Getting ready to slay Takshaka, the snake

The story of Uttanka, a disciple of Veda—the third disciple of Ayoda Dhaumya—in the Mahabharata has a very didactical message about the years, seasons, days, and the gods.

Published: 07th April 2018 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2018 01:12 PM   |  A+A-

The story of Uttanka, a disciple of Veda—the third disciple of Ayoda Dhaumya—in the Mahabharata has a very didactical message about the years, seasons, days, and the gods. It’s main import is how he goes through many hurdles to successfully fulfil a promise made to his guru’s wife. After fulfilling his Guru’s words, Uttanka meets Janamejaya, the son of Parkishit who returned after conquering Takshashila.He informed the king that he was spending his time doing playful things when something more important demanded his attention. The king asked Uttanka to explain. He said that Janamejaya’s father Parikshit was killed by Takshaka, the snake. “So your work is to take revenge on that serpent who took your father’s life.” 

The first case of bribe is reported in the Mahabharata. Kashyapa, a Rishi who knew the art of taking out snake venom, was rushing to the spot where news spread that Parikshit was camping and that he would be bitten by a snake called Takshaka on the seventh day. Through the seven days, the Bhagavata Mahapurana says that Parikshit was listening to the Bhagavatam recited as a story by the sage Suka. Takshaka was rushing to the camp and on his way, he saw the sage Kashyapa too heading somewhere. “Where are you going, O sage?” he asked Kashyapa. “I know the spells for removing snake venom and I am heading to meet Parikshit, who they say is to be bitten by Takshaka.”

Takshaka was in disguise as a brahmana. He said, “What do you expect from the king for what you are going to do?” Kashyapa said, “When he is saved from death from the snake bite, he will give me many presents, gifts, and money.” “I will give you much more than what the king can give, you trace your way back,” said Takshaka in disguise.

Kashyapa who understood that fate could not be changed, received the money and gifts and traced his way back. Uttanka was inciting King Janamejaya to take revenge against Takshaka because he too had a vested interest. He told him to conduct a yagna where snakes are offered and in that way he could put an end to the wicked Takshaka who killed his father. “You will also do me a favour by doing this sacrifice, O king,” said Uttanka. When the king wondered what was that favour, Uttanka narrated how he had to get earrings for his preceptor’s wife and this Takshaka obstructed his action and caused a lot of delay. 

Sauti, who is narrating this tale to Shaunaka and other rishis in the forest, said that his speech incensed King Janamejaya just like ghee poured in a sacrifice makes the fire leap high. He inquired with his ministers to ascertain the story of his father’s death. When they narrated how his father was bitten by Takshaka, the king turned sorrowful.The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi;

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