Jaratkaru leaves his wife’s house to resume his ascetic penances

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Previous Post: Jaratkaru Marries Vasuki’s Sister

Note: In the previous post, we read about the marriage of Jaratkaru with Vasuki’s sister and the conception of their child (although Vasuki’s sister didn’t know she had conceived).

In this post, we will read about the incident where Jaratkaru leaves his wife’s house to return to his ascetic penances.

One day Jaratkaru was sleeping with his head on his wife’s lap. He looked very tired and slept till the evening ‘sandhya’ when the sun was about to set. 

This put his noble wife in a dilemma since the rishi was both punctual and particular about performing his religious ceremonies at this time. On the one hand she was afraid of waking him up and offending him, and, on the other hand, she was concerned that if he did not do his evening ‘sandhya’ ritual before twilight turned into night, he would lose his virtue. 

As she reasoned with herself, she concluded that a virtuous person losing his virtue was a greater loss than facing his anger. Speaking in a sweet and gentle tone, she said, “O fortunate one, the sun is setting. It’s time for your evening sacrifices, perform your prayers after purifying yourself with water and saying Vishnu’s name.”

The great saint, thus awoken by his wife, was outraged. His upper lip quivered as he said, “O pleasant one of the Naga race, you have insulted me. I strongly believe that the sun does not have the power to set while I am sleeping. It is said that an insulted person should not live in the place where he has been insulted, this is especially true for virtuous people. 

Hearing these words Jaratkaru’s wife trembled with fear. She said, “O Brahmana, I did not wake you up to insult you. I woke you up to help you maintain your virtue (which had been accumulated by Jaratkaru through regularly performing the evening prayers).” But these words had no effect on Jaratkaru who was possessed with anger and desirous of leaving his wife.

The rishi said, “O fair one, I have never lied, therefore I must do what I have said, and leave this place. It was clearly decided between us that I will leave the moment you say or do anything that displeases me. O pleasant one, we have lived happily, therefore, after I leave, tell your brother that Ihave left, and do not grieve for me.

Vasuki’s beautiful sister was filled with fear and sorrow and her face turned pale when she heard these words. However, she mustered the courage to fold her hands and say these words to her husband, “It is not correct of you to leave me when Ihave not committed any fault. You tread on the path of virtue and so do I. My heart has been fixed on the welfare of my serpent relatives. The reason for our marriage has not yet been accomplished. We do not have any offspring as yet. This offspring is destined to save my relatives from their mother’s curse. How can I tell my brother that you have left and what will my brother say? O noble brahmin, the welfare of my relatives depends on our child. Moved by compassion for them, I request you to not leave me. O excellent brahmin, you are a high-souled person. I simply cannot understand why you are leaving me when I have not made any mistake?”

Hearing his wife’s words, the rishi said that which was proper and suitable for that moment: “O fortunate one, you have already conceived a high-souled rishi who is learned in the Vedas and their branches. This child, in your womb, is resplendent life Agni himself.”

After speaking these words, the great rishi of virtuous soul left with his heart set upon resuming his ascetic penances.

Note: In the next post, we will read about the conversation Vasuki and his sister have after Jaratkaru leaves.

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Next Post: Vasuki is Anxious About the Future of the Serpents After After Jaratkaru Leaves his Sister

Manasa Devi with husband, Jaratkaru, and son, Astika, flanked by Nagas

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Previous Post: Jaratkaru Finds His Wife

Note: Note: In the previous post, we read about how Jaratkaru cried out to the beings of the forest for a wife and how the chief of the serpents, Vasuki, offered his sister’s hand in marriage to the rishi.

In this post, we will read about the marriage of Jaratkaru and Vasuki’s sister.

Convinced by Vasuki’s promise to maintain (financially) his sister, Jaratkaru, the excellent brahmana of rigid vows, well-versed in mantras, married Vasuki’s sister according to shastric rites. 

Vasuki had prepared a special room for his sister and the rishi. It was a delightful room that had a bed covered with expensive sheets. Vasuki’s sister, adored by the rishi, entered the room where they took up residence.

Soon after marriage, Jaratkaru made an agreement with his wife. He said, “You must not say or do anything that displeased me. If such a thing happens, I will leave you and this house, immediately.”

The rishi’s words made his wife sad and anxious. However, she agreed, saying, “So be it,” because she wanted to help her serpent relatives. That maiden of pure reputation attended to the rishi day and night. Her care for the rishi is compared to the wakefulness of a dog, the timidity of a deer, and the knowledge of interpreting signs like a crow.

One day, after her menstrual period, she purified herself by bathing according to custom, and approached the rishi. She conceived that day, and the embryo was resplendent like fire and, filled with immense energy, it grew like the waxing moon.

Note: Note: In the next post, we will read about the rishi, Jaratkaru, leaving his wife

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Next Post: Jaratkaru Leaves His Wife

Devi Manasa (also known as Jaratkaru). Image credit: By anonymous – https://clevelandart.org/art/2003.106, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77346671

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Previous Post: Jaratkaru Places a Condition for Marriage

Note: In the previous post, we read how Jaratkaru felt great compassion for his pitris but also placed a condition for getting married.

In this post, we will find out how Jaratkaru found his wife.

After assuring his Pitris that he would try his best to find a wife and also having explained his conditions for marriage, Jaratkaru wandered to different places to find a wife, but being old, he could not find any woman who was willing to marry him. This failure to find a woman who would marry him gave Jaratkaru much grief. So great was his grief that he went into a forest and wept loudly. However, he also felt immense compassion for his pitris, and from this desire to do something good for them, he said three times, “I will ask for a bride. I will ask for a bride. I will ask for a bride.” 

Jaratkaru looked around and said, “O creatures who lives here, whether mobile or immobile, visible or invisible, please hear my words. My ancestors are grief-stricken and have instructed me to marry for the sake of extending the lineage. I have roamed in poverty and sorrow to different places to obtain a wife who is bestowed on me as alms. O creatures, if any of you have a daughter, bestow her on me as a wife. I will only marry a maiden who has the same name as me and I tell you, (now itself), that I will not be able to maintain her.”

“O creatures,” Jaratkaru cried aloud again, “bestow such a maiden and let her be my wife.”

Note: You might remember, from a previous post, that Vasuki had convened a meeting of the serpents to find a way to neutralize Kadru’s curse. At that time, one of the serpents called Elapatra narrated what he had heard from Brahma Deva when he sat shivering after being cursed. He had heard that an ascetic called Jaratkaru would marry Vasuki’s sister (who was also called Jaratkaru) and their son would protect the snakes in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. At that time, Vasuki had asked a group of serpents to follow the ascetic and inform Vasuki when he set out in search of a wife.

When Jaratkaru cried out for a wife in the forest, the serpents Vasuki had deployed to follow him, immediately went to Vasuki and informed him about Jaratkaru’s inclination and arrival in the forest. 

Upon hearing this information, Vasuki asked his sister to get ready. She decked herself with ornaments and they both went to the forest to meet Rishi Jaratkaru. Vasuki, the chief of the snakes, offered his sister as alms to the high-souled rishi. 

When Jaratkaru heard Vasuki’s words, he paused and reflected before giving an answer. First, he asked Vasuki his sister’s name and told him that he would not be able to care for her needs.

Vasuki replied, “O best of brahmanas, my sister’s name is also Jaratkaru, the same as yours, and she has ascetic merit as well. Moreover, do not worry about maintaining her because I will take care of her and also protect her with all my powers. O great ascetic, I have raised my sister to marry you.”

Jaratkaru replied, “Alright, then I will marry her on the condition that she does not do anything to displease me. If she does such a thing, then I will leave immediately.”

Note: In the next post, we will read about Jaratkaru’s marriage and the birth of Astika.

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Next Post: Jaratkaru Marries Vasuki’s Sister

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Previous Post: The Pitris Explain the Allegorical Meaning of the Rat and the Single Cord of Root

Note: In the previous post, Jaratkaru’s ancestors explained the allegorical meaning of the single cord of Virana root, the rat, and their unfortunate state in which they were hanging upside down.

