We’re in the midst of witnessing some key moments that took place in Sage Bruhu’s family lineage, wherein we’re currently witnessing Ruru and his “Charitra”. We’ve witnessed Ruru getting married to Pramaadvara and before the marriage, how Pramaadvara was bitten by an extremely poisonous snake. As she was at the verge of dying, the Devas chipped in to help her get a new lease of life by taking away half of her father’s lifespan. As she wakes up again unscathed, the marriage between herself and Ruru takes place with a grand celebration and according to all the principles of our Sanaatana Dharma. However, the story starts only after marriage. Ruru was extremely angry that his wife was bitten by a snake, and hence from that point onwards, he took up a savage resolution to seek vengeance over snakes in general! Thus, everytime when he comes across a snake, he would make sure that it would be beaten to death on the spot. Ruru made sure that none of the snakes that came into his vicinity returned back with life in them. He started to completely destroy the entire snake community as time progressed.
Once upon a time, there was a water snake by name Dundubha, who was passing by the vicinity of Ruru. As usual, Dundubha was the target of Ruru that day and he aimed a blow with a heavy stick at Dundubha. However, Dundubha knew that he was the target of Ruru and hence started to talk and pacify him. Dundubha advised Ruru not to kill all snakes, just because his wife was bitten by one particular snake. Thus, instead of doing this with a knee-jerk reaction, Dundubha advised Ruru to look out for that particular snake which bit his wife. As Dundubha explains thus, he also recollects his past background here. He explains this to Ruru thus, “Oh Sage Ruru! I was once cursed by a sage for some wrongdoing in the past. It is because of this curse that I’m roaming around as a snake. As I begged pardon with that Rishi, he explained to me out of compassion that when I obtain Sage Ruru’s divine darshan, I shall be freed from this curse! Today I’ve obtained your divine darshan. With this, I should be free from this curse of roaming around as a snake. You might be wondering how come a snake is talking with you in human language, isn’t it? This is the background to the story! My name is “Sahasrapaada”!”
As Ruru heard Sahasrapada thus, he asked back, “Oh Sahasrapaada! So tell me now what should I do!” Sahasrapada replied to Ruru thus, “Oh great Sage! I do not need to explain your significance to you! You know how great you are as a sage. For a sage of such a high calibre, it is not good to follow the “Himsa” method and harm fellow living beings, isn’t it? As a Brahmana Rishi, you should be following the “Ahimsa” pattern and show compassion towards all living beings, including the snakes! It is the duty of the Kshatryas to follow “Ahimsa” and kill those beings who create harm for the country, isn’t it? A Brahmana Rishi shouldn’t do what a Kshatrya should do. For a Brahmana Rishi, “Ahimsa” (Non-violence & compassion towards living beings), “Kshamaa” (Patience) and “Satya-Vakya” (Telling the truth at all times) are the three important pillars. You’ve forgotten this!”
As Sahasrapada explains thus, he also adds an important point here – “Similar to what you’re trying to do today, King Janame-Jaya once performed the Sarpa Yaaga for killing all the snakes, including Takshaka, who was the orchestrator of King Parikshit’s death. However, as the snakes started falling to death one after the other, Takshaka should have also fallen to death. However, at that crucial point, Sage Aasthika entered inside and stopped King Janame-Jaya from proceeding with the Sarpa-Yaaga further. With this, Sage Aasthika ensured that he protected the snakes from falling to death as a result of the Sarpa Yaaga!”
Readers would be surprised and taken aback by this! 🙂 From where did King Janame-Jaya suddenly appear? From where did this Sarpa-Yaaga discussion come all of a sudden? This is how the Mahabharata story would have twists and turns here and there! We had left at the point where King Janame-Jaya was preparing for the Sarpa-Yaaga and deviated into Sage Bruhu’s family lineage, and from nowhere, we’ve again landed at King Janame-Jaya’s “Sarpa-Yaaga” episode! Now, as Sahasrapada is explaining all this, Sage Ruru did not understand the head or tail of what he was telling! Who is King Janame-Jaya? Why did he perform the Sarpa-Yaaga? Who was Takshaka and what wrong did he do to King Janame-Jaya? These were the questions that were intriguing in Ruru’s mind.
As Ruru asks thus, Sahasrapaada explains all what happened at King Janame-Jaya’s courtroom – How he got cursed by a “Deva-Lokha-dog” and henceforth all the events that led him perform the “Sarpa Yaaga”. I’m not narrating all this again as we’ve already witnessed it earlier. From now onwards, we’ve to witness what happened as part of the “Sarpa Yaaga” and how King Janame-Jaya was successful in bringing all the snakes to their knees! We shall continue from this point onwards and from now, Sahasrapaada is narrating this entire story to Sage Ruru! Again – Readers shouldn’t get confused as to who is narrating what! We shall continue this discussion further in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