Three very great sages once came to Lord Krishna's palace in Dwaraka. Krishna was resting. When he was informed of their arrival, he said, “Please tell them that I shall be there in a short while. In the meantime, let them be welcomed with proper respect and devotion.”
Unfortunately, over the years, Krishna's relatives and others who were close to him had become very undivine. Because they were dear to Krishna, they used to get everything for the asking. As a result, they became corrupted by the pleasure-life. They used to drink and quarrel and do all kinds of unthinkable things.
A few members of Krishna's immediate family did not have any respect for the sages and saints who came to pay homage to Krishna. These relatives felt that as long as they had Krishna, it was enough. To them, all other spiritual people were as worthless as straw.
Krishna's son, Samba, was then twenty-five or twenty-six years old. Even though he was no longer a child, he and some other young men decided to play a practical joke on the three sages. Samba's friends tied an earthen pot on his stomach and dressed him in a nice sari. Then they brought him before the sages.
The young men said to the sages, “This woman is with child. Please, before Krishna comes, can you tell us whether she will give birth to a boy or a girl?”
Since the sages had occult vision, they immediately saw that the young men were mocking them. They became furious. “You are Krishna's relatives! You, Samba, are his own son! You dare to make fun of us! Yes, this ‘woman' will give birth, but she will give birth to an iron rod. This rod will bring about the destruction of Krishna's entire clan. You have no respect for spiritual people. We are great sages and you have mocked us.”
At that moment, Krishna entered the hall. He was so sad to hear the curse of the sages. At the same time, he knew that his relatives deserved it. The sages also felt sorry that they had uttered such a dreadful curse, but they did not have enough capacity or forgiveness-power to withdraw it. In spite of this unfortunate turn of events, Krishna stayed and had a long talk with the sages, and they received Krishna's blessings. Krishna was beyond, beyond everything. He advised them and illumined them, and then the sages departed.
In due course, the curse came true and Krishna's son gave birth to a heavy iron rod, like a club. Samba and his cousins realised that their destruction was imminent. They went to Krishna and begged him to save them. Krishna said, “You have done something unpardonable, unpardonable. What can I do? All right, grind the whole iron rod into a powder. It will take a very, very long time. When it becomes powder, you must throw the powder into the sea.”
With utmost enthusiasm and zeal, the young men started grinding the rod. But after a short time, they stopped and simply threw the rod into the sea. They did not grind the whole rod into powder, as Krishna had told them to do.
Many, many years later, after the battle of Kurukshetra, the iron rod came up to the surface of the sea and the prophecy of the sages came true. Krishna's family members started drinking heavily and fighting among themselves. Krishna's dearer-than-the-dearest friend, Satyaki, who had fought so bravely on the side of the Pandavas during the battle, was killed in a quarrel. One by one, all of the great warriors in Krishna's family were killed in this drunken brawl.
When Krishna saw that his dearest Satyaki had been killed, he said, “There is no need to stay on earth any longer.” In the meantime, Krishna's brother, Balarama, had been observing the brawl. He saw the level to which the great heroes had descended and he was disgusted. “Enough, enough!” he said. “Our family has become so corrupt!” He entered into the forest and in his meditation he gave up his life-breath.
When Krishna heard that Balarama had left the body, he said, “My time has also come. Let me go and join him.” Krishna went to a beautiful place. There, he sat down under a tree and he started meditating; he wanted to give up his life.
A hunter was passing by. He saw Krishna's form and thought it was a beautiful deer. To him, Krishna's left foot looked like the ear of the deer. The hunter aimed his arrow at the ear and released it. The arrow entered Krishna through the sole of his left foot and that was the only weak point in Krishna's body. All his limbs and all the other parts of his body were invincible, but his left foot was vulnerable. Whenever he fought, he used to keep that foot well-protected. But he knew that it was weak and Balarama also knew it.
When the hunter came to claim the deer, he saw Krishna lying on the ground with the arrow piercing his foot. The hunter cried pitifully for forgiveness. But Krishna answered him, “No, it is not your fault. My time has come. That is why this has happened. It is all predestined.”
“How is it predestined?” asked the hunter.
“This is the curse of Gandhari,” Krishna told him.
During the battle of Kurukshetra, Gandhari's hundred sons were all killed by the Pandavas. She was heartbroken. After the battle, she said to Krishna, “You do not know what suffering I am going through! I am cursing you. The same thing will happen to your dear ones. They will quarrel and fight among themselves and they will all be killed.”
Krishna said to Gandhari, “Mother, I am not responsible for the deaths of your sons. I begged them not to fight. I begged them to give just five villages to the Pandavas, but they would not listen to me. From the beginning to the end, your sons were so undivine.”
Gandhari answered him, “No, no! I know you are God. You could have averted this war if you had wanted to. You could have saved my children and all my dear ones. But because of your partiality for the Pandavas, you did not do it. Therefore, I am cursing you. Exactly the same thing will happen to you. All your dear ones will kill each other.”
Gandhari's dreadful curse came true and Krishna's entire clan was destroyed. You may ask how Gandhari could curse someone as great as Krishna. The fact is that Krishna could have nullified the curse, but he chose to accept it. His attitude was, if you want to strike me, then strike.
from The Earth-Illumination-Trumpets of Divinity's Home (Stories from the Indian Scriptures: the Puranas)
by Sri Chinmoy