1: King Parikshit’s Question to Suka Maharishi - 2.
When, to Asvatthama’s consternation, the attempt to destroy the Pandavas with this missile failed, he ran away from the field cursing everybody and yelling out that even fathers are not to be trusted these days because his father duped him, as it were, by saying that he had initiated him into an invincible astra, which actually amounted to nothing. When Asvatthama was shouting like this while running away, he met Vyasa – the great Krishna Dvaipayana – on the way, who asked him what the matter was. He said, “My father did not tell me the truth. I was initiated into the invincible force called Narayana Astra, being told that no one on Earth can stand before it; but when I used it, nothing actually happened.” The great Vyasa replied, “My dear boy, your father has not made any mistake. He gave you that strength which no one else in the world could wield. But you used this astra of Narayana against Narayana Himself. Therefore, it would not work.”
Disgusted, and with the persistent desire to end the Pandavas, Asvatthama took resort to another astra, called Brahmastra, and let it off with such ferocity that he thought it would end the Pandavas’ progeny so that they would have no descendents and their family would finally be extinguished. What did he do? He directed this Brahmastra to the womb of Uttara – the queen of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu – thinking that her womb would be destroyed. But God’s power has no end. It is limitless, and it can act in the required manner at any moment of time. The Great Master Sri Krishna, with his power of yoga, entered Uttara’s womb and withdrew this invincible Brahmastra into Himself. Here, again, the efforts of Asvatthama failed.
This boy, the child in Uttara’s womb who Asvatthama attempted to destroy, was Parikshit, the only descendent of the Pandava brothers. Due to a tragic historical event that took place, which is told in the beginning of the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana, Parikshit was to die by a snake bite. Frightened by this possibility, Parikshit wound up his reign of the kingdom and sat in prayopavesa on the bank of Ganga, wishing to end his life, which was to come upon him within seven days, according to the curse of the son of a great Rishi. It was at that time the great Suka Maharishi happened to pass that way, and he was received with great respect by the audience seated around King Parikshit. When everybody paid obeisance, Suka asked them the reason why they were all gathered on the bank of River Ganga.
Parikshit put a question: “What is good for man, especially at this hour when my life is about to end?”
To be continued ...