When the Yadavas fought amongst themselves and most died at Prabhas, Balaram renounced His body in the sea, that is, He took jalasamadhi. Then one day, when Sri Krishna was seated below the ashvattha tree with His left foot on His right thigh, a hunter named Jara mistook Him for a deer and shot an arrow, which struck the sole of Sri Krishna’s left foot. When the hunter came close he realized his mistake and asked Krishna for forgiveness. Krishna pacified him and sent him to heaven. The place where this incident occurred is called ‘Bhalakatirtha’. Bhal means the tip of a spear or an arrow.

At that time, Sri Krishna’s charioteer Daruk appeared there. As he alighted the chariot and approached Sri Krishna, the chariot disappeared. Then Sri Krishna directly merged His body into the five cosmic elements. (Saint Tukaram and Saint Muktai, too, have renounced Their bodies similarly.) Sri Krishna was 119 years old at the time of renunciation of His body. According to some, the ashes of Subhadra, Balabhadra (Balaram) and Sri Krishna were in a bamboo box, which with the current of water reached Jagannathpuri. People installed the ashes there and began ritualistic worship.

Sri Krishna’s family members’ renunciation of Their bodies

On hearing that Sri Krishna had culminated His incarnation, Vasudev, Devaki and Rohini, too, renounced their bodies. Sri Krishna’s eight wives entered the pyre and became satis. When Arjuna came to know of this, he went there and took the remaining wives and children of Sri Krishna to his capital, Indraprastha. After they left Dvarka, it, too, got submerged in the sea. Since Arjuna was powerless without Sri Krishna, wild people attacked and defeated him, and abducted the women.

Are incarnations assumed according to Destiny?

Some people may wonder, ‘How is it that Sri Rama had to take birth again as the incarnation Sri Krishna?’, ‘In that incarnation, did Sri Rama not have to renounce His body after being shot at with an arrow by the hunter, who was actually Vali reborn and who was slain with Sri Rama’s arrow in the previous birth?’, etc.

Incarnations are not assumed according to Destiny. Such examples are given only to emphasize the point that ‘one should not trouble another’. In reality, in case of incarnations the concept of Destiny does not hold good at all, because throughout their lives their actions are non-actions (akarma karma), that is, the actions have no consequences, being divinely willed. Apart from this, those who are slain by incarnations attain the Final Liberation (Moksha).