ASikni – Wife of a prajapati and mother of many beings

Asikni must be ranked among the most fertile of all wives in Hindu myth. The myths only gave her this one dimension. Daksha, an alternative creator to Kasyapa, found that he could not create all of the species from his own mind. So he married Asikni and immediately begat five thousand Haryashvas, creatures who were to populate the earth naturally. But the old sage Narada, the deva-rishi (divine sage) with the golden words, shamed the Haryashvas with their igno­rance. He told them that they must first know the extent of the world before they peopled it. So they left to explore the world and never returned. Finally Daksha concluded his Haryashva sons were lost, so he fathered a thousand Sabalasva sons by Asikni. But dear old Narada tricked them with the same quest, and they followed their brothers to the ends of the world, not to come back. This time Daksha begat sixty girls by Asikna, and he gave them to lesser prajapatis (grandfathers of the various species). And this worked.ASTIKA
A sage; son of the sage Jaratkaru and his wife, the goddess Manasa-devi This Puranic myth illustrates how many steps might be involved in a divine plan. Long ago snakes were overrunning the earth, so everyone pleaded with Kasyapa-prajapati, the great progenitor, for protection. Kasyapa created a goddess from his mind, and she was appropriately named Manasa (mind). While she was practicing tapas (austerities) in the forest to gain a boon from Siva, a sage named Jaratkaru discovered a reason why he must give up his celibate life and marry. He discovered the spirits of his ancestors in a very sad state, hanging upside down on a single blade of grass over a precipice. When asked, they told him that it was because he had no children for the annual rites (samskaras), and without living descendants they would perish and never reach heaven. So the sage decided he must marry and fulfill his duty (dharma) toward his ancestors. Jaratkaru had only one condition: that the woman should have the same name as his own.
This condition could be met, because Manasa incarnated as the sister of Vasuki, the great serpent, in order to save the serpents, who were threatened with total extinction by a soon-to-be-undertaken snake sacrifice, foreknown by
her tapas.
Vasuki, the great serpent, appeared to tell the sage Jaratkaru that he had such a sister (or half-sister as it turned out to be). So Jaratkaru and Jaratkaru were married. And all was bliss until the sage Jaratkaru overslept in the lap of his wife, who was supposed to wake him up to do his rituals. He cursed her for not awak­ing him. But she thought of the gods, and so great was the power from her aus­terities that they appeared immediately. They were finally able to convince the brahmin that he should not exile his wife before she had a son. So he touched her with his hand, and she became pregnant with Astika. In many accounts, he then retired to the forest.
So Manasa-devi (in her incarnation as Jaratkaru) traveled to Kailasa and was instructed by Siva and Parvati. Her unborn child, Astika, heard all the teachings. He grew up being taught by gods and sages. Finally Astika and his mother Man- asa-devi went to visit Kasyapa, who was overjoyed to see his grandson and daughter. Kasyapa passed the merit of feeding a million brahmins to his grand­son. Now the stage was set for Astika’s role in the divine plan.
A king named Parikshit had insulted a brahmin during his meditation by throwing a dead snake on him. The sage’s son, Samika, was offended by the joke and put a death curse on King Parikshit—that he had only seven days to live. But the king had his engineers build a new palace on a pillar in the middle on the ocean with psychics and yogis protecting him. The giant serpent Takshaka made a final attempt on the seventh day. Disguised as an old priest, Takshaka met
Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, on his way to protect the king. After they became friends, Dhanvantari returned home. Takshaka changed his shape and entered an apple being taken to King Parikshit. When the king picked up the apple, Takshaka changed into his true shape and size and killed Parikshit instantly. But the king’s son, Janamejaya, sought revenge. After all the proper rit­uals were carried out, the new king Janamejaya enlisted many brahmins, who began a snake sacrifice. So many snakes were called into the fire by their pow­erful chants (mantras) that Takshaka fled to Indra and curled himself around Indra’s bed. But the brahmins increased their chanting and used even more pow­erful mantras and were about to bring Takshaka, the cot, and Indra into the fire. So the gods rushed to Manasa-devi and asked her protection of the surviving snakes and Indra. Manasa-devi sent her son Astika. Astika knew that a king must grant a brahmin a reasonable request. So Astika asked King Janamejaya to give him the lives of Takshaka and Indra as a gift. His advisors saw no way out of this request, so the king gave Astika his wish, and the snake sacrifice was ended. All the requests for divine help, all the way back to the people of the world praying to Kasyapa to protect them from the snakes, were fulfilled. But the snakes were also protected from annihilation.

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