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II. The Birth of a Bhagavatha

Maharaja Parikshith was the very self of Abhimanyu, who had attained the heavenly abode of heroes. When Parikshit was an embryo, growing in the womb of Uttara, he saw the sharp arrow let off by Aswatthama flying towards him, emitting sparks of fury and terror, bent on his destruction. But, at that very moment, he saw also a person of brilliant charm armed with a terrific wheel, breaking that death-dealing arrow into a hundred pieces. The royal foetus was filled with wonder and gratitude.

He pondered deep on the identity of his saviour. "Who is he? He must also be dwelling in this womb, with me, because he could see the arrow at the very moment I saw it! But, he has such intrepidity and skill that he could destroy it before it reached me. Can he be a uterine brother? How could he get hold of that wheel? If he is endowed with a wheel, how did I miss having it? No; He is no mortal." He argued thus for a long time within himself.

He could not forget that face, that form. He was a boy, with the splendour of a million suns. He was benign, blissful, blue like the clear sky. After saving him so dramatically, he had disappeared. Maharaja Parikshith had the form always before him, for, he was seeking to see it again. Whomsoever he saw, he examined to find out whether that form corresponded with the form he had reverentially fixed in his mind.

Thus he grew in the womb, contemplating that form. That contemplation transformed him into a splendour-filled baby. When at the end of the period of gestation, he was born into the world, the lying-in-room was lit by a strange light. The female attendants of Uttara were dazzled by the brilliance. Their wits were overcome by wonder.

Recovering herself, Subhadra, mother of Abhimanyu sent word to Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas, announcing the birth. The Pandava brothers were overwhelmed with joy, when they heard the glad tidings for which they were waiting anxiously. They ordered that bands play and guns be fired, in honour of the event, for, a scion had been born for the royal family, a successor to the Pandava throne. The people heard the peal of guns and sought the reason for the joy. They rushed towards Indraprastha in large masses of enthusiasm. Every corner of the kingdom gushed with joy at this event. Within minutes, the city was transformed into a heavenly garden, fit for Gods to give audience to men. Yudhishtira distributed several varieties of sweets to all who came. He granted several cows as gifts to Brahmins. He instructed the ladies of the court to give golden caskets full of saffron and kumkum to women. Brahmins were awarded silk clothes and precious gems. Citizens were transported with joy, for the dynasty had now secured an heir. Night and day, they revelled in hilarious exultation.