<< PART 1 >>
Parikshit’s son Janamajeya, who was unaware of the reasons behind the serpent attacking his father then set about avenging his death. He arranged for a large Sarpa Sattra, a sacrificial ritual to destroy as many snakes and serpents that they could lay their hands upon.
In a matter of a few days from the start of the ritual, hundreds and thousands of snakes were sacrificed in the holy fire, drawn there by the mystic rituals, and hypnotic hymns that were recited by the priests at the sattra.
Dismayed at this turn of events, Astika, the nephew of Vasuki, the king of Nagas approached Parikshit and asked him to refrain from continuing with the ritual. He narrated to Janamajeya as to how his father had managed to enrage a holy man engaged in penance and how his subsequent death was the result of the curse.
Unappeased with this explanation, the young king then asked Astika as to why Takshaka had killed his father. Astika then went on to narrate an incident from very many years ago when Arjuna, Janamejaya’s great grandfather had set ablaze the forest of Khandava leaving Takshaka and many of his family and friends homeless. At that time Takshaka had sworn to take revenge on Arjuna or one of his descendants. And by killing Parikshit, Takshaka had made good on his words.
Unknown to both Astika and Janamajeya, there was yet another willing participant to the Sarpa Sattra who had his own revenge planned against the Nagas. The chief priest Uttanaka had faced an issue in the past where his teacher had asked for the queen’s jeweled earrings as his guru dakshina. And after undergoing great difficulties, when Uttanaka had managed to procure the earrings, they were stolen by the Nagas which ended up with him not being able to offer appropriate guru dakshina.
To avenge this theft, Uttanaka had wanted to perform the Sarpa Sattra then itself, but he lacked the economic resources to do so. However fate intervened in the form of Janamajeya providing him with an opportunity by anointing him the chief priest for this ritual.
The above story therefore clearly lives up to the statement everything happens for a reason, more so in the context of our mythological stories. While the reasons themselves might not be very apparent immediately, more detailed readings of the entire stories (rather than parts of them) and also readings of associated and ancillary stories and understanding of the characters more often than not provide us with relevant justifications for most actions.
What’s more my opinion is that our 21st century understanding of dharma and karma (duty and action) are radically different from how they were interpreted in our epics. But that is material for another blog post and not this one.
So readers, do you agree with me when I state, that as far as our mythological stories and epics are concerned, everything happens for a reason. It’s just that sometimes these reasons are not very apparent and require additional efforts from us to be uncovered, that’s all.