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Mahabharata : Adi Parva: Part 2

Paulo­ma par­va

Paulo­ma par­va describes Bhrigu’s lin­eage. Bhrigu mar­ries Pulo­ma after whom the par­va is named. After their mar­riage, one day, a rak­shasa named Pulo­ma actu­al­ly car­ries her away with Agni as his sak­shi, wit­ness. At that time Paulo­ma was preg­nant and she hap­pened to deliv­er her son Chya­vana. Chya­vana, in his splen­dor, burns the rak­shasa to ash­es. Bhrigu, on hear­ing this, curs­es Agni to eat up or con­sume every­thing as he had been a wit­ness to the kid­nap­ping of his preg­nant wife. Until then Agni is the con­vey­or — Agni con­veys the offer­ings of the sac­ri­fice to the devas and hence he is con­sid­ered pure. If he eats every­thing, if he burns every­thing, then he would become impure. But Brah­ma paci­fies him by say­ing “In eat­ing every­thing, you will make that pure. You will puri­fy every­thing you con­sume”. That’s why he is called pava­ka- ‘one who puri­fies’. So Agni gets this because of Bhrigu’s curse. There is deep mean­ing in each curse, if one looks at it. So, Chya­vana is a very famous rishi who is the son of Bhrigu. Chya­vana and Sukanya mar­ry and they give birth to Pra­mati. Pra­mati has Ruru for his son. Ruru has Pra­mad­vari for his wife and their son is Shu­na­ka. Shunaka’s son is Shau­na­ka, who is the kula­p­ati of Naimisha­ranya. So this is how they are con­nect­ed to Janamejaya’s sac­ri­fice.

Astika parva

Then comes Aasti­ka par­va. This actu­al­ly shows how Janamejaya’s revenge on snakes comes to an end through Rishi Aasti­ka and how it is inter­con­nect­ed with the sto­ry­line. So, as I explained in the begin­ning, remem­ber­ing the sto­ry­line becomes extreme­ly impor­tant. Remem­ber­ing the sto­ry­line enables one to con­nect one with the oth­er and clear­ly see the cause and effect. Actions have con­se­quences. One will be able to con­nect them only if one remem­bers the con­text and the actions that led to the con­se­quences. So, in Aasti­ka par­va, it is explained how the snakes, who were the chil­dren of Kadru and Kashya­pa were cursed by their own moth­er to die in a snake sac­ri­fice. Kashya­pa is a mahar­ishi, who is in fact con­sid­ered the father of all man­i­fest­ed beings. So, snakes, eagles, any­thing that flies, any­thing that crawls, all the ani­mals, all the human beings , all the devas and asur­as are chil­dren of Kashya­pa. Vina­ta and Kadru were two of Kashyapa’s wives, who were daugh­ters of Dak­sha. Actu­al­ly, Dak­sha had mar­ried thir­teen of his daugh­ters to Kashya­pa. Vina­ta gives birth to Aruna and Garu­da. Kadru gives birth to thou­sands of huge snakes.

Vinata, Kadru and the Argument

One day Vina­ta and Kadru saw the horse Uchaishravas. Uchaishravas is the divine horse that came out of the Samu­dra­man­thana, the churn­ing of the ocean that hap­pens between the devas and asur­as, who take the help of Mahav­ish­nu in his Koor­ma avatara as a tor­toise. As they churned the ocean, many things came out, includ­ing deep poi­son-Kalakut­ta, which is swal­lowed by the Mahade­va Shi­va. His throat becomes blue because of that poi­son and that is why he is called Neelakantha.’Neela’ means blue and ‘kan­tha’ means throat.

Uchaishravas, who is a very beau­ti­ful horse, also comes out of the churn­ing. So, on see­ing this, Vina­ta and Kadru get into sort of a debate. Vina­ta says that the horse is white while Kadru says that his tail is black. The argu­ment wors­ens and each one wants to prove her­self. They bet that the per­son who los­es the argu­ment will become the winner’s slave. Now Kadru wants her sons, the snakes, to invade the tail and make it appear black so that she can suc­ceed in her argu­ment. The snakes refuse and so Kadru curs­es them say­ing “You will be exter­mi­nat­ed in a snake sac­ri­fice”. Brah­ma also approves because the snakes had become a big men­ace to the entire earth. They bite every­body and they are ven­omous. So the snakes, hav­ing been cursed, do not want to fur­ther infu­ri­ate their moth­er. Hence they go and make Uchaishravas’ tail appear black and Vina­ta los­es. The penal­ty for los­ing is that she has to be a slave and so Garu­da, her son, is born a slave. Actu­al­ly, she becomes a slave because of her first son Aruna’s curse. Vina­ta, in her anx­i­ety and hur­ry, opens the egg while it was half-born. So the half-born Aruna curs­es his moth­er say­ing “You will become a slave to Kadru.” So these sto­ries are all inter­linked and give the rea­son for the var­i­ous hap­pen­ings.

Garuda and Amrita

So, Garu­da is a slave to the snakes. They want of him Amri­ta, hav­ing which they will free him and his moth­er Vina­ta. So he goes to Indra loka, defeats Indra and gets the Amri­ta, but in the process gains Indra’s friend­ship. Garu­da assures Indra, “Don’t wor­ry, the snakes will not drink the Amri­ta. You can take it once I give it to them.” Then he places the Amri­ta on the Darb­ha grass and asks the snakes to fin­ish their bathing and cleans­ing and then come and have the Amri­ta. Before that, Indra comes and takes away the Amri­ta. So Garu­da and Vina­ta are freed because they have brought the Amri­ta, but the snakes don’t have the Amri­ta. And since the Amri­ta was placed on the Darb­ha, the Darb­ha grass has become very holy. On lick­ing the Darb­ha grass, the snakes’ tongues become forked. So, in order to over­come the curse giv­en to the snakes, it is said by Brah­ma that the son of a rishi named Jaratkaru will be able to help over­come this curse.

Jaratkaru and Aastika

Rishi Jaratku­ru was a ter­rif­ic tapasvi. He encoun­ters his ances­tors hang­ing upside down and in ter­ri­ble suf­fer­ing. He asks them why they were suf­fer­ing. They reply that Jaratku­ru does not have a son and hence they were suf­fer­ing. So, he agrees to mar­ry a wife of the same name. Now, Vasu­ki, a great naga king has a sis­ter named Jaratku­ru. He gives his sis­ter Jaratku­ru in mar­riage to rishi Jaratku­ru. Once on a time, Jaratku­ru feels insult­ed by his wife and decides to leave. She asks “Is there a child in my womb or not?”. He responds by say­ing “There is”. Hence, Jaratkuru’s son is named ‘Aasti­ka’ which means ‘there is’. Aasti­ka goes to Janamejaya’s snake sac­ri­fice and stops the sarpa yaj­na that is hap­pen­ing there with his tremen­dous wis­dom, as the snakes belong the the Aastika’s moth­er side. Janame­jaya gives his word to Aasti­ka that he will stop the yaj­na. Tak­sha­ka is about to fall. Actu­al­ly, great snakes have fall­en in there. Tak­sha­ka hides in Indra loka. He is about to fall, but because of this boon giv­en by Janame­jaya to Aasti­ka, he is spared.

To be con­tin­ued…

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