Sage Agastya‘s curse transformed Nahusha into snake
Nahusha was a famous king of the Chandravansha (lunar dynasty). Nahusha ascended the throne after his father Ayu and became the king of Pratishthana. He married Ashokasundari, the daughter of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Nahusha was a powerful king and his kingdom was very prosperous. Nahusha performed a 100 Ashwamedha Yagna’s and became sovereign of the three worlds. His fame had spread all over the world, even the heavens and people were in awe of him.
In the same era, there lived a sage called Chyavana. Sage Chyavana who hails from the lineage of Bhrigu Maharshi. He is known for his rejuvenation through herbal paste known as Chyawanprash. Chyavana Rishi once had undertaken a pilgrimage to Prayag. Prayag is a holy site which is on the bank of river Ganga. There he entered the water and started practicing Jala Samadhi. One day fisherman came to that place and threw a net into the river. Along with the fishes, the sage also got caught in the fisherman’s net. The fisherman fell into the feet of the sage and asked for forgiveness. The sage told them, they did no wrong as he was part of their catch and they should sell him. The fishermen did not know what to do and went to their King Nahusha and reported the whole matter. There was a great wise man named Kavi Jatha in King Nahusha court, who suggested that he should offer cow to fisherman in exchange for the sage as the cow and brahmin are equal and no one can value a cow and brahmin. King was convinced and gave a good cow to the fisherman. Fisherman accepted the cow and bowed to sage and left. Kings judgment highly impressed sage Chyavana and granted two boons to the king:
- Fast devotion to the path of Dharma
- And he would become the king of heaven like Indra.
Nahusha became arrogant of his position. He started eyeing Shachi Devi partner of Indra, Indrani is the other name of Shachi Devi. Shachi went to Brihaspati for help. As per the advice of Brihaspati, she asked Nahusha to come to her palace in a palanquin carried by Saptarshi (seven great maharishis). Nahusha ordered the great sages to carry his palanquin. While sages were carrying his palanquin he grew impatient, he wanted to reach as soon as possible so, he demanded sages to move quickly saying Sarpa…Sarpa [meaning faster in sanskrit]. In one instance, he touched with his foot the great Agastya, who was carrying him. The sage in his anger cried out, “Fall, thou serpent,” and Nahusha fell from his palanquin and became a serpent. Nahusha begged for mercy. Agastya took mercy on Nahusha. He told his descendant Yudhishthira, will relieve him from his curse by answering questions which are asked by Nahusha. Nahusha turned into a snake and fell to earth. Indra was once more reinstated as the King of Gods. Shachi got rid of arrogant Nahusha and reunited with her husband. Many thousands of years, Nahusha wondered in a forest like a snake waiting for Yudhishthira to relieve from his curse. Due to his ego, the king of heaven had to suffer as a snake. Yati elder son of Nahusha turns it down the throne and becomes an ascetic. Yayāti second son of Nahusha and Ashok Sundari becomes the king of Pratishthana.