|Note: In the previous post, we read about Janamejaya’s desire to grant Astika a boon because he was gratified by his words and noticed the positive signs that manifested while Astika was speaking. Janamejaya also found the child brahmin to be wise and filled with splendour. All the Sadasyas of the sacrifice also agreed with Janamejaya, but they wanted him to wait until Takshaka was captured in the sacrificial fire.
In this post, we will read about how Takshaka had to come out of hiding and appeared in the sky due to the power of the sacrifice.
Warned by his Hotri to wait till Takshaka was captured, Janamejaya said to the Ritwiks, “Takshaka is my enemy. Put all your might into the mantras to make Takshaka appear so that the aim of my sacrifice may be fulfilled.”
The Ritwiks replied, “O king, the scriptures tell us that Takshaka is staying in Indra’s abode out of fear from this sacrifice. Lohitaksha, the learned Suta and well-versed in the Puranas, has also confirmed this. Moreover, the sacrificial fire also seems to suggest the same thing.”
|Note: The last line, refers to divination with fire which is known as pyromancy in contemporary times. There are many types of pyromancy. One of them involves making interpretations based on the shape of a flame.
The Suta, Lohitaksha, was also present in the sacrifice. Janamejaya asked him if this was true and Lohitaksha confirmed that it was. Indra had granted protection to Takshaka and asked the serpent to stay with him in his abode.
Janamejaya was not pleased with the knowledge that Indra was protecting Takshaka. However, he urged his Hotri to continue.
As the Hotri continued chanting mantras and offering oblations of clarified butter to the fire, Indra appeared in the sky in his car accompanied by his retinue of clouds, devas, and apsaras. Takshaka was also with Indra but remained hidden in Indra’s upper garment.
Not being able to see Takshaka, angered Janamejaya. Bent upon destroying Takshaka, he said to his Brahmanas, “If Takshaka is under Indra’s protection, then chant your mantras to bring him into the fire along with Indra.”
Urged by the king, the Hotri continued chanting the mantras and offered the libations taking Takshaka’s name as they poured the clarified butter into the fire.
As soon as Takshaka’s name was specifically mentioned in the mantras, Takshaka was forced out of Indra’s upper garment and became visible in the sky along with Indra.
The power of the sacrifice scared Indra. He immediately abandoned Takshaka and returned to his abode. Having lost Indra’s protection, Takshaka was overcome with fear. He lost his senses and started being pulled towards the sacrificial fire by the power of the mantras.
Once Takshaka was pulled close enough to the flames, the Ritwiks said to Janamejaya, “O king of kings, your sacrifice is proceeding as it should. You may now grant a boon to this deserving brahmin child.”
Janamejaya looked at Astika and said, “O immeasurable brahmin of handsome childlike features, I wish to grant you a worthy boon. Ask for whatever your heart desires. I will grant it to you even if it’s non grantable.”
Meanwhile, Takshaka was being drawn closer and closer to the fire. The Ritwiks said to the Janamejaya, “O king, see, Takshaka is coming under your control. Listen to his terrible cries and loud roar. The serpent has been forsaken by Indra and your mantras have rendered his body and senses powerless. Look at him rolling in the sky and breathing loudly as he falls from heaven.”
|Note: In the next post, we will find out what boon Astika asks for.
Next Post: Astika Asks For His Boon