Least Known Characters Of Mahabharata – Parikshit
It is possible for many that they might not know who Parikshit was? and what is his story? The life of Parikshit begins at the end of Kurukshetra war of Mahabharata. The name Parikshit is derived from the Sanskrit word Pariksha (test) according to another theory the name is derived from the word Pari (around) + Kshin (weak, destroy). Another name of Parikshit was Vishnurata (protected by Vishnu/Krishna) Adi-Parva describes Parikshit’s story. During Sarpa-Satra yagya, rishi Vaishampayan narrated Janmejaya (son of Parikshit) story his ancestors.
Parikshit was son of Abhimanyu (Son of Arjuna) and Uttara (daughter of King Virata). Uttara was pregnant when Kurukshetra war happened. At the end of the war Ashwatthama used Brahmastra to destroy the lineage of Pandava’s (Parikshit was the only son of Pandava’s lineage alive as, Upa-Pandava’s were already dead by that time). Everyone feared that Parikshit died in the womb. Everyone prayed Lord Krishna to give life to Parikshit. Lord Krishna cursed Ashwatthama for his immoral and adharmic act. Lord Krishna used half of his strength to make Parikshit alive. It is said that this also reduced Lord Krishna’s energy further. (See Barbarika’s story for more info)
Mahabharata also narrates briefly the story of Parikshit’s death. Once Parikshit was in the jungle hunting and he was very thirsty. He was exhausted, he saw a hut and entered into it. It was hermitage of Sage Shamika. Parikshit tried to convey to sage but he did not reply. Sage was observing mauna (penance of not speaking) Parikshit was very angry to see that sage did not answer to him back. Then Parikshit put a dead snake on sage’s neck to break his penance. When Shringin came to know about Parikshit’s behavior, he cursed Parikshit that, he will die of snake’s bite. Shamika then told his son that it was not good of him to give curse to king for such a small reason.
By this time, Takshaka the serpent king who was in exile and was living with anger about Arjuna and Pandava’s. Takshaka was looking the chance to take the revenge of his defeat in hands of Arjuna and Krishna. He came to know about this curse. He went on in search of Parikshit. Parikshit started meditating for Lord Vishnu because of this curse. One day Takshaka came to his place in a disguise and bite him. Parikshit died because of his venom. It is believed that Takshaka might have bribed Sage Kashyapa who could have saved Parikshit’s life.
Janmejaya attacked Takshashila kingdom where Takshak lived and threw him outside. Takshaka became homeless and a robber. Takshaka attacked the Paushya king who came to Janmejaya and provoked him. Janmejaya started killing Naga’s and their population then, arranged for Sarpa-Satra where he vowed to kill all the serpents on the earth to take revenge of his father’s death. Fearing for life Takshaka went to Deva Loka to seek protection. Spies of Janmejaya searched for him and captured Takshaka in Deva Loka and brought him to earth for execution. This is where sage Astika comes to stop Sarpa-Satra and this is where the scripture of Mahabharata begins.
An interesting story indeed!
References of Parikshit also comes in Bhagwat Purana as well as Atharva Veda. It is said that Parikshit played an important role in consolidating the Vedas hymns together.