Category Archives: 1.12 Birth of Pariksit

The Birth of Parikshit

Śaunaka then spoke out, breaking the satisfied silence that had accumulated on the beautiful conclusion of Krishna’s return to Dvārakā. He asked Sūta:

“Now please tell us all about Parīkṣit, the one whom Śuka enlightened by teaching the Bhāgavatam. We know that the Master saved him, while he was still in his mother’s womb, from the terrible power of Aśvatthāmā’s ultimate weapon. We are enthusiastic to learn about his birth, life, death, and afterlife!”

Sūta replied:

His father, King Yudhiṣṭhira was a very moral and excellent ruler, like his forefathers, so all the citizens in his kingdom were happy. He never tried to fulfill any personal ambitions; he only wanted to be useful, even if in the smallest way, to divine Krishna.

The king’s wealth, rituals, queens, brothers, kingdom and sovereignty were famous throughout the three skies. Even gods desire what he had, but the king’s mind had no hunger for anything, because it was full of Lotus-Faced Krishna.

When his child was still in his mother’s womb he began to suffer from the blast of a terrible weapon. It was then that the child saw someone else with him in the womb; a small figure, very pure, pleasing to behold, with a black complexion like a dark cloud surrounded by lightning-like yellow clothes and a blazing golden crown. He had four beautifully long arms and earrings of purest gold. His eyes were red with anger and there was a mace in his hand. He moved like a shooting star, encircling the child and constantly swinging his mace – dissipating the blast like the sun evaporates fog.

Astonished, the child thought, “Who is this!?”

When seen by the child, All-Attractive Hari immediately disappeared back into the inner recesses of reality. The child would become famous as “The Examiner” (Parīkṣit) because in his search to again see that amazing person, he would examine everyone he met; “Is this him?” Thus he constantly contemplated Viṣṇu.

He was born when the planets became favorable for all the good fortune required to make the dynasty’s heir as powerful as his grandfather, Pāṇdu. Overflowing with affection, the king called the most learned scholars – like Dhaumya & Kṛpa – to read the auspicious astrological nativity of his newborn son.

Well aware of what should be done to celebrate the birth of a child, the King gave the scholars gifts of the highest quality gold, cows, land, villages, elephants and horses; and sumptuously fed them.

Very satisfied, those intellectuals spoke:

“This spotless child will certainly be the foremost in the dynasty. Unstoppable destiny intended to destroy him, but out of affection for you all-powerful and all-pervading Viṣṇu rescued him. Thus the boy will be famous throughout the world by the name Viṣṇu Rāta (Viṣṇu-Rescued). Undoubtedly he is a great soul, extremely blessed, and is the pinnacle of divine love.”

The blessed King asked:

“Oh best of truthful souls, will this boy have glory and fame by following the footsteps of his forbearers: great souls famous as pious philosopher-kings?”

The intellectuals replied by naming each important trait of a king, and each forbearer who most perfectly exemplified it.:

In maintaining the citizens
he will be exactly like Ikṣvaku, Manu’s son.
In truthfulness and obedience to teachers
he will be exactly like Rāma, Dāśaratha’s son.
In giving charity and shelter
he will be like Śibi, Uśīnara’s son.
In expanding the renown of his kin by performing sacrifices
he will be like Duṣyanta’s son.
In bowmanship
he will equal the Arjunas. [1]

He will be
as unstoppable as an inferno,
as insurmountable as an ocean,
as powerful as a lion,
as unwavering as the Himalaya,
as forbearing as the earth,
as patient as parents,
as merciful and generous as grandparents.

In giving shelter to all living beings
he will be like Śiva
and Viṣṇu,
who shelters even the goddess of fortune.
In having all glorious spiritual qualities
he will be like Krishna,
to whom he is devoted.
In altruism
he will be like Rantideva.
In following rules
he will be like Yayāti.
In patience
he will be like Bali.
In saintly devotion
he will be like Prahlāda.[2]

He will conduct many horse sacrifices.[3]
He will be a follower of the experienced.
He will father many philosopher-kings.
For the sake of world peace
he will curb the insubordinate
and extinguish the cantankerous.

His death will come from the dragon Takṣa, as a result of a curse from the child of a twice-born. When he hears of this he will cast off all attachments, take full shelter in Hari, and inquire about the true goal of the soul from the learned son of Vyāsa. He will then leave his body beside the Ganges and go directly to the abode of fearlessness.

After advising the king, the learned experts of natal astrology returned to their homes, wondrously paid. The young prince grew quickly and luxuriantly like the waxing moon day after day, under the care of his many parents.


