It is interesting to know that the narration of the Mahabharata happens in layers. Ugraqshrava Shauti narrates the Mahabharata to a group of sages in the Naimisharanya forest as he heard it being narrated by Vaishampayana (Disciple of Vyasa) during Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. So what is this snake sacrifice all about?
That is the story of Parikshit,who is the father of Jananmejaya. Rajas(kings) are supposed to go hunting, not for having it themselves, but to offer the animal as naivedhya when they conduct yajnas. So hunting is not wrong or prohibited. Parikshit goes out hunting and over a period of time,he gets separated from the army.He is tired,thirsty and looks around. He finds an ashrama where he finds a rishi sitting in meditation.So he goes there and begs for water,but the rishi does not move.He does not open his eyes or even recognize his presence. When one’s presence is not recognized,one feels annoyed.When this happens to a king,he feels insulted.Parikshit feels insulted and puts a dead snake on the shoulders and neck of that rishi and goes his way. This is the Rishi Samika. When his son Shringan comes to know of this,he curses,“The one who has done this will die of a snake bite in seven days”. Now, curses have tremendous effect.So do blessings.However, this is true only if one has enough tapas shakti. If one stores up one’s energy sufficiently then one’s words carry a lot of significance.That’s how our ancients carried so much tapas shakti that their every word had to come true. So, Shringan’s curse had to come true. Samika ‚on knowing this, is unhappy. He says,” Parikshit is a kshatriya. He was annoyed. But we are rishis,brahmana rishis.We are not supposed to become angry.What have you done,my child!”. He sends his disciple, Gaurmukha, to inform Parikshit of his impending death. So Parikshit makes appropriate arrangements.
Now, Takshaka, the snake, is on his way to kill Parikshit. On his way, he encounters a brahmana called Kashyapa, who is a physician and has come to save Parikshit. Takshaka asks the brahmana,”I will bite this Banyan tree. What can you,O Kashyapa, do about it?”. On biting the Banyan tree,it is reduced to ashes because the snake’s venom is extremely powerful. But Kashyapa,with his knowledge, recreates the entire Banyan tree, to Takshaka’s amazement. So Takshaka uses a ploy and offers him a lot of wealth. Kashyapa accepts it and goes on his way,without saving Parikshit. So Takshaka, through his snake friends, asks for some fruits to be delivered to Parikshit. Takshaka himself is embedded in one of the fruits, disguised as a worm. Parikshit, his time having come, accepts the fruits and he himself picks the very fruit in which Takshaka is embedded. Takshaka comes out from the fruit, wraps himself around Parikshit’s neck and bites him to death.And hence Janamejaya is enraged and wants to take revenge for Parikshit by conducting a snake sacrifice. But Parikshit’s own actions actually lead to this.One has to reap the effects of one’s karma. Cause and effect-actions have consequences.