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It is well known that Menaka had a daughter with Vishvamitra by the name of Shakuntala, whom she abandoned during infancy because she didn't intend to have the child. This daughter was later adopted by the Rishi named Kanva.

Another story is featured in the Pauloma Parva of Mahabharata:

At that time, Viswavasu, the King of the Gandharvas, it is said, had intimacy with Menaka, the celestial dancing-girl. And the Apsara, Menaka, when her time was come, brought forth an infant near the hermitage of Rishi Sthulakesa. And dropping the newborn infant on the banks of the river, Menaka, the Apsara, being destitute of pity and shame, went away. And the Rishi, Sthulakesa, of great ascetic power, discovered the infant lying forsaken in a lonely part of the river-side.

Why does she keep doing this? And why doesn't she use birth control? And has she ever kept a child and not abandoned it?

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    And why doesn't she use birth control? -- Who do u think will answer that? the scriptures? – Rickross Jan 12 at 9:03
  • @Rickross It is users who ask and answer here. We do not need scriptures for everything every time. There are users here. Scriptures do not answer anything here. – Sarvabhouma Jan 12 at 10:18
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What business an Apsara will have with a settled married life which is dedicated to rearing up children?

What is the basic purpose of their existence?

They are endowed with unmatched physical beauty and sexual attraction which help them while alluring males of all sorts for whatever purpose it may be.

Then, isn't having children, being married to one person, leading a chaste married life a hindrance for them?

Moreover, how many males they sexually cohabit with? Must be numerous.. and a woman who cohabits with more than 5 males is technically a prostitute.

1-44. Dharmarâjan said :-- O Chaste One! Without serving the Gods, the Karma ties can never be severed. The pure acts are the seeds of purities and the impure acts lead to impure seeds. If any Brâhmana goes to any unchaste woman and eats her food, he will have to go ultimately to the Kâlasûtra hell. There he lives for one hundred years when ultimately he gets a human birth when he passes his times as a diseased man and ultimately he gets purified. Those women who are addicted to their (one) husbands only are called Pativratâs. Those addicted to two persons are named Kulatâs; to three, are called Dharsinîs; to four, called Pums’chalîs; to five, six persons, called Ves’yâs; to seven, eight, nine persons are called Pungîs; and to more than these, are called Mahâves’yâs. The Mahâves’yâs are unfit to be touched by all the classes.

Devi Bhagavatam 9.35

Hence, they are like "celestial prostitutes" in that sense.

  1. And the two Risis were very much surprised on seeing them. 25-27. They saw near to them the Cupid with his attendants Menakâ, Rambhâ, Tilottamâ, Puspagandhâ, Sukes'î, Mahâs'vetâ, Manoramâ, Pramodvarâ, Ghritâchî, Châruhâsinî, the expert in music, Chandra Prabhâ, the cuckoo voiced Somâ, the lotus eyed Vidyunmâlâ, Kânchana malinî, and others.
  2. Eight thousand and five hundred Apsarâs and long multitudes of the hosts of Cupid, the Munis saw and were surprised.
  3. Then those prostitutes of the Devas, dressed with their heavenly ornaments and the heavenly flowers, appeared before the Munis and bowed down their heads on the ground.
  4. The Apsarâs began their enchanting songs, exciting much passion and rarely heard or seen in this world.

Devi Bhagavatam 4.6

They are manifestation of Rajas Guna as per Manu Smriti which is basically associated with passion (and activity).

Manu Smriti 12.47. The Gandharvas, the Guhyakas, and the servants of the gods, likewise the Apsarasas, (belong all to) the highest (rank of) conditions produced by Activity.


But according to Devi Bhagavatam they are linked with Tamas only as their behavior shows (unhindered sexual activities with countless males).

The best, middling, and worst are all sprung from Prakriti.

Those women that are sprung from Sattva Guna are all very good natured and chaste; those that are sprung from Rajo Guna are middling and very much attached to worldly enjoyments and do their selfish ends and those that are sprung from Tamo Guna are recognised as worst and belonging to the unknown families. They are very scurrilous, cheats, ruining their families, fond of their own free ways, quarrelsome and no seconds are found equal to them. Such women become prostitutes in this world and Apsarâs in the Heavens. The Hermaphrodites are parts of Prakriti but they are of the nature of Tamo Gunas.

Devi Bhagavatam 9.1

So, in short, for an Apsara, to be faithful to any one particular male and to be a dedicated and an affectionate mother is a serious hindrance. To be not affectionate towards their children, forsaking them is the sort of behavior we can expect of the Apasaras.

  • I think the Manusmriti verse is more correct than the Bhagavatam verse. Apsaras are rajasic and not tamasic, since they indulge in sense pleasures. – Ikshvaku Jan 12 at 20:32
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    Well indulging in sexual pleasures without any restrictions whatsoever is one thing (may be it is Rajasik) but doing it as a job where one gets something in return is another thing .. The Apasras are often employed by the gods to do so and and they might be getting good gifts in return of their favor .. I guess this is what makes them Tamasik as well @Ikshvaku – Rickross Jan 13 at 5:48

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