In Hindu mythology, Nahush was a king of the Aila dynasty (Lunar dynasty) and the 3,698,256th Indra. He was the son of Ayu, the eldest son of Pururavas and Prabha, the daughter of Svarbhanu. Nahush reigned from Pratishthana. He married Viraja, the daughter of the Pitrs. They had six or seven sons, according to different Purans. His eldest son Yati became a muni (ascetic). He was succeeded by his second son Yayati. In another variation of his story, he is said to have married Ashokasundari, a regional goddess who is said to be daughter of Shiv and Parvati and is said to have given birth to Yayati and a hundred daughters of Nahush.

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 Mahabharat as well as in the Purans. According to Manu, "By sacrifices, austere fervour, sacred study, self-restraint, and valour, Nahush acquired the undisturbed sovereignty of the three worlds. Through want of virtuous humility the great king Nahush 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 Nahush, 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 Nahush fell from his glorious car and became a serpent.

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


Legend :

Once Parvati and Shiv went to the Nandan grove. Parvati saw the Kalpavruksh (wish-giving tree) and wished that a daughter would be born. Instantly, a woman named Ashoksundari was born. Parvati said that Ashoksundari is destined to marry the son of Ayu. Once, when the Asura Hund entered the grove, he was lustful and kidnapped Ashoksundari, who told him that she would only marry the son of Ayu. Ashoksundari cursed Hund that the son of Ayu will kill him. Ashoksundari then started severe penance.

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

Ayu 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 Ayu. Hund was just waiting for the birth of Ayu's son because he was scared that Ashoksundari's curse would come true. So, the infant was kidnapped by the Asura Hund and he ordered his minions to slay the child. However the minions only abandoned the child at the hermitage of Sage Vashisth. Vashisth took the child and named him Nahush "the fearless one". Nahush grew into a youth, a disciple of Vashisth. Eventually Vashisth revealed Nahush's true parentage. Nahush acquired weapons from the gods and killed Hund in battle and returned to his parents. He then married Ashoksundari.

Indra :

Nahush succeeded Ayu and he ruled over the whole world. Nahush performed a hundred Ashwamegh Yagnas and a hundred Vajapeyas. Nahush had 6 sons, from which Yayati would succeed him. Meanwhile, the King of the Gods Indra was afflicted with the curse of slaying a Brahman and fled. The gods appointed Nahush 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, Nahush became insolent. He disrespected saints and coveted Indra's queen Sachi. Eventually sage Bhrigu hid himself in the locks of sage Agastya and cursed Nahush to become a serpent, ousting him.
Agastya decreed that Nahush will eventually meet Yudhishthira who will free him from the curse.

Redemption :

In the Dwapar Yug when the Pandavs were in exile, Nahush in his serpent form captures Bhim and decides to eat him. Despite Bhim's extraordinary strength, Nahush 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, Yudhishthir discovered Bhim. Nahush reveals himself to be Yudhishthir's ancestor and tells him of his curse. Yudhishthir and Nahush discourse each other on their views of Dharm. Nahush tells Yudhishthir of his mistakes and asks him to learn from them. Nahush is relieved from his curse and goes to heaven.