King Parikshiti’s curse

The Ashram (hermitage) of Sage Shamik was based at a very beautiful place at the banks of river Kaushiki. Sage Shamik was a great ascetic and benevolent. Many young rushikumars (sons of sages) used to stay with him to study Vedas. Sage Shamik’s son, Shrungi, too was one among them.

One day all the rushikumars went to the garden to collect samidha (sacrificial sticks) for performing hom (fire-sacrifice performed to appease Deities). Shrungi also had gone with them. Sage Shamik was engrossed in meditation at the Ashram and was enjoying the happiness of Bramha (an inexplicable situation), completely unaware of the outside world. Under such circumstances, how will he know who has come into or gone outside the hermitage.

It was afternoon and there was unbearable heat outside. The King Parikshiti was wandering in the jungle for hunting. He was dead tired and thirsty too. He was in the need of rest. He came across Sage Shamik’s Ashram. He entered the Ashram with a view to get water, some rest, and to be in the holy company of Sage Shamik.

However, when he entered the Ashram, he was very much surprised as no one came to receive him. There was silence everywhere. As he was very thirsty, he started searching for water. Suddenly he saw Sage Shamik sitting there. He was very happy. He paid him obeisance and said politely, “Munivarya, I am very thirsty. Please give me some water to drink.” The Sage was in deep meditation; so how could he talk to the king? The king called him 2-3 times, but in vain. The king thought that the Sage was pretending to be silent purposely, in order to insult him. I would also insult this insincere Sage murmured the King.

The thirsty King because of insult in Ashram got enraged. He lost his mental balance and came out of the Ashram in rage. Suddenly, he noticed a dead serpent. He picked it up with the end of the bow he was carrying and put the snake around Sage Shamik's neck.

One or two rushikumars saw the king coming out of the hermitage. They informed Shrungi about it. Shrungi said to them, “Let us go to the Ashram. Father is in meditation. We must welcome the king who has visited us.” They reached the Ashram and tried to call back the king who was angrily going out of the Ashram. However, the King did not respond.

They then entered the Ashram and saw a dead snake around Sage Shamik's neck who was still in the meditative state. Shrungi was very much angry at the dishonour of his father. He cursed the king furiously, “King Parikshiti who has insulted the Sage in this manner will be dead on the 7th day from today by a snake bite. The cobra king Takshak itself will come and bite the King Parikshiti.”

Shrungi took water from the kamandalu (a water pot used by ascetics) and sprinkling it on the earth, uttered the above mentioned curse. Hearing that curse all the rushikumars got scared.

The boys removed the dead snake from the Sage's neck and threw it away. They brushed aside the ants too from his body. Just then, Sage Shamik came out of his meditation and he glanced at the rushikumars. All of them were very much scared and Shrungi was trembling with anger. Seeing this Sage Shamik asked, “What has happened? Why this dead snake is here? These ants? And all of you like this?"

Shrungi narrated the whole incident to his father. Hearing that he said calmly, “Son, cursing the king for such a minor mistake is a very bad act on your part. Son, the king is incarnation of Shri Vishnu. He nurtures the earth, his subject. He had visited our Ashram. We did not get the religious merit (punya) of welcoming him. Since he was not honoured when he entered the Ashram, he must have got angry. So, out of anger, he committed this minor offence. Instead of pardoning the King, cursing him with a death punishment, is not befitting a bramhanishtha (the one absorbed in the contemplation of Bramha). Shrungi dear, you are still ignorant. Even if we suffer unhappiness due to someone, without reacting to it, we should bear it. There lies our greatness. At least now surrender to God and beg His pardon for your mistake.”

King Parikshiti reached his capital swiftly after leaving Sage Shamik's Ashram. After taking some rest, when he contemplated upon what had happened, he started repenting.

After sometime, a disciple of Sage Shamik came to King Parikshiti and said politely, “O, King, Sage Shamik could not welcome you as he was in deep meditation and he is feeling very sorry about it. But for your thoughtless act of putting a dead snake around his neck, his ascetic son, Shrungi, has cursed you by saying that you would die on the 7th day from today by a snake-bite. This will not be a false curse. Hence, you had better spend your time on contemplating God and do some benevolent acts. That great forgiving Sage Shamik has sent this message through me so that you are not kept in the dark about the curse. O King, be aware and practise Spirituality for salvation.”

The king was satisfied after hearing the message and was happy to know that he would be punished for the crime he had committed.

Thereafter, the King Parikshiti went to live at the banks of river Ganga. Shukmuni, the son of Sage Vyas, came there. He narrated ‘Bhagwat’ to the king Parikshiti in those 7 days. Thereby, all people had the benefit of listening to the narration of Bhagwat in that meritorious week.

The forgiving Sage Shamik was very pleased to learn about the organised programme of ‘Bhagwat’ for a week. He also started spending his time in wishing for King’s welfare and apologising to God.