Yes, it was Ahalya who disturbs the dedicated and determined Shakuntala. Until then she was holding on to pain of her parents Vishwamitra and Menaka’s story, she then was introduced in a bizarre manner to the life story of ‘Ahalya’.
Who is Ahalya? What’s so unearthly about her life that creates havoc in Shakuntala’s Life?
Firstly, Ahalya’s life itself was chaos. Whether it was created by herself, invited by her or her karma? That’s the answer left to your thoughts. Till date, most of us know Ahalya through one prism. Today I will try tapping the other side of it to you all.
Let’s start by learning the creation of Ahalya. You heard it, Ahalya was a creation. A creation of Brahma. We know that Brahma is responsible for creating apsaras, similarly, he decides to create much more beautiful apsara. So, he creates Ahalya. Baby Ahalya is created and is left at Gautham Maharshi ashram. Goutham Maharshi takes care of her and gives her the education and everything that’s required. He knew that she is the creation of Brahma, as she turned 16, Gautham Maharshi invokes Brahma and tells him that he fulfilled his responsibility of bringing up Ahalya and now he is handing her over to Brahma for deciding her future.
Hearing to this, Lord Brahma is extremely satisfied. He says you have taken care of Ahalya for all through. Now you need to continue that by marrying her. Doesn’t it sound absurd? It does, but the point to ponder here is the time period. This was the story in the Satya Yuga, so it’s acceptable in those days. Remember Satya Yuga is the yuga of spiritual learning and unification with God, so service is the ultimate motive of everyone. But today’s time in Kal Yuga, this would look like sin and unthinkable act. Because it’s outrageous to think someone taking care of someone like a daughter suddenly marrying the same person.
Ahalya and Goutham Maharshi get married and that wasn’t questioned by anyone…
In a few days, everything changes. A tradition got fulfilled, people without raising any question accept their marriage. Both get married and start living an amazing life. They are living a loving life and soon they are blessed with kids. As things were going fine, Indra – King of Swarga Loka eyes Ahalya. Ahalya is gorgeous, after all, she is the creation of Brahma. Indra gets blinded with sexual desires for Ahalya, he wants her. He lands in Bhu Loka and seduces her, but Ahalya shows no interest in him and disregards his ugly behaviour. Believe her, Ahalya is deeply devoted to husband Gouthama Maharshi.
Seeing no advancement, Indra decides to win her by deceit. Basically, Gautham Maharshi has a habit of waking up at Bramha muhurtam and goes to the river for doing all the morning activities like nature call and freshening up.
So, that morning Gouthama Maharshi leaves to the river, knowing that it will take time for the husband to return, Ahalya decides to take a nap. Indra jumps on this opportunity; he disguises himself as Gouthama Maharshi. He knocks the door; she opens and Indra in the disguise of Gouthama Maharshi has ‘sex’ with her. The act is over.
As Gouthama Maharshi (Indra in disguise) starts to leave the room, real Gouthama Maharshi enters.
He sees Indra and Ahalya. Ahalya is shell shocked, she understands that she was cheated by Indra. Indra quickly tries to escape, but Maharshi catches him and curses him. He punishes him saying ‘you have a lot of sexual desire, your complete body will be filled with vaginas’, later on, the request of the gods, Gouthama Maharshi modifies his curse to 1,000 eyes.
After cursing Indra, he looks at Ahalya. He is furious with her action; he bursts out and curses her to turn into a stone. Only in Treta yuga, Lord Ram converts her back to Ahalya. So, after this act, Gouthama Maharshi is all alone. He continuous to teach students and run his ashram.
Shakuntala sees the discrimination shown by Gouthama Maharshi
This is the story she listens from people in Kanva Maharshi Ashram. Shakuntala feels it is an injustice. She thinks how did Indra getaway when he was a bigger culprit, why is Ahalya suffering by becoming a stone? With all this in her mind, she leaves to her room and sleeps. Next day, Gouthama Maharshi starts his discourse and everyone is keenly listening to his speech. All the students are interested, interactive and posing questions. But the special student of the ashram, Shakuntala is silently sitting at the corner. In fact, during the evening discourse, her disinterested attitude is noticed by Kanva Maharshi.
She actually goes out of discourse even before it gets finished. This was very unusual for her. Kanva Maharshi is worried about her behaviour and as soon as Gouthama Maharshi is gone into his cottage to rest, he walks to Shakuntala’s room.
Kanva Maharshi asks Shakuntala what is the reason? Shakuntala says ‘You are a good friend of Gouthama Maharshi, you would be knowing the story and the curse he had given to Ahalya’. Kanva Maharshi says yes, he understands where this is leading to. Shakuntala showcases her anger on Gouthama Maharshi, but that’s when Kanva Maharshi decides to open up. He tells her the other side of the story. The second prism.
Listening to this, she is even angrier, uncontrollably furious. But as always, she keeps things to herself. But what did Ahalya hear from Kanva Maharshi that made her lose her cool altogether?