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(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 the Kurus, ruled the kingdom like his heroic great-grand-father (Yudhishthira). And the ministers of the youthful monarch, beholding that he could now keep his enemies in check, went to Suvarnavarman, the king of Kasi, and asked him his daughter Vapushtama for a bride. And the king of Kasi, after due inquiries, bestowed with ordained rites, his daughter Vapushtama on that mighty hero of Kuru race. And the latter, receiving his bride, became exceedingly glad. And he gave not his heart at any time to any other woman. And gifted with great energy, he wandered in pursuit of pleasure, with a cheerful heart, on expanses of water and amid woods and flowery fields. And that first of monarchs passed his time in pleasure as Pururavas of old did, on receiving the celestial damsel Urvasi. Herself fairest of the fair, the damsel Vapushtama too, devoted to her lord and celebrated for her beauty having gained a desirable husband, pleased him by the excess of her affection during the period he spent in the pursuit of pleasure.'"

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