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'Sarpa, Sarpa' - 'May You Become A Serpent!'

Nahusha was a pious emperor of theLunar Dynasty. He had performed a hundred Ashwamedha Yagas (Sacrifices) and attained the position of Indra, the King of the Gods. He was filled with pride because he was the lord of all the gods. He wanted that the old Indra and his wife Shachidevi should serve him along with the other gods.

The old Indra and Shachidevi were not prepared to serve the new Indra. But as Nahusha was the new Indra no one could disobey him.

What was to be done?

At last they thought of a plan. Shachidevi informed Nahusha that she would gladly serve him if he came in a palanquin carried by the rishis, the great sages. The great sages to carry the palanquin! What a shame! But the new Indra, Nahusha, blinded by arrogance, did not consider whether what he was doing was right or wrong. Without reflecting that the rishis are great tapasvis, men dedicated to prayer and meditation, he sent for them. "I want
to go to the palace of Shachidevi. You shall carry my palanquin," ordered Nahusha.

After all he was the lord of the gods, wasn't he? The sages agreed. Nahusha entered the palanquin. The sages carried it on their shoulders. Among them was Agasthya.

As Agasthya was very short the palanquin dipped a little on one side. Nahusha was enraged by this and kicked in impatience saying, "Sarpa.... Sarpa" (faster and faster). His foot touched Agasthya's shoulder. The insulted sage grew angry and cursed: "Nahusha, you have become arrogant. May you become a sarpa" (a serpent)! (In Sanskrit, the word 'sarpa' means both faster and a serpent.)

Nahusha's eyes were now opened. He was cured of his arrogance. He jumped out of the palanquin and, falling at Agasthya's feet, begged, "0 Sire, forgive my sin." Then the compassionate Agasthya said, "Your own descendents will bring you salvation."

Nahusha was transformed into an 'ajagara' (a python). He fell down from the high heavens to the earth. The huge python used to move about in the forest. Many years passed. When the Pandavas were in the forest Draupadi wanted the flower Sougandhika. The mighty Bheema went to find the flower. The python encircled him. Dharmaraja had to come to rescue Bheema. Dharmaraja gave properanswers to the questions of the python. Bheema was released and Nahusha, too, got salvation.

Thus Agasthya could punish the arrogant and pardon and save those who felt sorry for their misdeeds.

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The God Agni Becomes Agasthya
A Great Seer Who Stabilized The Earth
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You are Here! 'Sarpa, Sarpa' -'May You Become A Serpent!'
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