1: King Parikshit’s Question to Suka Maharishi - 1.
In ancient times, Raja Parikshit raised a detailed question that amounted to asking whether we are living in this world alone, or if it is possible that we may be citizens of some other worlds also.
This question of King Parikshit was connected with the background of his own life, which has the antecedence of the great story of the Mahabharata.
When Asvatthama, the son of Acharya Drona, discharged the invincible missile known as Narayana Astra with the hope of ending the Pandavas in a single instant, he felt that his aim of life was complete.
As this was an astra which could not be faced by all the forces of the Earth put together, he was under the impression that the Pandavas had been reduced to ashes.
As the Pandavas were at a distance, Asvatthama climbed to the top of a tree in order to see the heap of ashes that were their remains, but to his surprise he found the Pandava forces were as jubilant as ever, and it did not seem to have occurred to their minds that anything happened at all.
Asvatthama obtained his astra, which is known as Narayana Astra, as a special gift from his father Drona when he insisted that he should be given something which Arjuna did not know – because, naturally, it should be accepted that a disciple is not as great as one’s own son.
Due to this persistence, Drona bestowed an indomitable power known as Narayana Astra upon Asvatthama, knowing well that the boy was mischievous and was likely to use it unwarrantedly.
Drona warned him that it should not be used recklessly, yet he knew that he would not listen to his advice.
So, as a safeguard, he did not teach him the art of using it a second time or the art of withdrawing it. It could be discharged once only, and then it would extinguish itself.
To be continued ...