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The war between Gods and Demons were common for the supremacy over the three worlds - Heaven, Earth and the Netherworld. The Yagnas performed by their respective priests (Gurus) of both gods and demons strengthen their victory.  The gods were suffering great losses as their guru; Brihaspati did not possess the Sanjeevani Vidya. Shukra on the other hand, possessed the Sanjivani Vidya from Lord Shiva through penance. Through this Sanjivani Vidya, he learnt the art of breathing life into a dead body. This Sanjivani Vidya was making the demons much stronger then gods. Gods complained Brihaspati that Shukra was protecting the demons in a better way through his Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. The gods also wanted to learn the mantra. So they decided to send Kacha, the son of guru Brihaspati to the land of the demons to learn the mantra.

Kacha went to Vrishparva, where Shukra had his hermitage in the land of the demons. He introduced himself that he was the son of Brihaspati and expressed his desire of becoming a student to Shukra. He promised him that he will serve his guru for 1000 years and also will become a brahmachari. Pleased with the humility of Kacha, Sukra accepted him as his student. He started teaching the Vedas. Shukra had a very cute daughter called Devayani. Devayani and Kacha became friends and both of them studied together.  Later after five hundred years, demons learnt of the real purpose of Kacha's visit. They feared that their guru teach the Maha Mruthyunjaya Mantra to Kacha, so that he will use this mantra against them to help gods. So they decided to kill Kacha.

One day, when Kacha graze the cattle of Shukra’s household in the forest, the demons killed him and made a wolf to eat him. Devyani, who was now sincerely in love with Kacha became nervous on missing of Kacha? She went to his father and expressed his fear that Kacha was killed by someone in the forest. Shukra, who was fond of Kacha, did not want to sadden his daughter. He chanted the Maha Mruthyunjaya Mantra and breathed life to Kacha. Kacha pierced the stomach of wolf and the fleshes joined together to his original form. He returned to Sukra’s hermitage and thanked his guru. This irked the demons. So the next day, they repeated the same by killing him when Kacha was on a bath. They then burnt his body and mixed his ashes in the sea. Again on Devyani's request, Shukracharya once again breathed life into him.

The demons were very unhappy at the turn of these events. So this time, after killing and burning the Kacha, they mixed his ashes with alcohol. Then they had given this alcohol to their teacher Shukra. Shukra unknowingly drank the drink. Once again upon Devyani's request, Shukracharya started to chant the mantra without knowing the fact that he drank Kacha’s ashes. Kacha slowly started to came to life. Kacha then informed his guru from his stomach in a quiet voice that he was inside his stomach. If he completed the mantra, then the sukra will die. But Shukra taught the complete mantra of Sanjivani Vidya to Kacha who was within his stomach. Kacha thus came out of the stomach by piercing the stomach of Shukra. Shukra died instantly. But Kacha brought his teacher to life by chanting the mantra taught by Shukra.

Once when thousand years passed and study was over, Kacha told his Guru that he wanted to go back. With the blessing taken from shukra, Kacha replied that he will always loyal to his guru. Devyani later on the way approached Kacha and requested him to marry her, since she loved him. But Kacha refused his proposal by saying that Devayani was like a sister to him. Since, he came out of the stomach of Shukra and also he breathed life to him. So he should be a son to Shukra. Devyani was hurt and with angry, she cursed Kacha that the Sanjivani Vidya he learnt would not be effective, if he chanted it. Kacha replied that he accepted her curses for refusing her sincere love and added that he will teach it for needy. In return, Kacha also cursed Devayani that she would not get married to son’s of any devas.  Later Devayani married a king called Yayati. From that day, Shukra did not touch the alcoholic drink and also instructed all Brahmins to not drink alcohol.
Urvashi and Pururava Story: Urvashi was one of the Apsaras of Paradise and she rarely stepped on earth. Pururavas, the son of Ila and also the founder of Chandra-vamsi once saw Urvashi bathing in a river in Forest. She was so beautiful such that every animals, trees, bushes, grasses fix their eyes on her and even think of touch her. At the first sight, Pururava fell in love with her. Pururava went to Urvashi and asked her to became the queen of his kingdom and live along with him in palace. Urvashi liked the confidence and flashy attire of king, because no ordinary man can ask his love in this fashion. She found he was from the royal bloodline. Urvashi agreed to become his wife with the condition that he should take care of her pet goats and also nobody will see the king’s nakedness expect her. Pururava promised her that he will protect her goat since he was Kshatriya and his dharma is to protect the helpless. Pururava also promised her second condition too. It was a new experience for Urvashi and she enjoyed her life with a human. She gave birth for many sons from human husband.

