By KK Shanmukhan
King Pareekshit, the grandson of Arjuna, was once wandering fatigued with hunger and thirst. He saw in the forest, sage Sameeka, meditating, having restrained all his senses. The king who was burning with thirst asked for water. Not being treated well by offering a seat or water or a nice word, the king got offended. Before returning in haste, he lifted a dead snake found nearby with the tip of his bow and placed it around the neck of the sage. The sage’s son heard of the insult his father had received from the king. Eyes red with anger he cursed the king thus: “May the arrogant king, who instead of protecting and safeguarding the honours of the sages, has through sheer adharmic deed, committed this grave sin, die on the seventh day from today bitten by Thakshaka, the deadiest of snakes!” King Pareekshit, who came to know of the curse was in panic and thought ways and means to escape it. As advised by his priest and ministers he built a safe castle supported by a single pillar in the sea surrounded by a large number of security personnel.
The learned king ordered for the recital of the Bhagavat Purana for the seven coming days thinking either it would rescue him or if the worst happens, would provide him with moksha.
The young sage’s curse anyhow should take place. And Thakshaka was proceeding to where the king was camping amidst tight security. On the way he met with a saint with high profile of power of meditation and yogic acumen who was also going to bring the king to life, if he were done to death. Both of them argued in favour of and against the king. Thakshaka found him to be an invincible yogi. He somehow convinced the saint and returned him with a lot of gifts. Soon Thakshaka took the form of a small worm, entered into a good looking fruit that was being brought to the king.
One the seventh day evening the chanting of the wholly text was over. The sun was about to set. So far nothing untoward happened. The king and his coterie were in joy uncontainable. The king should break this fast. He took a fruit and opened it. There was a small worm. His priests advised him not to destroy it but to keep it on his centre-head so that the curse made true in its symbolic ritual. The king did accordingly. Alas! The small worm grew into a huge serpent and bit him. The king fell dead.
A glow of light darted form the body of Pareekshit and emerged with the eternal Paramatma due to the effect of the Bhagavata chanting. He was totally relieved of the Gordian knot of life and death.
Rebirth as Human
By Manju Gupta
Indian mythology is replete with stories of gods and the demons being constantly at war with each other. The gods had become tired of fighting the demons and so they approached Lord Indra, the Lord of the Gods, to do something about it. Lord Indra called Agni, the Fire-God and Vayu, the Wind-God to go and kill the demons.
So Agni and Vayu fought for days on end and managed to kill most of the demons though a few escaped and hid themselves in the ocean where neither the Fire God nor the Wind God could do anything. So deeply distressed and dejected, they returned to Lord Indra to inform him of their partial failure.
Lord Indra lost his temper on hearing their excuse and shouted, “I don’t care how you kill the remaining demons, but you have to destroy all those who are hiding in the ocean. Even if you have to churn the ocean to drive them out of hiding, do it but don’t leave them.”
Now Agni God and Vayu God were caught in a fix as they did not want to churn the ocean and unsettle the other aquatic creatures living in the ocean waters. So they again went to Lord Indra and expressed their inability to obey his command. At this Lord Indra thundered, “I don’t care what happens to the ocean or the creatures living in it. What has annoyed me most is to see you disobey my command. I curse you that you be born as humans and suffer like them.”
It is said that as a result of Lord Indra’s curse, Agni God was born as Sage Agastya and Vayu God as Sage Vashishtha.