Revisiting Ahalya Sthan

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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.Ahalya-ByRajaRaviVerma-eMithilaHaat 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. AhalyaRedemption-eMithilaHaatWhen 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.ahalyadevi-emithilahaat 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.

Shiva Dhanush And Mithila

The Bow Of Lord Shiva; As Mighty As Lord Shiva Himself.

‘Dhanush’ is a Hindi word for Bow and Shiva Dhanush also known as ‘Pinaka’ refers to the bow that belongs to Lord of Lords Shiva. It is interesting to know the association of Pinaka and Mithila. What happened to the mighty bow. Any guesses?

Ages ago according to Ramayana, Lord Vishwakarma who is believed to be the principal architect of the universe, crafted two divine Dhanush. The first one ‘Sharanga’ was given to Lord Vishnu and the second one ‘Pinaka’ was given to Lord Shiva. Pinaka was given as a gift to the king of Mithila Raja Devarratha by Lord Shiva himself as he was happy with his worship and devoutness. King Devarratha was an ancestor of king Janak and hence Pinaka was passed down to him as an ancestral property. King Janak of Mithila had a daughter named Sita. Earlier in her childhood, princess Sita while playing with her sisters accidentally lifted the table over which the Pinaka was placed, which was something unbelievable as no one in the kingdom could do that. This incident was observed by King Janak and became a base for Swayamvar of princess Sita.

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Later, King Janak announced that whomsoever wanted to marry Sita is invited to Mithila and is required to lift the mighty bow Pinaka and string it. Hearing this prince from all over the country gathered including Lord Shri Ram from Ayodhya and king of Lanka Ravana. Finally, Shri Rama broke the Pinaka while attempting to string it during Swayamvar of Sita and thereby winning princess’s hand in marriage.

After the marriage when Dashrath (king of Ayodhya and father of Lord Rama) along with Prince Rama were returning to Ayodhya, Parashuram (6th avtar of Lord Vishnu) blocked their way as he was displeased because he broke his Guru Shiva’s Pinaka. King Dashrath prayed to Parashuram to exonerate Lord Rama but his request was not accepted and he challenged Lord Rama to string the bow and fight. Rama takes the bow, strings it, places the arrow and points it straight at the challenger’s heart. At this point, Parashuram feels his mystical energy and realizes that Lord Rama is the avatar of Vishnu. He accepts that Rama was superior. Lord Rama takes Sharanga from Parashuram and gives it to Varuna, Lord of oceans for safe keeping.

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Among many tales, there is a tale which is mentioned in the 75th sarga of Bala Kanda of Ramayana. This was narrated by Parashuram to Lord Rama before challenging him to String sharanga. Devas wanted to test the superiority of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva so they asked Lord Brahma to decide who is more powerful. This intent of Devas started to create adversities among the two Lords, Shiva and Vishnu. Owing to their animosity then occurred a fierce and blood-curdling war among Shiva and Vishnu, as each aspired victory for himself. The ‘HMMMM‘ sound generated by Lord Vishnu was so intense and powerful that it  not only overpowered mighty bow of Lord Shiva but also immobilized the three-eyed Mahadev. Thus, mighty bow Pinaka remains useless and Lord Vishnu’s bow Sharanga prevails.

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India is a land of diverse culture, numerous heritages and various gods and goddess. The stories might be just beliefs of people or can be real facts. But people believe in them not because of a tale but because of the places that witnessed these events are present even today. In this story, Mithila is the place that witnessed these events and is mentioned in Ramayana which is still present in India and there are evidences that support this legend.