In this post, we will read how Jaratkaru agreed to get married and the condition he placed for the same.

Hearing his ancestors’ words caused tears to come into Jaratkaru’s eyes. He said, “O my ancestors, I am that sinful Jaratkaru who has caused you grief. Either punish me for my sinful deeds or tell me what I can do to reduce your woes.”

The pitris replied, “O child, it is good fortune that you have come to this place. Tell us, why have you not married?”

Jaratkaru said, “O pitris, for a long time, I have had the desire to enter the higher realms of existence with this body. However, that is only possible if I control and raise my sexual energy. This is the reason I decided to practise brahmacharya. But I have changed my mind after seeing your suffering, O grandsires. I will certainly marry and have a child for your welfare. The child will be the cause of your freedom and you will live without fear in a state of ananda, forever.”

After agreeing to marry for the sake of his ancestors, Jaratkaru placed some conditions for his marriage. He said, “I will marry if I meet a maiden whose name is also Jaratkaru and if she marries me of her own free will with the understanding that I will not be able to take care of her needs. I will marry only if I meet such a maiden, otherwise, I will not marry.”

Note: I found it very interesting that Jaratkaru placed a condition for getting married. 

Even though he felt great sorrow for his Pitri’s plight and wanted to help them, he understood that getting married and entering wordly life would take him away from his desired path of entering the higher realms without giving up his body. I want to stress on the word ‘desire’ because it gives us an understanding that desires come in many forms, and the desire (or aspiration) that comes from one’s own soul is one’s swadharma, and that is not to be abandoned for anyone’s sake. By putting the condition for marriage, Jaratkaru ensured and aspired for a solution that would end his Pitri’s suffering without abandoning his swadharma. Also, the condition that he would only marry a lady who willingly married him knowing that he would not be able to care for her needs, ensured that the lady he married would not be in the dark about what to expect. I believe he was hoping that a lady who was also marrying primarily for progeny (for reasons of her own) would marry him. Finally, his condition that the maiden he marries should also have the same name, Jaratkaru, seems to be divinely inspired since he was fated to marry Vasuki’s sister, Jaratkaru, because their son, Astika, would save the noble serpents, from his mother’s side of the family, in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice.

In the next post, we will find out how Jaratkaru finds his wife

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Next Post: Jaratkaru Finds His Wife

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Previous Post: The Pitris Explain Their Background and Suffering to Jaratkaru

Note: In the previous post, the Pitris explained the reason for their suffering.

In this post, we will learn that the scenario of the Pitris hanging upside down was symbolic in nature. Here, we are explained the allegorical meaning of the entire scene.

The Pitris concluded the explanation of their suffering by saying, “That is the reason we hang in this hole as if unconscious and having no one to care for us. If you meet Jaratkaru, tell him about our suffering and explain to that brahmin, who has immense ascetic wealth, that he is the only surviving  descendant of our race. He is the only one who can further the ancestral line. Tell him to get married and have children.”

Note: After this, the Pitris explain the allegorical meaning of hanging upside down on a single cord. This is one of the very few times in the Mahabharata that an incident is clearly mentioned as allegorical and its meaning explained in detail.

The Pitris explained that the Virana roots represented their race. The rat represented ‘Time’. The cords that had been eaten away by the rat represented the spirits of the Pitris that had deceased having succumbed to Time. The single cord of Virana root, half-eaten by the rat, represented Jaratkaru who had dedicated his life to ascetic penance and was gradually being weakened by Time. Them (the Pitris) hanging upside down represented the fact that they were sinking like wretches because Jaratkaru, their last hope, didn’t understand that his penances could not save them. If he continued disregarding his duty to his ancestor, their entire race including Jaratkaru would sink into hell.

