Significance Of Astika's Story In Mahabharata

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Quiz

Who is Dinakara?

For disobedience, Kadru the serpent mother cursed her sons, saying they would all perish in King Janamejaya's Sarpa-yajna. Janamejaya would do this yajna to avenge the killing of his father Parikshit by Takshaka. In order to prevent the Naga vamsha from being eliminated, Astika, the nephew of serpent king Vasuki, has to intervene. Even though a young boy, he is a Vedic scholar and very powerful. Astika is at Janamejaya's yajna vedi. By now billions of nagas have perished in the yagagni. Following conventions, Janamejaya offers to fulfill any wish of A....

For disobedience, Kadru the serpent mother cursed her sons, saying they would all perish in King Janamejaya's Sarpa-yajna.
Janamejaya would do this yajna to avenge the killing of his father Parikshit by Takshaka.
In order to prevent the Naga vamsha from being eliminated, Astika, the nephew of serpent king Vasuki, has to intervene.
Even though a young boy, he is a Vedic scholar and very powerful.
Astika is at Janamejaya's yajna vedi.
By now billions of nagas have perished in the yagagni.
Following conventions, Janamejaya offers to fulfill any wish of Astika as a matter of honoring him.
Astika says stop this yajna.
Indra had given shelter to Takshaka.
When this is going on in the yajna vedi, the purohits of the yajna had already dragged Takshaka along with Indra with the power of mantras.
When Indra realized what was going on, he abandoned Takshaka in the middle of the sky and went away.
Takshaka started falling freely into the Agni.
At that time, Astika looking at Takshaka said three times - तिष्ठ तिष्ठ तिष्ठ
Stop there, stop there stop there
Takshaka just froze there, in the middle of the sky.
He was being pulled into Agni with the power of mantras.
But Astika's command overpowered the mantras and froze Takshaka in the middle of the sky.
Janamejaya had no other way now.
He called off the yajna.
Now, this is very interesting.
The yajna is interrupted.
Janamejaya's main target was Takshaka.
He is still alive.
Brahma had some other purpose.
He wanted to control the population of cruel and dangerous serpents on earth.
That is already achieved.
Billions of serpents have died.
But Janamejaya's target is still alive.
As a righteous and knowledgeable king, how Janamejaya handled himself is very interesting.
He completed all the formalities of the yajna.
Gave dakshina in abundance to all the purohits and all the scholars present there.
There was a Vastu expert who had said that this yajna would end mid-way, even he was rewarded.
Did Janamejaya have any animosity towards Astika who was instrumental in the yajna not achieving its purpose?
No.
On the contrary, he bid farewell to Astika saying that I will be conducting an Ashwamedha yaga next, please do come for that.
This is maturity.
This is acting with wisdom and intelligence.
This is following intelligence, not the mind.
In his mind, he should have been disappointed, angry.
Still, those emotions did not rule his conduct.
He didn't deviate from dharma.
Dharma is based on intelligence, not emotions.
Back home everyone thanked Astika profusely.
Nagas wanted to fulfill any wish that Astika had.
This incident of saving the Naga-vamsha from extermination is a great act of dharma.
Whoever reads this story of Astika, should never have any fear or danger from serpents.
Astika asked for this and the serpents agreed.
The senior serpents said
असितं चार्तिमन्तं च सुनीथं चापि यः स्मरेत्।
दिवा वा यदि वा रात्रौ नास्य सर्पभयं भवेत्॥
These are three mantras Asita, Artiman, and Suneetha.
Whoever remembers these three mantras during the day or during or during the night, will have no danger from serpents.
We don't know what these mantras are.
But here the serpents are giving three verses that are as powerful as these mantras which can give protection from snakes.
यो जरत्कारुणा जातो जरत्कारौ महायशाः ।
आस्तीकः सर्पसत्रे वः पन्नगान् योऽभ्यरक्षत ।
तं स्मरन्तं महाभागा न मां हिंसितुमर्हथ ॥
Astika, son of Jaratkaru-Jaratkaru couple, who saved you all in the Sarpa-yajna, I am remembering him because of which you should not harm me.
सर्पापसर्प भद्रं ते गच्छा सर्प महाविष ।
जनमेजयस्य यज्ञान्ते आस्तिकस्य वचनं स्मर ॥
Oh poisonous serpent, go away.
May good happen to you.
Remember what Astika had said: anyone who remembers his story will not be harmed by you.
So, go away.
आस्तिकस्य वचः श्रुत्वा यः सर्पो न निवर्तते।
शतधा भिद्यते मूर्ध्नि शिंशवृक्षफलं यथा॥
Any serpent who ignores the words of Astika his head would explode into a hundred pieces.
These three verses you can also chant every day to be protected from snakes.
Astika later got married, had children, and upon completing worldly responsibilities, attained moksha.
Remember where this started.
Shaunaka Maharshi's predecessor used to kill all snakes that he came across.
Once a snake told him, a brahmin should not harm anyone.
He should be the protector of all living beings.
He gave Astika as an example for this.
Ruru went and asked his father Pramati about Astika and this Astika upakhyana was narrated by Pramati to Ruru.
Learning about Astika itself confers a lot of punya.
Astika Parva ends here.
Next is Amshavatarana Parva.

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