Image of Naga couple at the Hoysala temple

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Elapatra’s Suggestion to His Snake Brothers

Note: In the previous post, we read about Elapatra’s advice to his snake brothers. Elapatra had heard the conversation between Brahma Deva and other devas about how only the sinful snakes would perish in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice and how the virtuous snakes would be saved.

Even though these words gave some relief to Vasuki, they did not remove his anxiety completely because the future still felt uncertain. 

In this post, we will find out how the devas sought help from Brahma Deva for Vasuki.

A very important cosmic event took place soon after Elapatra’s advice to his snake brothers. It was the Samudra Manthan where the devas and asuras got together to churn the ocean.

Vasuki, the chief of serpents who was gifted with great strength, offered to become the churning cord. After the Churning was over, Vasuki presented himself to Brahma Deva. The devas also went with Vasuki and told Brahma Deva that Vasuki was constantly concerned about the fate of  the serpent race. He suffered from great anxiety because of his mother’s curse. The devas represented Vasuki as their friend and someone who had helped them. They requested Brahma Deva to be gracious to Vasuki and remove the root cause of his sorrow.

Note: I like this story because it shows the devas asking for help from one of the Tri-Devas for a friend. The devas tend to be grateful for the kindness and friendship they receive and repay it accordingly.

Brahma Deva replied to the devas, “O immortals, I have thought about the solution. Let the chief of snakes do what his brother Elapatra suggested. Rishi Jaratkaru has been born and is engaging in hard penances. Let Vasuki bestow his sister to the sage at the right time. What Elapatra said about the son born of the union of Vasuki’s sister and the sage is true. He will be a wise Brahmin full of energy and will stop the snake sacrifice as soon as the sinful serpents have perished. No virtuous serpent will be harmed in the sacrifice.”

Hearing Brahma Deva’s words, Vasuki immediately commanded all the serpents to watch rishi Jaratkaru and notify him as soon as he came looking for a wife.

Note: In the next post, we will find out how rishi Jaratkaru got his name.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: The Meaning of the Name Jaratkaru

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Strategies Proposed by Various Serpents for Their Welfare

Note: In the previous post, we read about the suggestions given by various snakes who had gathered to find a way to protect themselves from perishing in Janamajeya’s snake sacrifice.

In this post, we will read the solution Elapatra, a wise serpent who also knew something about the curse that his brothers didn’t, suggested to protect himself and his brothers.

Elapatra spoke the last, after hearing all the snakes including Vasuki. He said, “We cannot prevent Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. Further, Janamejaya is not the real cause of the danger we face. The real cause of our fear is ‘fate’ and a person who is afflicted by fate cannot find a solution for his problems in anything other than fate. Therefore, let us seek refuge in fate itself.”

Elapatra explained to his brothers that when their mother, Kadru, had uttered the curse, he lay crouching on her lap filled with fear. At that time, he heard the devas tell Brahma Deva about how cruelly Kadru had behaved with her dear sons. The devas were surprised that instead of opposing Kadru’s curse, Brahma Deva approved of it by saying, “So be it.” The devas wanted to know why Brahma Deva did not prevent the curse from taking effect. Brahma Deva explained that there were many reasons why he had approved Kadru’s curse: the snakes’ population had increased a lot; they were cruel and highly poisonous; and they were terrible in form. Brahma Deva explained that his actions were for the good of other creatures. He also promised the devas that only the sinful and cruel serpents who bit other creatures without reason would perish due to the curse. The harmless and virtuous snakes would remain safe. 

Brahma Deva also explained how he would safeguard the virtuous snakes. He said that a great rishi called Jaratkaru would be born in the Yayavara race. He would marry a maiden from the race of the serpents whose name would also be Jaratkaru. Their son, Astika, would stop Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice after it had destroyed the sinful serpents, thus giving the virtuous serpents a chance to escape. Brahma Deva also explained that the maiden called Jaratkaru, would be none other than the snake chief, Vasuki’s, sister.

Elapatra then turned to his brother, Vasuki, and said that rishi Jaratkaru would wander begging for a bride. He urged Vasuki to give his sister in marriage to the rishi to ensure the welfare of the serpents. 

Hearing Elapatra’s words, all the serpents delightfully exclaimed, “Well said! Well said!”

After this meeting, Vasuki took great care in raising his sister.

Note: In the next post, we will read about when the devas approached Brahma Deva, once again, to request him to help the serpent, Vasuki.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: The Devas Request Brahma Deva to Help Vasuki

One day, while hunting, Janamejaya noticed the hermitage of a famous rishi called Srutasrava. This rishi had a son called Somasrava who was engaged in deep ascetic practices and devotion. 

Janamejaya bowed to the famous rishi, Srutasrava, with the desire to appoint the rishi’s son as his purohit. After bowing, Janamejaya said to the rishi, “O possessor of six attributes, please allow your son to be my purohit.”

The rishi answered: 

“O Janamejaya, my son who is accomplished in the Vedas and has the full force of my asceticism was born from the womb of a female snake that had drunk my vital fluid. He can help you obtain pardon for all offenses except for offenses committed against Lord Shiva. However, my son has a particular habit. If a brahmana asks him for something, he is sure to grant it to the brahmana. If you can accept and put up with this habit, then you may appoint him as your purohit.” 

Janamejaya accepted the condition and returned to Hastinapur with Somasrava. 

In Hastinapur, he informed his brothers that Somasrava was their purohit and that any demand made by him should be fulfilled without any questions. 

Son of Sarama being beaten

This post marks the beginning of the Paushya Upa-Parva of the Adi Parva.

King Janamejaya (son of Parikshit) had three brothers: Srutasena, Ugrasena, and Bhimasena. All four of them were seated at the sacrifice on the plains of Kurukshetra. 

While they were seated, a dog happened to wander by that very place. This dog was the child of Sarama – the celestial she-dog. Janamejaya’s brothers got irritated at the presence of the dog and harassed it until it left that spot. Consequently, the dog left that place and ran to its mother, crying in pain. 

When Sarama saw that her child couldn’t stop crying, she asked her little one: “Why are you crying so much? Who has beaten you?”

The little dog replied, “I have been harassed and beaten by the brothers of Janamejaya.”

“Surely, you must have done something wrong. That is why they beat you,” Sarama told her child.

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not touched the sacrificial butter with my tongue. I have not even cast a glance at it.” The little dog replied.

Sarama was greatly distressed when she heard that her child was beaten for no reason. She immediately went to the place of the sacrifice and said to Janamejaya in anger: “My son did not commit any fault. He neither touched the sacrificial butter with his tongue nor did he look at it. When did you beat him?”

Janamejaya and his brothers unable to give a valid reason, remained silent.

Sarama, who was still angry at the injustice done to her son, cursed them saying: “Because all of you have beaten my son without any reason, evil will come upon you when you least expect it.”

Next: Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya Tests his Pupil Aruni