The Snake Sacrifice Begins

The Snake-Sacrifice

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Janamejaya Decides to Avenge His Father’s Death

Note: In the previous post, Janamejaya resolved to conduct a snake sacrifice to avenge his father’s death caused by the evil and deceitful Takshaka. 

In this post, we will read about the events that happened after the snake sacrifice began.

The snake sacrifice commenced after Janamejaya was installed as the head of the sacrifice and he commanded his guards to be vigilant and prevent any outsider from entering the sacrificial space.

The priests were dressed in black garments and their eyes were red from contact with the smoke that emanated from the sacrificial fire as they poured clarified butter into it while chanting the appropriate mantras. This yagna was such that the snakes’ hearts trembled with fear.

Very soon, the priests started mentioning the names of specific snakes as they chanted the mantras and offered libations. As their names were mentioned, the snakes were pulled into the sacrificial fire. These snakes called out piteously to each other and intertwined their bodies with their brethren as they fell into the fire. Some of the snakes were old, some were young, some were black, some were blue, while some were white. These snakes were of different sizes too. Some measured a yojana, some a krosa, while some measured a gokarna. Hundreds of thousands of immensely poisonous snakes lost control over their movement and fell into the fire with swollen bodies, breathing hard, and uttering fear-filled cries. 

The snakes fell in such large numbers that after some time, their burnt fat overflowed from the sacrificial altar and started flowing towards the rivers. The whole environment was filled with cries of the snakes who were pulled into the fire and their burnt bodies filled the space with an insufferable stench.

Note: In the next post, we will find out the names of the rishis, priests and ritwika who participated in the sacrifice.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Names of the Rishis, Priests, and Ritwika Who Participated in the Snake Sacrifice