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Valmiki Ramayana - Bala Kanda in Prose Sarga 49


Ahalya is redeemed from her curse when Rama enters their hermitage. Vishvamitra while continuing the narration of the legend of Ahalya asks Rama to enter her hermitage where Ahalya is living unseen by anybody. When once Rama steps into that hermitage she manifests herself from her accursed invisible state. She emerges with her divine form and accords guestship to Rama and Lakshmana. Sage Gautama also arrives at this juncture to accept his depurated wife Ahalya.




"The emasculated Indra then with panicked eyes spoke to gods, siddha-s, gandharva-s, and carana-s, keeping Fire-god as their helms-god. I have Indeed incited fury in that noble-souled Sage Gautama by effectuating hindrance in his asceticism, but I have accomplished a task of gods.

Indra is a position assigned to some high-souled being on acquiring considerable merit. He functions as a CEO of the universe, maintaining seasons, rains, thunders, thunderbolts, crops, earthquakes, and every aspect of nature, whether they are good or bad for us. If any Vedic-ritual were performed, this Indra would be too happy, as he and his deputies like Rain-god, Fire-god, Air-god, et al., will receive many oblations from that ritual. But if it is tapas 'the practise of asceticism, penance, or ascesis' by single sage, Indra will be highly perturbed. Usually sages will be practising this ascesis for attainment of higher abodes of Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva. Some practise this to overthrow present Indra and try ascending to his position, or to attain immortality and thereby rout out Indra, as with the case of Ravana. When that practise is about to materialise, Indra sends his agents, like voluptuous celestial beauties, namely the apsara-s, to infatuate those sages with their beauty. Once the sage's concentration fails, his practise becomes futile. Thus, Indra retains his present position. Here, though Sage Gautama did not practise his ascesis for Indra's post, Indra had to hinder it in his own apprehension, and when the fury of Gautama is incited, Gautama's practise also failed and he had to redo his ascesis until he overcomes his passions. Thus, this 'causing hindrance' is a divine-act as proclaimed by Indra to other gods. In doing such 'divine-acts' Indra will also be maligned, for which the higher gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or other higher beings will come to his rescue.

" 'By Gautama's anger I am rendered testicle-less and his wife Ahalya is also rejected by the sage, and thus by his releasing a severe curse his propriety for ascesis is dwindled, therefore his ascesis is pre-empted by me. Therefore, oh, all gods with the assemblages of sages and caarana-s, it will be apt of you to make me virile again, as I have acted for the benefit of gods.' Thus Indra spoke to all gods. 

"On hearing the words of the officiator for Hundred-Vedic-rituals, namely Indra, all of the gods and other assemblages of celestials, together with the groups of Marut-gods came to the godly manes keeping the Fire-god in van, and appealed. 

" 'This ram is with testicles and Indra is indeed rendered testicle-less. Taking the testicles of this ram they may be given to Indra quickly.' Thus Fire-god started his appeal to manes. This ram that is being offered to you shall now be gelded to give its testes to Indra, and though this ram is deprived of its organ it will be complete and it endows complete satisfaction to you. To those humans who hereafter offer testes-less rams in sacrifices for the purpose of your gratification, you shall truly offer them plentiful and unmitigated benefits.' Thus Agni, the Fire-god spoke to manes. 

The 'manes' are the deified souls of dead ancestors. It is customary to offer un-castrated or unmutilated animals in sacrifices to please gods or departed souls. Presently some humans have offered such an un-castrated ram to manes and the manes are about to enjoy it. But the gods have come and Agni, the Fire-god, is asking them to part with such an offering, for the sake of Indra. And when the manes were hesitating to go against the existing rules of ritual, then Agni, the Fire-god, is amending those rules and he is saying a boon-like proclamation. 'From now, the manes can enjoy even a castrated ram, if offered by humans on earth, and in turn the manes shall afford plentiful benefits of undiminished value to those offerers, namely humans...'

"On hearing the words of Agni, the Fire-god, the manes-gods who gathered to collect their share of offering have extricated that ram's testes, which is not yet sacrificed but tethered to a sacrificial post, and offered them to the Thousand-eyed Indra. Oh, Rama of Kakutstha, from then onwards the manes-gods who come to collect their share are enjoying even the goats, even if they do not have testes, to endow benefits thereof to those that offer those goats, and to join the testes of goats to Indra. 

If rams with testes are offered the manes discard the testes of those rams and enjoy the rest of it. Even if a goat is offered they enjoy it, considering it as homogenous to a ram. In either way, the offerer is blessed with benefits and Indra with testes.

"Oh, Raghava, owing to the efficacy of the great-souled Gautama and his ascesis, from then onwards Indra has became one with the testes of a goat. Therefore, oh, great-resplendent Rama, enter the hermitage of Gautama whose deeds are pietistic, and atone Ahalya who is highly fortunate and who is in the compose of a divinity." Thus Vishvamitra spoke to Rama. On hearing Vishvamitra's words Rama entered the hermitage along with Lakshmana and keeping Vishvamitra afore. 

