The story of the cursing of Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva and their deliverance by Kṛṣṇa, under the all-blissful desire of the great sage Nārada, is here described.
The two great demigods Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva were sons of the treasurer of the demigods, Kuvera, who was a great devotee of Lord Śiva. By the grace of Lord Śiva, Kuvera’s material opulences had no limit. As a rich man’s sons often become addicted to wine and women, so these two sons of Kuvera were also addicted to wine and sex. Once, these two demigods, desiring to enjoy, entered the garden of Lord Śiva in the province of Kailāsa on the bank of the Mandākinī Ganges. There they drank much and engaged in hearing the sweet singing of the beautiful women who accompanied them in that garden of fragrant flowers. In an intoxicated condition, the two demigods entered the water of the Ganges, which was filled with lotus flowers, and there they began to enjoy the company of the young girls exactly as a male elephant enjoys female elephants within the water.
While they were thus enjoying themselves in the water, all of a sudden Nārada, the great sage, happened to pass that way. He could understand that the demigods Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva were too much intoxicated and could not even see that he was passing. The young girls, however, were not so much intoxicated as the demigods, and they at once became ashamed at being naked before the great sage Nārada. They began to cover themselves with all haste. The two demigod sons of Kuvera were so much intoxicated that they could not appreciate the presence of the sage Nārada and therefore did not cover their bodies. On seeing the two demigods so degraded by intoxication, Nārada desired their welfare, and therefore he exhibited his causeless mercy upon them by cursing them.
Because the great sage was compassionate upon them, he wanted to finish their false enjoyment of intoxication and association with young girls and wanted them to see Lord Kṛṣṇa face to face. He conceived of cursing them as follows. He said that the attraction for material enjoyment is due to an increase of the mode of passion. A person in the material world, when favored by the material opulence of riches, generally becomes addicted to three things—intoxication, sex and gambling. Materially opulent men, being puffed up with the accumulation of wealth, also become so merciless that they indulge in killing animals by opening slaughterhouses. And they think that they themselves will never die. Such foolish persons, forgetting the laws of nature, become overly infatuated with the body. They forget that the material body, even though very much advanced in civilization, up to the position of the demigods, will finally turn into ashes or stool. And while one is living, whatever the external condition of the body may be, within there is only stool, urine and various kinds of worms. Thus being engaged in jealousy and violence to other bodies, materialists cannot understand the ultimate goal of life, and without knowing this goal of life, they generally glide down to a hellish condition in their next life. Such foolish persons commit all kinds of sinful activities on account of the temporary body, and they are even unable to consider whether the body actually belongs to them. Generally it is said that the body belongs to the persons who feed it. One might therefore consider whether the body belongs to one personally or to the master to whom one renders service. The master of slaves claims full right to the bodies of the slaves because the master feeds the slaves. It may also be questioned whether the body belongs to the father, who is the seed-giving master of the body, or to the mother, who develops the child’s body in her womb.