Indra, the original boss of apsaras could not tolerate this brief separation from Urvashi, even though the lifetime of man is just a blink of Indra’s eye. He ordered the Gandharvas to bring Urvashi back. One day, gandharvas stole the pet goats of Urvashi, when Pururava was involved in making love to her. Suddenly Urvashi saw it; she cried and requested Pururava to rescue them. Pururava immediately jumped off the bed and he hurried out without bothering to cover himself to keep the first promise. But he forgets the second promise at that instant. Suddenly Indra created a lightening in the sky causing everyone in the city to see Pururava naked. Both conditions promised by Pururava are broken. Urvashi realizes that it was her time to return to the gods since both the promises were broken. Without the presence of Urvashi, brokenhearted Pururava became mad and was unable to rule the kingdom anymore. The Rishis were forced to replace Pururava with one of his more capable sons.

Somebody believes that after the incident, Pururava wandered in the forest in search of Urvashi and others believe that he became a Gandharva and following the Urvashi wherever she goes as a music maker to her dance. The compelling passion of Pururava for Urvashi led to his downfall. But it was repeated in later generations, since human memory is short and is not always incapable of remembering history. One example is Shantanu’s love and promises for Ganga and then for Satyavati resulted in the same disastrous consequences. Another example is Arjuna who was approached by Urvashi with ardent aim. But Arjuna politely refused it remembering history and it resulted in curse by Urvashi.
As the time passed, Budha (Planet Mercury) grew up along with an anxiety that whether he gets a life partner, since he was neither a man nor a woman. But Tara gave confidence to him by saying that all in this world happens for a reason, Budha’s fate of becoming a neuter gender should also had a reason. So we can believe in faith and wait for that. But Budha was not happy as he knows that nobody will marry him whether it is man or woman. But the Faith came in front of him in the form of woman, ILA and he fell in love with her. But actually ILA was not a woman, she was once a man and his name was Sudyumna, a prince and also the son of Manu. But the fate made him a woman. She explained the reason to Budha.

Once, Sudyumna traveled through a forest. At that time Lord Shiva along with his consort, Shakti was also somewhere there in that forest. Inorder to please Shakti, Shiva cast a spell that turned all male beings into females, since Shakti did not wish any male beings to disturb her when she walk along with her lord. After the spell, ever male being in the forest is changed to women including all animals and, Lions into lionesses whereas peacocks into peahens.  When Sudyumna realized that he became woman, he begged the goddess to restore him. But the goddess was powerless to undo Shiva’s spell. But she modified it by saying that he will become a woman, when the moon wanes and in turn he will become man when the moon waxes.

Budha, who was a neuter gender found a perfect partner in ILA, who was mutually male and female at times. Together they lived for years and had many sons. Their sons together got the name Ailas. They became the descendants of ILA and also for moon. Thus they got the title, Chandra-vamsis (Lunar Dynasty).  Pururavas, the son of ILA was the founder of this dynasty.But it was not quite pleased Brihaspati or Devas.

Later after generations, Chandra-vamsis forget their gender of both Budha and Ila. It was evident in the incidents of Mahabharata, where Arjuna’s brother-in-law, Shikhandi was mocked. Also there were incidents to stop Shikhandi from entering the battlefield. Such is the nature of artificial laws, the artificial laws ignoring the past and also insensitive to the present.
A man after death will enter paradise only if he done good activities throughout life otherwise he will sent to hell. Paradise of the gods is located high above the clouds. Humans call this realm as Swarga which is the place where there is no pain or suffering and every dream of common man will be achieved. Swarga is also the resident of Devas. Inorder to maintain the Devas happiness, they need to beat their endless enemies, Asuras who are living under the earth. The Yagnas performed at Swarga will strengthen their victory against Asuras. Brihaspati, the guru of devas is conducting the Yagnas along with his wife Tara. Brihaspati is considered as the god of the planet Jupiter while Tara is the goddess of the stars.

