TAKSHÂKA – The Mighty Vedic Serpent

The grandfather of this kalpa, Kas´yapa-prajâpati, founded the kingdom of serpents with his wife Kadrû. Takshâka was one of her seven greatest children, the septa-nâgas. Takshâka and her most righteous children were cursed to be reborn on earth and to be burned alive as their punishment for not obeying their mother.

The story goes like this: Kadrû had become involved in a wager with another wife of Kas´yapa, Vinatâ. They bet on the color of the tail of the divine horse Uccaishshravas, each wagering her own service to the other. In order to win, Kadrû commanded her snake children to hang on the tail of the horse to make it black.

Takshâka refused to support this deceit, was cursed, and became the leader of the good serpents on earth. However, life on earth and power seemed to bring arrogance. Takshâka was central in the myth of the biting death of King Parîkshit. And the story continued with Parîkshit’s son Janamejaya holding a snake sacrifice (sarpasatra) to rid the earth of serpents, especially Takshâka.

However, Takshâka hid beside the creator Brahmâ. The high priest Uttanka, who was presiding at the sacrifice, searched for the king of snakes psychically and saw Takshâka beside Brahmâ. The priest was furious and decided to bring Brahmâ and his throne along with Takshâka into the fire.

The magic worked so well that that they were all pulled down from heaven and were within moments of being consumed in the flames. Exactly at that instance the brâhmin Âstîka arrived and was paid full respect by King Janamejaya. That included offering to fulfill any wish that Âstîka might have.

TAKSHÂKA - A mighty serpent

Âstîka asked for an immediate end to the sarpasatra, and Janamejaya kept his word to the brâhmin and ended the sacrifice. Takshâka was not always a danger to kings. He saved King Candrângada from drowning and hosted him in his watery kingdom. Takshâka on occasion helped Brahmâ or Indra, but just as often found his interest at odds with that of a god or hero—for example, when he crossed Arjuna and Arjuna killed Takshâka’s favorite wife.

Takshâka’s watery kingdom seemed to overlap with Pâtâla (hell) in some of the Purânic myths. Takshâka was there to welcome Balabhadra-Râma (Balarâma) when he died and reached Pâtâla.

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