Curious Case of Parikshit: the larger significance of Parikshit
It’s common knowledge that after Shrikrishna’s ascension to Vaikuntha, Pandava brothers also decided to depart to heaven along with their wife Draupadi and before their departure Dharmaraj Yudhishthira appointed Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu and Uttara, grandson of Arjuna and Subhadra at the Hastinapur throne.
Since the entire war of Mahabharata towards the end of Dwaparayuga happened to relieve the earth of the burden of adharma and Yudhishthira, son of Dharma himself ascended the throne of Hastinapur after the war to ensure the rebuilding of the world took place based on the principles of Dharma.
Yudhisthira ruled the kingdom for 36 years and then decided to pass on the responsibilities to Parikshit. Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna, who was born dead after the Kurukshetra war, because of Ashwatthama’s Brahmashira weapon directed towards Uttara’s womb; and was revived by Narayana Shrikrishna himself to ensure he survived to take over the kingdom from Yudhishthira.
Now the obvious reason for Parikshit to become the king was that he was descendent of the Pandava but if we keenly observe we will find some fascinating details highlighting the importance and significance of Parikshit taking over the kingdom of Hastinapur.
Carrier of the legacy of Nara and Narayana
Anyone familiar with Mahabharata is aware of the fact than Arjuna and Shrikrishna were the incarnations of the twin avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu - Nara and Narayana respectively. They appeared on earth with the sole purpose of restoring the rule Dharma and neither desired the throne, nor ever became kings.
They both played their roles to perfection and ensured the earth was relieved of all the burden before departing to their celestial abode. However, they did not leave without leaving behind a part of them to ensure their legacy was carried forward. Parikshit was the carrier of their combined legacy.
Parikshit was the grandson of Nara – Arjuna and Narayana – through Shrikrishna’s sister Subhadra. He had the blood of both rushing through his veins and was perfect to carry forward their legacy after their departure.
Reviver of the great Lunar dynasty
Everyone is aware of the fact that the dynasty ruling over the kingdom of Hastinapur during the events of Mahabharata was called Chandravansha or the great lunar dynasty because the dynasty was started by Pururava, who was grandson of Chandra through Budh.
King Shantanu of Hastinapur was part of an unbroken line of kings descended from Pururava, however after Shantanu’s sons Chitrangad and Vichitravirya died without having any children of their own, that line was broken.
After Vichitravirya, the sons of Ved Vyasa through Vichitravirya’s wives – Pandu and Dhritarashtra took over the throne of Hastinapur.
Now here comes the mind-blowing part – as per Mahabharata Abhimanyu was an incarnation of Chandra’s son Varchas, that makes Parikshit Chandra’s grandson. So, when Parikshit took over the throne of Hastinapur, it was the grandson of Chandra reviving the dynasty started by another grandson of Chandra (Pururava) many generations ago.
Before Satyavati’s marriage to Shantanu, Bhishma made a promise to Satyavati’s father. According to that promise responsible for giving Bhishma his name, children born out of Satyavati’s bloodline will rule the kingdom of Hastinapur.
When Satyavati’s both sons through Shantanu died without a child the throne of Hastinapur was left without an heir. At this point Satyavati’s another son through Rishi Parashar – Ved Vyas rescued his mother by fathering children through Vichitravirya's widows – Ambika and Ambalika. When these children – Pandu and Dhritarashtra came of age they took over the throne of Hastinapur, ensuring it was still Satyavati’s bloodline sitting on the throne of Hastinapur. (Shantanu’s line terminated here, since Bhishma did not father any child)
The story gets really interesting here. While Duryodhana and his brother were blood-children of Dhritarashtra, none of the Pandava brothers were blood-children of Pandu. They were all born to Kunti and Madri through different gods. That means after the disastrous war at Kurukshetra where all the sons of Dhritarashtra died (except Yuyutsu, was Dhritarashtra’s son through a maid) and Yudhishthira – son of Kunti and Dharma, became the king, Satyavati’s bloodline seized to rule the throne of Hastinapur.
Now fasten your seatbelts and prepare to get your mind blown. Satyavati was the daughter of an apsara, who was cursed to become a fish. When the fisherman caught her and cut her open, he found two children. Satyavati had a twin brother. While Satyavati was raised by the fisherman, her twin brother was raised by Uparichar Vasu.
It was Satyavati’s brother who founded the Matsya kingdom and was an ancestor of king Virat. That means his daughter Uttara who married Abhimanyu had Satyavati’s blood in her through her twin brother’s line. That means of all the surviving members of the Hastinapur royal family Parikshit was the only one who was carrying Satyavati’s blood in his veins.
When Parikshit became the king, life was coming full circle for Bhisma and Satyavati, since it restored Satyavati’s blood descendant on the throne of Hastinapur.
It’s nuances like these that make Mahabharata a really fascinating literature to read and such deeper connections and meaning gets lost when our sources are heavily summarized abridged versions or later retellings. Fictionalized novels, visual adaptations (tv, cinema) are even worse when it comes to keeping these nuances. While all these sources could be good source of entertainment and can be enjoyed for their entertainment value, the real fun of Mahabharata is in reading and re-reading the unabridged versions.
I am telling you from my personal experience – every time I read it, I am blown away. It doesn’t feel like I am reading it again because you discover some other layers which you probably did not think about in your earlier readings.
Contributed by Gaurav Tiwari