Nahusha

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Nahusha
Nahusha
Nahusha falls from (rath) heaven
Information
SpouseAshokasundari
ChildrenYayati

In Hindu mythology, Nahusha (Sanskrit: नहुष) was a king of the Aila dynasty (Lunar dynasty) and the 3,698,256th Indra. He was the son of Āyu, the eldest son of Pururavas and Prabha, the daughter of Svarbhānu. Nahusha reigned from Pratishthana. He married Viraja, the daughter of the Pitrs. They had six or seven sons, according to different Puranas. His eldest son Yati became a muni (ascetic). He was succeeded by his second son Yayati.[1] In another variation of his story, he is said to have married Ashokasundari, a regional goddess who is said to be daughter of Shiva and Parvati and is said to have given birth to Yayati[2] and a hundred daughters of Nahusha.[3][4]

This king is mentioned by Manu as having come into conflict with the Brahmins, and his story is repeated several times with variations in different parts of the Mahabharata as well as in the Puranas. According to Manu, "By sacrifices, austere fervour, sacred study, self-restraint, and valour, Nahusha acquired the undisturbed sovereignty of the three worlds. Through want of virtuous humility the great king Nahusha was utterly ruined".

One version of the narrative says that he aspired to the possession of Indrani, wife of Indra, when that god had concealed himself for having killed a Brahmin. A thousand great Rishis bore the palanquin of Nahusha, and on one occasion 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 glorious car and became a serpent.

Agastya, at the supplication of Nahusha, put a limit to the curse; and according to one version, the doomed man was released from it by the instrumentality of Yudhishthira, when he threw off "his huge reptile form, became clothed in a celestial body, and ascended to heaven."

Sister Nivedita also has mentioned about the king Nahusa in one story "The Worth of Kine" in relation to the great sage Bharadwaja who was accidentally caught in a net along with fish by fishermen who were fishing in a river. The fishermen took the rishi Chyavana to king Nahusha and asked him to pay the price for the fish and the rishi, with the king offering a cow in return for the sage.[5]

Legend[edit]

Pururavas was the ancestor of all Chandravanshi dynasties and he ruled over the kingdom of Prayaga, with Pratishthana as his capital. After his death, his eldest son Āyu became the king. Āyu was married to Prabha, the daughter of the Asura Rahu. However, he remained childless.

Āyu approached the seer Dattatreya and after propitiating him, he requested the sage to grant him a son who would be invincible and possess many virtuous qualities fit for a king. The sage obliged and a son was born to Āyu. However, the infant was kidnapped by the Asura Hunda and he ordered his minions to slay the child. However the minions only abandoned the child at the hermitage of Sage Vashistha. Vashistha took the child and named him Nahusha "the fearless one". Nahusha grew into a youth, a disciple of Vashistha. Eventually Vashistha revealed Nahusha's true parentage. Nahusha acquired weapons from the gods and killed Hunda in battle and returned to his parents.

Indra[edit]

Nahusha succeeded Ayu and he ruled over the whole world. Nahusha performed a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas and a hundred Vajapeyas. Meanwhile, the King of the Gods Indra was afflicted with the curse of slaying a Brahmana and fled. The gods appointed Nahusha as Indra instead. Lord Brahma granted him a boon by which he could temporarily nullify everyone's puissance by a mere gaze.

After governing the three worlds for many millennia, Nahusha became insolent. He disrespected saints and coveted Indra's queen Sachi. Eventually sage Bhrigu hid himself in the locks of sage Agastya and cursed Nahusha to become a serpent, ousting him.

Agastya decreed that Nahusha will eventually meet Yudhishthira who will free him from the curse.

Redemption[edit]

In the Dwapara Yuga when the Pandavas were in exile, Nahusha in his serpent form captures Bhima and decides to eat him. Despite Bhima's extraordinary strength, Nahusha is too powerful, as he had received boon while falling, from Agastya, that taken by him, strong beings superior to him, shall immediately lose their strength.

Worried for his brother, Yudhishthira discovered Bhima. Nahusha reveals himself to be Yudhishthira's ancestor and tells him of his curse. Yudhishthira and Nahusha discourse each other on their views of Dharma. Nahusha tells Yudhishthira of his mistakes and asks him to learn from them. Nahusha is relieved from his curse and goes to heaven.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pargiter, F.E. (1972). Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p.85-6.
  2. ^ Bibek Debroy, Dipavali Debroy (2002). The holy Puranas. p. 152. "Nahusha and Ashokasundari had a son named Yayati.”
  3. ^ George M. Williams (27 March 2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. pp. 217–8, 230. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
  4. ^ Gaṅgā Rām Garg (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World Vol. 3. Concept Publishing Company. p. 712. ISBN 978-81-7022-376-4.
  5. ^ Margaret Elizabeth Noble; Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy; Sister Nivedita. Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists. pp. 371–372. ISBN 978-0-48-621759-8.