Jaratkaru promises his ancestors that he would marry and beget a child to do the necessary rites for them only if he comes across a girl of the same name as his. He sincerely searches all around the world for a wife who has the same name as him. As instructed by his ancestors, he begs thrice asking for a wife.
Vasuki, the snake, who hears this, offers his sister to the Rishi. He says that his sister’s name too was Jaratkaru. As mentioned earlier, the Mahabharata is not just the history of evolution of human beings. Here, the omniscient Veda Vyasa is narrating the stories from the land of the snakes. For a limited human intellect, it is indeed very difficult to understand and accept these descriptions. But for a devotee of the Mahabharata, acceptance is very easy and such a person also reaps the benefit of being easily and willingly suspending disbelief. However, even for the most rational of people, understanding becomes easy if these creatures mentioned here are converted into forces of consciousness or members of a thought family and their life stories.
Moreover, the stories are about the play of the three gunas: Sattva (purity), Rajas (dynamism and restlessness), and Tamas (inertia, indolence and laziness). There are numerous qualities that are born out of the permutation and combination of the three. The Puranas and itihasas are texts of dharma that through stories guide the growing human intellect into refined human beings who follow the path of good.
Jaratkaru, the Rishi, was hence married to Jaratkaru, Vasuki’s sister. In a dynastic story of snakes, Kadru curses all the Nagas, the race of snakes saying that they will be consumed by the fire of Janamejaya’s sacrifice. It was in view of this curse that Vasuki was looking forward to getting his sister Jaratkaru married to the sage.
To them was born a very devoted and learned son called Astika. This sage was a man of great austerities and he pleased all great and noble people with his devotion to learning, his humble service and sacrifices to the gods.
Narrating the story of Astika, Sauti asks Shaunaka what else he needs to know. Shaunaka asks him to narrate whatever his father had told him about the origin of the race of snakes. He began with the story of the sisters Kadru and Vinata, the daughters of Prajapati and the wives of the sage, Kashyapa. The sage was very benevolent and agreed to confer boons to his wives.
Kadru asked to be able to give birth to 1,000 snakes with great power and Vinata asked for two sons who would be stronger than all of Kadru’s sons put together. The sage blessed his wives and Kadru produced a 100 eggs and Vinata, two eggs.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi