Vedic Funeral Rites: The Path of Positive Evolution

“Burn him not up, nor quite consume him, Agni.
Let not his body nor his skin be scattered.
O All-Possessing Fire! 
When you have fully cooked him, send him on his way to the Ancestors.”

— Rig Veda 10.16

King Parikshit had blundered—as arrogant royals are wont to do. He’d come upon Rishi Shamika absorbed in samādhi during one of his hunting sojourns in the forest. Seeing the sage motionless and still, he thought it would be fun to mock him. How could he know, so deep was he in his meditation? 

Just near the sage happened to lie a dead and decaying snake. King Parikshit lifted it with his goad stick and slung it around the rishi’s neck. “Now he really looks like Shiva!” taunted the fool.

And just then the rishi’s son, Sringin, happened to witness the disrespectful and inappropriate act. To defend his father’s honor, he administered a curse on the king, who graciously accepted his punishment. 

King Parikshit would die in seven days from a fatal snake bite. A snake was procured who administered the death sentence and the king awaited his fate. 

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