What happened after Mahabharata? This post is about Takshak Snake and his tryst with Parikshit. Many of us know that the Mahabharata ends when Yudhistara manages to rescue his brothers and Draupadi from Hell and ascends to Heaven. If you haven’t heard of this story called Yudhistara Had to Go to Hell, drop a comment and I will narrate it in some other post. I will focus on Parikshit and Takshak snake in this post.
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Who Was Parikshit? Who Was Hastinapur’s King After Yudhistara?
Coming back to Parikshit, he was the only successor of Pandavas post Mahabharata war. You probably know that after Duryodhana’s death, Dronacharya’s son was so upset at the 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.
Uttara, Abhimanyu’s wife, gave birth to a warrior named Parikshit. She was the daughter of King Virat who offered asylum to the Pandavas during their hiding-exile period. After procuring training from his grandfathers (Pandavas, Lord Krishna, & their gurus), Parikshit ascended the throne after Yudhistara.
Parikshit proved to be a good emperor and carried Yudhistara’s legacy forward. But then, enters Takshak, the snake or serpent – however you may want to call it. Let’s just say Takshak for ease of use. Takshak was a snake that can fly and can take different forms at will.
Why Did Takshak Snake Want to Kill Parikshit?
When the Pandavas set fire to the Khandava forest to clear the ground for building a city, Takshak snake’s wife and several other serpents were charred to death. His son escaped and tried to kill Arjuna by taking the 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 Takshak’s anger.
He did not get a chance to get even with the Pandavas during their lifetime. But thanks to a misadventure by Parikshit, Takshak snake got a chance, and he used it to his best. Now starts the real story of Parikshit and Takshak – much later the war of Mahabharata.
Parikshit and Takshak Snake
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 for some water. It was a bad day for Parikshit, as the ascetic was in a vow of silence. Since the ascetic did not answer or maybe Parikshit did not understand the sign language of an ascetic, he got angry. He looked angry, saw a dead snake on a nearby branch, broke the branch with the snake, and 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 into his palm and cursed Parikshit, saying that within seven days, the Takshak snake will cause Pariskshit’s death. After his meditation, the sage’s son told his father about the curse. Though the sage was upset because Abhimanyu’s son, Parikshit was a good king, he sent one of his disciplines to inform Parikshit about the curse.
Securing Parikshit from Takshak
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 from the Takshak snake, 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 Takshak’s chance to kill Parikshit to avenge his wife and son’s death. But the security was really tight. Takshak had to find a way to get close to the king before he could bite him to death.
It was the evening of the seventh day. The curse time-period was about to end. Parikshit and his people were happy that they were almost saved. A woman 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 a few apples to the emperor.
Since they were so 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 mocked it, asking where Takshak was. The worm suddenly transforms into a huge snake. Parikshit was white with fear. It was Takshak. Then it was not a problem for Takshak to fatally bite the emperor and escape.
The story does not end here. Parikshit’s son, Janamejaya came to know of this. What he does for revenge is another blog post. Takshak Snake had to pay for killing Parikshit. Did Janamejaya make him pay? It is another story that I narrate in Janamejaya’s Snake Sacrifice.
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