This is my fourth post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. My post is going to about Women from Hindu Mythology. I’m going to write about P is for Pritha, Q is for the three Queens of Ayodhya, R is for Rukmini, S is for Shanta, and T is for Trijata.
Hope everyone enjoys this post and here is a link to the main page of this month’s challenge
P is for Pritha
In Mahabharata, Pritha was the daughter of Shurasena, and the foster daughter of his cousin Kuntibhoja. Because she is the foster daughter of King Kuntibhoja she was also known as Princess Kunti. She is the aunt of Lord Krishna. She was married to King Pandu of Hastinapur and was the mother of Karna and the Pandavas Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna. She was the paternal aunt of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra. She was the step mother or foster mother of Nakula and Sahadeva. She was very beautiful and intelligent. She is often regarded as one of the protagonists of the Mahabharata.
Once Sage Durvasa visited Kuntibhoja. Being extremely pleased by the all comforts, patience, and devotion offered by Kunti, he offered her a mantra that would invoke any god of her choice and he would bless her with children.
Out of impetuous curiosity, Kunti invoked the god Surya. Bound by the power of the mantra, Surya begot a child on her, and restored her virginity. To her surprise, the child was born with his sacred armor on. Out of fear of the public, Kunti abandoned the child, who later became famous as Karna.
Kuntibhoja organized Kunti’s swayamvara. Kunti chose King Pandu of Hastinapur, making her the Queen of Hastinapur. Soon after, during his mission to expand his empire, Pandu married Madri, a princess of Madra in order to secure the vassalage of Madra. Madri was of the view that Kunti was inferior by birth to her because Yadavas were cattle herders while she was a princess. Kunti was disturbed by her husband’s act, but eventually reconciled with him.
Pandu, while hunting in a forest, mistakenly shot and killed Rishi Kindama and his wife as they had taken the form of deer to mate. The dying sage placed a curse on Pandu since he had not only killed them in the midst of lovemaking but was not remorseful for his action. King Pandu argued with sage Kindama by misquoting sage Agastya’s ruling on the right of Kshatriyas on hunting. Sage Kindama then decided to curse him to die if he ever should become intimate with his wife. Pandu renounced the kingdom and went into exile with Kunti and Madri.
He met some sages and asked them a way for the heaven and salvation. They said, without children, one can never aspire for heaven. When Pandu expressed to Kunti his despair at the prospect of dying childless, she mentioned the boon granted to her. He advised her to beget children by suitable, illustrious men. Thus, Kunti used the boon granted to her by Sage Durvasa (which she had used to bear Karna) to bear three sons—Yudhishthira by Dharma – god of Justice; Bhima by Vayu – god of wind, and Arjuna by Indra – the king of Svarga (Heaven). She also invoked Ashvins for Madri on her behest and Madri gave birth to twin sons, Nakula and Sahadeva.
One day, Pandu, forgetting his curse, attempted to make love with his wife Madri. But, as a result of Kindama’s curse, he died. Madri committed sati as she was the cause of his death. Kunti was left helpless in the forest with her children. After the death of Pandu and Madri, Kunti took care of all five Pandava children taking them back to Hastinapur. As the rivalry culminated between Pandavas and Kauravas, she decided to go back to Kunti Bhoja. But her attempt was stopped by Bhishma.
When the Pandavas returned to Hastinapur, there was a succession crisis. Duryodhana claimed to be the next heir for the kingdom. Dhritarashtra named Yudhishthira as his heir, enraging Duryodhana. With the help of Shakuni, Duryodhana planned to burn the Pandavas and Kunti in a Lakshagraha while they were on a festival at Varnavat. But with early warning and aid from Vidura, the Pandavas and Kunti fake their death and escape the burning house. They travel the countryside, disguised as brahmins.
The Pandavas attended the swayamvara of Draupadi in Panchala. Arjuna was able to win Draupadi’s hand. The Pandavas returned to their hut and said that they have bought alms (signifying Kanyadan). Kunti misunderstood them and asked the Pandavas to share whatever they had brought. Kunti was shocked after realizing the implications of her words, that is, all of the Pandavas married Draupadi thinking that they are obeying their mother’s orders. Therefore she scolds her children for treating a woman like alms. However, Draupadi forgives Kunti as it was Draupadi’s very own karma that made Kunti give such orders and she accepts this as her fate.
The Pandavas and Kunti are invited back to the kingdom and the kingdom is shared with Kauravas. When the Pandavas lose the kingdom in a dice game and are forced to go into exile for thirteen years, Kunti is forced by King Dhritarashtra to remain in the capital thereby separating the sons from the mother (Act of vengeance by Dhritarashtra). She chose to stay in Vidura’s house rather than the royal palace.
