Saturday, December 28, 2013

13. The Curse on the Serpents


In an earlier post, I was narrating the story of the sisters Kadru and Vinata who were married to  Sage Kasyapa.  Then we digressed into the story of the churning of the ocean culminating in the Deva-Asua battle.

There is a reason for this digression.

When Sage Sauti was narrating the story of Kadru and Vinata, he mentioned about a wager between the sisters about  the divine horse Uchaisravas that was obtained during the churning of the ocean by the Devas and the Asuras. Sage Saunaka was curious to know why the churning of the ocean was undertaken. In reply, Sage Sauti narrated the entire story. I have also done accordingly. Now, I will continue with the story of the sisters.

Once  Kadru asked Vinata, “Can you tell me quickly, without much thinking, what the color of the divine horse Uchaisravas is.”

Vinata replied that the horse was white in color. She also asked her sister to say what the color was and that they could lay a bet on it.

Kadru relied, “I think the tail of Uchaisravas is black. Let us lay a wager on it. Whoever loses will be the slave of the other.” They decided to check the color of the horse in person the next day.


Kadru decided to practice a deception. She asked her thousand serpent sons to envelop the tail of the horse so as to make the tail appear black. But the serpents initially refused to carry out this deception.  Angered by her sons’ defying her command, Kadru cursed them that they would be consumed by Agni (fire) during the sacrifice to be performed by King Janamejaya of the Pandava race.


Brahma, the Creator conveyed this curse to Kasyapa, the father of the cursed serpents and asked him not to grieve over this since the serpents that were causing the death of many other creatures by their poisonous bite had to be contained to save the other creatures. In any case this was ordained long time back, he said. Having thus consoled Kasyapa, Brahma  imparted to him the knowledge of neutralizing poisons. 

Next Post:  Aruna and Garuda


Previous Post: The Deva-Asura Battle

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