Is 'Ahalyā' the real name of Gautama's wife or is it an acquired name?

At least, the Monier-Williams dictionary seems to think it's an acquired one. The word is listed as a + halyā:

अ-हल्या (A-halyā)  f. N. of the wife of गौतम or शरद्वत्   S3Br. iii , &c   MBh. &c

One of the meanings of halya (not halyā) is 'deformity' so ahalyā probably means 'no longer a deformed person'. If this is the correct etymology of the word, what is Ahalyā's (w/o Gautama) real or birth name?

1 Answer 1


Is 'Ahalyā' the real name of Gautama's wife or is it an acquired name?

Yes, this is her birth/real name which was given by Lord Brahma. This is given in this chapter of UTTARA KANDA of Valmiki Ramayana:

[Lord Brahma to Indra]: O Chief of the immortals! O lord !, some creatures were created by me by dint of my understanding they were all of the same colour, same speech, and same appearance. There was no diference visible in their appearance or marks.

Thereupon, with whole minded ness, I began to think of these created beings. And I created a female distinct from them.

Collecting all those limbs that were most excellent amongst the created, I made a female under the name of Ahalya.

Hal means ugliness one born from Hal is called Halya. That female was known as Ahalya because she had nothing blameable in her. I gave her that name.

Here are the screenshots of Sanskrit Shlokas:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Ok. But is it a + halya OR a + halyā? How does a + halya become ahalyā? May 26, 2018 at 11:22
  • @sv. It is ahalyā originally but the translation in the answer used simplified version rather than exact transliteration. Many use simplified transliteration. I think ahalyā was derived due to Nay Tatpurusha Samas. na + halyā = ahalya. May 26, 2018 at 15:35
  • Also, "Ahalya because she had nothing blameable in her" - - this suggests it's an acquired name. How can you name someone not-blameable when she did something blameworthy? If you remove all the mythology surrounding Ahalya, it becomes apparent it's an acquired name due to Rama's visit purifying her. May 26, 2018 at 17:43
  • @sv. Here blameable is used for ugliness and not for it's exact meaning...if u read Sanskrit Shloka or Hindi translation it will be clear to you..
    – YDS
    May 27, 2018 at 11:27

You must log in to answer this question.

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