Ananta, the noble member of the family of snakes, got the divine assignment from Brahma to be the binding factor of the Universe called dharma. Vasuki wondered how his mother Kadru’s curse can be prevented from manifesting itself. He held a conference with his brother Airavata and others.
Chairing the meeting, Vasuki said there are remedies for all curses but none for those spelt out by one’s own mother to her children. He wondered aloud that it scared him even more that the curse was given in full awareness of the creator, Brahma. The snakes were doomed to die, he said. If not, Brahma would have prevented their mother from spelling out the curse. Let us find means to protect the snakes from mass annihilation without wasting much time, he said.
The storyteller Sauti narrated that all the sons of Kadru repeated ‘Tathastu’ in unison and gave their opinions on how to go about it according to their level of knowledge. Son of Parikshit, King Janamejaya, had already begun the preparations for a Sarpa Satra Yagna—a fire sacrifice in which all snakes were to be offerings to avenge the death of his father at the hands of the most venomous, Takshaka.
One member of the snake family suggested that someone could go disguised as a Brahmin and convince Janamejaya not to conduct the yagna. Some snakes thought they were intelligent and offered to be ministers to Janamejaya. That way, the king would ask their advice about conducting the sacrifice and they would promptly advice him not to do it. Another vile snake suggested that a serpent could bite the chief priest and if he died the yagna would be called off. Let us bite all those people who know how to conduct this yagna, another said. One snake stopped the flow and reasoned that the backlash to killing a person who knew the truth of existence would be very bad.
Yet another adivised to maintain calm if the sorrow was caused through righteous means. If the means was unrighteous, then anyway, the whole world would be destroyed. Some schemed to become clouds and pour rain in the sacrificial fire. Someone suggested stealing the soma nectar that had to be offered at the sacrifice, while yet another thought of defiling all the offerings with snake dung and urine. Another suggestion was that the snakes could be priests for the sacrifice and ask for dakshina for their labour in the beginning. One suggested killing the king himself.
Snakes hear with their eyes, says the Mahabharata. The snakes were competing with each other for their vicious pieces of advice to be heard. Unhappy with any of this and concerned about the well-being of the snake race, the steady-minded Vasuki turned towards Brahma for guidance. The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.chinmayamission.com