The rishis who blessed Suta with a long life for the stories he was narrating, now asked him to tell them the story of the Srimad Bhagavatam which Parikshit had heard from Shuka. The Suta felt blessed to narrate the story as he began the famous tale of how King Parikshit went hunting and found himself in the middle of a forest hungry and thirsty. He saw an ashram of a rishi called Shamika sitting with eyes closed. The king asked him for food and water. The rishi happened to be deep in meditation and hence did not
open his eyes.
Hunger and thirst can drive anybody crazy and the noble king was no exception. He was very angry with the rishi, who according to him was just pretending to be in meditation. With the tip of his bow, he
lifted a dead snake and put it around the neck of the Rishi and went away.
After he came back to his kingdom, he felt miserable for his conduct, installed his son Janamejaya on the throne and chose to fast on the banks of the Ganga. In the meantime, the sage Shamika’s son, Shringi, who heard about the king’s conduct, cursed Parikshit that he would be killed by the snake Takshaka’s bite in just seven days.
When Parikshit decided to sit in meditation remembering Lord Vishnu, all the great sages Atri, Vasishtha, Chyavana, Arishtanemi Bhrigu, Angira, Parasara, Vishwamitra, Parasurama, Devala, Arshtisena, Gautama, Bharadwaja, Pippalada, Maitreya, Agastya, Vedavyasa and Narada also came around him. The king sat on the southern side of the Ganga on a mat of Kusha grass with its roots facing east and himself facing north, preparing himself for a fast unto death.
The king asked the sages what a man should do at all times, especially around the time of death. Just at that time the most distinguished sage Shuka, just 16 years old, the son of Vyasa, came there. The Srimad Bhagavatam gives a beautiful description of his looks. All the rishis gathered there stood up in respect to receive him. King Parikshit too was very elated in the presence of Shuka Brahma Maharshi and prostrated before him.
He repeated the same question he asked the rishis and added more: At the time of death, what should a man hear, what should he repeat, what should he do, what should he remember, praise or what should he avoid? The presence of the young rishi was so rare because he was one who did not stay in the house of any householder longer than the time it took in milking a cow.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email: email@example.com; www.chinmayamission.com