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Story of Ahalya, Indra and Gautama Muni is very popular. Briefly, it goes like this.

Gautama Muni went to river for bathing rituals. Ahilya, his wife was alone at the Ashram. Indra who disguised like Gautama muni slept with Ahalya. When Gautama muni returned, he spotted Indra and came to know about the incident. He cursed both Indra and Ahalya.

Question is,

  1. Why was Ahalya cursed when she was not at her fault?
  2. Did Ahalya know about Indra's disguise beforehand and willingly participated in the paap kriya?
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    MBTN of sriman madvacharya gives clear explanation of the incident. It was Indra sitting inside ahalya makes her commit. so its fully indiras fault not ahalyas fault.. being a brahma jnani Sage Gautama know the purpose of indiras act. So he curses according which either of them is affected by it instead it makes them more spiritual..
    – Prasanna R
    Aug 9 at 16:20
  • @PrasannaR could you please point out chapter and verse number? I’ve checked in chapter 4, verse 11, they just mention that God turned her from stone to lady, no more explanation
    – Adiyarkku
    Aug 10 at 5:39
  • @Archit The above is understanding of all Madhvas frist i heard from suvidyindra theertha sripadgalavru, sri bannaje govindacharya and the below reference chapter_4_pandurangi.pdf from mahabharatatatparyanirnaya.com
    – Prasanna R
    Aug 10 at 9:55
  • and also @Archit its very difficult to decipher sutle sanskrit terminiology, There is difference between consent and forceful. Sriman Madhvacharya told Indra had forced Ahalya not with consent, by this the meaning is to be derieved how he can force and both did with consent, just by sitting inside he made the desire from Ahalya..
    – Prasanna R
    Aug 10 at 9:57
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    Yes @Archit here one hidden meaning told by bannanje this converting into stone is going against the very basic foundation of panchabedha jiva,ishwara and Jada. Jiva cannot become Jada or stone then how she is converted to Jada jiva was attached to stone lying there not herself become stone she become immovable like stone in formless manner
    – Prasanna R
    Aug 10 at 11:17
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Yes. Ahalya was aware of Indra coming in the Rishi’s guise. She knowingly committed sin just to satisfy the desire of Indra.

The story is narrated by Vishwamitra to Ramaji in the Valmiki Ramayana Balakanda Sarga 48. After Indra approaches Ahalya, Vishwamitra narrates as follows:

Oh, Rama, the legatee of Raghu, though knowing him as the Thousand-eyed Indra in the guise of her husband Gautama, she is inclined to have intercourse ill-advisedly, only to satisfy the impassion of the King of Gods. She felt fulfilled in her heart of hearts and then she said this to that best god Indra, 'I am gratified in complying with your wish, oh, best of gods, get going oh, lord, from here quickly, oh, ruler of gods, always safeguard yourself and me from Sage Gautama.' Thus, Ahalya said to Indra.
-verses 19-20

The rest is history, how Indra came out of the hermitage and along with Ahalya, was cursed by Gautama Rishi and how God relieves her of her curse.

From the above narration of Vishwamitra, as well as Ahalya’s words directly addressing Indra as such, it can be seen that she was aware of Indra’s true personality and knowingly committed the sin.

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  • Archi ji, your answer is absolutely right. However, I found this new piece of evidence in Uttarkand of Valmiki Ramayana and thought of sharing for the benefit of all. Thank you.
    – sbharti
    Aug 11 at 1:05
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    @sbharti thanks for accepting saw and voted your answer it’s very nice but there’s one interpretation if youd like to know. Just read the Sanskrit. One friend told me. Here in Balakanda they say she did it “to satisfy the Desire of Indra” - and in the Uttarakanda she says अज्ञानाद् न कामाद्- unknowingly not out of desire. The interpretation for this is she knew it was Indra but did it unknowingly (not out of kaam bhav) because she thought if devraj himself asks for something, she must comply with his wishes - this is her agyan.
    – Adiyarkku
    Aug 11 at 4:15
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    Thanks. Yes that's a possible explanation. Sanskrit verses are not very clear.
    – sbharti
    Aug 11 at 5:28
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Likely No. Ahalya pleads ignorance for this paap and asks for forgiveness. Muni Gautama readily agrees and provides the solution.

Gautama muni cursed Indra and Ahalya in same breath. As soon as he saw Indra and came to know of his deed, he was furious. He asked neither of Indra or Ahalya for any explanation about what happened.

Right after cursing Indra, Gautama Muni says that she'd stay in invisible form near the Ashram. He says that because she could not stay within Maryada or decorum, her beauty will not remain perfect. Many women will take birth sharing her great features. Beauty which caused kaam in Indira, will be shared by whole kingdom.



Sarga 30, Uttar Kand, Valmiki Ramayana.

However, he melts quickly after hearing pleads of Ahalya. She says that his blessings on her should remain intact because she did this paap out of ignorance and not out of will. She says Indra deceived her by taking his form , due to which she couldn't recognize his real self.


Sarga 30, Uttar Kand, Valmiki Ramayana.

Gautama Muni says that she will come back to him once she receives darshan of Dashrath's son Ram. He is none other than avatar of Vishnu, and only he can purify her out of this paap.


Sarga 30, Uttar Kand, Valmiki Ramayana.

It is important to note that Indira received no such respite from Gautama Muni. He ran around trying to reduce impact of the shraap, but he couldn't avoid completely. When Indra lost battle with Meghnaad, Brahma ji reminds him of this paap again and asks him to do tap in order to overcome this.


Sarga 30, Uttar Kand, Valmiki Ramayana.

I think Ahalya was perfect in every aspect. Perhaps she lacked high degree of tap using which she can avoid such misdeeds. Please notice that this incident must have happened really early in Satyug, she being the first woman created by Brahma. Since then, she performed tap until end of Treta yug without water or food but only on air. She became purest of the pure and perfect like she is supposed to be.

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