Satrajit was a resident of Dwarka. An ardent devotee of Surya Bhagwan, he was bestowed a jewel called the Syamantakaby the Sun god. The Symantaka not only emitted intense bright light, but it also produced a huge pile of gold every day. Its rays effectively removed disease and pain from its vicinity. Who wouldn’t want to have such a desirable possession!
Shri Krishna invited Satrajit to his court and advised him to take good care of the Syamantaka lest it should be stolen. If it was a hint to deposit the jewel in the royal custody, Satrajit did not respond favorably. Days passed into months and Satrajit gloriously lived the life of a generous man of riches who did not mind giving away huge sums in charity. As a host too, he entertained his guests lavishly. One day, his brother, Prasen, visited him and asked to be allowed to wear the Symantaka for a hunt. Satrajit was reluctant to part with his priceless jewel but finally gave in to his sibling’s request.
Suman K Sharma
Proudly wearing the Symantaka on his chest, Prasen rode at the head of his hunting party. But as he went deep into the jungle, his followers were left behind. In the thick wilderness, he was attacked by a lion and bled to death. The place happened to fall in the domain of Jambwan, the bear-king of the Ramayana fame. Jambwan strode furiously to the spot and finished off the lion. He retrieved the jewel fromPrasen’s corpse and took it to his cave. There his children made a plaything of the Syamantaka.
Back in Dwarka, when Prasen did not return home after many days, Satrajit got anxious. The hunters who had accompanied him could not say much except that he had disappeared into the forest. Fearing the worst, Satrajit went to Shri Krishna, wailing in utter grief that he had lost his brother and with him his jewel as well. In his anguish he went on to accuse Shri Krishna of having robbed him of theSymantaka out of greed.
To wash off such a slur from his fair name, Shri Krishna sped to the jungle in search of the Symantaka and Satrajit’s brother. His quest ended at the door of Jamwant’s cave. The old warrior might have aged but he still proved a tough opponent. Shri Krishna had to fight with him for several days before he yielded the jewel. The vanquished Jamwant also gave away his daughter, Jambwati in marriage to Shri Krishna.
Shri Krishna returned triumphant to his capital with his bride. He summonedSatrajit to the court and told him how his brother had been killed by a lion and how he had got back the jewel from Jamwant. Satrajit repented for having wrongly accused him for ‘stealing’ the jewel. Shri Krishna gave him back the Symantaka. In recompense, Satrajit agreed to offer a daily toll of gold produced by the jewel and also married off his beautiful daughter, Satyabhama, to him.
Was the jewel Symantaka some sort of an artifice that transmuted base metal into gold by solar energy? Or was it the ancient name of the Kohinoor diamond? Whatever that might be, it was indeed an object that was held most precious. And there lies the point of the story. A precious possession becomes a problem if the owner does not have the requisite strength to protect it. And what of Shri Krishna? Did he become a lesser hero in accepting gold from Satrajit in lieu of the Syamantaka? Here we see Shri Krishna in the role of a king. He advised Satrajit to keep the jewel in safe custody. But when it was lost because of the owner’s misplaced regard for his brother, Shri Krishna the king not only took pains to restore it to his wealthy subject, but also undertook to protect it. Then as now, state protection of private property did not come for free. Don’t we have to pay for the safekeeping of our wealth?