[1] Śibi wanted to give others his own right to enter heaven, and was ready to give his own life to protect a bird. Ikṣvaku was the first king to prohibit meat eating. This implies that the most important maintenance of citizens is to establish morality. Duṣyanta’s son is Bhārata, after whom the great Mahābhārata is named. The other Arjuna besides the Pāṇḍava is Kārttavīrya-Arjuna: a powerful thousand-armed warrior who was the impetus for Parśurāma killing 21 generations of warriors.

[2] Rantideva was a king famous for being virtually obsessed with giving everything he had to others. Yayāti, a very ancient king, performed thousands of different Vedic sacrifices. Bali exemplifies patience because he kept his cool resolve to fulfill his promise to Viṣṇu, even when his guru told him not to. His grandfather was the famous Prahlāda, son of Hiraṇyakaśipu.

[3] Even a cursory study of Vedic culture will show that their conception of animal rights was quite different from what we have today. This is not to insinuate that they had any less concern for the well-being of all living entities, but they implemented this concern in a manner would initially confuse us. We will discuss this point in more detail when it is more important to the context of the story.


The Astrology of Emperor Pariksit

12

When the planets became favorable for all good fortune, they produced the heir of the dynasty – as powerful as Pāṇdu.

13

Out of affection, the king had the most learned scholars, headed by Dhaumya & Kṛpa, read the auspicious astrological nativity of this newborn.

Learned souls know how to foretell the future in various ways, chiefly by astrology. What we are about the hear is a collection of learned astrologers headed by Dhaumya and Kṛpa informing the king of the future of his newborn grand-nephew.

14

Knowing what should be done on the birth of a child, the King gave gifts of the highest quality gold, cows, land, villages, elephants and horses. He sumptuously fed the intellectuals.

Intellectuals are most important in society, but they do not earn much money. Thus it is a very important social custom to feed them and give them gifts on every occasion.

15-17

Very satisfied, those intellectuals spoke:

“This spotless child will certainly be the foremost in the family of Puru. Unstoppable destiny intended to destroy him, but the all-powerful and all-pervading Viṣṇu, rescued him – because of his affection for you. Thus the boy will be famous throughout the world by the name Viṣṇu Rāta (Viṣṇu-Rescued). Undoubtedly he is a great soul, extremely blessed, the pinnacle of divine love.”

The intellectuals described Parīkṣit as mahān, mahā-bhāga, and mahā-bhāgavata – a great soul, greatly blessed, and the greatest devotee.

18

The blessed King asked:

Oh best of truthful souls, will this boy have glory and fame following the footsteps of his forbearers: great souls famous as pious philosopher-kings?

19-26

The intellectuals replied:

O Pārtha,
In maintaining the citizens he will be exactly like Ikṣvaku, Manu’s son.
In truthfulness and obedience to teachers he will be exactly like Rāma, Dāśaratha’s son.
In giving charity and giving shelter he will be like Śibi of Uśīnara.
In expanding the renown of his kin by performing sacrifices he will be like Duṣyanta’s son.
In bowmanship he will equal the Arjunas.

He will be unstoppable as an inferno, insurmountable as an ocean.
He will be powerful as a lion, unwavering as the Himalaya,
He will be forbearing as the earth, as patient as parents.
In being merciful and generous he will be like grandparents.

In giving shelter to all living beings he will be like Śiva
and the god who is the shelter of the goddess of fortune [Viṣṇu].
In having all glorious spiritual qualities he will be like Kṛṣṇa,
to whom he is devoted.
In altruism he will be like Rantideva.
In following rules he will be like Yayāti.
In patience he will be like Bali.
In saintly devotion he will be like Prahlāda.

He will conduct many horse sacrifices.
He will be a follower of the experienced.
He will father many philosopher-kings.
For the sake of world peace
he will curb the insubordinate and extinguish the cantankerous.

Ikṣvaku, the son of the personality from whom the Human race descends, was the first king to prohibit meat eating.

Śibi was so charitable and protective that he wanted to give away to others his own right to enter heaven, and was ready to give his own life to protect a bird.

Duṣyanta’s son is Bhārata, after whom the great Mahābhārata is named.

The other Arjuna besides the Pāṇḍava is Kārttavīrya-Arjuna: a powerful thousand-armed warrior who was the impetus for Parśurāma killing 21 generations of warriors.

Rantideva is famous as the most magnanimous king who was virtually obsessed with giving everything he had to others.

