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Maharaja Parikshit passes away.
Maharaja Parikshit very humbly came and bowed his head at Shukadeva Gosvami’s feet. Then, while joining his hands in an attitude of supplication, the King said, “My lord, because of your kindness, the purpose of my life has been fulfilled. I have no fear of Takshaka or any other being, and I am not even afraid of repeated birth and death. I have fully absorbed myself in the Absolute Truth, and this has destroyed all of my fear.”
“Now, kindly give me permission to absorb all of my senses in Lord Adhoksaja, and let me absorb my mind, as well, which is now purified of all lusty desires. By your grace, my ignorance has been eradicated and so now, please allow me to give up my life.”
Being so requested, Shukadeva Gosvami gave his permission. Then, after being worshiped by the king and all of the sages present, Shukadeva Gosvami departed. Maharaja Parikshit went and sat down on the bank of the Ganga, facing north, on a seat made of darbha grass, whose tips were turned toward the east. While he meditated upon the Supreme Absolute Truth in full self-realization, the King’s life air ceased to move, and so he became as still as a tree in a windless place.
As Takshaka was proceeding toward Maharaja Parikshit, for the purpose of killing him, he saw Kashyapa Muni on the path. Actually, Kashyapa was a great expert in counteracting poisons, and he was on his way to protect Maharaja Parikshit. By giving him many valuable offerings, however, Takshaka made the rishi desist. The snake-bird, which could assume any form he desired, then disguised himself as a brahmana, came before Maharaja Parikshit, and bit him.
As beings from all over the universe looked on, the saintly king’s body immediately burned to ashes, as a result of Takshaka’s virulent poison. A terrible cry of lamentation arose, in heaven and on earth. Celestial drums were sounded, while the Gandharvas and Apsaras sang and danced. As they showered flowers, the demigods offered praises because they could understand that a great soul had gone back home, back to Godhead.
When he heard about how his father had been fatally bitten by the snake-bird, Maharaja Janamejaya became enraged. He then engaged some brahmanas to perform a powerful sacrifice in which all of the snakes in the world would be offered into the fire. Thereafter, when Takshaka saw how even the most powerful serpents were being burnt, he became terrified and approached Indra for protection.
After this, when Maharaja Janamejaya failed to see Takshaka enter the fire, he said, “O brahmanas, why isn’t Takshaka, that lowest of serpents, burning in the sacrificial fire?”
The brahmanas replied, “O King, Takshaka has not fallen into the fire because Indra is protecting him. By his prowess, the king of heaven is holding him back from the fire.”
King Janamejaya replied, “My dear brahmanas, why not make Takshaka fall into the fire, along with his protector, Indra?”
After hearing this, the brahmanas chanted a mantra for offering Takshaka, along with Indra and other demigods- as oblations into the sacrificial fire. When Indra, along with his airplane and Takshaka, was suddenly thrown from his position, he became highly disturbed.
Upon seeing this, Brihaspati, the son of Angira Muni, went to King Janamejaya and said, “O King, it is not befitting that this leader of snakes meets with death at your hands, because previously, he drank the nectar of immortality. For this reason, he is immune to the ordinary symptoms of old age and death. A person’s life, death, and future destination are all determined by his own fruitive acts. Because of this, no other person or circumstance is responsible for creating one’s happiness and distress. When a conditioned soul is killed by snake-bite, thieves, fire, hunger, disease, or anything else- he is experiencing the reaction of his own fruitive work. Therefore, my dear King, please stop this sacrifice that was started with the intent of harming others. Many innocent snakes have already been burned to death.”
Of course, even these so-called innocent snakes were actually suffering because of past sinful activities. Maharaja Parikshit, however, did not suffer because of his past karma. It was Lord Krishna, Himself, Who arranged for the king to go back home, back to Godhead.
After being so advised, Maharaja Janamejaya said, “so be it” and after stopping the sacrifice, he very respectfully worshiped Brihaspati.
The illusory potency of Lord Vishnu works inconceivably and it is unstoppable. Although the individual souls are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, due to bodily identification, they become bewildered by maya. Even such a great person as King Janamejaya became misdirected, temporarily. But, because he was a great devotee, the Lord quickly rectified his mistake.
Next, Shaunaka Rishi desired to hear how Paila and other disciples of Shrila Vyasadeva had compiled the Vedas, and so Suta Gosvami spoke on this subject. In the beginning of creation, the subtle vibration of transcendental sound became manifest in Lord Brahma’s heart. This subtle vibration can be experienced when one stops all external hearing. By worshiping this subtle form of the Vedas, great sages cleanse their hearts of all impurities. Omkara, which is composed of three sounds, arose from this subtle vibration, and it has subtle potencies that automatically manifest within a purified heart. Omkara is a representation of the Absolute Truth in all three features- the Supreme Personality, the Paramatma, and impersonal brahmana. The transcendental sound of omkara originates from the soul and then manifests in the sky of the heart and is heard by the Paramatma, Who possesses no material ear. From omkara, the entire range of Vedic knowledge is expanded.
Omkara exhibited the three original sounds of the alphabet- A, U and M- and from these, Lord Brahma created all other sounds. Then, by utilizing these sounds, Lord Brahma produced the four Vedas from his four faces. He then taught the Vedas to his sons, and they in turn, taught them to their own sons. In this way, the Vedas have descended in disciplic succession. At the end of each Dvapara-yuga, the Vedas are further divided by great sages that are inspired by the Supreme Lord from within.
In the present age of Vaivasvata Manu, at the request of the universal directors, headed by Brahma and Shiva, the Supreme Lord exhibited a spark of a portion of His plenary portion to appear as the son of Parashara and Satyavati. In this form, known as Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, He divided the one Veda into four. Shrila Vyasadeva then taught the Rig Veda to Paila, the Yajur Veda to Vaishampayana, the Sama Veda to Jaimini, and the Atharva Veda to Sumantu. These four disciples of Veda Vyasa then further divided the Vedas and taught them to their disciples. In this way, the knowledge of the Vedas was passed on in disciplic succession.
Once, the disciples of Vaishampayana executed strict vows, so that they could free their guru from the sin of killing a brahmana. One of these disciples, Yagyavalkya, then said, “My dear spiritual master, what benefit will you get from the feeble endeavors these weak disciples of yours? I shall personally perform some exceptional penance for your benefit.”
Upon hearing this, Vaishampayana became very angry and exclaimed, “Go away from here! Enough of you, who insults brahmanas. Now, give me back all that I have taught you!”
In response, Yagyavalkya vomited the mantras of the Yajur Veda and then left that place. The assembled disciples looked very greedily at these mantras and then took the form of partridges and picked them up. (It would have been improper for brahmanas to touch vomit.)
Thereafter, Yagyavalkya wanted to discover some new Yajur-mantras that were unknown, even to his spiritual master. With this intention, he very attentively worshiped the sun-god. Yagyavalkya offered nice prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Whose powerful expansion is the solar deity.
Becoming satisfied by this glorification, the sun-god assumed the form of a horse and presented Yagyavalkya hundreds of Yajur mantras that were unknown in human society. From these mantras, which had emanated from the horse’s mane, Yagyavalkya composed fifteen new branches of Vedic literature, which were then accepted by some of the disciplic successions.
In conclusion, it is described how the four Vedas were passed down in parampara, teacher to disciple, disciple to grand-disciple.