THE SECOND BOOK
On the death of king Parîksit
1-3. Sûta said :-- O Risis! On that very day when the Brâhmin Kas'yapa went out of his house, Taksak, knowing the king Parîksit cursed, assumed an aged Brâhmin's form and went out of his abode.
The serpent Taksak met the Brâhmin Kas'yapa on the way. Seeing the Brâhmana, versed in the Mantras, Taksak asked him Where are you going so in haste, and what for are you taking this trouble?
4-17. Thus questioned, Kas'yapa replied :-- I heard that the serpent Taksak will bite the king Parîksit; therefore I am going in haste to the king Parîksit to cure him of the serpent's poison. I know the mantra (mystic verse) that can destroy the effect of poison. If his life-period is not exhausted, I will certainly give him back his life. Taksak then. Said :-- O Brâhmana! I am that Taksak; I will bite him and take away his life. So you better desist. Will you be able to treat him whom I bite; certainly you will not. Kas'yapa said :-- O chief of snakes! When you will bite the king who has been cursed by the Brâhman, I will no doubt make him alive by the power of my mantra. Taksak said :-- O chief of Brâhmanas! If you have so thought that you will make the king alive after I bite him, then shew me your strength before hand. O sinless one! I will bite this Nyagrodha tree (the Indian fig-tree); just now make it alive.
Kas'yapa said :-- Certainly I will make this tree alive, that will be burnt away by the venom of your teeth. Sûta said :-- The snake Taksak then bit the tree, which was reduced to ashes; and asked Kas'yapa to bring back that tree to life. Seeing the tree reduced to ashes by the fire of venom of the snake, he collected all the ashes and said :-- O highly venomous serpent. See to-day the power of my mantra. Behold! While you are witnessing, I will enliven this tree. Thus the great mantra-knower Kas'yapa took water in his hand, and impregnating it with his mantra power, sprinkled the water on the ashes. Immediately, on the sprinkling of the mantra saturated water, the Nyagrodha tree got back its life as before. Taksak became greatly astonished to see the tree enlivened again and said to Kas'yapa :-- O chief of Brâhmans! What is your object in taking so much pains? Speak out what you want and I will fulfil your desires. Kas'yapa said :-- O chief of serpents! Knowing the king cursed, I am going to do good to him by my knowledge and to get in return abundant wealth. Hearing this, Taksak said :-- I will give you the amount of wealth that you desire; take that and go back to your house, and let my desire be also fulfilled.
18-26. Kas'yapa, the knower of the highest state, heard Taksaka's words and pondered in his mind again and again. What is to be done now? If I take this wealth and go back to my house, my name and fame will not be known in this world, simply for my greed; but if the king be made alive again, my undying fame, abundant wealth, and greater
Punyam will accrue to me. Again fie to that wealth with which there is no fame; so one must try one's best to preserve one's fame. The king Raghu, in ancient days, gave away everything of his to the Brâhmanas for fame; the king Harischandra and Karna did not hesitate a bit to give away endless property. There is one point again to take into account, how can I trifle away the matter, seeing the king burnt up by the venomous fire?
If I can bring back the king's life, everyone will become happy. If the kingdom be without its king, the subjects will, no doubt, be ruined. So, following the king's death, sin will also incur on me due to the ruin of the subjects; and infamy will come on my head that I am a very greedy man. Thus meditating in his mind, the highly intelligent Kas'yapa began to meditate, and plunged himself in Dhyân; he thereby came to know that the king's life period was spent up. Thus knowing the king's death imminent, the virtuous Kas'yapa took the desired wealth from Taksak and returned home.
27-48. Thus making Kas'yapa to retire to his house on the seventh day Taksak went on to Hastinâpur to bring death and destruction on to Parîksit. When he went close to the city, he heard that the king Parîksit was staying on the upper story of the palace; and the palace had been preserved by various gems, mantras, herbs and plant. Taksak became very anxious; and fearing, lest the curse of the Brâhmanas, will fall on his head, became very much agitated and thought. How shall I now enter the palace? How can I cheat this stupid hypocrite vicious king, cursed by the Brâhmana, who causes troubles to the Brâhmanas. Not a single man has taken birth in the Pandava family ever since that he coiled a dead serpent round the neck of an ascetic Brâhmin. The king has committed a very heinous crime and knowing the course of time to be in fallible, has placed sentries on all sides of the palace and has ascended to the top-most story of the building, thinking thereby to deceive Death and is staying in a peaceful mind. How can then he be smitten, in accordance with the Brâhmana's word? The king, of dull intellect, knows not that death cannot be prevented; for that reason he has placed guards and sentinels round the building, and himself has got up the house and is happily whiling away his time; but he is quite ignorant that when Fate who can never be violated, ordains the death, how can it be prevented though thousands of attempts are made to thwart it? This scion of Pandu family knows that his death is at hand and yet wants to live and therefore is staying in his own place with a tranquil mind. The king ought now to make charities and other meritorious works; it is only by acts of Dharma that disease is destroyed and life is prolonged.
