49. History of Raja Parikshit

49. History of Raja Parikshit

“(Rishi) Shaunaka said, ‘Tell me again, in detail, – all that king Janamejaya had asked his ministers about his father’s (Raja Parikshit’s) ascension to heaven.’

“Soota said, ‘O Brahmana, hear all that the king (Janamejaya) asked his ministers, and all that they said about the death of (King) Parikshit.’

“Janamejaya asked, ‘You all know that happened to my father (King Parikshit). How did that famous king, in time, meet with his death? Hearing from you the incidents of my father’s life in detail, I shall order something, if it be for the benefit of the world. Otherwise, I shall do nothing.’

“Ministers replied, ‘Hear, O monarch (Janamejaya), what you have asked – an account of your illustrious father’s life, and how also that king of kings left this world. Your father was a Dharmaatma and Mahatma, and always protected his people. O, hear, how that high-souled one (King Parikshit) conducted himself on earth. Like to an impersonation of Dharma and Neeti, the monarch (King Parikshit), aware of his own Dharma, virtuously protected the four varnas, each engaged in the discharge of their specified duties. Of incomparable skills, and blessed with fortune, he (King Parikshit) protected the goddess Earth. There was none who hated him and he himself hated none. Like to Prajaapati, he (King Parikshit) was equally favourable towards all creatures.

“O monarch (Janamejaya), Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, all engaged satisfactorily in the practice of their respective duties, were impartially protected by that king (Parikshit). He maintained widows, orphans, the injured and the poor. Of handsome features, he was to all creatures like a second Soma (The Moon God). Cherishing his subjects and keeping them contented, blessed with good fortune, truth-telling, of immense skills, he was the disciple of Shaaradwata in Dhanurveda. O Janamejaya, your father was dear to Govinda (Lord Vishnu). Of great fame, he (Parikshit) was loved by all men.

“He (Parikshit) was born in the womb of Uttara when the Kuru race was almost extinct. Therefore, the mighty son of Abhimanyu came to be called Parikshit (meaning born in an extinct line). Well-versed in the interpretation of treatises on Raja Dharma, he was gifted with every Dharma. With passions under complete control, intelligent, possessing a capacity retaining memory, the practiser of all Dharma, the conqueror of his six passions of powerful mind, surpassing all, and fully acquainted with the science of Buddhi and Neeti, the father (King Parikshit) had ruled over these subjects for sixty years. He then died, mourned by all his subjects. After him, O first of men (Janamejaya), you have acquired this hereditary kingdom of the Kurus for the last thousand years. You were installed while a child, and are thus protecting every creature.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘There has not been born in our race a king who has not sought the good of his subjects or been loved by them. Look especially the conduct of my Pitaamahas ever engaged in great achievements. How did my father, blessed with many Dharmas, meet with his death? Describe everything to me as it happened. I am desirous of hearing it from you!’

“Soota continued, ‘Thus directed by the monarch (Janamejaya), those ministers, ever caring of the good of the king, told him everything exactly as it had occurred.

“The ministers said, ‘O king (Janamejaya), that father of yours, that protector of the whole earth, that foremost of all persons obedient to the Shaastraas, became addicted to the sports of the field, as Paandu of mighty arms, that foremost of all bearers of the bow in battle. He gave over to us all the affairs of state from the most trivial to the most important. One day, going into the forest, he pierced a deer with an arrow. Having pierced it he followed it quickly on foot into the deep forest, armed with sword and arrow bag. He could not, however, locate upon the lost deer. Sixty years of age and weak, he (Parikshit) was soon tired and became hungry. He then saw in the deep forest a high-souled Muni (Shameeka).

“The Muni (Shameeka) was then observing the vow of silence (Mouna Vrata in Sanskrit). The king asked him about the deer, but, though asked, he (Shameeka) made no reply. At last the king, already tired with effort and hunger, suddenly became angry with that Rishi sitting motionless like a piece of wood in observance of his vow of silence. Indeed, the king (Parikshit) knew not that he was a Muni observing the vow of silence. Swayed by anger, your father insulted him. O excellent one of the Bharata race (Janamejaya), the king (Parikshit), your father taking up from the ground with the end of his bow a dead snake placed it on the shoulders of that Muni of pure soul (Shuddhaatma in Sanskrit). But the Muni spoke not a word good or bad and was without anger. He continued in the same posture, bearing the dead snake.’”



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