“My dear Lord,” he said, “in my previous life I was named Vidyādhara and was known all over the world for my beauty. Because I was a celebrated personality, I used to travel all over in my airplane. While traveling, I saw a great sage named Aṅgirā. He was very ugly, and because I was very proud of my beauty, I laughed at him. Due to this sinful act, I was condemned by the great sage to assume the form of a serpent.”
One should note here that before being favored by Kṛṣṇa a person is always under the modes of material nature, however elevated he may be materially. Vidyādhara was a materially elevated demigod, and he was very beautiful. He also held a great material position and was able to travel all over by airplane. Yet he was condemned to become a serpent in his next life. Any materially elevated person can be condemned to an abominable species of life if he is not careful. It is a misconception that after reaching the human body one is never degraded. Vidyādhara himself stated that even though he was a demigod he was condemned to become a serpent. But because he was touched by the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, he immediately came to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He admitted, however, that in his previous life he was actually sinful. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person knows that he is always the servant of the servant of Kṛṣṇa; he is most insignificant, and whatever good he does is by the grace of Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master (CC Madhya 13.80).
The demigod Vidyādhara continued to speak to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. “Because I was very proud of the exquisite beauty of my body,” he said, “I derided the ugly features of the great sage Aṅgirā. He cursed me for my sin, and I became a snake. Now I consider that this curse by the sage was not at all a curse; it was a great benediction for me. Had he not cursed me, I would not have assumed the body of a serpent and would not have been kicked by Your lotus feet and thus freed from all material contamination.”
In material existence, four things are very valuable: to be born in a decent family, to be very rich, to be very learned and to be very beautiful. These are considered to be material assets. Unfortunately, without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, these material assets sometimes become sources of sin and degradation. Despite Vidyādhara’s being a demigod and having a beautiful body, he was condemned to the body of a snake due to pride. Therefore from this incident we can learn that those who are too proud of their material assets or who are inimical toward others are degraded to the bodies of snakes. A snake is considered to be the most cruel and envious living entity, but those who are human beings and are envious of others are considered to be even more vicious than snakes. The snake can be charmed or controlled by mantras and herbs, but a person who is envious cannot be controlled by anyone.
“My dear Lord,” Vidyādhara continued, “now, since I think I have become freed from all kinds of sinful activities, I am asking Your permission to return to my abode, the heavenly planets.” This request indicates that persons who are attached to fruitive activities, desiring promotion to the comforts of higher planetary systems, cannot achieve their ultimate goal of life without the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that the less intelligent want to achieve material benefits and therefore worship different kinds of demigods, but they actually get the benedictions from the demigods through the permission of Lord Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa. Demigods have no power to bestow material profit. Even if one is attached to material benedictions, he should worship Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and ask Him. Kṛṣṇa is completely able to give even material benedictions. There is a difference, however, between asking material benedictions from the demigods and asking them from Kṛṣṇa. Dhruva Mahārāja worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead for a material benediction, but when he actually achieved the favor of the Supreme Lord and saw Him, he was so satisfied that he refused to accept any material benediction. The intelligent person does not worship the demigods or ask favors from them; he directly becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious, and if he has any desire for material benefit, he asks Kṛṣṇa, not the demigods.