The Agnihotra is a twice-daily Vedic Yagna that is required to be performed by all Dvijas. (It's not as commonly practiced nowadays, because it can be substituted with Naivedyam, which constitutes a Pranagnihotra; see Yamunacharya's Agama Pramanya for more details.) In any case, this chapter of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda lists a bunch of reasons for why one should or should not approach the fires of the Agnihotra, before ultimately concluding that one should. Here's one such reason:

atʰa yásmānnòpatíṣṭʰeta |
ubʰáye ha vā́ idamágre sahā̀surdevā́śca manuṣyā̀śca tadyáddʰa sma manuṣyā̀ṇāṃ na bʰávati táddʰa sma devā́nyācanta idaṃ vaí no nā̀stīdáṃ no 'stvíti te tásyā evá yāñcyā́yai dvéṣeṇa devā́stiróbʰūtā néddʰinásāni neddveṣyó 'sānī́ti tásmānnópatiṣṭʰeta ||

Then as to why he should not approach them. Now in the beginning both the gods and men were together here. And whatever did not belong to the men, for that they importuned the gods, saying, 'This is not ours: let it be ours!' Being indignant at this importunity, the gods then disappeared. Hence (it may be argued) one should not approach (the fires), fearing lest he should offend them, lest he should become hateful to them.

My question is, what is the story of the gods disappearing from the Earth because humans asked them for too many things? When (e.g. in what Yuga) did this take place?

I suppose this could explain why there are lots of references in Hindu scriptures to the gods residing on Earth, and also why the gods are said for reside in Lokas other than Devaloka. For instance, this question this describes how Amaravati is a city of the gods at the foot of Mount Meru in Bhuloka, and yet Amaravati is also the capital of Devaloka. It's possible that the gods used to live in the Bhuloka Amaravati, and then left and went to Devaloka due to being offended by human beings. Also, Hindu scripture frequently says that the land of the Uttarakurus on the Northern side of the Himalayas is a land inhabited by gods, so perhaps that is where the gods lived before leaving the Earth.

Does anyone know any other scriptures that describe this story?

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    This story has to be one from one of the Krita Yugas - that is, one among 28 + (6x71) = 454 Krita Yugas. Which is sort of hard to imagine, but since the gods commune with humans the most in Krita Yuga, if they ever lived here, it would have been then. – Surya Aug 5 '16 at 10:19
  • @Surya Actually I was thinking it would have taken place in the beginning of the Kali Yuga. After all, at the time of Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yagna the land of the Uttara Kurus still seems to be a land of the gods; see this chapter of the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata: sacred-texts.com/hin/m02/m02027.htm So perhaps in the Kali Yuga, the gods became indignant at humans asking them for too many things, and left the land of the Uttarakurus. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 6 '16 at 5:51
  • There is nothing about devas in that chapter. The guards just tell him that the mighty Uttara Kurus reside there; they could just be some really strong Kshatriyas or something, infused with the energy of the land which was previously inhabited by devas. – Surya Aug 6 '16 at 7:35
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    Well, they say ""He that entereth this region, if human, is sure to perish.... Even if thou enterest it, thou will not be able to behold anything, for with human eyes nothing can be seen here." That seems like a pretty clear indication that it's an abode of the gods. And something certainly seems to have changed there between the time of the Mahabharata and now, because now plenty of humans live north of the Himalayas. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 6 '16 at 8:36
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    Skanda Purana has different version of story of Devas disappearing from Earth. That story happened in Swamayambhuva Manvantara of Padma Kalpa where King Ripunjaya asks Brahma to leave Devas to Deva Loka as Brahma decreed Ripunjaya as King of Earth. – The Destroyer Sep 29 '16 at 6:08

Partly answering the question - refer to chapters 5 to 7 of Adi Parva (Paulomo Parva) of Mahabharata. In these chapters the story of Maharishi Brighu cursing Agni and an angry Agni vanishing from the universe and the return of Agni is told.

Without quoting the Sanskrit verses the story briefly is "Maharishi Brighu's wife Pulomaa was pregnant carrying Maharishi Chyavana in her womb. One day when Brighu was away from his hermitage a danava (asura) also by name of Puloma came. He was smitten by Pulomaa and asked her who she was. On learning of her parentage, he said she belonged to him and wanted her to come with him, but she demurred saying she was Brighu's wife.

The background is that when Pulomaa was a child, one day she threw a tantrum and was crying bitterly. Her father told her to be quiet or he would give her away to a danava. Puloma danava who was nearby heard this. However, later Pulomaa was wed to Maharishi Brighu. Puloma Danava asked the ever burning Agnihotra fire to tell truthfully whether Pulomaa was his bethroed or not.

The fire god replied that this indeed was so, however Pulomaa's father had not handed over his daughter to him, instead in the presence of Agni as per vedic rituals given Pulomaa in wedding to Maharishi Brighu. On hearing this, Puloma danava took the form of a wild boar and picking up Pulomaa escaped. As Pulomaa started crying and lamenting, the child in her womb heard her cries and came out and dropped to the ground. Smouldering like fire and bright as the sun , when Puloma danava saw the child he was stunned and in a few minutes was burnt to ashes.

With her son Chyavana, Pulomaa returned to the hermitage where an anxious Brighu enquired what had happened and a weeping Pulomaa told the entire story. Brighu asked her, who had let out her secret and she pointed to Agni. Enraged, Brighu cursed Agni "Become Sarva Bakshi" i.e. swallow everything.

Agni retorted: "Learned brahmin, I too have the power to curse you, but I respect Brahmins and refrain from doing so. since you have cursed me become sarvabakshi, I will withdraw from this world. agni withdrew and everywhere the fires went out.

Without fires the sages and brahmins could not offer Agnihotra, and accordingly the devas and Pitrs were denied of their sustenance. So they went to devaloka, but could not find Agni. All approached Brahma and narated their woe. Brahma requested Agni and entreated him to return. He also said, you will perform your duties of providing sustenance to the Devas and Pitrs. You will not be fully Sarvabakshi. at the sme time Mahrishi Brighu's curse cannot be in vain and so you will be Sarvabakshi only of raw flesh and corpses.

Therefore O Hutashana, for the thoughtless words of one individual, please do not deprive us of our sustenance. Please return to earth and let humans perform Agnihotra and other fire offerings. Thus mollified Agni returned to earth."

As to when this instance occured, no mention is made in Mahabharat, but the reference to 'Puranemakhilam' reers to the earliest periods and hence would be Krita Yuga of most probably Padma Kalpa.

This is the most widespread story of a Deva leaving the earth. Agni did not leave the earth because human beings asked too much of him, the cuse was something else.

Going through the vast literature of the epics, itihaasa and puranas, one would definitely come across other stories of Devas leaving the earth and maybe returning later. I pause for the present.

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