Parikshit received the news of his impending death which would come in the form of the snake Takshaka. Here it implies that the poison called Takshaka would kill him. In order to create dispassion (vairagya) in him, who was immersed in these worldly bondages (samsara), the poison called takshaka would arrive. This is how it should be understood. The subject that we speak about here is nothing but this poison.
Parikshit was eager that the poison called Takshaka should envelop and burn him at the earliest. He was eagerly awaiting the punishment for his mistake. He decided that even while he was ruling, through a methodical analysis of Vedanta, he should reach a state of total disinclination towards the comforts of this world and the next. He decided that serving the lotus feet of Lord Krishna is the most supreme activity in this world.
With this unwavering decision he gave up food and water completely (prāyopaveśa) and sat on the banks of River Ganga, awaiting death.
Yā vai lasac-chrī-tulasī-vimiśra-kṛṣṇāṅghri-reṇv-abhyadhikāmbu-netrī
Punāti lokān ubhayatra seśān kas tāṁ na seveta mariṣyamāṇaḥ
River Ganga absorbs into herself Tulasi leaves (basil), sandal paste and the dust from the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. She carries them along with her as She flows. Due to this, Ganga becomes even more auspicious so much so that she grants internal and external purity to every being, including the guardian deities of the world (loka pālaka). Hence Ganga should be worshipped at the time of one’s death.
Who will not seek to offer worship to this Ganga? After all, Ganga is nothing but the water that flows from the lotus feet of Lord Mahavishnu. In His feet, it has its origin.
For this reason, Parikshit the descendent of Pāndu, decided to end his life through Prayopaveśa (abstaining from food and water), on the banks of the sacred River Ganga. He gave up all attachments in totality towards this material world that is full of bondages and accepted the vow of renunciation. Freeing his mind from every other thought, he contemplated exclusively upon the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
At that time, several supreme Maharishis, who eternally purify this universe by their presence, arrived there together with their disciples.
Prāyeṇa tīrthā-bhigamāpadeśaiḥ svayaṁ hi tīrthāni punanti santaḥ – Great Maharishis, in the pretext of visiting holy pilgrim centres, actually go there to grant purity to the pilgrim centres themselves!
When ordinary persons like us visit pilgrim centres, we obtain purity. But when Mahatmas visit pilgrim centres, the pilgrim centres obtain purity! This is the absolute truth.
Maharishis Atri, Vashishta, Cyavana, Śaradvanta, Arishtanemi, Bhrigu, Angirasa, Paraśara, Vishwamitra, Paraśurama, Uthatya, Indrapramada, Idmavāhu, Medhātithi, Devala, Arishti, Bharadwaja, Goutama, Pippalada, Maitreya, Aurva, Kavasha, Agastya, Vyasa and the ever worshipful Maharishi Narada, arrived there exactly at that time.
This was because Emperor Parikshit was that lucky person who had the darshan of the Supreme even while he was in his mother’s womb. You may wonder how such a great person could have behaved wrongly. This is due to the influence of Kali. One should be vigilant every moment. At times of anger extreme vigilance should be practiced. The vrata of mouna (silence) should be taken up at that time or for that moment, the ego should be curtailed. Parikshit did not observe either of these at that moment. This was the effect of Kali.
All supreme Maharishis arrived at that spot when Parikshit decided to sacrifice his life on the banks of Ganga. In addition to those saints mentioned above, many celestial sages (Deva-rishis), supremely accomplished sages (Brahma-rishis), saintly kings (Raja-rishis) also arrived.
Parikshit warmly and reverentially welcomed each of these saints and bowed down before them. Thereafter when they were all comfortably seated, Parikshit, who possessed an absolutely pure mind and intellect, reverentially bowed once again, folded his palms and stood before them. He spoke to them about his Prayopaveśa (abstaining from food and water awaiting death).
He said, “What a wonder! You the supreme exalted saints have considered me, a worthless being, as being worthy of your blessings and have all arrived here. I am truly fortunate”. He then prayed to Srihari.
Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!