TAKSHAKA, takshak and vasuki – A mighty serpent

The grandfather of this kalpa, Kasyapa-prajapati, founded the kingdom of ser­pents with his wife Kadru. Takshaka was one of her seven greatest children, the septa-nagas. Takshaka 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: Kadru had become involved in a wager with another wife of Kasiyapa, Vinata. 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, Kadru commanded her snake children to hang on the tail of the horse to make it black. Takshaka 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. Takshaka was central in the myth of the biting death of King Parikshit. And the story contin­ued with Parikshit‘s son Janamejaya holding a snake sacrifice (sarpasatra) to rid the earth of serpents, especially Takshaka. However, Takshaka hid beside the creator Brahma. The high priest Uttanka, who was presiding at the sacrifice, searched for the king of snakes psychically and saw Takshaka beside Brahma.
The priest was furious and decided to bring Brahma and his throne along with Takshaka 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 brahmin Astika arrived and was paid full respect by King Janamejaya. That included offering to fulfill any wish that Astika might have. Astika asked for an immediate end to the sarpasatra, and Janamejaya kept his word to the brahmin and ended the sacrifice.
Takshaka was not always a danger to kings. He saved King Candrangada from drowning and hosted him in his watery kingdom. Takshaka on occasion helped Brahma 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 Tak- shaka’s favorite wife.
Takshaka’s watery kingdom seemed to overlap with Patala (hell) in some of the Puranic myths. Takshaka was there to welcome Balabhadra-Rama (Bala– rama) when he died and reached Patala.

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