Ahiyari village situated in Darbhanga district is also famous as ‘Ahalya Sthan’ or ‘Ahalya Gram’ is believed to be the first Ram Janki temple of India. This placed is situated 3kms south of Kamataul railway station in Jale Block. The temple is considered a masterpiece of Indian architecture built between 1662-1682 during the reign of Maharaja Chhatra Singh and Maharaja Rudra Singh. The temple is said to contain a stone with footprints of Goddess Sita. Twice a year grand fairs are held at this place, once on the occasion of Ramnavmi and other on the occasion of Vivah Panchami.
The story goes that Ahalya was a beautiful lady created by the greatest craftsman Brahma. Some say he did it to shatter the pride of celestial nymph, Urvashi. Ahalya was much younger to sage Gautama with whom she was married. The legend goes that one day attracted by her beauty, Lord Indra came disguised as sage Gautama in his absence. He seduced her and established a physical relationship with her. When sage Gautama found out that his wife had slept with another man, in his wrath he cursed her and she turned into a stone. The only way she could be liberated was by the pious touch of Lord Rama. When Lord Rama, along with Lakshmana and sage Vishwamitra was wandering through the forests, Vishwamitra told him the story of Ahalya’s curse and asked Rama to touch the stone. On being touched by Lord Rama, Ahalya was finally redeemed and turned back into her real self.
What is interesting in this story and what fascinates the people who revisit these mythological stories or the modern feminists, is the way a woman is portrayed in mythology. There are various versions of the story stating that Ahalya was well aware of the fact that it was Indra disguised as her husband and yet she commits adultery because she was proud of her beauty and sexually unsatisfied by her ascetic husband. While there are also other versions of the same story which represent Ahalya as innocent and unaware of the fact that Indra is actually deceiving her. But in any case the three notable points are that Ahalya is a female figure who is a part of a patriarchal society and totally dependent on male figures for her existence. Lord Brahma, a male, is her creator. She faces the fury of her husband and has no choice but to become a stone simply because she took a step out of the societal norms which dictate that for an ideal wife her husband is her world and no matter who commits the crime the woman has to bear the brunt of it. Her ultimate redeemer is also a male figure, Lord Rama. Thus right from her birth to her redemption she is solely dependent on one or the other man. The story seems to be a warning for the women of the society that if they dare to cross the societal norms, that’s the harsh punishment they should expect.
Ahalya Sthan thus is place with very dynamic importance and significance. On one hand it signifies holiness and purity, a place where the piousness of Lord Rama cleanses all the sins of Ahalya and redeems her and on the other, a place that when put in larger historical context reminds the society of the position the women have held since ancient ages. No matter what it signifies to different people yet it’s place in Indian history is indeed unique and important. Do plan a visit to this ancient place which has witnessed a historic event of Hindu mythology. We would love to know your experience of the visit to Ahalya Sthan.