Jambavati is one of the Ashtabharya, the eight principal queen-consorts of Hindu god Krishna. She was the only daughter of the bear-kingJambavan. Krishna married her, when he defeated Jambavan to retrieve the stolen Syamantaka jewel.
The Mahabharata and the Devi Bhagavata Purana narrate a story of the birth of Samba, Jambavati’s chief son. Jambavati was unhappy when she realized that only she had not borne any children to Krishna while all other wives were blessed with many children. She approached Krishna to find a solution and to be blessed with a son like the handsome Pradyumna, Krishna’s first-born son from his chief wife Rukmini. Then Krishna went to the hermitage of the sage Upamanyu in the Himalayas and as advised by the sage, he started to pray to the god Shiva. He did penance for six months in various postures; once holding a skull and a rod, then standing on one leg only in the next month and surviving on water only, during the third month he did penance standing on his toes and living on air only. Pleased with the austerities, Shiva finally appeared before Krishna as Samba, (Ardhanarishvara) the half-female, half-male form of the god, asked him to ask a boon. Krishna then sought a son from Jambavati, which was granted. A son was born soon thereafter who was named as Samba, the form Shiva had appeared before Krishna.
Samba grew up to be a nuisance to the Yadavas, Krishna’s clan. His marriage to Lakshmana, the daughter of Duryodhana (the head of the Kauravas) ended up in his capture by Duryodhana. He was finally rescued by Krishna and his brother Balarama. Samba once pretended to be a pregnant woman and his friends asked some sages that who will the child. Offended by the mischief, the sages cursed that an iron pestle will be born to Samba and will destroy the Yadavas. The curse came true leading to the death of Krishna and his clan.
The Bhagavata Purana records the wailing of Krishna’s queens and their subsequent leap in Krishna’s funeral pyre immolating themselves (sati). The Mausala Parva of the Hindu epic Mahabharata which describes the death of Krishna and end of his race declares that Jambavati killed herself by burning alive after being attacked by robbers while leaving Dwarka after Krishna’s funeral.
According to Bhagavata Purana, Jambavati was the mother of Samba, Sumitra, Purujit, Shatajit, Sahasrajit, Vijaya, Chitraketu, Vasuman, Dravida and Kratu.The Vishnu Purana says that she has many sons headed by Samba.