Shaunaka tells the story of Pauloma and the birth of Chyavana, and moves to the story of Jaratkaru. Interestingly, in the Mahabharata, it is not only the history of human beings that is narrated. The story of many tribes of snakes follow as a sequel to the commencement of the actual story of the Mahabharata. Since Parikshit’s son, King Janamejaya, is doing the Sarpa Yagna, offering snakes to avenge the death of his father who was killed by the snake Takshaka, there is a long list of the names of snakes that were offered in the sacrifice.
The interesting story that follows is of Jaratkaru. He wants to be a bachelor all his life. He is walking once through the forest with a view to finding a spot to do tapasya, living the life of a hermit.
As he was walking through, he saw some beings falling towards the ground. They were all hanging as if head down, trying to hold on to a branch of a tree, to prevent themselves from falling. Even that branch seemed to fall off, gnawed by forest creatures.
Jaratkaru was intrigued and he asked them what was the reason for their falling. The people said that they lived a very pious life on earth. Unfortunately they had a person in their lineage who kept saying that he wants to do tapasya and hence remain a bachelor. Since he was not married, he could not perform the required rites for ancestors as he did not have a wife.
It was because of the little results of good deeds done in their lifetime that they found these branches and shoots to hang on to. “But even that is getting over and that is why these creatures are fast eating the remaining support. We are indeed unfortunate to be in such a predicament,” they lamented to Jaratkaru.
Since he was patiently listened to them, the beings asked him, “How come you have been so good to listen to our story of sorrow?” The youngster took a while and he said, “The person you are talking about is myself. I am responsible for this plight of yours. Please tell me what I can do to help you. Can I do tapasya and pray for you?”
“No my dear, that won’t help,” said his ancestors. They said he must get married and bring forth a progeny. “Well in that case, I will marry a woman who has my name and when the work of bringing the child is over, I will leave for continuing my austerities,” he said. His ancestors blessed him and he went to the village on a seemingly impossible hunt of finding a girl with the same name as his!
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email@example.com