Annie Lee | Apr 20, 2024

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Within the framework of Hindu mythology, Paríksit was a legendary Indian monarch, successor to King Iudistira on the throne of the city of Jastina Pura (northern India).

In the Rig-veda (the oldest text in India, dating from the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C.) there is no mention of Pariksit Majaras or the other characters that accompany him.

The first appearance of Pariksit is found in the Atharva-veda (a text separate from the three Vedas, called Rig, Sama and Iáyur-veda), where he is mentioned as "chieftain of the Kuru tribe".

In the epic-religious text Majabhárata (3rd century B.C.), legends and genealogy appear, which will be developed in the Puranas, which were written in the following centuries.

It is now a common Hindu name throughout India, with the scripts (not entirely correct from the original Sanskrit) Pariksita, Pariksit, Parikshat and Parikshita.

Its name comes from the Sanskrit verbal root pari: 'around, deeply, completely', cognate of the Greek peri: 'around' (as in "perimeter"), e:

It is not related to parikṣi: to destroy completely, being pari: 'all around, completely', and kshi: 'destroy', kṣiṇoti: destroy', parikṣīyate: 'to spend, decay, wear out'.

Paríksit was the son of the matsia princess Uttara, and prince Abhimaniu, the vrisni son of prince Áryuna (one of the five Pándavas). He was born a few months after the end of the battle of Kuruksetra.

Uttara was pregnant with Paríksit when her husband the young Abhimaniu was treacherously killed by the best kaurava warriors. Later, the evil Ashwathama aimed the brahmastra weapon at Uttara's bulging belly, which was resting in a tent outside the battlefield. The god-king Krisna - who was Abhimaniu's maternal uncle (as Subhadra, the third wife of Aryuna, was Krisna's sister and Abhimaniu's mother) appeared and saved him.

After Paríksit's birth, the priest Dhaumia Rishi predicted to King Iudistira (the baby's great-uncle) that - as he had been saved by Krisná (considered an incarnation of Vishnu) - he would be known as Visnurata ('protégé of Vishnu'). He would be a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, and a great king like Iksuaku and Rama. He would be an exemplary warrior like his grandfather Áryuna and would spread the fame of his family.

When the god-king Krisna died, the era of Kali yuga began, and his grandfathers the Pandavas retired and made a suicidal trek across the Himalayas. The young Paríksit was crowned, and the Brahmana Kripa Acharia was his advisor. Paríksit performed three ashua medha iagñás under Kripa's guidance.

Suddenly Paríksit abdicated the throne in favor of his son Yánam Eyaiá ('he who makes the people tremble') and went as a beggar to the banks of the Ganges, where the young sage Shuka Gosuami (16 years old) was reciting parts of the Bhágavata-purana, composed by his father Viasa. Seven days later, the chieftain of the Naga tribe (enemy of the Kurus tribes) found the king in a religious attitude, listening to sacred stories of the sages and without his usual escort, and mercilessly killed him.

A story was created to explain these events: A week earlier Paríksit was hunting through the forests, and the demon Kali (the personification of kali iugá, not to be confused with the goddess Kālī) had appeared to him, and asked permission to enter his kingdom. The king refused. The demon insisted on asking for the favor, and the merciful (if a bit foolish) Paríksit let him dwell in four places: gold, drug use (such as alcohol), gambling, and prostitution.

Pariksit stopped with his retinue to bathe in a river. He took off his gold crown and left it with his clothes on the shore. Kali had entered into gold, and had created in men the desire for gold. Taksaka, the Naga chieftain saw the gold crown and stole it. He was captured by the king's guards, who brought him before Pariksit, who had him flogged, beaten and imprisoned for a week in his capital.

Pariksit, dying of thirst, entered the hut of a Brahman priest named Samika. On seeing him arrive, the sage would have pretended to be in deep meditation. The king asked him for water (in India it is very important to take good care of a guest). The sage continued to sit with his eyes closed. The king was angered (because the demon Kali had surreptitiously entered his golden crown and then ruined his thoughts) and seeing a viper near the hut, he killed it and hung it around the sage's neck. Later the sage's son, the child bráhmana Sringin, heard about this incident and cursed the king to die in seven days from the bite of a snake.

When a week later the Naga chieftain Taksaka was released, he learned that Pariksit was no longer king and had become a religious mendicant. He went to the meeting of sages and mercilessly killed the ex-king.

Upon learning of this, King Yánameyaia vowed to kill all the Nagas within a week. With the help of his army, he visited the Naga villages and started abducting all the inhabitants (men, women and children). He organized an iagñá sacrifice where the bráhmanas priests made human offerings to the fire. Thus died the chief Taksaka and hundreds or thousands of nagas. The bráhmana Astika was the only priest who refused to kill the Nagas, and with philosophical arguments he convinced Yanameyaia to stop.


  1. Parikshit
  2. Pariksit
  3. ^ "Parīkṣit" is the correct Sanskrit form of the name. "Pārikṣita" refers to a son/descendant of Parikṣit, e.g. Janamejaya (Witzel 1997). Parīkṣita is a past participle meaning "examined", not a name.
  4. ^ According to the Mahabharata his capital was at Hastinapura. But the Vedic literature indicates that the early Kurus had their capital at Āsandīvat,[3] identified with modern Assandh in Haryana.[4][5][6]
  5. ^ Also, Witzel (1995) only refers to one Parikshit and one Janamejaya.

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