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XVI. Reverence for Krishna

Whenever Maharaja Parikshith toured any region, the rulers and kings of that area welcomed him enthusiastically, with appropriate honours, military and civil. They declared that they were ever ready to render him loyal service, whatever the nature of service that he required them to do. Parikshith replied that he had no need of their services and that he expected from them only the promotion of the happiness and prosperity of the people entrusted to their care. He advised them to devote special attention to the protection of Brahmins and women, guarding them against harm. He exhorted them to foster the worship of God throughout their dominions. Those were the only requests he made to those who were his tributary kings.

In some important regions of his empire, the people entertained him with folk-songs, depicting the fame and prowess of his ancestors; they sang of the excellences and exploits of the Pandava brothers. The songs extolled the mercy and grace which Lord Krishna showered on the Pandavas and the devotion and faith with which the Pandavas revered Lord Krishna at all times. They also enacted folk-plays, taking on the roles of Pandavas and Kauravas, with Krishna in their midst, unravelling the story that He had planned with these instruments.

When Parikshith heard these songs and saw these plays, tears rolled down his cheeks, in spite of his efforts to control his emotions. The minstrels and storytellers, the actors and stage-men - all discovered that their emperor was fascinated by plays and songs having these themes only; so they gave up other fields in their search for material and concentrated their attention on the dynastic history of Parikshith and the overpowering grace with which Krishna saved it at every turn. The emperor listened reverentially and sat through with great devotion; his gratefulness was shown in other ways too. He was supremely happy; he confirmed from his ministers and elders that the tales were completely true; at this, his faith and devotion multiplied and he sought these chances more often and enjoyed them even more. He treated the performers and musicians with intense affection and honoured them with lavish prizes.