Thirty-six years had passed since Gandhari cursed the Yadava race to total annihilation, blaming Krishna for the Mahabharata war. The chain of events leading to disaster and destruction of the race started from a prank, indulged in by the Yadava youth.
The sages Viswamitra, Kanva and Narada arrived on a visit to Dwaraka. Their senses fogged by Fate, some of the Yadava youth approached the distinguished rishis to play a prank on them. One of the youth, Samba, was dressed like a pregnant woman. They asked the sages, “You noble ones, this is the wife of Babhru who is desirous of having a son. Could you tell if she would be blessed with one?”
The rishis immediately understood the mischief being played upon them. They cursed the youth, “This scion of the Vasudeva family, Samba, would bring forth an iron rod which would cause the destruction of the Yadavas. All of them, excepting Balarama and Krishna, would perish due to this curse.”
The very next day Samba brought forth an iron rod. When the king of the Vrishnis, Ugrasena, came to know about this, he became alarmed. He ordered the iron rod to be ground to powder and thrown into the sea. He also announced a total ban on the manufacture and consumption of spirits throughout his kingdom.
The Yadava clans of Vrishnis, Andhakas, Bhojas and Kukuras were at their best behaviour, in fear of the sages’ curse. But there were omens of impending disaster. Asses were born to cows and mules to elephants. Worms were found in the food that was cooked clean. Brahmins were ill-treated and wives and husbands deceived their spouses. The configuration in the sky was similar to what appeared before the eighteen-day war. Death in the form of a black and hideous woman roamed the city. The discus given by Agni to Krishna disappeared into the sky. The standards in the chariots of Krishna and Balarama, the Garuda (Kite) and the Palmyra tree, were taken away by the apsaras. The chariot of Krishna, drawn by the four famous steeds, Sugriva, Saivya, Megapushpa and Balahaka, bolted away.
Alarmed by these signals, the Yadavas, with their families, journeyed to the holy sea shore of Prabhasa. Having reached Prabhasa, however, they took to drinking wine, even in the presence of Krishna, and were soon intoxicated. Balarama himself joined the revelers. There followed arguments that led to fights. Inebriated by spirit, Satyaki derided Kritavarman for having killed at Kurukshetra, those who were sleeping. Kritavarman hurled back abuses at Satyaki who promptly severed his adversary’s head. A free for all ensued and whatever weapons could be found, was used to attack and kill. Whoever could not find a weapon took blades of grass, which turned into iron rods.
Knowing that the Yadavas’ hour of destruction had arrived, and remembering Gandhari’s curse, Krishna did not interfere in the fight. In fact Krishna himself killed many of his kinsmen, using the rod. All the men, save Krishna, his charioteer Daruka and Balarama, were killed.