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Boon and curse


The King Parikshith turns a curse into a boon


Once upon a time Raja Parikshit went on a hunting expedition. He got tired and felt hunger and thirst. So he entered the cottage of the sage Samika. But the sage was in meditation and not felt the presence of the king. The Parikshit was very much annoyed that the sage Samika did not treat him with hospitality. Further, he was very much tormented by hunger and thirst. He thought, “This sage is pretending to be absorbed in contemplation in order to avoid the usual courtesies and the ordinary hospitality due to me. He is showing disrespect to me.” Then he picked up with the edge of his bow the carcass of a serpent, threw it as a garland over the neck of the sage and left.

The son of the sage, Sringi, who went out to fetch water from the nearby river came to know from his playmate that King Parikshit had put a dead serpent over the neck of his father. He cursed the king and said that the serpent Takshaka should bite him on the seventh day there from, for his mischievous and indecent act. The boy then ran to the cottage and saw the serpent on the neck of his father and cried bitterly. The sage was roused by the commotion set by his son. He opened his eyes, threw off the dead snake and asked the boy the cause for his lamentation. The boy told him all that had happened.

The sage was very much afflicted at his curse and said, “O my son, you have been very ignorant and rash. Kings are the embodiment of Lord Vishnu on earth. They protect their subjects through their power, justice and prestige and maintain law and order. If there is no king, there will be anarchy in the land. His duties are difficult and arduous. He has serious responsibilities. If the king punishes you as you deserve, you may be at least purified of the sin caused by your curse. But the King Parikshit is a great devotee and good mannered. He will never retaliate, rather he may accept your curse thankfully as an expiation for his thoughtlessness. Further, he is not to be blamed at all. I have failed in my duty as a subject, in not giving to him the respect due to his rank and position. I have failed in my duty as a host, in not giving him food and water. He did not deserve at all a curse from you. May God forgive you for the sin you have committed in your ignorance.”

Then the sage sent his disciple to the king informing him of his son’s folly and entreated him to take the necessary precautions to guard his precious life.

King Parikshit reached his palace, and rested himself for some time. He repented very much for his foolish and rash action. The disciple of the sage came to him with the message. The king felt intensely relieved in mind. He accepted the curse as an atonement and a blessing in disguise.

He reflected within himself, “I lost my understanding and sense of right and wrong on account my wealth and position. I was puffed up with pride. I have become more wise now. I have developed Vairagya. The curse will expiate my sinful act towards a great sage. It gives me time to fix my mind on Lord Krishna, whose friendship alone can bestow eternal bliss.”

Thus saying, King Parikshit entrusted his kingdom to his son and went to the sacred banks of the Ganga with a strong determination not to rise from there till his mind was absorbed in Lord Krishna and his mortal coil was thrown away.

The news reached the ears of the Rishis. They all assembled to witness the devotion of the mighty king. The king welcomed them with folded hands and asked their advice as to how he could best utilise his time in the service of Lord Krishna. Various Rishis prescribed various methods. At this moment Suka arrived; King Parikshit repeated his question to the sage.

Suka replied, “Lord Krishna should always be thought of. His name should always be on your lips. His Lilas and qualities should always be heard and meditated upon. His presence should always be felt by you. This is the only best way of utilising your time and remembering Him at the time of death which will lead to eternal bliss.

Suka continued, “Do not think, O great King Parikshit, that you have only a short week before you. when one is about to die, they should become free of the fear of death and let go of all attachments to pleasure, home, and family. They should control the breath and mind and concentrate on the sacred Aum. Therefore, O King! fix your mind with intense devotion on the Lord. Do not think of the things of this world. Listen to the glories of Lord Krishna and His manifold Lilas. These are summed up in the Bhagavata which I learnt from my father Sri Vyasa.”

Thereupon Suka recited Bhagavata to king Parikshit. King Parikshit heard it with intense devotion and concentration, fixed his mind on the Lord and attained union with Him.

Though the King Parikshith could not avoid the destined death by snake byte, he turned his curse into a boon by listening to the sacred stories and thus achieved the spiritual goal of life.

Parikshith, the son of Abimanyu and grandson of Arjuna was the only progeny left with the royal race after the Great Mahabharatha War. He was protected in his mothers womb by Lord Krishna when Aswathama sent Brahmastra against the unborn baby.

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