In Hindu mythology, Nahusha (Sanskrit: नहुष) was a king of the Aila dynasty (Lunar dynasty) and the 3,698,256th (position). He was the son of Āyu, the eldest son of Pururavas, and Prabha, the daughter of Svarbhānu. Nahusha is also mentioned often in the Rigveda, starting in Mandala 1. 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 and more popular variation of his story, he is said to have married Ashokasundari, the goddess who the daughter of Shiva and Parvati and she is said to have given birth to Yayati[2] and a hundred daughters of Nahusha.[3][4]

Nahusha falls from (rath) heaven
AffiliationMahabharata person,
Personal information
SpouseViraja or Ashokasundari
ChildrenYati and Yayati (sons)
100 daughters including Ayati, Samyati, Kriti and Viyati

Sister Nivedita also has mentioned the king Nahusha 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]


Birth and early lifeEdit

Once Parvati and Shiva went to the Nandana grove. Parvati saw the Kalpavriksha (wish-giving tree) and wished that a daughter would be born. Instantly, a woman named Ashokasundari was born. Parvati said that Ashoksundari is destined to marry the son of Ayu. Once, when the Asura Hunda entered the grove, he was lustful and kidnapped Ashoksundari, who told him that she would only marry the son of Ayu. Ashoksundari cursed Hunda 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 Prayaga, with Pratishthana as his capital. After he retired from being a king and gave up his kingdom to his son and ascended to heaven, 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. Hunda 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 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. He then married Ashoksundari.[6]

Ruling SvargaEdit

Nahusha was made the king of Svarga after Indra's disappearance. He soon became arrogant and was later removed from his post. It was after this that Nahusha incurred his curse. Whilst hiding in a palanquin from Indra, upon trying to seduce his wife Indrani, the sage Agastya noticed his hiding place and called to him "come out you snake", and immediately Nahusha fell from the palanquin in the form of a serpent. He would keep this form until his meeting with Yudhishthira.

In the Dvapara Yuga, when the Pandavas were on their final journey in the Himalayas, 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 a boon while falling, from Agastya, that taken by him, strong beings superior to him, shall immediately lose their strength.

Meanwhile, Yudhistira was looking for Bhima. He found him and saw what was happening to him. Nahusha reveals himself to be Yudhishthira's ancestor and tells him of his curse. Yudhishthira and Nahusha discourse with 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. Bhima then receives his strength.[7]


  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 (1967). Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists. Courier Corporation. pp. 371–372. ISBN 978-0-48-621759-8.
  6. ^ Anant Pai, ed. (April 1971). Nahusha. Amar Chitra Katha Private limited. ISBN 9788184821901.
  7. ^ "Yudhishthira releases Nahusha from a curse – Vyasa Mahabharata". Retrieved 18 August 2020.

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