Yayāti, like Rantideva is a famous and very ancient king. He performed thousands of different Vedic sacrifices.

Bali is an exemplar of patience because he kept his cool resolve to fulfill his promise to Viṣṇu, even when his guru was warning him not to. His grandfather was the famous Prahlāda, son of Hiraṇyakaśipu.

As far as horse sacrifices, even a cursory study of Vedic culture will show that they did not conceive of animal rights with the same sensitivities as we have today. This is not to insinuate that they had any less concern for the well-being of all living entities, just that they implemented this concern in a different manner than would make sense to a modern activist.

27-28

His own death will come from the dragon Takṣa, as a result of a curse from the child of a twice-born. When he hears of this he will cast off all attachments, take full shelter in Hari, and inquire about the true goal of the soul from the learned son of Vyāsa. He will then leave his body beside the Ganges and go directly to the abode of fearlessness.

Most of the astrological reading given by the intellectuals, in texts 19-26, pertained to the newborn king’s character, but here they make an extremely concrete prediction regarding the boy’s death. They did not hesitate to pronounce the nature of the newborn’s death. Perhaps because the family was so elevated and did not consider death an unnatural and awful thing, like most of us do.

29

Thus those learned experts of natal astrology advised the king. Wondrously paid, they returned to their own homes.

30

The boy would become famous as “The Examiner” (Parīkṣit) because he examined everyone he saw, in search of that person he saw before, whom he constantly contemplated.

The “person he saw before” refers to the person he saw before his birth, Viṣṇu.

31

The prince grew quickly and luxuriantly like the waxing moon day after day, under the care of his many parents.


Seeing Krishna in the Womb

1.12.1-3

Śaunaka asked:

The Controller kept Uttarā’s womb viable and safe from the terrible power of Aśvatthāmā’s ultimate weapon. Please tell us of about the birth of that very wise child, and the life of that great soul, and his death, and of course how he achieved his next destination. We are eager and enthusiastic to know about this, for he is the one to whom Śuka gave knowledge.

If you consider how the story line developed just now, you’ll see that Sūta got carried away and drawn off topic due to his strong emotional affinity for speaking directly about Kṛṣṇa. Several chapters ago he began discussing the birth of Parīkṣit, but got drawn instead into describing Kṛṣṇa in detail. Since that story line had reached a conclusion by Kṛṣṇa being reunited with his intimate queens, Sūta is ready to return to his original topic: the birth of Parīkṣit. He required prodding from Śaunaka to do so, however, for his mind was still reminiscing on the previous topics.

4

Sūta said:

The moral king governed just like his father, and all the citizens were happy. He had no trace of personal ambitions or desires because he always wanted to be useful to Kṛṣṇa’s feet.

Sūta returns to the original storyline by picking up with a recap of King Yudhiṣṭhira’s reign.

Feet are a prevalent motif in Vedic symbolism. They are the lowest part of a person. So by saying “he always wanted to be useful to Kṛṣṇa’s feet” it indicated that the King so valued Kṛṣṇa that being useful to him even in the lowest and smallest manner was his only aspiration. Because the King therefore had no personal ambitions, he was completely free from the tenacious tendency towards exploitation. His actions as a leader were motivated only by philanthropic desire to care for the citizens. Thus his kingdom was extremely prosperous and happy.

5-6

His wealth, rituals, queens, brothers, kingdom and sovereignty over the earth was famous throughout the three skies. The gods themselves hanker and lust for what he had, but the king’s mind was full of Lotus-Faced (Mukuṇḍa), so there could never be any hunger for such things.

A hungry belly wants to eat, but a very full belly will turn away even from the most delicious treats. When the mind and heart is saturated with the All-Attractive, there is no hunger for anything else.

7-10

O Bhṛgu’s Son, when that heroic child was in the womb, he saw someone else with him as he began to suffer from the blast of the weapon. He was very pleasing to behold, with black complexion like a dark cloud surrounded by lightning-like yellow clothes and a blazing golden crown; very pure and only a digit in size. He had four beautifully long arms and earrings of purest gold. His eyes were red with anger and there was a mace in his hand. He moved like a shooting star, encircling the child and constantly swinging the mace to dissipate the blast of the weapon, just as the sun evaporates fog. The child thought, “Who is this?”

11

When All-Attractive Hari, who is the soul of all and protector of morality, was seen purifying all directions of danger, he immediately retreated to the inner recesses.

Hari emerged from the inner recesses of reality to protect the child from the weapon’s radiation. But when the child saw him doing so, Hari again disappeared into the inner recesses of reality.