But one day, Tara left his husband and eloped with the moon-god, Chandra who respected and loved Tara. Tara bored with Brihaspati who was always engaged with rituals and has no care to his wife. So he left him. Annoyed Brihaspati went to Indra and said him to bring Tara back from Chandra, because without Tara yagna will not succeed. Devas got in trouble for taking decision, whether to bring Tara return to her husband, who is considering Tara as only a tool for ritual or allow her to stay with moon for her happiness. Finally Indra, the king of devas took the decision of bringing Tara back to Brihaspati, Since Yagna of devas is more important than Tara’s happiness. Without the power of Yagna, devas can’t shower rain or light that result in darkness and drought in earth. So Tara returned against her will.

When she returned back, a child was growing in her stomach. She remained silent and refused to say who the father of her child was. Both Chandra and Brihaspati claimed the father status. As astonishment for everyone who gathered near Tara, the child from Tara’s stomach cried and asked Tara the question, from which seed, he is going to become fruit and he deserves answer. Everybody gathered there declared this child would become the lord of Buddhi, who has the ability to differentiate truth from lies. So they decided to give the name Budha. Forced by her child’s question, she closed her eyes and said that it was from Chandra’s seed.

Hearing this, Brihaspati lost his control over calm nature and lashed out in anger, ‘May this love baby of my disloyal wife be of neuter gender, neither male nor female.  The gods were shocked to hear this brutal curse. Indra went to Brihaspati and said the curse went so brutal. He continued that the child will be your son since you are Tara’s husband. It does not matter who sowed the seed in the land and what matters is who the possessor of land. Now Brihaspati is the possessor of Tara. So the father of all her children after their marriage will be him. Later, Tara gave birth to Budha and he became the lord of planet Mercury which is neither male nor female. May be biologically Budha is son of Chandra, but as per Indra’s verdict, he will be the logical son of Brihaspati. From that day, the Indra’s law came into existence as fatherhood of children should be defined by marriage. That’s why Pandu became the father of five sons, even though he was incapable of fathering children due to a curse.
Parikshit, the King of Hastina-puri was a descendant of a notable Kuru clan. He is now scared of snakes. So he had isolated himself from his wives, children and from rule. His son King Janamejaya is now ruling the kingdom. He suffered day and night and also he was unable to eat or sleep. Several Bards tried him to relieve his fear by telling tales, but nothing relieved him. People were murmuring that why Parikshit fears as he has an illustrious lineage as he was the son of Abhimanyu and also the grand children of Arjuna, who defeated the Kauravas. But finally the king revealed the reason that he is going to die within seven days by snakebite. That’s why he is isolated in a tower and he doesn’t want to die. Guards are watching all the time at every corner of tower for snakes. Everything that entering the tower is also been searched. Since Nagas could hide anywhere. Six days passed and on the seventh day, the hungry king took a fruit and bit into a fruit. Suddenly a hidden worm in the fruit transformed into a terrifying serpent called Naga Takshaka. Takshaka spiraled forward and sank his deadly fangs into Parikshit’s flesh. The venom spread quickly into his body and the king died instantly and the Naga had slithered away.

The angry Parikshit’s son, Janamejaya under the instruction of sage Uttanka, took a decision to avenge all snakes by performing Sarpa Satra (Yajna), which had the power to destroy all the snakes on earth. He called all the Brahmans of his empire to execute the Sarpa Satra. They started the Sarpa Satra with the fire burned in the centre of Hastina-puri and a cloud of black smoke goes up to the sky. The hundreds of priests sat near the yaga were putting ghee inside the fire to stoke the flames. They chanted the mantras of hymns for sacrifice and invoked the invisible forces that pulled the Nagas out to fire from their abodes. Hastina-puri saw a large group of flying snakes that was being directly drawn towards the sacrificial fire. Some people were pity on snakes and they murmured about this mindless massacre.

Suddenly a youth shouted and walked into the Sacrificial Hall. He told the king to stop this massacre, since it is adharma.  The furious king roared by saying that who are you and who the person you to accuse me of adharma. He introduced that his name is “Astika”, and was the nephew of Vasuki, the king of the Nagas. The king replied “you can’t save the Nagas and you are also one among them who are going to sacrifice”. Hearing this, Astika said that he is the son of Rishi Jaratkaru, who was a man and his mother is a Naga. So he should be a man and also a snake. He then tried to convince king by saying that “the king want to listen him, otherwise the king’s descendants will suffer the consequences of this sacrifice”. King allowed him to speak, what he want to say.

Astika unwind the truth of Parikshit’s death. When Parikshit was on a hunt, he experienced thirst. On the way, he saw a sage sitting beneath a banyan tree. The king asked him for some water. But the sage was in deep meditation and he did not respond to him. The king annoyed and he tried to wake him from meditation by picking a dead snake and put it round the sage’s neck. The sage’s student sawed this from far and he could not bear this. He cursed Parikshit that he is going to die by snakebite within seven days. Thus Parikshit brought his death himself.

Janamejaya inquired Astika, why Takshaka bite his father. Astika said the reason with another tale. Arjuna the grandfather of Parikshit destroyed a forest called Khandava-prastha by setting up fire inorder to find land for constructing the city of Indra-prastha. The forest set by fire was the abode of several Nagas. It made the Nagas homeless and they orphaned. Takshaka was one among the victim. Takshaka pledged to take revenge against Arjuna. But the fate let Takshaka to kill one of his descendants. But the king Janamejaya is continuing the history of Arjuna by burning Nagas. This will create more orphans of Nagas. Janamejaya will suffer the consequences and blood will flow and widows will weep as their ancestors suffered from Kurukshetra war.

Astika’s statements boomed across the sacrificial hall. Everybody in the hall become silent. Astika continued by saying that Takshaka killed Parikshit for justice. As revenge, his son Janamejaya kills the Nagas for justice. The orphans of these Nagas will crave for justice and they do the same tomorrow. Eveybody in this world believes that they are right and their opponents are wrong. The King then ordered to suspend the chant for some time.At that time Takshaka is suspended just over the sacrificial fire.

Janamejaya then inquired Astika with a little hesitation; Did Pandavas fight the Kauravas for justice? Astika answered that Pandavas not fight for justice but for dharma. The word dharma has not relation with justice. Dharma is all about empathy and wisdom. It doesn’t have a meaning of defeating others and it is about conquering us. Everybody wins in dharma. Even the Kauravas were sent to paradise after their death in war. The King surprised. Astika explained that the Kauravas, baddies as believed by the king and their ancestors were gone to Swarga and the Pandavas were gone to Naraka. Astika continued that the king Janamejaya had not yet known the meaning of dharma, that revealed by God to Arjun. The curious king wanted to know more about this dharma and also about this God. Astika cleared his doubt that God is Lord Krishna and also said to bring Sage Vaisampayana (a student of Vyasa) and ask him to narrate the tale composed by Vyasa, and written by Ganesha. It is the tale of Janamejaya’s forefathers and all the kings who ruled the land before Janamejaya.

Messengers fetched Vaisampayana to the sacrificial hall. When Vaisampayana arrived, he looked the atmosphere of hall. At that time serpents were suspended above a sacrificial fire, hundreds of priests are present there and the king is curious to hear the tale of his ancestors. The King presented a deer skin for sitting along with a pot of water and a case of fruits to Vaisampayana. Vaisampayana became happy towards the king’s hospitality and he slowly began to tell the tale from Jaya (later it is called as Mahabharata). Astika whispered King to listen the tale carefully to know about his true inheritance. Vaisampayana finally completed the story telling. Hearing the story, everybody in the hall including sages and saints requested king to stop the sacrifice. After, hearing the story, king's mind also pressed him to stop the sacrifice. He then asked Astika to ask his desire for teaching him the meaning of Dharma. Astika asked his desire is to release the remaining serpents including Takshaka who suspended above the fire. King then stopped the sacrifice on hearing this; Takshaka had a sigh of relief. He then returned to Nagaloka. Astika thus finally fulfilled his mother and uncle Vasuki's desire. It was due to bitch’s curse, the sacrifice is interrupted.

As per Brahma’s prediction, Jaratkaru was born later in the dynasty of Yayavara sages. The word ‘Jara’ means body and ‘Karu’ means strong. Starting from his younger age, he had devoted his entire life to austerities. But he had shrunken his body due to strict tapas and fasting. Manasa, the sister of Vasuki was also an ascetic and she also became thin after strict penances. Manasa is also called as Jaratkaru from his childhood.  The sage Jaratkaru continued a bachelor life. He undertakes a journey around the world. He visits spiritual places, bathed in various sacred-rivers and worshiped at many sacred places. He followed strict rules in his life which was impossible for a normal human being to follow. However, Jaratkaru decided to end his life as a bachelor with meditation and attain moksha.

