- The Birth of a Bhagavata
Parîkchit was the very self of Abhimanyu,
who had attained the heavenly abode of heroes. When Parîkchit was
an embryo, growing in the womb of Uttarâ, he saw the
sharp arrow let off by As'vatthâmâ flying towards
him, emitting sparks of fury and terror, bent on his destruction. But,
at that very moment, he saw also, a person of brilliant charm armed
with a terrific wheel, breaking that death-dealing arrow into a hundred
pieces. The royal foetus was filled with wonder and gratitude. (See
also S.B. 1.12).
He pondered deep
on the identity of his savior. "Who is He? He must also be dwelling in
this womb, with me, because he could see the arrow at the very moment I
saw it! But, he has such intrepidity and skill that he could destroy it
before it reached me. Can he be a uterine brother? How could he get
hold of that wheel? If he is endowed with a wheel, how did I miss
having it? No, he is no mortal." He argued thus for a long time within
He could not forget that
face, that form. He was a boy, with the splendor of a million suns.
He was benign, blissful, blue like the clear sky. After saving him
so dramatically and so mercifully, he had disappeared. He had the form
always before him, for, he was seeking to see it again. Whomsoever he
saw, he examined to find out whether that form corresponded with the
form he had reverentially fixed in his mind.
Thus he grew in the womb,
contemplating that form. That contemplation transformed him into a
splendor-filled baby. When at the end of the period of gestation he was
born into the world, the lying-in-room was lit by a strange light. The
female attendants of Uttarâ were dazzled by the
brilliance. Their wits were overcome by wonder.
Recovering herself, Subhadrâ
the mother of Abhimanyu sent word to Yudhisthhira, the
eldest of the Pândavas announcing the birth. The
Pândava brothers were overwhelmed with joy, when they heard the
glad tidings for which they were waiting anxiously. They ordered that
bands play, and guns be fired, in honor of the event, for, a scion had
been born for the royal family, a successor to the Pândava throne.
The people heard the peal of
guns and sought the reason for the joy. They rushed towards Indraprastha
in large masses of enthusiasm. Every corner of the kingdom gushed with
joy at this event. Within minutes, the city was transformed into a
heavenly garden, fit for Gods to give audience to men. Yudhisthhira
distributed several varieties of sweets to all who came. He granted
several cows as gifts to brahmins. He instructed the ladies of
the court to give golden caskets full of saffron and kumkum to women.
Brahmins were awarded silk clothes and precious gems. Citizens were
transported with joy, for the dynasty had now secured an heir. Night
and day, they reveled in hilarious exultation.
Next day, Yudhisthhira
called the family priest, Kripâcârya and performed
the rite of jatha-karma (first cleansing) to the infant. He
satisfied the brahmins by gifts of various costly jewels. The scholars
and priests blessed the child and returned home.
On the third day, Yudhisthhira
called to his presence renowned astrologers as well as famous palmists
and soothsayers, for, he was very eager to know whether the fair name
of the kingdom and its culture would be safe in the hands of the prince
who had come to carry the burden of the state. Yudhisthhira
received them at the palace with traditional hospitality; they were
given appropriate seats in the hall and they were offered scents and
The king bowed before them
and joining his palms in reverential adoration, he prostrated before
them, and prayed, "0, wise men, who know the past, present and future,
examine the horoscope of the infant that is born, calculate the
positions of stars and constellations, and the planetary influences
that will guide his life and tell me how the future will be shaped." He
noted the exact time of birth and placed the note on a golden plate,
The pundits took that note
and drew up the plan of planetary positions, and studied it with great
care. They communicated to one another their increasing joy as they
began to draw conclusions; they were in great joy themselves; they
could not get words to express their amazement.
The doyen of the group, a
great pundit, at last rose and addressed King Yudhisthhira
thus. "Mahârâja! I have till this day examined well nine
thousands of horoscopes and prepared concerned plans of the zodiacs and
constellations. But, I must admit I have never yet come across a more
auspicious grouping than is indicated in this horoscope. Here, all the
signs of good augury have assembled in one moment, the moment of this
prince's birth. The moment indicates the state of Vishnu
Himself! All the virtues will gather in this child. Why describe each
glory separately? The great Manu has again come into your
Yudhisthhira was happy
that the dynasty had such good fortune. He was indeed overpowered by
joy. He folded his palms and bent low before the scholars who had given
him such good news. "This family is lucky to claim such a gem as its
scion, through the blessings of elders and of pundits like you as well
as the blessings of the Lord, who is our guardian. You say that the boy
will develop all virtues and will accumulate fame. But of what use is
all that, if he has not acquired the quality of reverence towards
pundits, sadhus and brahmins? Please look into the horoscope once again
and tell me whether he will have that reverence."
The leader of the group of
astrologers replied: "You need entertain no doubt on that score. He
will revere and serve the gods and the brahmins. He will perform many yajñas
and yagas, prescribed in the ancient texts. He will earn the
glory that your ancestor Bharatha won. He will celebrate even
He will spread the fame of this line all over the world. He will win
all things that gods or men covet. He will outdistance all those who
have gone before him." They extolled him thus in various ways to their
hearts' content. They stopped because they were nervous to recount all
the excellences; they feared they might be charged with exaggeration
and flattery if they continued to detail the conclusions they had drawn
from the horoscope of the baby.
Yudhisthhira was not
satisfied; he wanted to hear more from them of the excellences of the
character of the prince. Pundits were encouraged by this yearning. They
said, "0 King, you seem to be eager to know about some more aspects of
the child's fortune. We shall only be too glad to answer any specific
question that you may feel inclined to put us."
Noting their enthusiasm,
Yudhisthhira came forward and asked them, "During the regime of this
prince, will there be any great war? If war is inevitable, will he
achieve victory? 'No', said the pundits, He will not be pestered by any
foe. He knows no failure or defeat in any undertaking of his. This is
absolutely true, an unshakable truth."
Hearing this, Yudhisthhira
and the brothers Bhîma, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva
looked at each other and shared great joy.
Meanwhile, Yudhisthhira began
to speak. He had said, "If that is so...", but, before he could
complete the sentence, he hung his head and was plunged in thought. The
pundits noticed it; they said, "You seem to be anxious to know
something more. You have only to ask, we shall readily answer all
questions." "Of course, I am happy at all the answers you have given.
He will be virtuous, famous, triumphant over all, loving and kind,
treating all equally; he will perform many yajñas and
yagas; he will have no enemies; he will bring honor to the dynasty
and restore its reputation. All this gives me great joy. But,... I
would like to know also, how he will meet his end." The brothers saw
Yudhisthhira getting rather upset at the anxiety which agitated him
over this problem. His voice had faltered a bit, when he put the
The pundits consoled him and
said, "Why worry about that at this stage? The end has to come some
day, some way. It is something that cannot be avoided. Something will
cause it; some circumstance will bring it about. Birth involves the
contingency of death. We are afraid the extreme joy of this incident
has queered your line of thought a bit. We think this much is enough.
We shall leave the rest, in the realm of doubt; let us not probe
further. Let us leave it to God."
could not somehow give up his desire to know how such a virtuous ideal
prince would end his career on earth. He imagined it must be a truly
wondrous finale to a glorious life. So, he wanted the astrologers to
tell him about it.
The scholars set about the
calculations again and took a pretty long time over it. Watching this,
the King became excited; he hastened them and pressed for a quick
answer. They gave the reply, "This prince will give up his kingdom as
the result of a sage's curse." Yudhisthhira wondered how such a paragon
of virtue can ever invoke upon himself the curse of a sage. He was
shocked at the possibility.
Meanwhile, the pundits
said, "Our calculations show that he will be bitten by a serpent."
Yudhisthhira lost heart at this news. All his joy evaporated in a
moment. He became very sad and dispirited.
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The image showing birthday
"Scenes from the Life of Krishna: Celebrations in Honor of Krishna's
Central India, 1680-90. Source: Virginia