Once Indra, the King of the cosmic gods, did something very, very undivine. Because of this he was compelled to remain inside the sea for some time. In his place a very pious king named Nahusha was asked to rule Heaven.
Nahusha was not only a very pious king but also a very kind-hearted king. Everybody liked him when he was made King of Heaven. But alas, in a few months’ time, some undivine forces entered into him and he wanted to have Indra’s wife, Sachi. Poor Indra, meanwhile, was still in the sea.
When Sachi heard of this she was sad and mad. How could she go to Nahusha? She went to Brihaspati, the Guru of the cosmic gods, for advice.
He said, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Just send a message to King Nahusha that only if he can come for you with a chariot driven by seven sages will he get you.”
When Nahusha received the message he said, “It is so easy, so easy.” So he got seven sages to drive the chariot that was taking him to Sachi, Indra’s wife. The great sage Agastya was one of the seven sages. Quite inadvertently, King Nahusha’s feet touched Agastya’s body. Agastya became furious. “How do you dare to touch my head with your feet?”
“Forgive me! Forgive me!” pleaded Nahusha. “I didn’t do it intentionally!”
“Whether you did it intentionally or unintentionally, you did it. Your carelessness is unpardonable. I curse you! You will become a snake!”
King Nahusha cried and cried in front of the sages, but it was of no avail.
Agastya said, “No, I can’t change my curse. You have to go to earth as a snake. You are never to stay in Heaven again.”
So, instead of going to Sachi’s house, Nahusha was compelled to go down to the world. After he was on earth for a long time, Agastya said, “I can now modify your curse, O Nahusha, since you are crying and weeping so bitterly. Yudhishthira, the most pious man on earth, will one day bless you. With his help you will be able to get back your human form and you will be able to return to Heaven.”
Sachi, meanwhile, was so happy and delighted that she didn’t have to go to King Nahusha.
GIM 123. 3 February 1979↩