Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 31

"Sauti said, 'And Takshaka, after this, answered, 'If, indeed, thou art
able to cure any creature bitten by me, then, O Kasyapa, revive thou this
tree bit by me. O best of Brahmanas, I burn this banian in thy sight. Try
thy best and show me that skill in mantras of which thou hast spoken.'

"And Kasyapa said, If thou art so minded, bite thou then, O king of
snakes, this tree. O snake, I shall revive it, though bit by thee.

"Sauti continued, 'That king of snakes, thus addressed by the illustrious
Kasyapa, bit then that banian tree. And that tree, bit by the illustrious
snake, and penetrated by the poison of the serpent, blazed up all around.
And having burnt the banian so, the snake then spake again unto Kasyapa,
saying, 'O first of Brahmanas, try thy best and revive this lord of the

"Sauti continued, 'The tree was reduced to ashes by the poison of that
king of snakes. But taking up those ashes, Kasyapa spoke these words. 'O
king of snakes, behold the power of my knowledge as applied to this lord
of the forest! O snake, under thy very nose I shall revive it.' And then
that best of Brahmanas, the illustrious and learned Kasyapa, revived, by
his vidya, that tree which had been reduced to a heap of ashes. And first
he created the sprout, then he furnished it with two leaves, and then he
made the stem, and then the branches, and then the full-grown tree with
leaves and all. And Takshaka, seeing the tree revived by the illustrious
Kasyapa, said unto him, 'It is not wonderful in thee that thou shouldst
destroy my poison or that of any one else like myself. O thou whose
wealth is asceticism, desirous of what wealth, goest thou thither? The
reward thou hopest to have from that best of monarchs, even I will give
thee, however difficult it may be to obtain it. Decked with fame as thou
art, thy success may be doubtful on that king affected by a Brahmana's
curse and whose span of life itself hath been shortened. In that case,
this blazing fame of thine that hath overspread the three worlds will
disappear like the Sun when deprived of his splendour (on the occasion of
the eclipse).'

"Kasyapa said, 'I go there for wealth, give it unto me, O snake, so that
taking thy gold. I may return.' Takshaka replied, 'O best of regenerate
ones, even I will give thee more than what thou expectest from that king.
Therefore do not go.'

"Sauti continued, 'That best of Brahmanas, Kasyapa, of great prowess and
intelligence, hearing those words of Takshaka, sat in yoga meditation
over the king. And that foremost of Munis, viz., Kasyapa, of great
prowess and gifted with spiritual knowledge, ascertaining that the period
of life of that king of the Pandava race had really run out, returned,
receiving from Takshaka as much wealth as he desired.

"And upon the illustrious Kasyapa's retracing his steps, Takshaka at the
proper time speedily entered the city of Hastinapura. And on his way he
heard that the king was living very cautiously, protected by means of
poison-neutralizing mantras and medicines.'

"Sauti continued, 'The snake thereupon reflected thus, 'The monarch must
be deceived by me with power of illusion. But what must be the means?'
Then Takshaka sent to the king some snakes in the guise of ascetics
taking with them fruits, kusa grass, and water (as presents). And
Takshaka, addressing them, said, 'Go ye all to the king, on the pretext
of pressing business, without any sign of impatience, as if to make the
monarch only accept the fruits and flowers and water (that ye shall carry
as presents unto him).'

"Sauti continued, 'Those snakes, thus commanded by Takshaka, acted
accordingly. And they took to the king, Kusa grass and water, and fruits.
And that foremost of kings, of great prowess, accepted those offerings.
And after their business was finished, he said upto them, 'Retire.' Then
after those snakes disguised as ascetics had gone away, the king
addressed his ministers and friends, saying, 'Eat ye, with me, all these
fruits of excellent taste brought by the ascetics.' Impelled by Fate and
the words of the Rishi, the king, with his ministers, felt the desire of
eating those fruits. The particular fruit, within which Takshaka had
entered, was taken by the king himself for eating. And when he was eating
it, there appeared, O Saunaka, an ugly insect out of it, of shape
scarcely discernible, of eyes black, and of coppery colour. And that
foremost of kings, taking that insect, addressed his councillors, saying,
'The sun is setting; today I have no more tear from poison. Therefore,
let this insect become Takshaka and bite me, so that my sinful act may be
expiated and the words of the ascetic rendered true.' And those
councillors also, impelled by Fate, approved of that speech. And then the
monarch smiled, losing his senses, his hour having come. And he quickly
placed that insect on his neck. And as the king was smiling, Takshaka,
who had (in the form of that insect) come out of the fruit that had been
offered to the king, coiled himself round the neck of the monarch. And
quickly coiling round the king's neck and uttering a tremendous roar,
Takshaka, that lord of snakes, bit that protector of the earth.'"

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