She whose splendour is brightened by her ascesis, at whom it is impossible to raise an eye for a stare either for gods, or for demons, or for the worldly beings on coming close to her, whom the Creator has contrived with careful contemplation as an angelic and a completely phantasmal entity, who is like the befogged and beclouded moonshine of a full moon as she is hitherto enshrouded by the dried up leaves and dust, who is like an unwatchable sunshine mirrored in and glowing from the midst of water, for she is hitherto in the midst of denounce, and whose limbs are like the tongues of a flaring fire around which fumes are cloaking, as she is hitherto practising an utmost ascesis subsisting on air alone, which ascesis alone made her like a flaring Ritual Fir, and Rama has seen such a highly glorious Ahalya. 

Ahalya is indeed indiscernible to all the three worlds by the very word of Gautama until the manifestation of Rama. On reaching the end of curse she came into the view of Raghava-s, and they too gladly touched her feet in reverence. 

Reminiscing Gautama's words Ahalya received those two, and self-consciously offered water for feet and hand washing, and like that she also offered guestship customarily and dutifully, and Rama of Kakutstha on his part acquiesced her hospitality. There chanced an abundant floral fall form firmament to the drumbeats of god's drums, and the celestials like gandharva-s, apsara-s revelled in a splendid festivity that is superb. Gods have collectively reverenced her, whose limbs are depurated by the asset of her ascesis which is performed as a devotee of Gautama remaining in his directives, saying 'Gracious! Goodness!' 

Even that great-resplendent Gautama is heartened when he reunited with Ahalya after a long, long a time, and that sage customarily reverenced Rama for actualising his solemn utterance, and that great-ascetic Gautama continued his ascesis together with Ahalya. Rama on receiving a conventionally high veneration in the manifestness of that great-saint Gautama himself, then moved ahead to Mithila. 


Ahalya - a myth or a reality?

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The legend of Ahalya is viewed from many viewpoints, because it is unclear whether she is a humanly lady or a divine entity, or a tract of land.

The atheists, rather materialists, in their translation of Ramayana take this Ahalya, according to their viewpoint, as an uncultivable tract of land by saying that is a halya ‘un,’ Thereby Rama rendered it as a cultivable land in the course of his socio-economic reforms. There are many other instances in relating these mythical accounts of Ramayana to the earthly plane. Another instance is lavaNa asura samhaara ‘elimination of Saline Demon...’ and Rama’s elimination of this demon is taken as ‘treatment of saline oceanic water as potable waters...’

When the mythology is touched upon, it says that Ahalya is lying there as a stone and by the touch of Rama’s foot she regained her divinely human form. This is not evident in Valmiki Ramayana. The idea of petrifaction of Ahalya is brought in from Padma Puraana which says: s˜ tata× tasya r˜masya p˜da sparþan˜t mah˜tman× | abh¨t sur¨p˜ vanit˜ sam˜kr˜nt˜ mah˜ þil˜ || ‘by the touch of the feet of that great souled Rama, she was manifest as a divine damsel, getting rid of her stone-shape...’ Further, there will be an exchange of words between Indra and Brahma in Uttara Kanda of Ramayana, and there this episode of Ahalya recurs. At that place Brahma defines hala as ‘distorted shape...’ and a halya is one with an ‘impeccable beauty...’ Besides the above, Indra will be usually addressed as sahasra aksha ‘thousand eyed one...’ and behind this legend, there is another legend, saying that Gautama’s curse to Indra is: ‘since you delighted with Divine Ahalya, who is crafted by Brahma, in carnal pleasures, let there be thousand carnally vaginal apertures on your body...’ Then that Indra is agitated for such an appearance, pleads for mercy. Then, the curse is amended saying ‘instead of vaginal apertures, the apertures on your body will look like eyes...’ thus Indra became sahasra aksha.

F. Max Müller records in his ‘History of Sanskrit Literature’ the commentary of Kumaarila Bhatt, yet another ancient commentator on Ramayana. “In the same manner, if it is said the Indra was the seducer of Ahalya. This does not imply that the God Indra committed such a crime, but Indra means the Sun and Ahalya the night, from [the words] ahaH ‘the day’ and lil ‘the night’; and as the night is seduced and ruined by the sun of the morning, there is Indra called the paramour of Ahalya.”

Dharmaakuutam views this as paatityam, patita ‘falling from practise of virtuousness’ Such women are said to be accepted by men after making their amends for their faults. tath˜ svar¨pa n˜þam k®tv˜ v˜yu bhakÿa ity˜di vayon¨rpa þ˜pa prad˜nena c˜paly˜t satk®t para puruÿa v®tt˜ strŸ niyamena þocayitv˜ puna× saðgrahya iti s¨citam | abhy˜se tu p˜tityam | - tath˜ ca gautama× - nindita karma abhy˜si patit˜t ty˜ga patit˜t ty˜gina× patit˜× - iti - dk



Thus, this is the 49th chapter in Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India. 

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© Nov, 2002, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : November 04]