Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Nriga included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Nṛga

A king born in the dynasty of Vaivasvata Manu.


Descended from Viṣṇu thus: BrahmāMarīciKaśyapaVivasvānVaivasvata ManuMahābāhu—Prasandhi—KṣupaNṛga.

Nṛga was the younger brother of Ikṣvāku. From Nṛga was born Sumati, from him the king called Jyotis, from Jyotis Vasu and from Vasu Pratīka.

Nṛga became chameleon.

Nṛga was an extremely righteous and generous King. Once, at Puṣkara he gifted away thousands of cows to brahmins. There was a brahmin called Parvata living near Puṣkara. He too was given a cow and it was after that the brahmin named Anārata came. By then there remained no cow to be gifted. Anārata came after Parvata had gone into the forest after leaving the cow at the pond (Puṣkara). Nṛga had forgotten the fact that the cow had already been gifted away to Parvata and finding it there owner-less he gave it to Anārata, who went away with the cow very much pleased. The King and his ministers also returned to the palace.

A very short time afterwards Parvata returned to the pond and felt very sorry to miss his cow. He searched for it here and there and at last found it at Anārata’s house. Quarrel ensued between the two, Parvata alleging that Anārata had stolen his cow while the latter contended that it had been given to him by the King. Now, it was decided that the question should be submitted for arbitration to the King, and the contending parties went to the capital to see the King. At the palace they asked the gate-keepers to tell the King about their arrival. But, they did not tell the King, nor did he come.

Angered at this the brahmins cursed that Nṛga be converted into a chameleon and live as such for a thousand years. The King heard about the curse and ran up to the brahmins and requested for absolution from it. The brahmins then said that after one thousand years Mahāviṣṇu would incarnate as Śrī Kṛṣṇa and that at his touch Nṛga, the chameleon would resume his former form as King. According to this curse Nṛga was born as a chameleon in a neglected well at Dvārakā. One day Sāmba and others who happened to go near the well tried their best to take the chameleon out of it, to no purpose. At last Kṛṣṇa with his attendants came and took it out of the well. At Kṛṣṇa’s touch it resumed its form as King Nṛga, and related the story of his curse to the onlookers, who stood there wondering.

Other information.

(i) After his death Nṛga lived in Yama’s court worshipping him. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 8, Verse 8).

(ii) Nṛga once conducted a yajña on the banks of the river Payoṣṇī in Varāhatīrtha at which Indra drank soma so much as to get intoxicated, and the brahmins danced with pleasure at the very liberal gifts made to them. (Vana Parva, Chapter 8, Verse 5).

(iii) Nṛga was a King very dear to Indians. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 9, Verse 7).

(iv) Kṛṣṇa granted salvation to Nṛga who changed, at his touch, from chameleon to his former form as King Nṛga. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 70, Verse 29).

(v) He did not eat flesh. (Anuśāsana Parva. Chapter 70, Verse 29).

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