Parikshit, holding the bow in his hand, once went hunting into the deep forests. After chasing wild animals for a very long period of time, he was extremely exhausted and was tormented with severe hunger and thirst. As he was going through the forests in search of water, he came across an hermitage (ashrama).
There, Parikshit saw a great saint, who had controlled all his senses, peacefully seated in deep meditation with eyes closed. He had restrained his breath, his mind as well as his intellect and had withdrawn from this material world. Having gone over and above the three stages, he was now totally immersed in the Supreme Brahma. He was covered in deer skin and his hair was totally scattered.
Parikshit approached the great saint and begged for water. The saint was immersed in absolute meditation and was in the highest state of Yoga. As such, he was oblivious to the presence of the king in his hermitage. Being in the state of absolute meditation, he did not even welcome the king cordially nor did he offer him any seat or water.
Being a king, Parikshit expected that he should be offered a reverential welcome, be cordially seated and offered water per his request. When these customary respects were not offered, he felt he was being deliberately insulted. With this he was infuriated.
If Parikshit had restrained his anger at that moment, perhaps this entire story of Bhāgawatam would never have been available to us. Yet another aspect is that if he had restrained his anger at that moment, effortlessly he would have easily attained supreme liberation.
It was no doubt a momentary exasperation. Due to his unbearable hunger and thirst, this king developed feelings of aversion and anger towards that sage, which was unprecedented. He began walking out of the hermitage when he spotted a dead snake. He lifted it up using the end of his bow, threw it upon the great sage (Brahmarishi) and walked away.
During the return journey he began to debate within himself, “Was the sage truly in deep meditation after having conquered his senses? Or trying to avoid speaking to a worthless warrior (kshatriya), was he pretentiously closing his eyes?”
The time for Parikshit’s end had neared. As time for his destruction and difficulty was nearing, his thinking underwent a change. In arrogance he was mentally jeering at the sage considering him to be dubious.
This great sage had a very young son who was supremely powerful and radiant. This small boy was playing with his friends when he heard about this incident. He instantly said, “How wrongly this king has behaved towards my father! How unrighteous are these kings, who like crows eat the remnants of food that have been thrown by people. They survive purely because of the citizens. Had the citizens not paid their taxes, could these kings have survived? Had the peasants not given a share of their crop, could these kings have survived? Thus it can be said that they eat the remnants of others’ food. After eating the remnants of others’ food, this king has the audacity to behave so arrogantly!
These rulers who are unethical and deceitful towards people can be compared to the watchdog that dares to enter into the house of its master and eat out of his plate! Out of total faith, the people have selected him as the king and enthroned him. Instead of treating such citizens as his children and treating them at par with Gods, how dare these rulers treat citizens as if they are dogs?
This worthless Kshatriya has been assigned as a watchdog by the Brahmins. Is it right for a watchdog to enter the house of its master and eat the food from the vessel?
Lord Srikrishna, who would punish the wrong-doers, has ended his incarnation. But today I take it upon myself to punish this wrong-doer who has overstepped his limits. Now see my power!”
With reddened eyes and in total fury, the small boy in the presence of his friends performed acamana (purificatory ritual) with the waters of River Koushiki and uttered a curse, which was as powerful as a thunderbolt! “That king who by insulting my father has overstepped his limits and who has brought about the downfall of his lineage, will, on the seventh day from now, be destroyed by the bite of Takshaka, the powerful snake!”
Having uttered this curse, the boy returned to his hermitage. Seeing the dead snake hanging around his father’s neck, he began to wail loudly in deep sorrow.
The great sage, Maharishi Shamika, who belonged to the lineage of Maharishi Angirasa, opened his eyes gently, upon hearing his son’s wails. Throwing away the dead snake that was around his neck, he enquired, “My son, what is the matter? Why are you crying? Has anyone harmed you in any way?”
The boy then narrated the events in detail.
Hearing that his son had cursed Parikshit, who did not deserve to be cursed, the great sage was unhappy. He could not congratulate his son for this deed. Instead he said to his son, “My son, what a fool you have been! You have committed a sinful deed. In your ignorance, for a small trivial mistake you have awarded him a very high punishment. Your intellect has not yet matured. Who do you think is a king? He is none other than Vishnu. This is stated in all our scriptures. You have failed to understand this principle”.
Krishna! Srikrishna! Narayana!