Asvathama punished and Parikshith born

Asvathama could not reconcile to the death of his father Drona Acharya who was otherwise invincible but as per Krishna’s advice, Bhima killed an elephant named Asvathama and made Bhima shout that Asvathama was killed and conveyed the news to Drona Acharya. Drona was horrified at the news, asked Dharmaraja for confirmation and the latter confirmed: ‘Asvathama died-the elephant ! But he said further in a very low tone saying ‘Asvthama hata: Kunjarah’. Thus Drona was cheated, hung his bow and arrows and sat still in meditation, when Arjuna showered arrows and killed Drona. Desirous of killing Arjuna in sleep, Asvathama did not find him, but thus killed the full party of Arjuna’s sons in sleep. In turn, Arjuna located Asvathama and fought a fierce battle. Drona’s son finally used to ‘Brahmastra’, the most potent Mantric arrow. Arjuna too retaliated by the use of the same Astra and controlled Asvathama. Yudhistara and Krishna advised not to kill Asvathama but cut the naturally born ‘Shringa’ Jewel (diamond horn), which itself was an ugly insult to him. The impact of Asvathama’s Brahamastra would have normally torn off Arjuna’s pregnant daughter-in-law Uttara, bur for Lord Krishna’s mystic intervention. The child thus born to Uttara was Parikshith who was then the last remnant of Pandavas.

As a King, Parikshith was highly spiritual and benevolent. Once when he concluded a Royal hunt and got thirsty, he visited the Ashram (Hermitage) of Sage Samaika who was in deep meditation and thus did not respond to the King’s visit. He was annoyed and picking up a dead snake fallen on the ground nearby picked it up and placed it around the Muni’s head as a garland. On return to the hermitage, the Sage’s son Sringi saw the ugly sight and gave a curse that whoever did this insult to my father would be killed within a week’s time. The King having known of the curse readied himself on the banks of River Ganges and requested Maha Muni Suka to enlighten him the Great Purana of Maha Bhagavata. On the seventh day, with all the security in a seven storeyed building on the river banks, Taksha made efforts to sneak in the building somehow and intercepted a Brahmana by name Kasyapa desirous of making wealth from relieving the King’s problem as he knew the Mantra of anti snake bite; Daksha gave away plenty of money to the Brahmana and got rid of him; in fact he tested the Brahmana whether he could really administer the Mantra and revive an entire tree burnt by poisonous flames of serpent’s bite; the Brahmana did convert the tree’s ashes to its original position. Later in the evening Taksha asked disciples to disguise as Brahmanas to carry fruits to the King on the pretext of reciting Atharvana Veda and the fruit which the King ate contained a small insect which was Taksha himself assuming an enormous body and killed the King.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at [email protected]