The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'I have, O chief of the Bharatas, heard what the merits are that are won by presenters of flowers and incense and lights. I
have heard thee speak also of the merits that attach to a due observance of the ordinances in respect of the presentation of the Vali. It behoveth thee, O grandsire, to discourse unto me once more on this subject. Indeed, tell me, O sire, once more of the merits of presenting incense and lights. Why are Valis offered on the ground by persons leading the domestic mode of life?'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is recited the old narrative of the discourse between Nahusha and Agastya and Bhrigu. The royal sage Nahusha, O monarch, possessed of wealth of penances, acquired the sovereignty of Heaven by his own good deeds. With restrained senses, O king, he dwelt in Heaven, engaged in doing diverse acts of both human and celestial nature. From that high-souled monarch flowed diverse kinds of human acts and diverse kinds of celestial acts also, O chief of men. The diverse rites with respect to the sacrificial fire, the collection of sacred fuel and of Kusa grass, as also of flowers, and the presentation of Vali consisting of food adorned with fried paddy (reduced to powder), and the offer of incense and of light,--all these, O monarch, occurred daily in the abode of that high-souled king while he dwelt in heaven. Indeed, though dwelling in heaven, he performed the sacrifice of Japa (or silent recitation) and the sacrifice of meditation. And, O chastiser of foes, Nahusha, although he had become the chief of the deities, yet worshipped all the deities, as he used to do in days of yore, with due rites and ceremonies. Some time after, Nahusha realised his position as the chief of all the deities. This filled him with pride. From that time all his acts (of the kind spoken of) were suspended. Filled with arrogance in consequence of the boon he had received from all the deities, Nahusha caused the very Rishis to bear him on their shoulders. In consequence, however, of his abstention from all religious acts, his energy began to sustain a diminution. The time was very long for which Nahusha filled with pride, continued to employ the foremost of Rishis, possessed of wealth of penances, as the bearers of his vehicles. He caused the Rishis to discharge by turns his humiliating work. The day came when it was Agastya's turn to bear the vehicles, O Bharata. At that time, Bhrigu, that foremost of all persons conversant with Brahma, repaired to the presence of Agastya while the latter was seated in his asylum, and addressing him, said, 'O great ascetic, why should we patiently put up with such indignity inflicted on us by this wicked-souled Nahusha who has become the chief of the deities?'
"Agastya said, 'How can I succeed in cursing Nahusha, O great Rishi? It is known to thee how the boon-giving (Brahman) himself has given Nahusha the best of boons! Coming to heaven, the boon that Nahusha solicited was that whoever would come within the range of his vision would, deprived of all energy, come within his sway. The self-born Brahman granted him even this boon, and it is for that reason that neither thyself nor I have been able to consume him. Without doubt,
is for this reason that none else amongst the foremost of Rishis has been able to consume or hurl him down from his high position, Formerly, O Lord, nectar was given by Brahman to Nahusha for quaffing. For that reason also we have become powerless against him. The supreme deity, it seems, gave that boon to Nahusha for plunging all creatures into grief. That wretch among men behaves most unrighteously towards the Brahmanas. O foremost of all speakers, do thou tell us what should be done in view of the situation. Without doubt, I shall do what thou wilt advise.'
"Bhrigu said, 'It is at the command of the Grandsire that I have come to thee with the view of counteracting the puissance of Nahusha who is possessed of great energy but who has been stupefied by fate. That exceedingly wicked-souled wight who has become the chief of the deities will today yoke thee to his car. With the aid of my energy I shall today hurl him down from his position as Indra in consequence of his having transcended all restraints! I shall today, in thy very sight, re-establish the true Indra in his position--him, viz., who has performed a hundred horse-sacrifices,--having hurled the wicked-souled and sinful Nahusha from that seat! That unrighteous chief of the deities will today insult thee by a kick, in consequence of his understanding being afflicted by fate and for bringing about his own downfall. Incensed at such an insult I shall today curse that sinful wretch, that enemy of the Brahmanas, that has transcended all restraints, saying, 'Be thou transformed into a snake!' In the very sight, O great ascetic, I shall today hurl down on the earth the wicked-souled Nahusha who shall be deprived of all energy in consequence of the cries of 'Fie' that will be uttered from all sides. 1 Verily, I shall hurl down Nahusha today, that wight of unrighteous deeds, who has, besides, been stupefied by lordship and power. I shall do this, if it be acceptable to thee, O ascetic! Thus addressed by Bhrigu, Mitravaruna's son Agastya of unfading puissance and glory, became highly gratified and freed from every anxiety.'"
181:1 It will be remembered that the only chastisement that was in vogue in the Krita age was the crying of 'Fie' on an offender.
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