50. Janamejaya orders Sarpa Satra

50. Janamejaya orders Sarpa Satra

“The ministers continued, ‘That king of kings (Parikshit) then, spent with hunger and exertion, and having placed the snake upon the shoulders of that Muni, came back to his capital. The Rishi (Shameeka) had a son, born of a cow, of the name of Sringee. He was widely known, possessed of great skills and energy, and very short tempered. Going (every day) to his Guru he (Sringee) was in the habit of worshiping him. Commanded by him, Sringee was returning home, when he heard from a friend of his about the insult of his father by your father (Parikshit).

“O tiger among kings (Janamejaya), he heard that his father (Rishi Shameeka), without having committed any fault, was bearing, motionless like a statue, upon his shoulders a dead snake placed thereon. O king (Janamejaya), the Rishi insulted by your father (Parikshit) was severe in Tapas, the foremost of Munis, the controller of passions, pure, and ever engaged in wonderful acts. His (Rishi Shameeka’s) soul was enlightened with Tapas, and his organs and their functions were under complete control. His practices and his speech were both very nice. He was contented and without greed. He was without meanness of any kind and without envy. He was old and used to observe the vow of silence. He was the refuge whom all creatures might seek in distress.

“Such was the Rishi insulted by your father. However, the son (Sringee) of that Rishi, in anger, cursed your father. Though young in years, the powerful one was old in splendor of Tapas. Speedily touching water, he spoke, burning as it were with spiritual energy (Tejas in Sanskrit) and anger, these words in reference to your father, ‘Look the power of my Tapas! Directed by my words, the snake Takshaka of powerful energy and venomous poison, shall, within seven nights hence, burn, with his poison the wretch (Parikshit) that has placed the dead snake upon my un-offending father.’

“Having said this, he went to where his father (Rishi Shameeka) was. Seeing his father, he told him of his curse. The tiger among Rishis (Rishi Shameeka) immediately sent to your father (Parikshit) a disciple of his, named Gauramukha, of friendly manners and possessed of every Dharma. Having rested a while (after arrival at court) he told the king (Parikshit) everything, saying in the words of his master (Rishi Shameeka), ‘You have been cursed, O king, by my son. Takshaka shall burn you with his poison! Therefore, O king, be careful.’ O Janamejaya, hearing those terrible words, your father took every precaution against the powerful snake Takshaka.

“When the seventh day had arrived, the Brahmrishi Kaashyapa, desired to come to the monarch (Parikshit). But the snake Takshaka saw Kaashyapa. The prince of snakes (Takshaka) spoke to Kaashyapa without loss of time, saying, ‘Where do you go so quickly, and what is the work on which you go?’

“Kaashyapa replied, saying, ‘O Dwija, I am going where king Parikshit, that best of the Kurus, is. He shall today be burnt by the poison of the snake Takshaka. I go there quickly in order to cure him, in fact, in order that, protected by me, the snake may not bite him to death.’

“Takshaka answered, saying, ‘Why do you seek to revive the king to be bitten by me? I am that Takshaka. O Brahmana, look at the wonderful power of my poison. You are incapable of reviving that monarch (Parikshit) when bit by me.’

“Ministers continued, ‘So saying, Takshaka, then and there, bit a lord of the forest (a banyan tree). The banyan, as soon as it was bit by the snake, was converted into ashes. But Kaashyapa, O king (Janamejaya), revived it. Takshaka immediately tempted him, saying, ‘Tell me your desire.’ Kaashyapa, too, thus addressed, spoke again to Takshaka, saying, ‘I go there from desire of wealth.’ Takshaka, thus addressed, then spake to the high-souled Kaashyapa in these soft words, ‘O sinless one, take from me more wealth than what you expect from that monarch (Parikshit), and go back!’ Kaashyapa, that foremost of men, thus addressed by the snake (Takshaka), and receiving from him as much wealth as he desired, proceeded his way back.

“Kaashyapa going back, Takshaka, approaching in disguise, blasted, with the fire of his poison, your Dharmic father, the first of kings (Parikshit), then staying in his mansion with all precautions. After that, you were, O tiger among men (Janamejaya), been installed (on the throne). O best of monarchs (Janamejaya), we have thus told you all that we have seen and heard, cruel though the account is. Hearing all about the discomfiture of your royal father, and of the insult to the Rishi Utanka, you decide that which should follow!’

“Soota continued, ‘King Janamejaya, that punisher of enemies, then spoke to all his ministers. He said, ‘When did you learn all that happened upon that, banyan reduced to ashes by Takshaka, and which, wonderful as it is, was afterwards revived by Kaashyapa? Assuredly, my father could not have died, for the poison could have been neutralised by Kaashyapa with his mantras. That worst of snakes (Takshaka), of sinful soul, thought within his mind that if Kaashyapa revived the king (Parikshit) bit by him, he, Takshaka, would be an object of ridicule in the world owing to the neutralisation of his poison. Assuredly, having thought so, he pacified the Brahmana (Kaashyapa). I have devised a way, however, of inflicting punishment upon him (Takshaka). I like to know, however, what you saw or heard, what happened in the deep isolated part of the forest – the words of Takshaka and the speeches of Kaashyapa. Having known it, I shall devise the means of exterminating the snake race.’

“The ministers said, ‘Hear, O monarch (Janamejaya), of him who told us before of the meeting between that foremost of Dwijas (Kaashyapa) and that prince of snakes (Takshaka) in the forest. A certain person, O monarch, had climbed up that tree containing some dry branches with the object of breaking them for fuel of yagna. He was not seen either by the snake (Takshaka) or by the Brahmana (Kaashyapa). O king (Janamejaya), that man was reduced to ashes along with the tree itself. O king of kings (Janamejaya), he was revived with the (banyan) tree by the power of the Brahmana (Kaashyapa). That man, servant of Dwija, having come to us, represented fully everything as it happened between Takshaka and the Dwija (Kaashyapa). Thus, have we told you, O king (Janamejaya), all that we have seen and heard. Having heard it, O tiger among kings, order that which should follow.’

“Soota continued, ‘King Janamejaya, having listened to the words of his ministers, was sorely pained with grief, and began to weep. The monarch began to squeeze his hands. The lotus-eyed king began to breathe a long and hot breath, shed tears, and shrieked aloud. Possessed with grief and sorrow, and shedding abundant tears, and touching water according to the form, the monarch spoke. Thinking for a moment, as if settling something in his mind, the angry monarch (King Janamejaya), addressing all ministers, said these words.

“I have heard your account of my father’s ascension to heaven. You know now what my fixed resolve is. I think no time must be lost in avenging this injury upon the wretch Takshaka that killed my father. He burnt my father making Sringee only a secondary cause. From hatred alone he made Kaashyapa return. If that Brahmana (Kaashyapa) had arrived, my father (Parikshit) assuredly would have lived. What would he (Takshaka) have lost if the king (Parikshit) had revived by the grace of Kaashyapa and the precautionary measures of his ministers? From ignorance of the effects of my anger, he prevented Kaashyapa – that excellent of Dwijas – whom he could not defeat, from coming to my father with the desire of reviving him. The act of aggression is great on the part of the wretch Takshaka who gave wealth to that Dwija (Kaashyapa) in order that he might not revive the king. I must now avenge myself on my father’s enemy (Takshaka) to please myself, the Rishi Utanka and you all.’”



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