Who was Ahalya?
Our Hindu Mythology tells that Ahalya was the wife of Gautama Maharishi. Ahalya was also known as Ahilya. The Mythology tells that Lord Brahma had created some beautiful woman out of whom Ahalya was the best. She was a virtuous woman and she was impeccably beautiful. Lord Brahma wished Sage Gautama to look after this virtuous girl and later on the couple tied knot with each another.
Let’s ponder deep to know the story of Ahalya:
Lord Brahma handed over the little girl to Maharishi Gautama at a very tender age. He made Gautama promise to return the girl when she attains her adolescence. As promised, Gautama brought back the girl to Lord Brahma. Initially, Brahma became speechless to see the beauty of the girl. Soon he realized that the girl should be handed over to Gautama permanently. He applauded Maharishi’s generosity and his greatness. Brahma desired the girl to get married to the sage. We know this girl as Ahalya or Ahilya.
Divine Beauty of Ahalya:
Ahalya’s beauty cannot be expressed in words. Her beauty aroused love and lust in the minds of many Gods and Asuras. Her captivating body had attracted many. Many devas desired her. As she was blessed by Lord Brahma, she retained the beauty of a 16-year-old girl.
After coming to know about the desires of the devas, Brahma declared that he would hand over the girl to the person who would be able to travel the earth and come back first. Hearing this, everyone set off on their journey. On his way back to his ashram, Maharishi Gautama saw the birth of a divine cow taking place. On seeing it, the sage was stirred emotionally and could not hold his feeling. He walked around the cow and a Shivling.
Ahalya’s Marriage got Fixed:
In the meantime, Lord Brahma exercised his meditation powers and came to know everything. He called Maharishi Gautama to inform him that he was extremely pleased with his actions. The act manifested the sage’s presence of knowledge and intelligence. He explained that the cow that was born represented the earth and circumambulating it and the Shivling was nothing less than travelling the Earth. He praised his performance and decided to give Ahalya to Maharishi as he deserved him the most.
Soon, the devas came to know about Ahalya’s marriage getting fixed with Maharishi and they could not accept it. The news of Ahalya’s marriage to Maharishi spread all over and soon Indra, the leader of the Devas came to know about it. He was the secret admirer of Ahalya’s beauty. Her marriage could not keep him away from stalking on her.
Indra’s Attempt that proved to be sinful:
Indra kept an eye on the sage’s habit and soon discovered that he used to leave home at the dawn of every day to perform his puja. His love for Ahalya compelled him to urge the moon to take the form of a cock and help to wake up Gautama Rishi long before dawn.
The cock’s voice awakened Gautama Rishi at 2 am and he left to perform his prayers. Soon Indra disguised himself as Gautama Rishi and entered the hut where he found the beautiful Ahalya. He demanded Ahalya to make love but Ahalya had enough spiritual powers to understand that the man who stood in front of him was Indra, the King of Gods and not her husband.
Indra took the opportunity to seduce Ahalya and she was flattered by it. Soon, Ahalya was allured and lost her senses and engaged herself in making love with Indra. Both of them committed the sin. When the lady regained her senses, she realized her mistake and asked Indra to leave her place immediately.
Although Indra could fulfil his lust, he realized that he should leave the place immediately otherwise he would be cursed by the sage. As Indra was preparing to leave, the sage entered the hut and could interpret the entire incident. He cursed the moon, his wife and Indra for the sinful act. He cursed Ahalya to become invisible and exist in the air. Next was the turn of Indra. His curse was to carry a thousand vulvae in his entire body.
Ahalya became a stone and Indra was turned into a eunuch. His body was covered with 1000 vaginas and he secluded himself from the entire world. This led to dismay and confusion among the Gods as Indra’s duties remain suspended and hence they approached Lord Brahma for help. With Lord Shiva’s grace, the 1000 vaginas were replaced by 1000 eyes and he came to be known as the thousand eyed God. Soon Ahalya also regained her form and joined her husband in the Himalayas.
The story of Ahalya gives us a clear picture of patriarchal society.
Ahalya is regarded as an independent woman who responded to her desires and urges and gathered enough courage to face the consequences too. Her encounter with Indra proves that his husband could not satisfy his carnal desires.