And if that be not the object then a dying man ought to take bath, to make charities and to await his time of death; he thereby attains heaven; otherwise hell is inevitable. The king committed great sin in the act of causing pains and trouble to the Brâhmin or other similar acts and therefore death is so close that the Brâhmin curse has fallen thus on his head. Is there no such Brâhmin who can make him understand this; or the Creator has ordained his death now as inevitable. Thus meditating, the chief serpent made other serpents following him assume then form of ascetic Brâhmanas and gave them roots and fruits to be taken to the king. The serpent Taksak himself entered within the fruits in the form of an insect. Then the ascetic serpents took the fruits and quickly went out of the place. They came to the palace where Parîksit was resting. Seeing them, the guards asked :-- What for have you come here? Hearing this, We are coming from the hermitage to prolong the life of the hero king, the son of Abhimanyu and the son of the Pândava family, by chanting the mantras of the Atharvavedas, and we want to have an interview with the king; now you better go and inform the king that some Munis have come to see you. We will sprinkle water on him and give him some sweet fruits and then depart. We have never come across such gatekeepers in the family of Bharat as disallow the ascetic Muni visitors to go and see the king. We will ascend to the place where the Parîksit is staying and we will bless him, and wish him long life; we will communicate to him our orders and then depart to our own places.
49-68. Sûtâ said :-- Hearing these words, the sentinels spoke as previously ordered by the king, as follows :-- O Brâhmanas! We think verily you won't be able to have an interview with the king to-day; you, all ascetics can come to-morrow to this palace. O Munis! Owing to the Brâhmana's curse, the king has built this place; then it follows, as a matter of course, that the Brâhmanas are not allowed to get up to the palace. Then the serpents, in the form of the Brâhmanas, spoke :-- O good sentinels! Then take these roots and fruits and offer them to the king and communicate to him our blessings.
The sentinels went to the king, and informed him of the arrival of the ascetic Brâhmanas. The king replied :-- Bring here the roots and fruits offered by them and ask what for they have come. Give them my pranâms; to-day I cannot meet with them; let them come to-morrow morning. The sentinels went to the ascetics and got from them their roots and fruits and offered them with great respect to the king. When the serpents in the guise of the hypocrite Brâhmins went away, the king took those fruits and spoke to his ministers :--
Take these fruits and let all my friends eat them. I will take only this one fruit given by the Brâhmanas and will eat it. Saying this, the Uttarâ's son Parîksit gave away fruits to the friends and took one ripe fruit for himself, broke it and saw within it a very fine copper-coloured black eyed insect. At this the ministers were astonished; the King spoke to them :-- The sun has set; so there is no further chance of any fear from any poison to-day. I speak then to-day, fearing the Brâhman's curse, let this insect bite me. Thus saying the king took that insect and placed it on his neck. That Taksak in the form of an insect, when placed, during the sun-set, on the neck by the king, immediately assumed the form of the terrible Kâla (Death), coiled round the king and beat him. The Ministers were greatly surprised and began to weep and cry with great pain and sorrow. Seeing that terrible serpent, the ministers, overwhelmed with terror, fled away on all sides. The guards cried out loudly. The terrible out-cry was raised on all sides. Then Uttarâ's son, the king Parîksit, coiled by the serpent, saw that all his efforts were rendered fruitless, and remained silent and held fast to his patience. From the mouth of the serpent Taksak the terrible venomous flames came out burning all and immediately killed the king. Thus taking away the life of the king, Taksak went up in the celestial atmosphere; the people then saw that the serpent was ready as if to burn the world. The king fell down lifeless like a burnt tree; and all the persons cried out seeing the king dead.
Thus ends the tenth Chapter of the Second Skandha on the death of the king Parîksit in the Mahâpurânam S'rî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses.