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Ahalya - The Wife Of Sage Gautama

Ahalya – The Wife Of Sage Gautama

The stories of Ahalya’s creation or birth are mentioned in the different Puranas. Ramayana’s Bala Kanda describes the creation of Ahalya from a mould that took great effort and a lot of creative energy. Brahma Purana and Vishnudharmottara Purana says that she was created by Lord Brahma himself. She is most often described as “Ayonija Sambhava” due to the creation stories.

The tribal group Bhil from Ramayana mentions that Ahalya was created through a sacrificial fire by the Saptarishi and gifted to Gautama. Mahari dance tradition believes that Brahma created Ahalya from water bodies as she was the most beautiful woman who would break the unbreakable pride of apsara Urvashi. The last version of her creation indicates her origin closer to the human origin by being the daughter of King Mudgala. This has been mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana and Harivamsa. In this story, she is the sister of King Divodasa.

Ahalya’s story of a marriage is as interesting as the story of the curse. It all connects back to Indra. It is said in Brahma Purana that Ahalya’s marriage was to be done through a contest open to all. The condition was to take a trip around the three realms – earth, heaven & hell. Indra set out to finish this challenge and ask for Ahalya’s hand. When he went to Brahma asking for her hand, sage Narada told him that Gautama had finished the challenge before Lord Indra.

Gautama went around his desire-fulfilling cow Kamdhenu or famously known as Surabhi while she was giving birth. This was a part of his daily ritual. The act of giving birth got connected to the three worlds as mentioned in the Vedas and hence Gautama unknowingly completed the challenge before Lord Indra. Ahalya marries Gautama and Indra is left full of rage.

Ahalya settles down at Gautama’s Hermitage, which in some Puranas is mentioned to be at Narmada. Some Puranas say that it was located at the banks of river Godavari. A certain Purana also mentions it to be at Pushkar. One thing constant in all these stories is that both Ahalya and Gautama took part in practising penance together for many years. It also happens to be the place that saw the face of the horrible curse.

The story of the curse begins when Lord Indra, once in the absence of sage Gautama, comes to the hermitage disguised as Gautama, husband of Ahalya. Seeing her beauty and grace he could not control himself from having intercourse with her. Ahalya, thinking that it is her husband, gave into it. It was only after Gautama and Indra came face to face.

While Indra was leaving the hermitage and Gautama was returning from his morning bath and rituals, they understood that something unacceptable had taken place there. Gautama was furious beyond words and Ahalya was confused. She did not know what had happened and how. Gautama out of fury cursed them both. Ahalya was cursed to become a stone for thousands of years till a kind and humble person touches her and revives life back into her.  The grounded and affectionate person was none other than Lord Rama, who touched the stone and brought her back to her human form.

Click here to read about Anusuya – The Wife Of Sage Atri.

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