“Sauti continued, ’Those snakes, thus commanded by Takshaka, acted accordingly. And they took to the king, Kusa grass and water, and fruits. And that foremost of kings, of great prowess, accepted those offerings. And after their business was finished, he said upto them, ‘Retire.’ Then after those snakes disguised as ascetics had gone away, the king addressed his ministers and friends, saying, ’Eat ye, with me, all these fruits of excellent taste brought by the ascetics.’ Impelled by Fate and the words of the Rishi, the king, with his ministers, felt the desire of eating those fruits. The particular fruit, within which Takshaka had entered, was taken by the king himself for eating. And when he was eating it, there appeared, O Saunaka, an ugly insect out of it, of shape scarcely discernible, of eyes black, and of coppery colour. And that foremost of kings, taking that insect, addressed his councillors, saying, ’The sun is setting; today I have no more tear from poison. Therefore, let this insect become Takshaka and bite me, so that my sinful act may be expiated and the words of the ascetic rendered true.’ And those councillors also, impelled by Fate, approved of that speech. And then the monarch smiled, losing his senses, his hour having come. And he quickly placed that insect on his neck. And as the king was smiling, Takshaka, who had (in the form of that insect) come out of the fruit that had been offered to the king, coiled himself round the neck of the monarch. And quickly coiling round the king’s neck and uttering a tremendous roar, Takshaka, that lord of snakes, bit that protector of the earth.’”
(Astika Parva continued)
“Sauti said, ’Then the councillors beholding the king in the coils of Takshaka, became pale with fear and wept in exceeding grief. And hearing the roar of Takshaka, the ministers all fled. And as they were flying away in great grief, they saw Takshaka, the king of snakes, that wonderful serpent, coursing through the blue sky like a streak of the hue of the lotus, and looking very much like the vermilion-coloured line on a woman’s crown dividing the dark masses of her hair in the middle.
“And the mansion in which the king was living blazed up with Takshaka’s poison. And the king’s councillors, on beholding it, fled away in all directions. And the king himself fell down, as if struck by lightning.
“And when the king was laid low by Takshaka’s poison, his councillors with the royal priest—a holy Brahmana—performed all his last rites. All the citizens, assembling together, made the minor son of the deceased monarch their king. And the people called their new king, that slayer of all enemies, that hero of the Kuru race, by the name of Janamejaya. And that best of monarchs, Janamejaya, though a child, was wise in mind. And with his councillors and priest, the eldest son Parikshita, that bull amongst