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See also   Who was Ahalyaa?     Rishi Gautam

Ahalyaa is a Maanas and Raamaayan character. We meet her in Baal Kaand when Raam gives her Mukti from her husband Muni Gautam's Shaap, from a stone touching it with His feet. She is one of the Panch Kanyaa (five Virgins) too -
Ahalyaa Draupadee Kuntee Taaraa Mandodaree Tathaa |
Panch Kanyaa smare Nityam Mahaapaatak Naashnam ||

Who Was Ahalyaa
According to V-Raamaayan, 7/13/30, once Brahmaa Jee took the best from his creation and created a woman, and named her Ahalyaa. She was extremely beautiful. She was so beautiful that every Devtaa wanted to have her. Even Brahmaa himself wanted to have her. As she was going around Brahmaa's court Brahmaa Jee created his faces all around to see her. That is why he has four faces and came to be known as Chaturaanan. Later on, to save himself from this confusion, that to whom he should give her, he gave her to Maharshi Gautam to serve him. She served him so well that she stayed there only and became his wife. So finally Ahalyaa was the wife of Gautam Rishi. She was a Pativrataa (loyal to husband) woman. They had a son named Shataanand (he was Raajaa Janak's Purohit).

My Note
According to Bhaagvat Puraan, 9/12,  Raajaa Mudgal (Dushyant > Bharat > Bharadwaaj > Manyu > Brihatkshatra > Hastee > Ajameedh >> Mudgal - one of the five sons) had twins - a son named Divodaas and a daughter named Ahalyaa. He married his daughter to Maharshi Gautam. Their son was Shataanand.

Shataanand's son was Satyadhriti who was very good at archery, and Satyadhriti's son was Maharshi Sharadwaan. One day Maharshi Sharadwaan saw Urvashee and his semen dropped on a bush of Moonj. It caused to born one son and one daughter. Mahaaraaj Shaantanu saw those children and named them as Krip and Kripee. Krip became Kul Guru Kripaachaarya of Kaurav and Kripee was married to Aachaarya Drone (who taught weapon knowledge to Kaurav and Paandav)."

Ahalyaa and Indra
This is the only popularly famous story about Ahalyaa. Since Brahmaa Jee gave Ahalyaa to Rishi Gautam, Indra, was not satisfied with Brahmaa's this decision and he was always on look out for an opportunity to have her anyhow, by hook or crook. He always had a desire to have her, but was afraid of her Paativrat Dharm. So one day he thought of a scheme. He asked the help of Chandramaa. First Chandramaa refused to help him as he was scared of Muni's curse, but then agreed.

So Chandramaa assumed the form of a cock and crowed before time (normally crows in India crow at about 4.00 am). So on that day he crowed before time. Gautam Rishi's was this routine that he would get up when the cock crowed and went to do his daily chores. So on that day also hearing the cock's crow he got up, but looking at the sky he felt, "This is not the time when I get up. How did this cock crow so early?" But then he ignored it and went to Gangaa Jee for his daily chores. Thus on that day Gautam Rishi got up early and went for his daily chores early.

When Gautam Rishi was out for his daily chores earlier than his routine, Indra came in the form of Gautam Rishi and expressed his desire to Ahalyaa to have her. Ahalyaa was very surprised to see Rishi returning home so early and hear this strange type of proposal from Muni, but since she was a Pativrataa woman she considered to obey her husband. Thus he had her.

When Indra was coming out of Rishi's Aashram, he met Gautam Rishi at the door. Both saw each other. Indra got frightened to see Rishi so he quietly ran away. Muni understood everything, he came inside. Seeing Rishi Gautam again Ahalyaa also got frightened and understood everything. She fell on the feet of Gautam Muni and asked for his forgiveness as she was caught innocent. That was not her fault. But Muni was very angry and he cursed her, "Be a stone and lie in a lonely place". Then later he relaxed it with "When Bhagavaan will take Avataar as Raam in Ayodhyaa in Tretaa Yug and will pass from here, you will again become the woman by the touch of His feet. You will have your beauty back and you will come back to me."

Muni cursed Chandramaa, because he helped Indra in this wretched act, that he should be without body.
And he cursed Indra that since he was lusty, 1,000 vaginal marks would appear on his body. Indra ran away from Muni's Aashram, but was ashamed to go in front of anybody because of Muni's curse. He pleased Shiv Jee and Shiv Jee converted those marks into 1,000 eyes. From that day he has become known as "Sahastraaksh" (who has 1,000 eyes). The mention of his 1,000 eyes is given in Tulasee's Raam Charit Maanas (see after Dohaa No 316 in Baal Kaand). When Raam's marriage was being performed to Seetaa, all Devtaa were looking at the Divine couple. Shiv Jee was thanking his 10 eyes of his five faces, Brahmaa Jee was sad because he had only 8 eyes, while Indra was very happy to see Raam with his 1,000 eyes and thanked Gautam Rishi for his curse. Even Devtaa were admiring Indra's luck that there was nobody like him.

