11

It is well-known that the sage Gautama cursed his wife Ahalya to turn into a rock. What is less well-known, however, is that the sage Vishwamitra cursed the Apsara Rambha in a similar fashion. Vishwamitra once engaged in Tapasya for a thousand years, after which Brahma granted him the title of Maharishi. But Vishwamitta 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, as described in this chapter of Bala Kanda of the Ramayana:

Whereof you tried to entice me who am wishing to win over the wanton and wroth, you unlucky female Rambha, thereof you will become a rocklike statued wastrel [for ten thousand years]. A highly resplendent Brahman who is ascetically powerful redeems you, oh, Rambha, who are now blemished by my anger.

My question, who is the Brahmana who freed Rambha from Vishwamitra's curse? We know that she was ultimately freed; for instance she's described in this chapter of the Harivamsa as out and about in the time of Arjuna's great-grandson Janamejaya.

The translator says this:

This ascetically powerful Brahman-saviour of Rambha is none other than the Sage Vashishta, the brainchild of Brahma. Even though Vishvamitra is at loggerheads with Vashishta, he holds Vashishta in high respect.

But does this have a scriptural basis? If so, what are the circumstances in which Vasishtha freed Rambha?

On a side note, I've had this question for many years, ever since I watched the Dhoordarshan TV serial "Vishwamitra"; they showed Rambha turning to stone but they never showed her being freed.

  • same thing is described in anushasha parv of mahabharat , but who freed her from curse is not given . – Friendy May 5 '17 at 5:13
  • 1
    @Friendy I just found out who freed her; see my answer. – Keshav Srinivasan May 5 '17 at 6:25
14

The sage Shweta freed Rambha. I found the answer in this excerpt from the Setu Mahatmya of the Skanda Purana, in a chapter dealing with a Tirtha in Setu called Kapitirtha. Agastya's disciple sage Shweta is engaged in Tapasya when he is disturbed by the demoness Angaraka (who was actually the Apsara Ghritachi in a cursed form). So he takes the rock that Rambha had turned into, invokes the Vayavyastra (weapon of the Vayu the wind god) on it, and launches it at Angaraka. Angaraka flees and jumps into Kapitirtha, but the rock follows her into the water and kills her. Finally Rambha is freed from her curse by touching the water of Kapitirtha, as it had been blessed by Rama.

On account of the curse of Visvamitra, she became a stone just after.... Rambha remained in his hermitage for a long time in the form of a rock. In that very meritorious hermitage one honoured disciple of Agastya, the sage named Šveta, performed a great penance as he was desirous of salvation. While that great sage was performing the penance for a long time, a certain demoness, notorious by the name Angaraka, came to his hermitage. She was extremely cruel. Her loud voice resembled thunder. That terrible demoness defiled the hermitage with urine, blood, faeces and other filthy things. She harassed that sage in various other modes of nuisance. The infuriated Sage Sveta fitted the stone, the result of the curse of Visvamitra, with a missile having Wind-god for its presiding deity and discharged it against the demoness. When the Vayavya (having Wind as the presiding deity) missile was aimed at her, the demoness fled. She was pursued by the stone fitted to the Vayavya missile. The frightened demoness fled to the shore of the southern sea. The rock fitted to the miraculous missile chased the fleeing demoness. As she jumped into Kapitirtha and sank into it, the stone fell on her head and she died by the impact of the stone.

Thus Rambha, who had been cursed by Visvamitra, discarded the form of a stone as it plunged into Kapitirtha. She regained her form as Rambha. The charming lady was incessantly showered with flowers by the Devas. She got into a divine aerial chariot. She shone in her divine robes. She was bedecked in necklaces, armlets, bangles and nose-ornament. She was surrounded by her companions, the celestial damseis including Urvasi.

  • Did Vasista free her in another kalpa? – The Destroyer May 5 '17 at 8:35
  • @TheDestroyer Well, I don't have any basis for Vasishta rescuing her, other than a statement by the translator. – Keshav Srinivasan May 5 '17 at 8:48
  • So does that mean the Apsara Ghritachi died in this encounter? – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Nov 6 '17 at 6:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .