By Swami Harshananda
Janamejaya literally means ‘one who frightens his enemies even from his birth’.
Janamejaya was the first son of the king Parīkṣit and the great grandson of Arjuna, the famous Pāṇḍava hero. He became the king after Parīkṣit died of the snake bite. Vapuṣṭamā, the daughter of Suvarman, was his queen from whom he had two sons, Satānīka and Sañkukarṇa.
Janamejaya heard the entire story of Mahābhārata from the sage Vaiśampāyana. He came to know the reason of his father's death by the Takṣaka’s bite. Hence he started the Sarpayāga sacrifice to exterminate the entire race of serpents.
The sages Caṇḍabhārgava, Piñgala, Jaimini and Aṅgirasa were the four principal priests who assisted him in this sacrifice. As the sacrifice progressed, thousands of the serpents started falling into the fire and getting destroyed.
During the final stages, when Takṣaka was being forced towards the sacrificial fire, the young sage Āstika arrived on the scene and successfully stopped the massacre of the reptiles by convincing the king Janamejaya through his sweet speech and powerful logic. The king immediately stopped the holocaust. Four more kings during the different periods of ancient history were also known by this name.
- Suvarman was the king of Kāśī.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore