I vaguely remember hearing that women were cursed with menstruation or probably I read it on this site itself in some comment that I'm unable to trace now.

Were women cursed by any sage or god with menstruation?

I'm also curious to know if only earthly beings (women) were cursed or did the curse apply to women, Demigoddesses, Apsaras, demons, etc.?

What is the story of women being cursed with menstruation?

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    And why do (only some) other mammals also menstruate? – Nate Mar 17 '17 at 18:14

Were women cursed by any sage or god with menstruation? What is the story of women being cursed with menstruation?

I think that is not a curse given to women by any sage or god, but women themselves accepted the menstruation cycle to make Indra free of his sin along with Prithivi, Jal, and Vruksha (earth, water and trees).

There is a story described in Shreemad Bhagvat Purana of Indra killing Vishwroopa and to get rid of the sin, he distributed his sin of killing a brahmana (Brahma-Hatya) in four parts to women, water, trees and earth. Shreemad Bhagvat Book 1, skandha 6, chapter 9:

ब्रह्महत्यामज्त्रलिना जग्राह यदपीश्वर |
संवत्सरान्ते तदघं भूतानां स विशुद्धते |
भूम्यम्बुद्रुमयोषिद्भ्यच्श्रतुर्धा वयभजद्भरि: ||६||

brahma-hatyām añjalinā jagrāha yad apīśvaraḥ
saṁvatsarānte tad aghaṁ bhūtānāṁ sa viśuddhaye
bhūmy-ambu-druma-yoṣidbhyaś caturdhā vyabhajad dhariḥ

Although Indra was so powerful that he could neutralize the sinful reactions for killing a brāhmaṇa, he repentantly accepted the burden of these reactions with folded hands. He suffered for one year, and then to purify himself he distributed the reactions for this sinful killing among the earth, water, trees and women. SB 6.9.6

This is further confirmed in another chapter, Skandha 6 chapter 13 shloka 5:

Indra said

स्त्रीभूजलद्रुमैरेनो विश्वरुपधोद्भ्वम् |
विभक्तमनुह्णद्भिर्व्रुत्रहत्यां क्व माज्म्यर्यहं ||५||

strī-bhū-druma-jalair eno viśvarūpa-vadhodbhavam
vibhaktam anugṛhṇadbhir vṛtra-hatyāṁ kva mārjmy aham

King Indra replied: When I killed Viśvarūpa, I received extensive sinful reactions, but I was favored by the women, land, trees and water, and therefore I was able to divide the sin among them. But now if I kill Vṛtrāsura, another brāhmaṇa, how shall I free myself from the sinful reactions? SB 6.13.5

And here is your answer:

शश्र्वत्कांमवरेणामहस्तुरियं जगृहु: स्त्रिय:|
रजोरुपेण तास्वमहो मासि मासि प्रदृश्यते ||९||

śaśvat-kāma-vareṇāṁhas turīyaṁ jagṛhuḥ striyaḥ 
rajo-rūpeṇa tāsv aṁho māsi māsi pradṛśyate 

In return for Lord Indra’s benediction that they would be able to enjoy lusty desires continuously, even during pregnancy for as long as sex is not injurious to the embryo, women accepted one fourth of the sinful reactions. As a result of those reactions, women manifest the signs of menstruation every month. SB 6.9.9

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    FYI, according to this BBC article, macaques, some bats, shrews also menstruate. So it's not unique to humans! – sv. Jun 5 '17 at 18:07
  • @sv. - Yes , Bats are also mamals like us ,may be that could be the reason , but the fact not known to ancient's 😊👍 – SwiftPushkar Jun 5 '17 at 18:10
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    But the big question is, what sin did bats, monkeys (macaques) etc. also commit to deserve menstruation every month? :P – sv. Jun 5 '17 at 18:16
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    @SwiftPushkar then why do you support it even after knowing it? menses is not a sin but a virtue ... without it women cannot conceive !! it is indirectly insulting the motherhood . – Rakesh Joshi Jun 5 '17 at 19:07
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    @RakeshJoshi sometimes bad curses result in goodness for everyone. It was all Lela of God to give women menses for reproduction. – Anubhav Jha Feb 9 '18 at 8:26

Chapter 32 Preta Khanda of Garuda Purana says Brahma gave 1/4th of Indra's Brahmahatya sin to women.

ऋतुकाले च नारीणां वज्जर्यं दिनचतुष्टयम्॥
यतस्तिस्मिन् ब्रह्महत्यां पुरावृत्रसमुत्थिताम्॥ ७॥

The first four days of menstrual flow of blood shall be avoided when the sin of a Brahmin's slaughter resides in her.

ब्रह्मा शक्रात् समुक्तार्य्य चतुर्थाशेन दत्तवान्॥ ८॥

Brahma had removed this sin from Indra and apportioned a fourth in women.

  • That is a excellent find. – SwiftPushkar Mar 17 '17 at 10:21
  • @SwiftPushkar you look delighted in linking women with someone's sin. How come puberty be a result of someone's sin? Does this mean that its a fruit of sin to attain puberty? – Rakesh Joshi May 2 '17 at 11:41

It was not actually a curse.The women took some share of Indra's sin/guilt.The story given in the Vashishta Dharma Sutras is related to Indra's killing of the demon Vritraasura & is as follows:

  1. For it has been declared in the Veda, ‘When Indra had slain (Vritra) the three-headed son of Tvashtri, he was seized by Sin, and he considered himself to be tainted with exceedingly great guilt. Al l beings cried out against him (saying to him), 7 ‘ thou slayer of a learned Brâhmana! O thou slayer of a learned Brâhmana!’ He ran to the women for protection (and said to them), ‘Take upon yourselves the third part of this my guilt (caused by) the murder of a learned Brâhmana.’ They answered, ”What shall we have (for doing thy wish)?’ He replied, ‘Choose a boon.’ They said, ‘Let us obtain offspring (if our husbands approach us) during the proper season, at pleasure let us dwell (with our husbands until (our children) are born.’ He answered, ‘ So be it.’ (Then) they took upon themselves (the t hird part of his guilt). That guilt of Brâhmana-murder appears every month as the menstrual flow. Therefore let him not eat the food of a woman in her courses; (for) such a one has put on the shape of the guilt of Brâhmana-murder.

Vashishta Dharma Sutras Chapter 5.

I am not sure though if the same story is repeated in some other Scriptures like the Puranas.

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    Thanx!!Vritrasur was a demon. why did people cry out against Indra for killing him? Of course Bhagavatam calls him a devotee but he was in guise of demon. – Vishal prabhu lawande Mar 17 '17 at 7:53
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    @Vishalprabhulawande As per the story Vritra was a Brahmin..so,Indra had the guilt of killing a Brahmin..The women shared some part of that guilt by agreeing to have courses.. – Rickross Mar 17 '17 at 8:00
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    Just like Lord Rama had the Brahmahatya dosha after killing Ravana.. – Rickross Mar 17 '17 at 8:02
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    @Rickross in which yuga did this happen ? were women not menstruating before this ? illogical stories.. – Rakesh Joshi May 1 '17 at 3:56
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    @RakeshJoshi, First list what you would accept as proof, since you label any scriptural proof that goes against your opinions as an interpolation or wrong interpretation. Second, refrain from using words like bloody, unless you're describing a battle or other evil people like Kamsa/Duryodhana. – ram May 3 '17 at 14:41

The earliest reference to women accepting a third share of Indra's sin and as a result receiving the "boon" of menstruation can be found in the Taittirīya Saṃhitā of Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda.

The Yajur Veda (Taittiriya Sanhita)
Arthur Berriedale Keith, translator



The New and Full Moon Sacrifices

ii. 5. 1.

a Viśvarūpa, son of Tvastr, was the domestic priest of the gods, and the sister's son of the Asuras. He had three heads, one which drank Soma, one Sura, and one which ate food. He promised openly the share to the gods, secretly to the Asuras. Men promise openly the share to every one; if they promise any one secretly, his share is indeed promised. Therefore Indra was afraid (thinking), 'Such an one is diverting the sovereignty (from me).' He took his bolt and smote off his heads. (The head) which drank Soma 2 became a hazelcock; (the head) which drank Sura a sparrow; (the head) which ate food a partridge. He seized with his hand the guilt of slaying him, and bore it for a year.

Creatures called out upon him, 'Thou art a Brahman slayer.' He appealed to the earth, 'Take a third part of my guilt.' She said, 'Let me choose a boon. I deem that I shall be overcome through digging. Let me not be overcome by that.' He replied, 'Before 2 a year is out it will grow up for thee.' Therefore before the year is out the dug-out portion of earth grows up again, for that was what she chose as a boon. She took a third of his guilt. That became a natural fissure; therefore one who has piled up a fire-altar and whose deity is faith should not choose a natural fissure, for that is the colour of guilt.

He appealed to the trees, 'Take a third part of my guilt.' They said, 'Let us choose a boon. We deem that we shall be overcome through pruning [3]. Let us not be overcome by that.' He replied, 'From pruning shall more (shoots) spring up for you.' Therefore from the pruning of trees more (shoots) spring up, for that was what they chose as a boon. They took a third part of his guilt, it became sap; therefore one should not partake of sap, for it is the colour of guilt. Or rather of the sap which is red or which comes from the pruning one should not partake [4], but of other sap at will.

He appealed to a concourse of women, 'Take the third of my guilt.' They said, 'Let us choose a boon; let us obtain offspring from after the menses; let us enjoy intercourse at will up to birth.' Therefore women obtain offspring from after the menses, and enjoy intercourse at will up to birth, for that was what they chose as a boon. They took a third of his guilt, it became (a woman) with stained garments; therefore one should not converse with (a woman) with stained garments [5], one should not sit with her, nor eat her food, for she keeps emitting the colour of guilt. Or rather they say, 'Woman's food is unguent, and there fore one should not accept (from her) unguent, but anything else (can be accepted) at will.'

The son born of intercourse with (a woman) with stained garments is accursed; ...

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