Note: The Mahabharata doesn’t always explain allegories so explicitly. The fact that it’s so explicit could have many meanings. However, without that deep a knowledge of “passages as symbols”, I can only guess. It might mean that Jaratkaru has an inner vision of his Pitris hanging upside down. Inner visions and dreams often have their own language of symbols, which was then explained to us. It might also be Vyasa Muni’s way of telling the readers that the Mahabharata, even though it is Itihasa, contains several allegories to explain dharmic concepts. The reader is therefore urged to read the epic introspectively rather than like a novel. Alternatively, it may have a completely different meaning that we haven’t understood yet. 

Whatever be the meaning of explicitly mentioning an allegory, one thing is fairly clear – if we read the Mahabharata in an introspective manner with a genuine aspiration to understand the dharma, then dharma will most certainly reveal its subtleties to us.

In the next post, we will read about Jaratkaru’s response to his Pitris where he places a condition for getting married

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Next Post: Jaratkaru Places a Condition for Marriage

The higher lokas according to Sanatana Dharma

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Previous Post: Jaratkaru Meets His Pitris

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Jaratkaru saw his Pitris hanging upside down in a hole. That sight filled Jaratkaru with empathy and he asked the spirits who they were and what he could do to alleviate their suffering.

In this post we will find out the background of the spirits of the Pitris and why they were suffering.

The pitris continued, “O brahmana, let us tell you who we are. We are rishis of rigid vows from the Yayavara sect. The fruits of our severe penances are still with us, but we have fallen from the sacred region because of the loss of children. We have only one thread left now. The only descendant we have, Jaratkaru, has studied the sacred Vedas and it’s branches, but unfortunately, he practices his asceticism alone. He is one with his soul, his desires are high, and his passions are completely under control. He is even free from the desire for the fruits of his ascetic practices. But he doesn’t have a wife or son or any relatives and that is the cause of our deplorable state.”

The Vyavahara rishis did not know they said these words to Jaratkaru himself, their descendant. After explaining the reason for their suffering, they said to Jaratkaru, “O noble one, if you meet him, please tell him that his pitris are hanging in a hole on a single cord with their face down. O, tell him to marry and have children. He is a great ascetic but his heart is still underdeveloped (and, therefore, by implication, he should get married so that the relationship would help him develop his heart). His sense of prudence is also underdeveloped. O child, when you meet that wretch Jaratkaru, tell him everything you have seen here, and tell him that having a child is even more virtuous than ascetic practices (in the current situation). Convince him to marry and have children.”

Note: In the next post, the Pitris explain the allegorical meaning of “hanging upside down on a single cord of root.”

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Next Post: The Pitris Explain the Allegorical Meaning of Hanging Upside Down in a Hole

Wandering sage

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Previous Post: Parikshit’s Son Janamejaya is Crowned the Next King

Note: In the previous post, we read about the coronation and marriage of Janamejaya.

In this post, we return to Rishi Jaratkaru’s story. The Astika Parva began with the incident of Rishi Jaratkaru meeting his Pitris. We circle back to the same incident (but with a little additional information) in this post. This is Vyas Muni’s way of telling us that the diversion has ended and we are back on the main story line.

Meanwhile, the great ascetic Jaratkaru roamed wide and far. He walked during the day, and when the sun was about to set, he stopped and stayed in that place for the night. Blessed with great ascetic power, he practised different vows that were difficult to practice for normal people not sufficiently matured on the spiritual path. His only sustenance was air and sunlight and he bathed in various holy waters. Jaratkaru had already gained freedom from the desire of worldy pleasures. Not having any food emaciated his body which became very lean.

One day, while wandering, Jaratkaru saw the spirits of his ancestors hanging upside down in a hole by a single cord of Virana root. That single thread which supported his ancestors was also being eaten away by a large rat who stayed in that hole. Jaratkaru noticed that his pitris (ancestors) did not have any food because of which they had become emaciated. They were in a sad condition and eager for release from the earthly plane.

Jaratkaru approached them humbly and asked, “Who are you all and why are you hanging on this single cord of Virana root? Much of this cord has been eaten by a rat and the little thread that remains will soon buckle causing you will fall into the hole with your faces downwards.” 

Great compassion arose within Jaratkaru when he saw his pitris in this pitiable and dangerous state. Once again he addressed his ancestors saying, “What can I do for you? Tell me please if this calamity that awaits you can be removed by my asceticism. I will give up one-fourth of the virtue I have gained through my asceticism to save you. Why one-fourth, I will give up one-third, or half, or even all the fruits of my asceticism to relieve you from this calamity. Take my entire asceticism and do whatever needs to be done to come out of this dangerous situation.”

The pitris replied, “O great ascetic, you want to help us but our troubles cannot be relieved by asceticism. We also have the fruits of our prior asceticism, but Brahma Deva himself had once said that a son (child?) is of great merit, far more than asceticism. That’s the reason we are falling into this hole. It’s because we are unable to see our line of descendants grow. O noble one, we do not know who you are, but we know that you are a venerable ascetic who feels sad seeing us in this condition.”

Note: In the next post, the Pitris will inform Jaratkaru about their background.

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Next Post: The Pitris Explain Their Background and Suffering to Jaratkaru

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Previous Post: Takshaka Goes to Hastinapur

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Takshaka killed King Parikshit, by deception, just as the sun was setting on the seventh day after the curse.

In this post, we’ll read about the coronation and marriage of Parikshit’s son, Janamejaya.

King Parikshit’s last rites were performed by his ministers and the royal priest. The citizens mourned the king’s death and made the eldest son of Parikshit, the next king, and gave that noble child, the name Janamejaya.

Even though Janamejaya was still a minor, he was very wise and, with the help of his counsellors and priest, he ruled the kingdom with dharma like his heroic great-grandfather, Yudhishthira.

Once the ministers were convinced that Janamejaya was capable of keeping the enemies under check, they approached the king of Kasi, Suvarnavarman, to seek a marital alliance for their young king, Janamejaya, with the princess of Kasi. Suvarnavarman made due inquiries about Janamejaya and, once he was satisfied, agreed to the alliance.

The princess of Kasi, Vapushthama, married Janamejaya, the hero of the Kuru race, with the ordained rites of marriage. Janamejaya was very glad to have married Vapushthama, and Vapushthama too, having obtained a desirable husband, showered him with lots of affection. 

After the wedding they wandered amidst flowery fields, woods, and expanses of water gratifying their hearts with pleasure. Janamejaya, passed his time in pleasure just like his ancestor Pururavas had in the past, after marrying the celestial maiden Urvasi.

Note: At this point, I want to step back and remind you that we’re midway in the Astika (sub) Parva of the Adi Parva. The Astika Parva began when the ascetics of Naimisha Forest wanted to know more about Astika, the child-sage who would save the snakes in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. However, before getting to the snake sacrifice, it was necessary to understand all the events that led to the sacrifice and to Astika’s birth.

To explain all these events, the narrative took a detour into the past when Rishi Jaratkaru met his Pitris (souls of deceased ancestors). They were in a miserable state because he did want want to marry and give birth to children. This event is important because Jaratkaru’s Pitris convince him to marry. Eventually, he will marry Vasuki’s sister, also called Jaratkaru, and their son, Astika, would save the serpents in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice.

How, we still didn’t know why the snake sacrifice would take place. That was explaining in Garuda’s story where Sage Kasyapa’s wife, Kadru, cursed her snake sons for not obeying her command to make the celestial horse, Uchchaihsravas’ tail, black. 

The third link in the chain is the question: why did Janamejaya perform the snake sacrifice? The answer to that question is still emerging. All we know till now is that the king of snakes, Takshaka, had used deceit to kill Janamejaya’s father.

In the next post, we will once again come to the scene where Rishi Jaratkaru meets his Pitris.

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Next Post: Rishi Jaratkaru Meets His Pitris

Death of King Parikshit

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Previous Post: Sage Kasyapa Heads to Hastinapur to Save Parikshit From Takshaka

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Takshaka deceived Sage Kasyapa to prevent him from going to Hastinapur to save King Parikshit.