One day while traveling in a forest, he saw that a large number of old ascetics were suspended upside down from a pit. They were being slowly lowered into a gaping hole in the ground. Jaratkaru's heart melted at this sight. He then approached them and asked "Who are you? What crime made you to get such a punishment? They replied that they are the souls of dead man. They are dropping into hell called Puth (only a child can rescue their father from this hell by continuing ancestry) as their family name is almost over and their dynasty is ending without a heir.  Their greed to become a great sage made them bachelor throughout the life conducting strict tapas and penances resulted in ending their Yayavara dynasty. They have now only one descendant alive now. But that wretch, instead of marrying has devoted his entire life to penances. That worthless offspring now alive was a sage called Jaratkaru. Then those souls requested him to narrate their punishment to Jaratkaru.

Jaratkaru was shocked and filled with wonder at this tale. With trembling hands and tears in his voice, he said that the worthless offspring was him and asked what he should do for them to free from this agony. Jaratkaru’s forefathers replied that fate made them to meet their descendent. They then told him to marry and beget children. It is the only way to save them and also added that Jaratkaru’s son is the guarantee for his afterlife also. Jaratkaru then promised their ancestors that he will soon marry and bear a son.

The sage Jaratkaru then wandered all over the earth, in search of a wife, but he could not find anyone suitable. He was too old, and no man wants to marry their daughter to an old man. In anxiety, he went to a dense forest and repeated his request for a bride in a faded voice to the Gods. The serpents hear this and they reported it to Vasuki, he instantly appeared before the sage along with his sister, Manasa and offered her to sage. Jaratkaru then requested Vasuki to change the name of Manasa to Jaratkaru. Vasuki said that he was aware of this prediction and she is also called in the name of Jaratkaru from her childhood itself. Jaratkaru then forwarded a condition that she should not do anything that upsets him, if happened so then he will leave her. Vasuki accepted the condition and married his sister to the sage.

Sage Jaratkaru and his wife then started their married life and within the meantime she got pregnant. One dThe ay, the sage was little miffed with his wife and sleeping with his head on her lap. He slept for a longer time than usual, and the sun began to set. She remembered that if she does not wake up the sage at the moment, then the sage will fail to conduct agnihotra and it will result in loss of his virtue. If she does so, then he becomes angry at being disturbed in his sleep. At last, she decided to wake him, since the greater danger lay in his loss of his ascetic powers. So she softly called out him to wake up by sprinkling water on his face. Sage Jaratkaru roused. As she feared, he was extremely annoyed on being woken up. His wife pleaded with him that she did not want the sage to miss the evening rituals as it result in the destruction of ascetic merit that he accumulated by long penance. The furious sage said that he never done the rituals in the night. If he had not conducted the evening rituals, then the sun will not set, for such is the power of his ascetism. Then he said that he do not wish to stay even a moment longer in a place where he have been insulted. His wife got pale at these words and she begged that she never had an intention to insult him (shown in the figure); she only wanted her husband to follow rituals and do his dharma. Jaratkaru then softened with the words of his wife but he should want to break his words once said. So he leaved the hermitage and went to vasuki's abode to inform him that he is going to leave his wife. Initially Vasuki was alarmed, but after assuring that she is bearing a child of Jaratkaru, he did not say anything to the sage. Before leaving his wife, Jaratkaru blessed her that she will give birth to a son who will be as radiant as god Agni and Sun. Vasuki was extremely pleased with Jaratkaru’s words and he cared his sister from that day with great affection and kindness.

The child was born in due course, and he was given the name of Astika. With the birth of Astika, sage Jartkaru's line was strengthened and his forefathers’ agony was removed. His uncle, king of serpents, Vasuki, took him in good care of him since childhood. In a few years, the child grew into a young person. He was a bright scholar and was learned all the Vedas and scriptures from the sage Chavan. Later in the age of sixteen upon mother's request, he went to king Janamejaya’s palace to stop the snake sacrifice performed by him to save the serpent descendants.


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