritable nature and bad temper. Overwhelmed with anger, he once cursed Bhanumati, Krishna’s granddaughter, to be kidnapped by her enemy. When she was indeed kidnapped by an asura named Nikumbha, it was the joint efforts of Krishna, Pradyumna and Arjuna that saved the princess.

Durvasa’s curse

Bhanumati was the daughter of Bhanu, who was Satyabhama and Krishna’s son. One morning, Krishna arrived at Raivataka for a grand sacrifice along with his wives, children and kinsmen. The sacrifice was held to celebrate, Rukmini and Krishna’s son, Pradyumna’s life events. He had destroyed Vajranabha, a terrible asura, and had got married to Prabhavati, Vajranabha’s daughter.  While the elders in her family were busy with the sacrifice, young Bhanumati decided to explore the woods and play with her friends. As she ran into the woods, she failed to see Sage Durvasa arriving towards her and bumped into him. He was furious as Bhanumati, though only a child, almost made him lose his balance. In anger, he cursed the child that she would be kidnapped by her traditional foes. 

Narada’s intervention
Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: H.S. Chavan and Ranjana

Sage Narada, who was passing by, witnessed the whole event. He chastised Durvasa for cursing a child. Durvasa immediately regretted his harsh words. To reduce the curse’s impact, the sage declared that Bhanumati would remain unharmed even after being kidnapped and would later marry a worthy man. Bhanumati and her friends were frightened by this incident and decided not to mention it to their elders, so as to not worry them. Soon Krishna and his family returned to Dwaraka after the sacrifice, unaware of all that had transpired. 

Bhanumati’s abduction

Years went by and when Bhanumati was ready to get married, Bhanu planned to conduct a swayamvara to find her a worthy husband. Meanwhile, Vajranabha’s brother, Nikumbha was waiting for a perfect moment to take revenge on the Yadavas for his brother’s death, in his capital Shatpura. An opportunity soon presented itself when Nikumbha’s spies came rushing to convey their big news to him.  They told him that Krishna and the Yadavas had gone for a long cruise leaving Dwaraka under the care of Ugrasena, the aged king of Mathura, and Vasudeva, Krishna’s father. The spies also added that young maidens from the family remained in Dwaraka. Nikumbha was overjoyed. Without wasting a moment, he flew to Dwaraka where he planned to kidnap Bhanumati and then defeat the Yadavas when they came to his city to rescue the princess. Bhanumati and her companions were in the garden of the secluded inner apartments of Krishna’s palace, laughing and playing. Suddenly, Nikumbha arrived and snatched Bhanumati. The asura was a powerful sorcerer. He made her and himself invisible and flew to Shatpura, much to the agony of Bhanumati’s companions. Hearing the commotion, Ugrasena and Vasudeva arrived at the place and learnt about Bhanumati’s kidnapping. 

Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: H.S. Chavan and Ranjana
Trio to the rescue

Ugrasena and Vasudeva immediately rushed to Krishna and informed him about Bhanumati’s abduction by Nikumbha. Krishna turned to Pradyumna and Arjuna, the third Pandava, who was also accompanying them, to rescue Bhanumati. Krishna thought of Garuda, who immediately appeared before him, to take them to Shatpura. Meanwhile, Nikumbha made himself visible again and was planning to reach his city before the Yadavas could figure out his whereabouts. However, to his dismay, the asura saw Krishna and Arjuna following him on Garuda, while Pradyumna pursued him in a flying chariot. When Nikumbha tried to use Bhanumati as a shield, the terrified princess fainted. Arjuna began to use arrows to attack the asura without harming Bhanumati. Nikumbha, using his magic powers, suddenly disappeared with Bhanumati, in front of their eyes. However, Pradyumna had learnt the technique of exposing the invisible from his wife Mayavati. He exposed Nikumbha in front of Krishna and Arjuna. Vulnerable to attack, Nikumbha turned into a yellow vulture and reached Mount Gokarna. He dropped Bhanumati on the mountain and flew to Shatpura. Pradyumna carried the unconscious Bhanumati into his chariot, while Krishna and Arjuna chased Nikumbha.

The final battle
Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: H.S. Chavan and Ranjana

Nikumbha entered a cave which led to his city and blocked the inner entrance. Krishna and Arjuna waited all night outside the cave with the hope that the asura might come back. Next morning, Pradyumna joined them after delivering Bhanumati safely to her father, Bhanu. When he learnt that Nikumbha had hid himself inside the cave, he began to taunt the asura to come outside. His plan worked. The asura, seething with fury, made himself invisible and charged out of the cave roaring to destroy the Yadavas. Arjuna showered arrows in the direction of the voice but Nikumbha struck him with his mace. Soon, Pradyumna was hurt too. Burning with anger, Krishna used his powerful discus on Nikumbha. Terrified, the asura disappeared again. When Pradyumna and Arjuna gained consciousness, they saw that the sky was filled with numerous Nikumbhas. The trio also split themselves into numerous forms and a new battle ensued.

Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: H.S. Chavan and Ranjana

Unfortunately, Nikumbha managed to capture Arjuna. Krishna and Pradyumna saw Arjuna being carried away by the asura. Krishna used his discus to cut the asura’s head off while Pradyumna received Arjuna in his chariot as he slipped from Nikumbha’s grasp. After defeating Nikumbha, the three heroes received a grand welcome in Dwaraka. Later, Narada arrived in Dwaraka and told the family about Durvasa’s curse and blessing. As per Narada’s suggestion, Bhanumati was wedded to Sahadeva, the fifth Pandava prince in a joyous ceremony. 

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