KRISHNA ruled at Dwaraka for thirty-six years after the Kurukshetra battle was over. The Vrishnis, the Bhopas and other branches of the Yadavas belonging to Krishna's tribe spent their days in unrestrained self-indulgence and luxury.
They lost all sense of discipline and humility.
Once, some rishis came to Dwaraka. The arrogant and irreverent Yadavas mocked these rishis with a practical joke. They dressed up one of their young men like a woman and, presenting him to the revered guests, said: "O ye learned men, tell us whether this lady will have a boy or a girl."
The rishis saw through the irreverent joke and said in anger: "This person will give birth to a mace, not a boy or a girl and that mace will prove to be Yama to your tribe and destroy you all." The rishis departed after pronouncing this curse.
The foolish Yadavas were rather perturbed at this unpleasant ending of what they had thought was a good joke.
Next day, they were in consternation to see that Samba, the man who had been dressed up in female clothes, developed labor pains and lo and behold, gave birth to a mace! This filled them with terror because they felt that their end was near as the rishis had cursed.
They deliberated long and finally ground the mace to fine powder, which they scattered in the sea, and thought they, had thus disposed of the danger.
Nothing happened for some time. Seasons passed. The rains came and on the beach, near where they had strewn the fine dust of the awful club, there sprang up a dense, crop of rushes.
When the Yadavas saw this, they were curious and amused, for they had forgotten all about the curse of the revered guests.
One day, long after, the Yadavas went to the beach for a picnic and spent the whole day in dance and drink and revelry. The liquor began to work.
At first merry, then pugnacious, they began to talk without restrain, raking up old offences and quarrelling, on slight cause with one another. Among the Yadavas, Kritavarma had fought on the side of the Kauravas and Satyaki on that of the Pandavas.
"Would any Kshatriya attack and kill sleeping soldiers, O Kritavarma? You have brought a great and lasting disgrace on our tribe," said Satyaki, taunting Kritavarma, and a number of drunken Yadavas applauded the attack. Kritavarma could not bear the insult.
"Like a butcher, you slaughtered the great Bhurisravas when seated in yoga after his right hand was cut off and you, coward, dare to taunt me," he exclaimed and a number of the revelers joined him and began to scoff at Satyaki for his barbarous deed.
Soon, all the Yadavas were in the quarrel on one side or the other and presently from words they came to blows, which swiftly developed into a free fight.
Satyaki, with his sword drawn, sprang upon Kritavarma and cut his head off, exclaiming: "Here is the end of the coward who killed sleeping soldiers! "
Others immediately fell upon Satyaki with their drinking bowls and pots and anything they could lay hands upon.
Pradyumna, Krishna's son, joined the fray to rescue Satyaki and there was a desperate melee in which both Satyaki and Pradyumna were killed.
Krishna knew that the destined hour was come, and plucking the tall rushes, which fringed the beach, laid about him with them indiscriminately.
This led to every one of the Yadavas doing the same and there was great indiscriminate slaughter. The rishis' curse had begun to work.
The rushes that had grown out of the mace became each one of them a mace as it was plucked by the doomed men in their unreasonable fury. They used them on one another with deadly effect and soon all of them were destroyed in this drunken brawl.
Balarama, who was seeing all this, was overwhelmed with shame and disgust and sank to the ground. He gave up his life as he lay in a yoga trance. Balarama passed away into the ocean in a stream of light, which issued from his forehead like a silver serpent. Thus ended the avatar of Narayana in Balarama.
Krishna saw all his people thus destroy themselves as predestined. When he saw the passing of Balarama, he roamed about in deep meditation in the wilderness, pondering on the completion of his avatar.
"The time has come for me to go," he said to himself and, lying on the ground fell asleep.
In that wooded beach, a hunter, prowling for game, saw Vasudeva lying on the ground among the shrubs. From a distance, the hunter mistook Krishna for a wild animal resting on the ground.
He bent his bow and shot an arrow at the prostrate figure which, piercing his foot in the insteep, went full through his body.
Thus did the great Vasudeva depart from the world of men.