(This story is related on the fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month, Bhadrapada, the sixth month of the Indian Calendar. Lord Krishna observed this fast to redeem himself from the stigma of telling a lie. )
In good old days, Lord Krishna built a beautiful city named Dwarka amidst the sea. There lived a man named Ugra who had two sons. Their names were Satrajit and Prasenjit (Prasena).
Briefly, Satrajit worshipped the Sun god for a long time. The god was pleased with him & gifted Syamantaka Gem. The God disappeared after gifting him the gem. Satrajit put the gem around his neck. When he entered Dwarka, everybody was surprised to see the heavenly gift. It was dazzling like sun. This gem produced gold eight times of its weight when needed. Satrajit did not part with it with king Ugrasen even when Krishna asked for it saying it would be safe with Him. Prasena, the brother of Satrajit went out hunting wearing the jewel but was killed by a lion. Jambavan (Jambavanta) of Ramayana fame killed the lion and gave it to his son to play with.
Prasena did not return to Dwarka and people were wondering what had happened to him. Satrajit suspected that Krishna might have killed Prasena in order to attain the gem. Krishna, in order to prove his innocence, gathered a search party and went into the forest. A few hours later, they found Prasena's body. Krishna noticed lion tracks around the body and assumed that a lion must have killed Prasena. On following the lion tracks, they came across the body of the dead lion. Krishna noticed that the lion had the marks of a bear's claws and noticed that there were bear tracks around the body. On following the bear tracks Krishna reached Jambavan's cave. Krishna sensing the danger ordered the rest of the party to stay outside while he entered the cave alone and found it in Jambavan's cave, with his child. Jambavan attacked Krishna thinking Him to be an intruder who had come to take away the jewel.
They fought each other for 28 days, when Jambavan, his whole body terribly weakened from the hammering of Krishna's fists, finally recognised Him as Rama.
I now know You. You are the life in all creatures, virility, grit and strength. You are Vishnu, the Primeval Lord, All-prevailing, the Supreme Lord (of the worlds). (Bhagavata 10.56.26)
He Who built a bridge (across the ocean) that is a standing monument to His fame, set Lanka ablaze, and with His arrows severed the heads of Rakshasas, which fell to the ground.
As repentance for his having fought Krishna, Jambavan gave Krishna the jewel and also his daughter Jambavati in marriage. Krishna returned to Dvaraka with Jambavati and the jewel, and returned it Satrajit. Satrajit felt ashamed for casting false aspersions on Lord Krishna. He offered his daughter Satyabhama to him as his wife.
The story of Syamantaka Gem did not end here. Once Krishna was out on a long tour. Satadhanwan (Satdhanwa) and Akrur were two brothers. They were jealous of Satrajit. Some sources (as this Amar Chitra Katha) say that they were angry due Satyabhama’s marriage. Satadhanwan killed Satrajit and snatched the Symantak. On his return Satyabhama told the whole story to Lord Krishna.
Satadhanwan passed on the Symantak to his brother Akrur and asked Akrur to proceed on a long pilgrimage. Lord Krishna and Balram thought that the gem was with Satdhanwa. Satdhanwa rode a horse and left the city. Krishna and Balram followed him. Krishna killed Satdhanwa and looked for the gem. It was not there. Balram became suspicious of Krishna’s designs. He thought that Krishna was greedy and a sinner. He killed innocent people. He left Krishna alone and went his own way.
When Krishna returned to Dwarka alone, people again became suspicious. They whispered to each other that Krishna had exiled Balram from Dwarka for the sake of the gem. Lord Krishna again felt dismayed.
Incidentally Narada visited Dwarka. He found Krishna in a sad mood. He asked him about his anxiety. Krishna said, “Respected Narada, people cast aspersions on me. Can I ever steal? Can I ever tell a lie? Am I a man subject to suspicion? I do not know what curse has befallen me. Kindly help and guide me”.
Narada smiled and said, “you have seen the moon on the fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month, Bhadrapada. Looking at the moon on that day is forbidden”.
“How is it? People see, appreciate and bow before the moon on the second day of the bright half of the lunar month. Why are they forbidden for looking at it on the fourth day?” asked Krishna.
Narada said,” Lord Ganesh, cursed the moon on that day. Anyone who sees moon on that day gets the curse. So a curse has befallen you”.
Once, Ganesh partook of a huge meal of modaka (a sweet greatly favoured by him) and was riding home on his vehicle, the mouse. Suddenly, the mouse was tripped by a snake. Ganesh fell off the mouse and his over-full stomach burst open and out tumbled the modakas.
(Another version of this part is: One day while travelling round the universe on his rat, Ganesha came to Chandraloka (the realm of the Moon)).
The Moon saw him. The Moon, very handsome, was proud of his appearance. On seeing the elephantfaced, big-bellied Ganapati riding on a rat, he laughed at Ganesha with contempt.
This was an insult and Ganesha was very angry about the Moon. He pronounced a curse "Oh Moon, your handsome appearance has made you too vain. Fool, I am worshipped in all the worlds, but you laugh at me. Receive now the fruits of your foolish pride. Let your beauty, which is the cause for your arrogance and ignorance vanishing! From now on, whoever sees you on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada month, the day of my birth, will suffer because of unjust accusations."
The curse shattered the Moon's pride. He realized his mistake, and felt sorry. Standing devotedly with folded hands before Ganesha he prayed to him. "Sir, forgive me and my ignorance. Take back the curse and protect me."
Then the kind Ganesha grew calm. He consoled the unhappy Moon. He said, "Moon, you have realized your fault. What is important is the destruction of your pride. Anyhow, my curse cannot be in vain. But those who are subjected to false accusations will be saved and regain their good name if they see you on the second day of the bright fortnight also." The Moon was satisfied.
Lord Krishna said, “How can I free myself from this curse?”
“Observe fast on every fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month. Worship and make offerings to Lord Ganesh or Siddhi Vinayak, according to your status. You will be free from this sin”, was Narada’s reply.
Lord Krishna acted upon Narada’s advice and became free from the sin.
(Note: there are many variations of both part of this story. However main concept remains same.)
Siddhi-Vinayaka Vrata-the worship of Ganesha-is performed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada. This belief exists to this day, and people carefully avoid looking at the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi (Chaturthi is 4th day which comes after the new moon), the day of the festival of Ganesh.The devotees on this day, get up early in the morning and take bath in water mixed with `til’ or sesame seeds. They worship the earthern or metallic idol of Ganesha and keep a fast. The devotees also believe that those who see the Moon on that day will not suffer, if they listen to the story of the Syamantaka.
Read: Vishnu Purana: Book IV: Chapter XIII (original source of this story),
Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 10 Chapter 56 (Summary)
Syamantaka Ruby OR Shyamantaka Sapphire?
Of course most devotees already know this story, but a mistake of spelling wrongly as "Shyamantaka" has led to the incorrect idea that Syamantaka was a blue sapphire (Saturn's gem). Even Amar Chitra Katha comic books in India, as well as BBT artists make this mistake, and they spell as Shyamantaka and show the Sun God is giving a blue sapphire to Satrajit. This is completely incorrect. If anyone looks at the Sanskrit they will see it is not spelled Shyamantaka, the real spelling is "SYAMANTAKA" which means the Ruby (Sun's gem) after which this story is named. The story also describes how the people mistook Satrajit "as the Sun God" whenever he wore the gem, so it was surely not a blue sapphire (Saturn's gem).
(By Richard Shaw Brown- read full article Here)
This Amar Chitra Katha is first Contribution by Rajeev Sharma.
This time only Hindi version I’m posting. English will come later.