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Janmejaya performed Nag-Yagya and killed all snakes from the face of earth to avenge the death of his father Parikshit who was killed by the snake Takshaka.

(It was a curse by rishi Shringi because Parikshit insulted his father Rishi Shameek.)

Then how do snakes still exist?

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    Highly evolved beings are in the form of snake. Patanjali, the compiler of Yoga Sutras, was also a snake. I don't know about the curse but I know that at some point in past, many many snakes were killed so Ananta, the head of snakes, called them to Nagaloka but some who were old and some who still wanted to help the humanity stayed here, today all the snakes you see on the earth are the progenies of those snakes who decided to stay on earth. – Chinmay Sarupria Nov 11 '15 at 6:49
  • @ChinmaySarupria I believe Patanjali was a sage who was an incarnation of the mythical serpent Ananta. – Varun Rao Nov 11 '15 at 6:53
  • Yes he is believed to be incarnation of Ananta but he was not a human, he was a snake that's why he is often depicted as half human, half snake pose. – Chinmay Sarupria Nov 11 '15 at 7:00
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Not all Nagas were destroyed in fire sacrifice. All the crooked, heinous and violent progeny of Ananta, Vasuki, Kambala, Karkotaka, Padma, Maha Padma, Sanka and Kulika were destroyed in fire sacrifice except their ancestors. This curse was given by Lord Brahma to serpents. This is described in Chapter 24 of Varaha Purana.

Brahma said,

Patala, Vitala, Sutala are the regions allotted to you. You may all have your abode there.I ordain that you shall enjoy all pleasures till seventh Manvantara At the beginning of Vaivasta Manvantara you will become relations of Devas as well as of Garuda. Then all your progeny will be consumed by fire but for your own selves there will be no danger. The end of such serpents as are fierce and insolent will certainly occur, but not of others. You may eat and bite person if he is destined, but also to retaliate when somebody injures you.

Mahabhartha Adi Parva: Astika Parva: SECTION XXXVIII too says the same.

The gods said, 'O Grandsire, thou god of gods who else than the cruel Kadru could thus, after getting such dear children, curse them so, even in thy presence? And, O Grandsire, by thee also hath been spoken, with reference to those words of hers, 'Be it so.' We wish to know the reason why thou didst not prevent her.' Brahma replied, 'The snakes have multiplied. They are cruel, terrible in form and highly poisonous. From desire of the good of my creatures, I did not prevent Kadru then. Those poisonous serpents and others who are sinful, biting others for no faults, shall, indeed, be destroyed, but not they who are harmless and virtuous.

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