In this post, we will see how he deceived the king, his ministers, and guards to accomplish his purpose.

On the way to Hastinapur, Takshaka heard that Parikshit had become cautious because of the curse and was living in a protected manner surrounded by physicians and brahmins who knew poison-neutralizing mantras.

In view of the security surrounding Parikshit, Takshaka decided to use illusion and deception to get to the king.

He called some snakes and said, “Go to the king disguised as ascetics. Carry fruits, kusa grass, and water as gifts for the king. If the guards ask about your purpose of visit, tell them you have an important matter to discuss with the king, but do not appear impatient when talking with the guards.”

Following Takshaka’s Advice, the snakes, disguised as ascetics, reached the king in his protected chamber and gifted him fruits, water, and the kusa grass they had carried with them. The king accepted the gifts, spoke with the ascetics, and asked them to retire. 

After the ascetics left, the king, impelled by fate, felt a desire to eat the fruits that had recently been gifted to him. He said to his ministers, “Let’s eat these fruits brought by the ascetics.”

Unbeknownst to anyone else, Takshaka had disguised himself as a worm and hid in one of the fruits. As if, once again, impelled by fate, Parikshit picked up the very fruit in which Takshaka had hidden himself. 

While eating the fruit, the king saw an ugly insect come out of it. It had black eyes and a copper coloured body which did not have any distinct shape. 

Parikshit took the insect in his hands and said to his ministers, “The sun is setting on the seventh day from the curse. Now, I have no more fear.”

He looked at the insect and said, “Let this insect become Takshaka and bite me so that my sinful act towards Rishi is neutralised and the words of his son, Rishi Sringin, can come true.”

Note: Parikshit wasn’t trying to be boastful when he out the insect on his neck. He genuinely thought that he was out of danger and wished the insect would bite him so that his karma of insulting Sage Samika would neautralized and Sringin’s words would also not be falsified. But this is how karma or fate works. When the time for an event has come, no amount of safety is good enough and even a virtuous action can become the cause of destruction.

The king’s virtuous ministers should have cautioned him, but such are the ways of fate, that they could not see any danger in what Parikshit was doing. Influenced by fate, they approved of the king’s action without thinking of its implications.

Parikshit smiled and placed the insect on his neck, and In that very moment, the insect transformed back into its original form of Takshaka whi coiled himself around Parikshit’s neck. 

The minister’s faces became pale when they saw that serpent coiled around the king’s neck. They felt a wave of grief through their body and started crying.

Takshaka then let out a tremendous roar which caused the ministers to run away. He opened his fangs and bit the great monarch, Parikshit.

After biting the king, Takshaka left the mansion and flew across the sky. The fleeing ministers saw that brilliant serpent looking like a lotus-coloured streak across the blue sky, very similar to the vermilion coloured line that women put on their crown dividing the dark masses of hair in the middle.

The king’s mansion, which stood on a single pillar, blazed up in flames due to Takshaka’s poison and Parikshit fell down as if struck by lightning.

Note: In the next post, we will read about Parikshit’s last rites and the crowning of the next king of Hastinapur.

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Next Post: Parikshit’s Son Janamejaya is Crowned the Next King

Kuru and other kingdoms of the Vedic period. Image source.

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Previous Post: King Parikshit’s Response to Sage Samika’s Message

Note: In the previous post, we read about how King Parikshit (after being forewarned by Sage Samika), had a mansion built on a single column and took various measures to protect himself from Takshaka. 

In this post, we will read about the incident where Sage Kasyapa, who could revive people suffering from snake bites, decided to hasten to Hastinapur to save thecking in case he was attacked by Takshaka.

On the seventh and final day of Sringin’s curse to King Parikshit, Sage Kasyapa, who had also heard about the curse, set forth to Hastinapur to save Parikshit in case Takshaka bit the monarch. The sage knew mantras and other techniques of reviving any life-form bitten by a snake. As he walked towards Hastinapur, Kasyapa thought of the virtue and wealth he would gather by curing the king.

However, the deadly snake, Takshaka, saw Kasyapa walking rapidly towards Hastinapur. He immediately took the guise of an old Brahmin and intercepted Sage Kasyapa.

“Where are you going in such haste, O great sage, and for what reason?” The disguised Takshaka asked Kasyapa.

“I have heard that Takshaka is going to inflict death on Parikshit, the powerful king of the Kuru race, by his poison. I’m going to Hastinapur to save the king,” Kasyapa answered.

“I am Takshaka, O Brahmana, and I’m going to burn that king with my poison. It is impossible for you to cure someone who has been affected by my poison,” Takshaka said.

Kasyapa replied, “I’m sure I’ll be able to cure the king with my knowledge of mantras and healing.”

“O Kasyapa, if that is true then try and revive that tree which I’m soon going to burn down with my poison,” Takshaka challenged the sage.

“O king of snakes, do so if you will. I will revive the tree,” Sage Kasyapa answered.

Takshaka went to a nearby banyan tree and bit it, injecting his deadly poison in the tree. At that very moment, the tree started blazing all around.

After burning down the tree, Takshaka said, “O sage, try and revive this tree.”

The banyan tree (also referred in the Mahabharata as the king of the forest), was reduced to ashes by then. Sage Kasyapa took the ashes in his hands and said to Takshaka, “O king of snakes, now witness the power of my knowledge as I revive the tree from these ashes.”

Kasyapa piled the remains of the tree and used his knowledge (most likely of mantras) to make a sprout to grow in that mound of ashes. Then he caused the sprout to grow until there was a stem. Soon after that, branches appeared. Within some time, the revived tree that had started as a sprout was once again a full-fledged tree.

When Takshaka saw the tree fully revived, he said, “O sage, you have revived the tree, but it is not an admirable act for someone whose wealth is asceticism. What reward do you seek by curing the monarch? I will give you the same reward the king would have given you.”

Takshaka continued, “O sage, you are very famous. Think about what you are going to attempt. The king has been cursed by a brahmin whose words carry immense power. This curse has certainly reduced the lifespan of the king. Therefore, even though you revived the tree, you may not be able to revive the king, and this failure will wipe out all the glory and fame you have accumulated till now.”

Kasyapa heard Takshaka’s words and said, “I’m going to Hastinapur for wealth. Give me the gold I would have received there, and I will return to my home.”

Takshaka said, “O best of sages, I will give you more wealth than you would have received in Hastinapur. Therefore, do not proceed in that direction.”

Hearing Takshaka’s words, that great sage, Kasyapa, sat down on the ground and entered a state of meditation. He meditated over the king, and, through his spiritual sight, saw that the king’s lifespan was indeed about to end and there was no way to save him.

After coming out of the meditative state, sage Kasyapa turned away from Hastinapur, and Takshaka went towards Hastinapur.

Note: This incident is very interesting because it is full of contradictions. 

1. It shows a noble sage like Kasyapa hastening to Hastinapur to cure the king only for the sake of money. 
2. Kasyapa was a sage who could clearly discern the past, present, and future of anything or anyone, yet, he is so easily deceived by Takshaka.
3. Kasyapa sits in meditation to ascertain Parikshit’s future only at the end of this incident, and not at the beginning before he left his home to proceed to Hastinapur.

All these seem to be strange for a wise sage.

These contradictions remind me of what a very learned and wise person had said: “First sit at the feet of these great epics and learn from them before finding mistakes in them.”

I wholeheartedly agree with the above statement. I believe that the Mahabharata is a multi-layered story, and such an obvious contradiction is an invitation (a marker) to the discerning reader to introspect beyond the obvious.

I think it will be a good exercise to think about what really happened in this scene and why it happened.

In the next post, we will see Takshaka at his deceptive best, once he reaches Hastinapur.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Takshaka Goes to Hastinapur

Sage Shukadeva narrating the story of Krishna, to Parikshit

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Sage Samika Tries to Help King Parikshit Escape Sringin’s Curse

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Sage Samika felt compassion for the king and sent his disciple, Gaurmukha, as a messenger to forewarn the monarch about the curse.

