Kathai Kathaiyam Karanamam

Tales We Heard Sitting In Ammupatti’s Lap

Story of Parikshit

Posted by ammupatti on December 7, 2008

It is not easy to tell story of Parikshit in the “short story” version and yet we used to ask our Echiyamma to tell us this story time and again. It is much later that I realized there is a different angle to the whole story. I particularly like the way it is narrated on this website.

This is my Echiyamma’s version.

Maharaja Parikshit  was the grandson of Arjuna and the son of Abhimanyu. He was a noble king. Once he went hunting with all his soldiers. After some time the Maharaja lost his way and was wandering in the forest. The Maharaja was very thirsty and tired and was looking for a drink of water. Finally, he saw a hut in the distance. With great difficulty the Maharaja reached the hut. It was the ashram of the sage Sameeka. The Maharaja went inside the ashram and seeing the rishi, asked him for water. Sameeka who was deep in meditation did not hear the Maharaja. The Maharaja who was exhausted by thirst asked Sameeka repeatedly for water but the sage would not reply. Seething with anger at Sameeka’s silence, the Maharaja stepped out of the Ashram. As he was coming out, he saw a dead snake lying on the ground. The Maharaja wanted to teach Sameeka a lesson. He lifted the dead snake with a stick and put it around the rishi’s neck and left.

Some children playing nearby saw the Maharaja leaving the Ashram in a fit of anger. They went and looked inside the ashram and saw the rishi meditating with a dead snake around his neck. They informed the rishi’s son of what they saw. Unable to believe what his friends said, the son went inside the ashram and was overcome with anger and grief that a rishi like his father should be treated this way by a Maharaja. He ran in the direction of the Maharaja and cursed him that he would die of  snake bite within seven days.

When Sameeka came out of his meditation, his son told him of what happened and the sage was very sorry to hear of the curse. He realized however (by his yogic vision) that the Maharaja was destined to die by the bite of the poisonous snake Takshaka. He knew that there was no way to save the Maharaja at this juncture. He sent one of his disciples to the Maharaja to tell him of the curse and his destiny.

By this time, the Maharaja was also overcome by grief at his own misbehavior and when the disciple told him of his curse, he thought he had been given the right punishment for his rash behavior. He wanted to spend the last seven days of his life in prayers so that he would attain moksha. His courtiers advised him to spend the time in a tall tower built in the middle of the sea so that no snake could enter the tower. The Maharaja was however resigned to his fate but agreed to the advice of his courtiers. A tower was built and the Maharaja spent his days in the company of great sages there listening to the stories of all great people. All his subjects went to meet him there. On the seventh day, one of his subjects offered him a fruit. As the Maharaja bit into the fruit, a small worm fell from it and immediately grew into a big snake that bit the Maharaja’s toe. The Maharaja attained the feet of the Lord Mahavishnu with the name of the Lord in his lips. Thus even on a tall tower, a worm can take one’s life if that was one’s preordained fate.

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