Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 42

"Sauti said, 'Then the snake-dame Jaratkaru, calling her own son, told
him the following words according to the directions of Vasuki, the king
of the snakes. 'O son, the time is come for the accomplishment of that
object for which I was bestowed on thy father by my brother. Therefore,
do thou that which should be done.'

"Astika asked, 'Why wert thou, O mother, bestowed on my father by my
uncle? Tell me all truly so that on hearing it, I may do what is proper.'

"Then Jaratkaru, the sister of the king of the snakes, herself unmoved by
the general distress, and even desirous of the welfare of her relatives,
said unto him, 'O son, it is said that the mother of all the snakes is
Kadru. Know thou why she cursed in anger her sons.' Addressing the snakes
she said, 'As ye have refused to falsely represent Uchchaihsravas, the
prince of horses, for bringing about Vinata's bondage according to the
wager, therefore, shall he whose charioteer is Vayu burn you all in
Janamejaya's sacrifice. And perishing in that sacrifice, ye shall go to
the region of the unredeemed spirits.' The Grandsire of all the worlds
spake unto her while uttering this curse, 'Be it so,' and thus approved
of her speech. Vasuki, having heard that curse and then the words of the
Grandsire, sought the protection of the gods, O child, on the occasion
when the amrita was being churned for. And the gods, their object
fulfilled, for they had obtained the excellent amrita, with Vasuki ahead,
approached the Grandsire. And all the gods, with king Vasuki, sought to
incline Him who was born of the lotus to be propitious, so that the curse
might be made abortive.'

"And the gods said, 'O Lord, Vasuki, the king of the snakes, is sorry on
account of his relatives. How may his mother's curse prove abortive?'

"Brahman thereupon replied, saying, 'Jaratkaru will take unto himself a
wife of the name of Jaratkaru; the Brahmana born of her will relieve the

"Vasuki, the best of snakes, hearing those words, bestowed me, O thou of
godlike looks, on thy high-souled father some time before the
commencement of the sacrifice. And from that marriage thou art born of
me. That time has come. It behoveth thee to protect us from this danger.
It behoveth thee to protect my brother and myself from the fire, so that
the object, viz., our relief, for which I was bestowed on thy wise
father, may not be unfulfilled. What dost thou think, O son?'

"Sauti continued, 'Thus addressed, Astika said unto his mother, 'Yes, I
will.' And he then addressed the afflicted Vasuki, and as if infusing
life into him, said, 'O Vasuki, thou best of snakes, thou great being,
truly do I say, I shall relieve thee from that curse. Be easy, O snake!
There is no fear any longer. I shall strive earnestly so that good may
come! Nobody hath ever said that my speech, even in jest, hath proved
false. Hence on serious occasions like this, I need not say anything
more, O uncle, going thither today I shall gratify, with words mixed with
blessings, the monarch Janamejaya installed at the sacrifice, so that, O
excellent one, the sacrifice may stop. O highminded one, O king of the
snakes, believe all that I say. Believe me, my resolve can never be

"And Vasuki then said, 'O Astika, my head swims and my heart breaks. I
cannot discern the points of the earth, as I am afflicted with a mother's

"And Astika said, 'Thou best of snakes, it behoveth thee not to grieve
any longer. I shall dispel this fear of thine from the blazing fire. This
terrible punishment, capable of burning like the fire at the end of the
Yuga, I shall extinguish. Nurse not thy fear any longer.'

"Sauti continued, 'Then that best of Brahmanas, Astika, quelling the
terrible fear of the Vasuki's heart, and taking it, as it were, on
himself, wended, for the relief of the king of the snakes, with speed to
Janamejaya's sacrifice blessed with every merit. And Astika having gone
thither, beheld the excellent sacrificial compound with numerous Sadasyas
on it whose splendor was like unto that of the Sun or Agni. But that
best of Brahmanas was refused admittance by the door-keepers. And the
mighty ascetic gratified them, being desirous of entering the sacrificial
compound. And that best of Brahmanas, that foremost of all virtuous men,
having entered the excellent sacrificial compound, began to adore the
king of infinite achievements, Ritwiks, the Sadasyas, and also the sacred

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