In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important juncture wherein Snake Takshaka is the sole target for King Janame-Jaya, who is performing a highly intense “Sarpa-Yaaga” along with Sage Utthanga, who was the prime motivating force behind this mammoth exercise. As the “Aahuthis” (Offerings) are being given with more and more intensity, snake after snake comes and falls into the “Agni-Kunda” and starts dying. As it was the turn of Snake Takshaka, he was somehow dilly-dallying and eventually caught hold of Indra’s chariot. However, the intensity of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” increases manifold after King Janame-Jaya comes to know of this. He decides to teach Indra a lesson here for protecting enemies. The “Aahuti” into the “Sarpa Yaaga” is given in such a way now that both Takshaka and Indra combinedly fall into the “Homa-Kunda”. It is at this point, Sage Aasthika makes his way in. This was a crucial juncture here, as Indra’s chariot turns upside down and starts falling into the “Homa-Kunda”.
Now what is going to happen next? Upon seeing this scenario, Sage Aasthika instructs the entire proceeding of the Sarpa-Yaaga to stop for a moment. Indra’s chariot too stops wherever it is! On the other hand, as King Janame-Jaya and the other sages see Sage Aasthika, (He was still a young boy at that stage), they were extremely impressed by his extreme power of penance at such a young age. King Janame-Jaya was moved with compassion and he requests Sage Aasthika to ask him for whatever he wanted. However, as King Janame-Jaya requests Sage Aasthika thus, he adds a word, “Oh Sage Aasthika! Now why are you ordering Indra and Takshaka to stay wherever they are? Why are you protecting them from falling into the Sarpa-Yaaga? What is the connection between you and them? Are you hand in glove with them? If you want any “Dhaanam” of any sorts, you may get it from me and go. However, please do not stop the “Sarpa-Yaaga” from happening!”
As King Janame-Jaya says thus, Sage Aasthika replies, “Oh Janame-Jaya! You just told me that you’re ready to grant any boon, and then you’re putting forth so many conditions! As a king, when you’re granting a boon to a sage, don’t you know that there shouldn’t be any “pre-conditions”?” Upon this, King Janame-Jaya realizes his folly and asks Sage Aasthika as to what boon he wants. Sage Aasthika was quick enough to quip thus, “Oh King Janame-Jaya! My one and only request to you here is that, please stop this “Sarpa-Yaaga”! By continuing to do this, you’re creating an imbalance in nature and this is not good for the functioning of the world. Just because one snake was responsible for your father’s death, it doesn’t mean that you would end up destroying the entire “Naaga-Lokha”. Just like how you have your rights to live a life, the snakes too have the same! Hence, please stop this “Sarpa-Yaaga” from happening further!” As King Janame-Jaya heard this from Sage Aasthika, he was shocked, and at the same time he sank into sorrow! He was extremely upset that when the crucial time arrived wherein his mission of the Sarpa-Yaaga was about to be fulfilled, it was about to be aborted. He once again requests Sage Aasthika thus, “Oh Sage! Whatever you’re saying is correct. I do not deny that. However, the crux of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” is about to be achieved within a moment or two. Takshaka is going to fall into this and die, which is the sole purpose of the Yaaga. How do I stop it at this critical juncture? Maybe, I shall let other snakes escape from the Yaaga. Or, maybe I would ensure that I shall give you enormous amounts of “Dhaanam” in the form of cows, and other important things. Or, since you’re looking so handsome, I shall get you married to a beautiful girl. Please tell me whatever you want and I shall fulfill it immediately!”
As King Janame-Jaya proposes thus, Sage Aasthika sticks to his stance. He’s not going to relent. He replies thus, “Oh Janame-Jaya! I do not want anything that you had proposed now. My only request to you is to stop this “Sarpa-Yaaga” immediately. My mother Kadru’s curse has to be aborted. Kadru had cursed that all the snakes be destroyed because they did not pay heed to her arrogance. This cannot become a reality, as this would set a dangerous precedence in this world. This is my priority as of now and for this sake, please stop this from proceeding further!” As Sage Aasthika requests thus, King Janame-Jaya relents finally, after consultation with the other sages, including Sage Utthanga. As the other sages too agree, the “Sarpa-Yaaga” comes to a grinding halt.
So for today, let us witness till this point. The “Sarpa-Yaaga” is halted, and the snakes escape the wrath of death, courtesy, Sage Aasthika! We shall wait till the next episode to continue further as to what happened next! Stay tuned! 🙂