38. Elaapatra

38. Elaapatra

“Soota said, ‘Hearing the respective speeches of all the snakes, and hearing also the words of Vaasuki (king of snakes), Elaapatra began to address them, saying, ‘That yagna is not one that can be prevented. Nor is king Janamejaya of the Paandava race from whom this fear proceeds, such that he can be stopped. O king (Vaasuki), the person who is pained by fate has to surrender to fate alone; nothing else can be his refuge. O best of snakes (Vaasuki), this fear of ours has fate for its root. Fate alone must be our refuge in this. Listen to what I say. When that curse was uttered, O best of snakes, in fear I lay crouching on the lap of our mother (Kadru – mother of snakes). O best of snakes, and O lord (Vaasuki) of great splendour, from that place I heard the words the sorrowing Devas spoke to the Pitaamaha (Lord Brahma).

“Devas said, ‘O Pitaamaha (Lord Brahma), O Deva Deva, who else than the cruel Kadru could thus, after getting such dear children, curse them so, in your presence? And, O Pitaamaha, by you also has been spoken, with reference to those words of hers, ‘Be it so.’ We wish to know the reason why you did not prevent her.’

“(Lord) Brahma replied, ‘The snakes have multiplied. They are cruel, terrible in form and highly poisonous. From desire of the good of my creatures, I did not prevent Kadru then. Those poisonous snakes and others who are sinful, biting others for no faults, shall, indeed, be destroyed, but not they who are harmless and virtuous. Also hear, how, when the hour comes, the snakes may escape this dreadful calamity. There shall be born in the race of the Yaayaavaras a Maharishi known by the name of Jaratkaaru, intelligent, with desires under complete control. That Jaratkaaru shall have a son of the name of Aastika. He shall put a stop to that yagna. Those snakes who shall be Dharmic in nature shall escape immediately.’

“Devas said, ‘O you truth-knowing one (Lord Brahma), on whom will Jaratkaaru, that foremost Muni, gifted with great energy and Tapas, father that illustrious son?’

“(Lord) Brahma answered, ‘Gifted with great energy, that best Dwija (Jaratkaaru) shall father a son possessed of great energy on a wife of the same name as his. Vaasuki, the king of the snakes, has a sister of the name of Jaratkaaru; the son (Aastika), of whom I speak, shall be born of her, and he shall liberate the snakes.’

“Elaapatra continued, ‘Devas then said to the Pitaamaha (Lord Brahma), ‘Be it so.’ The Lord Brahma, having said so to Devas, went to heaven. O Vaasuki, I see before me that sister of yours known by the name of Jaratkaaru. For relieving us from fear, give her as bhiksha to him (i.e., the Rishi), Jaratkaaru, of excellent vows (Vrata in Sanskrit), who shall roam begging for a bride. This means of release has been heard of by me!’”



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