Hindu mythology is jam-packed with stories of how a woman’s beauty changes the
course of time and turns the outcome into another direction altogether. These
divine nymphs are known as ‘apsaras’ in the Hindu texts. They are performers in
the court of the Dev King Indra and there are numerous stories where the Devs
and the Gods have, with the help of these women and their beauty, turned
critical situations into their own favour. Apsaras have been a consistent part
of Hinduism, having an insightful presence in Vedic literature. The commonality
lies in the fact that these beautiful creations were females with captivating
powers and immense dedication to their creators.
Rigveda mentions these Apsaras as aquatic nymphs. Atharvaveda introduces
Apsaras as the inhabitants of the waters. It discusses their heavenly
association with the stars, clouds and rain. The Satapatha Brahmana Samhita
often describes Apsaras as transforming themselves into a kind of a marine
bird. The Apsaras are seen in close contact with the woods and the wet. The
Atharvaveda puts forward that the Apsaras are fond of the dice game and create
the basis to bring in fortune at the dice play. They are also feared as causing
mental void. There are two types of Apsaras - Aloukika (worldly) and Daivika
(Divine). The apsara who seduces the sage is a common trope in Hindu
mythology and can be considered together with the narrative in which a divine woman
seduces a king. Whoever the woman, her time on earth is short for she must
return to the heavens once she has achieved her purpose — either breaking an
ascetic’s penance or, producing sons for a king.
39" The Irresistible Daivika Apsara In Brass | Handmade | Made In India
story of Menaka and Vishwamitra is perhaps the best known of the apsara-sage
stories. It is simple enough, perhaps even paradigmatic, creating the trope
rather than sustaining it. Indra is worried about the intensity of
Vishwamitra’s ascetic practice as it would give the sage enormous powers. He sends
Menaka to seduce him and nullify his penance. Menaka enters the forest where
Vishwamitra is absorbed in his penance and transforms it into a beautiful
garden. Then, Vayu blows by and lifts Menaka’s garments. Vishwamitra opens his
eyes to see an exquisitely beautiful woman, almost naked, standing before him
in a lush and lovely garden. Of course, he drops his ascetic practice and makes
love to her.
a child is born to them, a girl, and Menaka returns to heaven, leaving her
lover and her daughter behind. Vishwamitra abandons the child in a patch of
reeds where she is cared for by birds. The sage Kanva finds her and takes her
home, naming her Shakuntala after the birds that had looked after her. In
another more elaborate version of the story, Menaka unexpectedly falls in love
with Vishwamitra. She tells him the truth — that she was sent to seduce him in
order to destroy his penance. Vishwamitra is outraged and though he loves her
too, curses her to be forever separated from him and their child. A heart-broken
Menaka goes away, never to return.
is a pathetic figure in the second story, the one who draws and holds our
sympathy. She loses the man she loves and her daughter because she made the
mistake of falling in love. But the curse is an interesting one — if
Vishwamitra loved her, he should also be devastated by their separation.
However, whether or not he was in love with Menaka, whether or not she went
back to heaven of her own accord, Vishwamitra’s ascetic life continues as
before. He has no attachments, no more distractions, he can resume his quest
for power. If Menaka did not fall in love with him, we can assume that her
life, too, continues as before in Indra’s court. We might think that she
abandoned her child of her own free will, being an apsara and not an ordinary
woman. The semiotics of the apsara are interesting — forever young, forever
beautiful, never attached, always willing to seduce, even willing to bear
children, if she must. She is the ultimate male fantasy, a sexually idealised
woman whose promiscuity has no consequences. A variant of this fantasy are the
women who constantly get their virginity back — their male partners can take
pleasure in both their social and sexual restoration.
famed tale is that of Urvashi. Once Indra sent all of his apasras to hault the
severe tapasya of Nara-Narayan (twin brother incarnation of Lord Vishnu)
to prevent them from becoming more powerful. The brothers were angered upon
witnessing the apsaras who came to destroy their penance. Nara-Narayan patted
their thighs and then was born a beautiful woman called Urvashi. Urvashi was
the most beautiful amongst all women on earth as well as on heaven. Apasras saw
Urvashi and ran away to heaven in shame. Indra upon knowing the situation
apologized to the twin brothers and was eventually forgiven and Urvashi was
sent to heaven.
story of Mohini is no less popular in the world of Apsaras. Mohini was the
female form of Lord Vishnu and was known for her extreme beauty. There are two
main stories associated with Mohini – As per the mentions in the texts when the
Asuras and Devas were fighting for Amrit and the Asuras ended up taking up the
Amrit for themselves to gain immortality then Vishnu took the form of Mohini
and seduced the Asuras which resulted the Asuras to give Amrit to Mohini and
she started to distribute the it amongst the Devas. Then a demon Rahu Ketu
changed form and tried to get Amrit which angered Lord Vishnu and he slew the
head of the demon and the demon’s head was named Ketu and his body as Rahu. There
is another story where a demon called Bhasmasur gained a boon from Lord Shiva that he will be able to burn anybody to ashes by placing his hand over the head
of the person. Bhasmasur then saw Mother Parvati and decided to marry her and
therefore went after Lord Shiva to burn him down. Vishnu then took the form of
Mohini to help Shiva and seduced Bhasmasur. Bhasmasur wanted to marry Mohini to
which Mohini said to agree only if Bhasmasur imitates her dance moves. After
months of efforts Mohini tricked Bhasmasur into touching his own head through a
dance move which turned the demon into ashes.
is equally popular in mythology of apsaras. Rambha is said to have originated
during the churning of the ocean of milk. She was regarded to be the Queen of
Apsaras. Vishwamitra once engaged in Tapasya for a thousand years, after which
Lord Brahma granted him the title of ‘Maharishi’. But Vishwamitra was not
satisfied by this, as he wanted to be a ‘Brahmarishi’ so that he would be
Vasishtha’s equal. So, he engaged in another thousand years of Tapasya, which
was so intense that it caused disruption in the three worlds. So, Indra told
the Apsara Rambha to tempt Vishwamitra away from his Tapasya. Vishwamitra was
indeed distracted by Rambha, but then he cursed her to turn to stone for
The Beauteous Apsara, Muse Of The Gandharvas
comes the story of Tilottama. Tilottama is the famous Apsara who saved the
world from the rampaging Asura brothers Sunda and Upasunda, often associated
with sin and materialism. The Demigods were attacked by these brothers and were
thrown out of their celestial city. Lord Indra and the other Demigods sent the
Apsara Tilottama to distract them. Both the Asuras desperately wanted to
possess her. Tilottama desired for the strongest partner and demanded them to show
their strength on each other. The brothers didn’t want to lose her and got
involved in an aggressive match. At the end, the brothers ended up killing each
other at the feet of Tilottama.
have been referred in ancient stories and legends as well as in the fairy
tales. They are variously described as fairies, angels, nymphs and sirens.
There are many Apsaras related to Puranas, epics and legends. In Mahabharata,
45 Apsaras are referred. Sage Kashyapa, who has many wives, is considered as
father of many celestial races. The demi-gods are born from his wife Aditi and
demons come from his other wife Diti. While the Bhagavata Purana states that
Apsaras were born from Kashyapa and Muni, it is in the Mahabharata, Pradha is
mentioned as Apsaras’ mother. In other ancient legends, it is said that the
Apsaras came out during the churning of the sea.
Key TakeawaysApsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings who are known for their enchanting dance and music. They are often depicted as having a youthful and alluring appearance.In Hindu mythology, apsaras are associated with the god Indra, who is said to have created them to dance and sing for the entertainment of the gods and to distract demons from their meditative practices.Apsaras are also associated with the god Vishnu and are said to have appeared during his incarnations on earth, such as in the story of the churning of the ocean of milk.There are many different types of apsaras, each with their own unique qualities and characteristics. Some of the most famous apsaras include Menaka, Rambha, and Urvashi.Apsaras are often depicted in Hindu art and literature, and their beauty and grace continue to captivate people today.
Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings who are known for their enchanting dance and music. They are often depicted as having a youthful and alluring appearance.
In Hindu mythology, apsaras are associated with the god Indra, who is said to have created them to dance and sing for the entertainment of the gods and to distract demons from their meditative practices.
Apsaras are also associated with the god Vishnu and are said to have appeared during his incarnations on earth, such as in the story of the churning of the ocean of milk.
There are many different types of apsaras, each with their own unique qualities and characteristics. Some of the most famous apsaras include Menaka, Rambha, and Urvashi.
Apsaras are often depicted in Hindu art and literature, and their beauty and grace continue to captivate people today.
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