Jaratkaru’s Son Astika – the Savior of Serpents

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Rishi Jaratkaru’s Places Some Conditions for Getting Married

Note: In the previous post, we read about Rishi Jaratkaru’s marriage to the Naga maiden, and Vasuki’s sister, Jaratkaru. 

In this post, we will find out why Vasuki wanted his sister to marry Rishi Jaratkaru.

Sauti addressed the ascetics in Naimisha forest to tell them about why Vasuki wanted to marry his sister to Jaratkaru, “O foremost of people who are acquainted with Brahma, a long time back, a woman, who was the mother of a thousand snakes, had cursed her children. She decreed that Agni would burn them at Janamejaya’s sacrifice. Vasuki, the chief of the snakes, married his sister to Rishi Jaratkaru to neutralize that curse. A high-souled child, called Astika, was born of their union. He became an illustrious ascetic, well-versed in the Vedas and their branches, and he regarded every one with a balanced viewpoint. Thus, he removed the fears of both his parents.”

Note: Astika removed the fears of both his parents because Rishi Jaratkaru wanted a child who would please his ancestors and the Naga woman Jaratkaru wanted a child who would rescue the snakes at Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. Astika did both.

A long time after Astika’s birth, a descendant of the Pandavas conducted a great snake sacrifice for the destruction of the Nagas. 

Note: Janamejaya’s father, Parikshit, was killed by Takshaka’s bite. Janamejaya conducted the snake sacrifice to avenge his father’s death.

Because Astika’s mother was a Naga, the Nagas who were losing their lives at Janamejaya’s sacrifice were his cousins and maternal uncles. Astika was able to save many of the Nagas at the sacrifice. 

Eventually, Astika also had offspring, thus repaying the debt to his ancestors. 

By performing yagnas and making different kinds of offerings, he propitiated the Gods, and by practicing the brahmacharya mode of life, he also pleased the rishis.

Thus, by getting married, and having Astika as a child, Rishi Jaratkaru of strict vows released himself from all bondage and, after a long life, ascended to heaven. 

After narrating the story of Astika, Sauti addressed the ascetic (Saunaka Kulapati), “O tiger of the Bhrigu race, I have told you the story of Astika. Now, which story should I narrate next?”

Note: Saunaka Kulapati, wanted to hear the entire story of Astika, including the old curse on the Nagas, in more detail. In the next post, we will begin with the full story of how the Nagas were cursed and how Astika saved them.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

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