Good of you Vrish to have steered the discussion towards Parikshit.
I have heard a slightly different version:
When Parikshit returned back to the palace and removed his diadem, he regained his sanity and slowly the enormity of his action dawned on him. At first he could scarcely believe that he, the grand nephew of Dharma-putra Yudhishthira had done such a deed, but unfortunately it was indeed so. Immediately he vowed to punish his body, which had done such a deed, by denying it food or water, in effect, dying through starvation. It was after taking such a vow, that he came to know about Shringi's curse. Rather than attempt to thwart the curse, he accepted it humbly and prepared to meet his death. He called in his ministers and arranged for Janamajeya's coronation.
Taking leave of his wife/ ves, he retired to the banks of Ganga which was when Sage Shukhdev made his appearance and started narrating the Srimad Bhagavatham to him. At the end of the seventh day, since he had been constantly listening to the Bhagavtam, Parikshit's soul was able to free itself from the body on its own accord. Thus, what Takshak bit was just Parikshit's inert body.
Now the question arises, how could so cultured a king as Parikshit- one was blessed with constant vision of the Lord, when he was in his mother's womb- how could such a king commit such an act ? After all, he was Vishnuraat- one who is protected by Vishnu. How did his intellect take leave of him at that crucial moment?
The answer lies in the diadem he was wearing on that fateful day. Earlier in the morning, he had been rummaging through the fabulous jewels and ornaments his grandfathers had acquired during their military expeditions. His eyes fell on a grand, sparkling crown and driven by a strange urge, put it on. Immediately he felt like going on a hunt - a sport he never really had any fascination for. And that was also when he committed the dastardly act. After returning back, when he took the crown off his head, he regained his sanity.
Why? What was so special about the crown?
It was the crown of Jarasandha - one of the several treasures he had obtained through unfair means. And after Bhima killed Jarasandha, it found its way into the Pandava treasury.
When Parikshit put the crown on his head, Kali (the presiding spirit of the Kali Yuga) entered into it surreptitiously. After all, hadn't Parikshit himself offered five havens to Kali to reside in ? And wasn't ill gotten gold one of them? Kali grabbed this oppurtunity to enter Parikshit's body and twist his mind.
But the saving grace was that, Lord Krishna who had protected him even before he was born, now once again manifested himself to grant him salvation, this time in the form of Srimad Bhagavatham.
Edited by varaali - 11 April 2012 at 2:03am