Version From Vaalmeeki Raamaayan
Its another version (from V-Raamaayan, 1/48) is that Ahalyaa only pretended that she did not recognize Indra in Muni's disguise, rather she was very proud of her beauty that her beauty could attract even the King of Devtaa, so Indra had her, and they enjoyed each other's company together. When Indra was returning, unfortunately the then Muni Gautam came back to his Aashram. He had already seen Indra coming out of his Aashram. So he cursed Indra that he should lose his testicles, and he gave Shaap to Ahalyaa that she should lie there only hidden from all others eyes and stay there. When she was falling, she requested Muni to limit his Shaap, so he limited his Shaap - "When Raam will come then He will uplift you."

So when Vishwaamitra Jee was taking Raam and Lakshman to Mithilaa, seeing a large un-arable land on the way in an Aashram He asked as why so much un-arable land was lying like this? Vishwaamitra Jee told Him the story and asked Him to go in the Aashram and uplift Ahalyaa. So Raam and Lakshman went there and touched Ahalyaa's feet. Ahalyaa greeted them. Although she was invisible for others, but Raam could see her. Ahalyaa had turned into a beautiful woman. She prayed Raam and went to her husband's Lok.

Version from Kamban's Tamil Raamaayan
When Indra came to her and expressed his desire, although she knew that he was Indra, she did not deny him. She enjoyed with him. As the sage came back, Ahalyaa stood with the shame, Indra also shook in terror and wanted to run away in the form of a cat. Gautam knew what had happened between them. He immediate cursed Indra - "May you be covered with the marks of 1,000 vaginas all over your body." Covered with shame, becoming a laughing stock for the world Indra came back. Rishi was not satisfied with this, he cursed his wife also to become a black stone. Ahalyaa requested him to set a limit for his curse. At this Gautam Rishi said - "You will be here till Raam comes and the dust of His feet falls on you, you will be released from the body of stone." Seeing Indra in that condition, Devtaa immediately came to Gautam Rishi and requested His grace. Gautam had calmed down till then so he changed his vagina marks into 1,000 eyes. Thus those marks (they were 1,000 in number) changed into 1,000 eyes and that is how he got his another name as "Sahastra-aksh", the one with thousand eyes.

There are two main differences between these two versions of the story. (1) In V-Raamaayan, Indra seduces a willing Ahalyaa; while in Kamban's Raamaayan she knows that he is Indra, and she is doing wrong but is unable to put him away. (2) In V-Raamaayan, Gautam Rishi curses Indra so that he cannot commit this mistake with anyone else by felling his testicles, which is an internal thing; but in Kamban's Raamaayan, Gautam Rishi makes him the laughing stock of the world by covering his body with 1,000 vagina marks - what he lusted for. (3) In V-Raamaayan, Ahalyaa is kept hidden from public's eye and is freed when Raam's feet are touched her; while in Kamban Raamaayan, Ahalyaa is made incapable of responding anything - made stone and she will attain her former state as Raam's feet's dust will fall on her.

Kamban is more dramatic than Vaalmeeki - Raam's feet transform the black stone into Ahalyaa first, and after her story is told. The Ahalyaa episode is related to previous episode, where in Raam kills Taadakaa - there he destroys evil, bringer of sterility and the ashes of death of His enemies. Here in Kamban's Raamaayan, He is reviver of Ahalyaa and cloud-dark God of fertility.

Yet Another Version
From -
This website gives altogether different version from the above two versions. It says that Indra was deeply drowned in material pleasures, so once he asked the Sun and the Moon who was the most beautiful woman in the world. The Sun could not tell him this, but the Moon told him that Ahalyaa, the wife of Gautam Rishi, was the most beautiful woman of the world. So with the help of Moon Indra tried to satisfy his selfish motive.

Gautam Rishi daily used to go to Haridwaar to take bath in the holy river Gangaa at 4.00 am. On that particular day Indra asked moon to crow at 2.00 am in the voice of a rooster. The Moon did so and the Rishi too woke up at that time and went to take bath. Indra found the opportunity and stood near the door and called Ahalyaa in Muni's disguise. Ahalyaa was a Pativrataa woman, she said - If you are Muni, then come in and if you are not Muni, then your body will be Khandit (broken into pieces). Hearing this Indra got powerless his body broke into pieces and scattered there only. When Gangaa saw Rishi so early, she got disturbed and angry too. Gautam said - "I have come to take bath because I heard rooster crowing and thought it was 4.00 am. Gangaa was very happy to see Muni's devotion and blessed him that she would appear near his Aashram on Baisaakhee day. She told him about the conspiracy of Indra and treachery of the Moon. Muni immediately returned to his Aashram and cursed Ahalyaa. Muni also punished the Moon for helping Indra by hitting him his wet Dhotee and marked his body with spots. Ahalyaa was in grief, so she also cursed her daughter - "As I have been cursed without any reason, in the same way you will also have to bear the blame on your character." In future Anjanee gave birth to Hanumaan.

Later when Rishi cooled down, he told Ahalyaa, Anjanee and Moon the ways to be free from curses and gave life to Indra on the request of Brihaspati. Gautam changed the Time Cycle for the release of Ahalyaa. She turned into a stone and waited for Raam to come and release her from her curse. The Moon sat there in Gautam's Aashram and started doing penance to be free from his curse. It is said that because of the Moon's penance this place is called Chandrabaanee instead of Chandra Van.

This story is told in detail in Shiv Puraan - at this point westward Gangaa flows from Gautanm Kund to River Aasan.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 05/22/13