Vaisampayana continued, “And the powerful Bhimasena, having thus come under the power of the snake, thought of its mighty and wonderful prowess; and said unto it, ’Be thou pleased to tell me, O snake, who thou art. And, O foremost of reptiles, what wilt thou do with me? I am Bhimasena, the son of Pandu, and next by birth to Yudhishthira the just. And endued as I am with the strength of ten thousand elephants, how hast thou been able to overpower me? In fight have been encountered and slain by me innumerable lions, and tigers, and buffaloes, and elephants. And, O best of serpents, mighty Rakshasas and Pisachas, and Nagas, are unable to stand the force of my arms. Art thou possessed of any magic, or hast thou received any boon, that although exerting myself, I have been overcome by thee? Now I have been convinced that the strength of men is false, for, O serpent, by thee hath such mighty strength of men been baffled.’”
Vaisampayana continued, “When the heroic Bhima of noble deed had said this, the snake caught him, and coiled him all round with his body, having thus subdued that mighty-aimed one, and freed his plump arms alone, the serpent spake these words, ’By good fortune it is that, myself being hungry, after long time the gods have to-day destined thee for my food; for life is dear unto every embodied being, I should relate unto thee the way in which I have come by this snake form. Hear, O best of the pious, I have fallen into this plight on account of the wrath of the Maharshis. Now desirous of getting rid of the curse, I will narrate unto thee all about it. Thou hast, no doubt, heard of the royal sage, Nahusha. He was the son of Ayu, and the perpetuator of the line of thy ancestors. Even I am that one. For having affronted the Brahmanas I, by (virtue of) Agastya’s malediction, have come by this condition. Thou art my agnate, and lovely to behold.—so thou shouldst not be slain by me,—yet I shall to-day devour thee! Do thou behold the dispensation of Destiny! And be it a buffalo, or an elephant, none coming within my reach at the sixth division of the day, can, O best of men, escape. And, O best of the Kurus, thou hast not been taken by an animal of the lower order, having strength alone,—but this (hath been so) by reason only of the boon I have received. As I was falling rapidly from Sakra’s throne placed on the front of his palace, I spake unto that worshipful sage (Agastya), “Do thou free me from this curse.” Thereat filled with compassion, that energetic one said unto me, “O king, thou shall be freed after the lapse of some time.” Then I fell to the earth (as a snake); but my recollection (of former life) did not renounce me. And although it be so ancient, I still recollect all that was said. And the sage said unto me, “That person who conversant with the relation subsisting between the soul and the Supreme Being, shall be able to answer the questions put by thee, shall deliver thee.