Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ahalya and Indra - A Story for Valentines Day

In the kingdom of Magadha, there lived a beautiful woman named Ahalya, greatly fancied by the King.

Ahalya became deeply enamored by a young man named Indra, who in turn was madly in love with her. The two lovers met repeatedly and frequently, at first in private and then in public, until the affair could no longer be hidden from the King.

The rejected monarch turned in fury upon the hapless paramours. To punish them, he cast them into a tank of freezing water, during the height of winter. Yet, the infatuated couple, instead of showing any discomfort, kept giggling in merriment.


When asked to repent, the pair laughed at the King and said “Never! Do your worst! As long as we are lost in thoughts of each other, we remain oblivious of any discomfort inflicted on our bodies”

 Ahalya and Indra were thrown in frying pan upon a fire, where they remained completely unhurt and exclaimed “We rejoice O King, lost in meditation upon each other.”

 The King tied them to the feet of elephants, that trampled upon them, but they were uninjured and said “King, we feel an ecstatic joy, being absorbed in each other.”

 Lashed with whips and chains, rods and straps and every other scourge that the King could imagine and devise, they remained blissfull. Their response was the same “All the punishment you impose upon our bodies does not affect us, who see the entire universe as full of one another.” 

Eventually, the King prevailed upon the sage Bharata to curse and destroy the couple. The ascetic power behind Bharata’s curse annihilated the bodies of Ahalya and Indra. Yet, the curse left their minds and souls untouched.

Ahalya and Indra took rebirth, first as entwined Schistosoma worms, then as a couple of Kissing Gourami fish, next as cooing Turtle Doves. After a life as a devoted pair of deer, they were finally reborn as a human couple.

The mind is the source and the body is its manifestation. To strike at the body is to strike at a shadow. Minds firmly bonded together cannot be separated - not even by Death 

If two deeply bonded individuals can endure by fixing their minds on each other, imagine what would happen, if you truly learned to fix your Mind on God.

Adapted by Dr. Shantanu Nagarkatti from the Yoga Vasishtha PS: YourLustForLifeStartsRightNow!


Anonymous said...

Yoga Vasista text possibly tries to highlight the powers of the mind through this story..But in most of the articles available Ahalya is told to be the wife of the king.Ahalya's extra marital affair with a paramour brings about her downfall into the animal kingdom.

Most of the comments here eulogize this love story.But this kind of extra marital love affairs do not have the sanction of divine laws and hence do not qualify as pure love.It has lust along with mind power.Those 2 souls did not achieve liberation anyways.

Unfortunately you have not highlighted the fact that Ahalya was actually the queen and her paramour was of loose morals.Hardly good to be a Valentine day story worthy of emulation.. Sorry about my frank opinion

Harkanwal Singh said...

I agree with prior comment. Very true that the story is about lust and not love.

That is Ahalya's story as told by Valmiki.

Sage Gautama lived here with his wife Ahalya, spending his days in peace and holy meditation. One day during the sage's absence from the ashrama, Indra, filled with unholy desire for the beautiful Ahalya, entered it disguised as Gautama and approached the lady with urgent solicitation. She was not deceived by the impersonation, but vain of her beauty and proud that it had won her the love of the lord of the celestials, she lost her judgment and yielded to his desire. When the sin had been sinned, realising its heinousness and the fierce spiritual energy of her betrayed husband, she warned Indra of his terrible peril and begged him to be gone in the instant. Indra was fleeing in guilty panic; but unfortunately for him he almost bumped into the rishi who was just returning from his ablutions, clad in wet garments and radiating spiritual lustre. Pretence was hopeless before that all- seeing wisdom and Indra bowed in abject supplication, and threw himself on the mercy of the rishi. The sage looked at him with wrath and loathing and cursed him: 'Lustful beast as you are, dead to all truth and righteousness, may your manhood fall away from you.' Indra at once became an eunuch and went back to the Devas in ignominious shame. Then the sage turned to his erring wife and prescribed a long penance for her. He said: 'Living on air, you shall stay here, unseen by anyone. After a long time, Dasaratha's son will pass this way. When he sets foot in this ashrama, you will be freed from the curse. Welcome him as a guest. You will then recover your lost virtue and get back your own beauty.' The sage then left his violated ashrama for Himalayas to engage himself in austerities there."

Viswamitra said to Rama: "Let us enter the ashrama. You will bring redemption to Ahalya and rekindle the light in her as the sage promised."

And they went into the ashrama. As Rama set foot in the ashrama, the curse was lifted and Ahalya stood before them in all her beauty. Having lain concealed behind leaves and creepers and kept her vow for many years, she now shone, says the poet, in Rama's presence, like the moon emerging from the clouds, like a flame issuing from smoke and like the sun's reflection in rippling water.

Rama and Lakshmana touched the feet of the sage's wife made pure by penance. She welcomed the divine princes with all the customary rites of hospitality. A shower of flowers descended from the heavens as Ahalya, cleansed of sin, shone like a goddess. Simultaneously the sage Gautama returned to the ashrama and received his repentant and purified wife back to his affection.

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