Thursday, 31 October 2013

Parikshat Maharajah - The tale of a great King

There are nine ways in which one can exhibit bhakti towards almighty. The first of them is by listening to the glory of God.

Read the story of Parikshat Maharajah who chose this way to attain the creator!

Parikshat was born to Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Uttara. After the Mahabharata war he was the lone survivor and hence the successor to the Pandavas. While in his mother’s womb, Parikshat was saved by Lord Krishna from a certain death, by Ashwatamaa’s  Brahma Astra. 

Parikshat ascended the throne after the Pandavas retired from their kingdom. The Mahabharata war ended with the Pandavas losing all their kith and kin. The burden of losing their near and dear ones weighed heavily on them and they chose to retire early.

Parikshat was a very pious man and his devotion towards God was very pure. He was an able King and his subjects lived happily. One day, while on a hunting expedition, King Parikshat went alone deep into the forest.  He reached the lonely depths of the forests in trying to kill a deer. He shot at the deer, but the wounded animal escaped. The king set off after the wounded animal, but as thirst steadily overtook an already tired king, he swapped the search for an animal with water!

 He saw a rishi who was deep in meditation. Parikshat asked the rishi to help him with some water. But the holy man, Shamik, did not reply as he was under an oath of silence. Tired, thirsty, the King felt angered and in a moment of lack of self-control, he picked up a dead snake and placed it on the rishi’s shoulder before walking away. 

He shot at a deer but the wounded animal escaped!

Meanwhile the Rishi’s son, Shringi, returned to find a dead snake on his father’s shoulder. Enraged, he sprinkled some water on the ground, cursing the man who was responsible for insulting his father thus! Shringi cursed the man to die, bitten by the snake Takshaka, within seven days. Rishi Shamik was however not pleased with his son’s actions and sent one of his disciples, Gaurmukh to warn the King of the curse. Parikshat, being a true Bhakt, knew his fate and accepted it without a protest.

He decided to spend the next seven days listening to the glories of the Supreme Being from a Guru by the name Shri Sukadev Goswami. On the seventh day, Takshaka was on his way to Parikshat’s palace, when he met a Brahmin by name Kashyap hurrying towards Parikshat’s palace. Takshaka asked the Brahmin why he was hurrying thus. Kashyap told the snake that he was going to save the King from an impending danger. Takshaka told the Brahmin he was the snake and asked the Brahmin how he planned to save the King. The Brahmin told Takshaka that his mantras can give life to the person bitten by Takshaka. 
Hearing this Takshaka asked the Brahmin to prove his claim and went ahead and bit a tree nearby. In a few minutes the tree was reduced to ashes. The Brahmin then chanted the mantra that brought the tree back to life! Takshaka was not the one to give up. He realised that the Brahmin was interested in the wealth that Parikshat would give him and promised to give the Brahmin more riches than what he would get from the King. Satisfied with what Takshaka gave him the Brahmin went back. 

Takshaka reached the palace and found it difficult to enter it. He transformed himself into a caterpillar and entered into a fruit that was waiting outside the palace, to be served to the King! When Parikshat cut the fruit open, the snake bit him. His body turning into ashes, Parikshat attained Moksha. 

When Janamejayan heard of his father’s death, he was curious to know how the ministers who narrated the story knew about Kashyap. The ministers then told Janamejayan that, on the tree that was bitten by the snake was a man who heard the whole conversation and he too turned into ashes when the snake bit the tree, only to be revived by the Brahmin!

Even today it is believed that if a person utters God's name or listens to the greatness of the creator before his death or during his lifetime, he attains Moksha and does not go through any more birth. 

During his lifespan of about 60 years, Parikshat ruled Hastinapur for almost 25 years. He was a courageous ruler. He changed things that he could and accepted what he couldn't with grace and wisdom!