In this post, we will read about Parikshit’s response to the sage’s message.

Parikshit himself, along with being a king, also practised ascetic penances. He was what we would call a royal sage, and he felt exceedingly sad when he learnt that he had insulted a sage who had undertaken a vow of silence. The anguish he felt because of his past action became even more magnified when he realised that, in spite of the insult, Sage Samika had responded with kindness by trying to save his life through Gaurmukha’s message. The monarch became deeply repentant, and at that moment, as he grieved, not for his own life, but for his conduct towards Rishi Samika, he looked very noble, magnificent, and even divine.

The king asked Gaurmukha to return to Sage Samika saying, “May the worshipful sage be gracious to me.” 

After Gaurmukha had left, the king immediately consulted with his ministers for to decide the future course of action, and in the discussion, the wise king himself decided to ask his artisans to build a house on a single column. 

This house was guarded day and night by soldiers. It was stocked with all the necessary medicines, while physicians, the king’s virtuous ministers, and Brahmanas who were well-versed in healing mantras stayed in that mansion with the king for his well-being. Protected on all sides, the king discharged his duties from that house for six days and six nights.

Note: A few posts back, we read about the incident where Samika explained to his son, Sringin, that Parikshit was a very noble king who discharged his duties well, and did not deserve to be cursed. Here, above, we see that nobility through Parikshit’s words, actions, and emotions.

And then, the sun arose on the seventh and final day of the curse.

Note: In the next post, we will find out what happened on the seventh (last) day of the curse.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Sage Kasyapa Heads to Hastinapur to Help Parikshit

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Did Sringin Regret His Rash Action?

Note: In the previous post, we learnt that Sage Samika’s wise words did not have much effect on Sringin. 

After explaining to Sringin the importance of keeping his anger under control, the rishi turned his attention to helping the king. 

In this post, we will find out how Rishi Samika tried to help King Parikshit.

Sage Samika said to Sringin, “O child, by forgiveness you can obtain worlds that are beyond the reach of Brahma Deva also. In my own ascetic practice, I have adopted peacefulness and have the desire to do as much good as I possibly can. Therefore, right now, I must do something to help the king.”

The Sage summoned one of his disciples called Gaurmukha who also practised ascetic penances and possessed excellent manners. He explained the recent events to Gaurmukha and advised him to go to the King, inquire about his welfare, and then give the actual message of the danger he faced because of the curse.

When Gaurmukha reached Parikshit’s palace in Hastinapur, he sent a message to the king through a royal servant, to inform the king about his arrival. 

Upon reaching the Parikshit’s court, Gaurmukha was respectfully worshipped by the noble monarch. After resting for some time, Gaurmukha relayed the Sage’s message to the king in the presence of his ministers.

Gaurmukha said, “O king of kings, I have been sent by a rishi called Samika who lives in your kingdom. The rishi practises hard ascetic devotions, has gained control over his passions, and is a peaceful as well as virtuous soul. O tiger among men, when the rishi was observing a vow of silence, a snake was placed on his shoulder by thyself. Even though the sage forgave you, his son, who is young and gets angry very quickly, was unable to forgive you. You have been cursed by the child that Takshaka will cause your death within seven nights. The sage asked his son to save you, but the child is unable to overcome his anger. His words are powerful and there’s nobody who can counter them. Therefore, I have been sent to convey this message for your safety.

Note: I loved Sage Samika’s patience, compassion, courage, and wisdom. He is patient towards his son’s immaturity, he feels compassion for the king and wants to save him, he is fearless in sending a messenger with such a dangerous message to the king, and he is wise because he teaches Gaurmukha the proper protocol and the correct words to use when approaching the king. Through this action, he practises what Sri Krishna taught in the Bhagwat Gita – to perform his duty with love, without fear, and without being attached to the result. 

In the next post, we will find out how Parikshit responded to the sage’s message.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: King Parikshit’s Response to Rishi Samika’s Message