How modern was Indian Mythology? Read here the story of Ahalya-Rama that has power to transform society!

Ahalya is one of the Panchakanyas is believed to be the wife of Rishi Gautama, according to the Hindu mythology

Lord Rama. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Hindu scriptures have always mesmerised people in India and people across the globe with its poetic verses. The detailing of the stories, powerful characters, interesting plots and much more are the qualities that make a reader glued to Hindu mythologies such as- Puranas, MangalKāvya. The stories might appear simple but when one delves deep, they can find the true meaning of the stories. Philosophers, Historians have agreed that the stories in the Hindu scriptures are layered and need to be analysed for better understanding. They aren’t just a random thought of the poets but the proper history of the ages.

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According to the Hindu mythologies, five Kanyas (Panchakanya) are mentioned in the texts, who established the bravery and strength of Indian women as an individual, apart from fulfilling the responsibilities of being a mother or a wife. Ahalya is one of the Panchakanyas who needs no introduction, as she is believed to be the wife of Rishi Gautama. The section of Ramayana that narrates about her, explains how three men affected her life.

Ahalya-Rama, Wikimedia Commons
Ahalya-Rama, Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Ahalya was described as the beautiful lady on whom Devraj Indra got attracted to, due to her charm. On one unfortunate dawn, Rishi Gautama went to the river for religious practices and Indra took the form of the Rishi went to Ahalya. Ahalya didn’t recognise the culprit and served him as she used to. When the clone was leaving Rishi Gautama saw him and Ahalya understood that she was betrayed. Not aware of the situation, Rishi Gautama accused his wife and cursed her to be a ‘stone’. In Treta Yuga, Rama accompanied by Rishi Viswamitra turned the stone to the living being and freed Ahalya from the curse, with the touch of his feet.

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For the better understanding of the history, one should delve deep to find the true meaning. Rabindranath Tagore interpreted Rama as a social changer who left the kingdom and palace to give people a more practical path to living in a better manner.

Ahalya, Wikimedia commons
Ahalya, Image source: Wikimedia commons

Rama and Viswamitra, believer of Karma or work came to the land of Ahalya. Haricharan Bandopadhyay’s Bengali dictionary gives the meaning of the word ‘Ahalya’ as a land which is unable for Hal (ploughing) i.e. an infertile land. From the story, one can interpret that the land (personified as Ahalya) was betrayed by Lord Indra, the Deity of Rain and the husband, the farmer who took care of the ‘land’ left her, which made her stone (meant lifeless here). Rama came to the ‘land’ and farmed on her which made the land fertile and green again. Here being fertile refers to being alive.

On the other hand, Kumarilbhatta interpreted rape of Ahalya by Indra from a different angle. He defined Indra as Sun, Ahalya as night and rape of Ahalya as the end of the night by bright rays of the sun. Thus it necessary to view the mythology as history and not blindly believing the poetic appearance of the texts.

– by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490