Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Ahalya at Wikipedi.

AHALYA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] Wife of the Rishi Gautama, and a very beautiful woman. In the Ramayana it is stated that she was the first woman made by Brahma, and that he gave her to Gautama. She was seduced by Indra, who had to suffer for his adultery.

One version of the Ramayana represents her as knowing the god and being flattered by his condescension; but another version states that the god assumed the form of her husband, and so deceived her.

Another story is that Indra secured the help of the moon, who assumed the form of a cock and crowed at midnight. This roused Gautama to his morning's devotions, when Indra went in and took his place.

Gautama expelled Ahalya from his hermitage, and deprived her of her prerogative of being the most beautiful woman in the world, or, according to another statement, he rendered her invisible. She was restored to her natural state by Rama and reconciled to.her husband.

This seduction is explained mythically by Kumarila Bhatta as Indra (the sun's) carrying away the shades of night, the name Ahalya, by a strained etymology, being made to signify `night.'


Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM