Death of King Parikshit
|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.