Thursday, June 8, 2017

What happened after Mahabharata - Parikshit & Takshak Snake

Many of us know that the Mahabharata ends when Yudhistir manages to rescue his brothers and Draupadi from Hell and ascends to Heaven. If you haven't heard of this story called "Yudhistira had to go to Hell", drop a comment and I will narrate it in some other post. I will focus on Parikshit and Takshaka snake in this post. Since this post is about "what happened after Mahabharata", I will also talk about Parikshit's son, Janmejaya and his supernatural feat in the second part in this series. (PLEASE CHECK FOR LINK A FEW DAYS LATER).

In case you wish to read the entire Mahabharata, I recommend you buy Mahabharata by C Rajagopal Acharya. The author has presented the whole epic in short, without omitting any of the details. You can find the "Yudhistra in Hell" chapter too, in that book. It is the last chapter in most Mahabharata books. Some Mahabharata books end with coronation of Yudhistira so they're incomplete. One has to know why a truthful person ended up in Hell even after ruling a kingdom justly.

Who Was Parikshit? Who was King after Yudhistira? 


Coming back to Parikshit, he was the only successor of Pandavas post Mahabharata war. You probably know that after Duyodhana's death, Dronacharya's son was so upset at unjust war that he no longer respected ethics and set fire to the Pandava Camp at night. The Pandavas escaped unhurt. Draupadi too escaped. But all sons of Pandavas were killed in that fire.

Abhimanyu was Arjuna's son from Subhadra, cousin of Lord Krishna. Abhimanyu already fought valiantly and was killed in a Chakravyuha battle formation that he penetrated despite half knowledge. That's a different story again, but you should know Abhimanyu was killed by Karna, Kripacharya, and many other warriors. This too prompted an interested episode - The Killing of Jayadratha.

Incidentally, Abhimanyu's wife, Uttara, was pregnant at the time of the war. According to the Hindu customs, a bearing lady lives with her parents until the child is born. Thus, she was much far away from the war field, with her parents.

Uttara gave birth to a warrior named Parikshit. After procuring training from his grand-fathers (Pandavas, Lord Krishna, & their gurus), he was made the successor to the throne after Pandavas left on their final journey.

Parikshit proved to be a good emperor and carried Yudhistira's legacy forward. But then, enters Takhshak, the snake or serpent - however you may want to call it. Let's just say Takshaka for ease of use. Takshaka is a snake that can fly and can take different forms at will.

Why Takshaka Wanted to Kill Parikshit?

When the Pandavas set fire to Khandava forest to clear the ground for building a city, Takshaka's wife charred to death. His son escaped and tried to kill Arjuna by taking form of an arrow in the quiver of Karna.

When Karna used the snake turned arrow, Lord Krishna, who was the charioteer of Arjuna, made the horses stoop. That made Karna miss and instead of hitting him on the forehead, the snake arrow just hit the crown of Arjuna - both the snake and the crown shattered into pieces. This incident added fuel to Takshaka's anger.

He did not get a chance to get even with the Pandavas during their lifetime. But thanks to a misadventure by Parikshit, Takshaka got a chance and he used it to his best. Now starts the real story of Parikshit and Takshaka.

Parikshit and Takshaka

Parikshit was a good emperor. But he had some anger too. Once, on a hunting trip, he was lost in the forest. He sees an ascetic (sage) and asks him some water. It was a bad day for Parikshit, as the ascetic was on a vow of silence. Since the ascetic did not answer or maybe Parikshit did not understand the sign language of ascetic, he got angry. He looked angry, saw a snake on a nearby branch, broke the branch with the snake, tried to scare the ascetic with that snake.

It did not cause any harm to the sage but the sage's son saw it. He poured some water in his palm and sprinkled it on Parikshit, saying that within seven days, Takshaka will cause Pariskshit's death. All of them went their ways after the incident. Parikshit was frightened. He could not sleep. He told his ministers about the curse. They decided that if the emperor is secured for seven days, the curse would fade away.

To secure the emperor, a huge tower was built with a room on the top. The tower had guards at every step, especially looking out for snakes. The top room housed Parikshit and his assistants. Here was Takshaka's chance to kill Parikshit to avenge his wife and and son's death. But the security was really tight. Takshaka had to find a way to get close to the king before he could bite him to death.

It was the evening of seventh day. The curse time-period was about to end. Parikshit and his people were happy that they're almost saved. A women carrying apples approaches the tower where Pariskshit was lodged. She wanted to give some apples to the emperor for his long life. While the armed guards did not let the women go up to Parikshit, they took few apples to the emperor.

Since they were too happy, the assistants handed over one apple to Parikshit. As he bit it, he saw a worm wriggling from the apple. He pulled out the worm and mocks it, asking where is Takshaka. The worm suddenly transforms into a huge snake. Parikshit was white with fear. It was not a problem for Takshaka to fatally bite the emperor and escape.

The story does not end here. Parikshit's son, Janmejaya came to know of this. What he does for revenge is another blog post. Please check back in a few days for link to Janmejaya's story. Takshaka had to pay for killing Parikshit. Did he pay? Did Janmejaya make him pay? What did he do?

PROMO: Buy the comic version of Parikshit and Takshak story
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