By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Nilaksa-nakula, NIlAkSa-nakula, Nilaaksha-nakula
Nīlākṣa-nakula literally means ‘the blue-eyed mongoose’.
After the performance of the Aśvamedha sacrifice, king Yudhiṣṭhira, the eldest of the Pāṇḍavas, was puffed up with pride. Suddenly in the Yāgaśālā a big mongoose with blue eyes appeared. It's half body was golden. It rolled on the ground where there were scattered grains but was disappointed as the other half too did not turn golden as it had hoped for.
Then it spoke like a human being disparagingly of Yudhiṣṭhira’s so-called great sacrifice comparing it with the sacrifice of a whole brāhmaṇa family out of hunger. After everyone gave away his or her share of food to hungry souls who begged for the same. Accidental contact of it's body of the mongoose with a small portion of the leftover food in the brāhmaṇa’s house turned that half of its body into golden color. Since that day the mongoose was trying to convert the other half of its body also into golden color by visiting places where great sacrifices were being performed. On hearing this, Yudhiṣṭhira was humbled.
- Yāgaśālā means sacrificial shed.
- Mahābhārata, Āśvamedhikaparva, chapter 90
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore