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Parikshit | Royalty, Etymology, Family, Death, Prophecy

QUICK FACTS

GenderMale
FamilyMother: Uttarā, Father: Abhimanyu, Children: Janamejaya

BIOGRAPHY

Pariksit (Sanskrit: परिक्षित्, Parikṣit) was a Kuru king who reigned during the Vedic period. Along with his successor Janamejaya, he played a decisive role in the consolidation of the Kuru state, the arrangement of Vedic hymns into collections, and the development of the orthodox srauta ritual, transforming the Kuru realm into the dominant political and cultural center of northern Iron Age India.He also appears as a figure in later legends and traditions. According to the Mahabharata and the Puranas, he succeeded Yudhishthira to the throne of Hastinapur.

ETYMOLOGY

Parikshit’s name came from the Sanskrit verb root परि-क्षि pari-kṣi = “around-possess” (or, less likely here, “around-destroy”). An alternate suggestion from Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala”s translation is Pariskhita. Alternative modern spellings of his name, not all of them correct as regards the original Sanskrit, are Pariksita, Pariksit, Parikshat, Parixit and Parikshita. His name is a common Hindu name across Nepal today.

PARIKSHIT IN VEDIC LITERATURE

Parikshit is eulogised in a hymn of the Atharvaveda (XX.127.7-10) as a great Kuru king (Kauravya), whose realm flowed with milk and honey and people lived happily in his kingdom. He is mentioned as the raja vishvajanina (universal king). According to the Shatapatha Brahmana (XIII.5.4), Parikshita had four sons, Janamejaya, Bhimasena, Ugrasena and Śrutasena. All of them performed the Asvamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice).

Family

Parikshit was the grandson of Arjuna and Subhadra and the son of Abhimanyu and his wife Uttarā.

His bodily existence ended due to the curse of a Brahmana, who used the Nāga king, Takshaka, the ruler of Taxila as the instrument of death. Parikshit was a husband of Queen Madravati and was succeeded by his son Janamejaya. According to the Mahabharata, he ruled for 24 years and died at the age of sixty.

A thesis based upon Ugrasravas’ narration suggests an alternate interpretation regarding Parikshit’s lineage. In this interpretation, Parikshit fathered a firstborn son with an unnamed putrika wife. Albeit the child was Parikshit’s firstborn, he was the son of a putrika and therefore could not succeed his father on the throne as he was to be the heir of his maternal grandfather. This son’s name was Sringin; his maternal grandfather was Samika. As this would leave Parikshit without an heir, he had another son, Janamejaya, with a second wife, Madravati. Sringin and Samika are seen again in the hunting story that results in Parikshit’s demise. Their relationship served an additional motive for Sringin to murder Parikshit.

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