As war approached, Kunti met Karna and in desperation to keep her children alive, asked Karna to join the Pandavas. Karna denied the offer, as he could not betray his friend. However, he promised Kunti that he would not kill any of his brothers except Arjuna, thus following both Mitra dharma and Putra dharma. Kunti also asked Karna further promises, such as he should not use the same weapon twice against Arjuna, which were granted by Karna. In return, Karna requested his mother to keep their relationship a secret until the end of the war. He also promised that at the end of the war she would still have five sons, the fifth one be either Arjuna or Karna himself. Despite supporting her children, Kunti stayed in the Kaurava camp along with her sister-in-law Gandhari. After the war, kunti disclosed the secret of Karna’s birth to Pandavas and others. All were shocked to learn the fact they committed fratricide. The Pandavas were furious with Kunti especially Yudhisthira who cursed Kunti and women of the world that they shall be unable to keep any secret anymore. If Kunti hadn’t kept it a secret, the war would’ve been averted and millions of lives would’ve been spared.
After the Kurukshetra war, Kunti moved to a forest near the Himalayas with her brothers-in-law Vidura and Dhritarashtra and co-sister Gandhari, where all four of them later perished in a forest fire, attaining heaven.
Various actresses portrayed the role in various films and TV serials.
- Durga Khote in Maharathi Karna (1944 film)
- G Varalakshmi in Bhishma (1965 film)
- M V Rajamma in Karnan (1964 film, Tamil)
- Achala Sachdev in Mahabharat (1965 film)
- Rushyendramani in Sri Krishnavataram (1967 film)
- S. Varalakshmi in Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977 film)
- Nazneen in Mahabharat series (1988)
- Miriam Goldschmidt in The Mahabharata (1989 film)
- Lata Haya in Krishna (series)
- Neena Gupta in Ek Aur Mahabharat (1997 series)
- Shalini Kapoor in Maharathi Karna (2001 series)
- Jaya Bhattacharya in Kahaani Hamaaray Mahaabhaarat Ki (2008 series)
- Shafaq Naaz in Mahabharat (2013 series)
- Priya Bathija in Suryaputra Karn (2015 series)
- Sayantani Ghosh in Karn Sangini (2018 series)
Q is for Queen Kaushalya, Queen Sumatra and Queen Kaikeyi of Ayodhya
Queen Kaushalya was the eldest consort of King Dasharatha among his three wives, the mother of Lord Rama and Princess Shanta and the eldest queen of Ayodhya in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. She is the daughter of the King Sukaushal and Queen Amritaprabha of Kosala kingdom in Modern day Chhattisgarh. She shared a sisterly relationship with Sumitra and Kaikeyi. She tells Sumitra about Kaikeyi that you both are like my sisters.
Queen Sumitra is the second consort and the queen of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya among his three wives. She is the mother of twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna and stepmother of Rama, Shanta, and Bharat as mentioned in the Hindu epic called the Ramayana. She came from the ancient Kingdom of Kashi. She is considered as the wisest amongst the wives of Dasaratha. She is said to be the one who encouraged Lakshmana to accompany Rama and serve him during his exile. Sumitra often helped Dashratha with his problems. She was very much attached to her daughter-in-law Urmila and considered her above all. During Lakshman’s exile, she only stood by her side all the time.
Sumitra has been portrayed by several actresses television adaptations of Ramayana:
||Siya Ke Ram
||Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush
Queen Kaikeyi was the third consort of King Dasharatha and the Queen of Ayodhya in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. She is the daughter of King Ashwapati of Kekaya Kingdom. After the death of the King, Ashwapati became the King of Kekaya Kingdom, Yudhajit became the prince of Kekaya Kingdom and Kaikeyi became the princess of Kekaya Kingdom. She was King Dasharatha’s favorite wife. Kaikeyi was a strong woman and was with her husband Dasharath in Dandaka forest while he was at war. After Kaikeyi saved the king in the war, the king promised to give her two boons of her choice.
R is for Rukmini
Rukmini or Rukmani was princess of Vidarbha and she is the first and chief consort of Lord Krishna, the prince of Dwaraka. Krishna heroically carried away Rukmini, as per her wish, and eloped with her as they loved each other but her brother Rukmi out of envy had forbid their marriage because Krishna killed his uncle Kansa who was also a friend of Rukmi. He had arranged an unwanted marriage to Srimati Rukmini devi with evil Shishupala who was also cousin of Krishna because of political reasons (He was King of Chedi Kingdom whereas Sri Krishna was not yet a King). But later Shrimati Rukmini wrote a beautiful love letter to Krishna to come and take her away in Rakshsa style. (described in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Puran, Harivansha, Mahabharat).
Rukmini was the daughter of Bhishmaka, the king of Vidarbha. Bhismaka was the vassal of King Jarasandha of Magadha. She fell in love with and longed for Krishna, whose virtue, character, charm and greatness she had heard much of. Rukmini’s eldest brother Rukmi though was a friend of evil King Kansa, who was killed by Krishna and was set against the marriage.
Rukmini’s parents wanted to marry Rukmini to Krishna but Rukmi, her brother strongly opposed it. Rukmi was an ambitious prince and he did not want to earn the wrath of Emperor Jarasandha, who was ruthless. Instead, he proposed that she be married to his friend Shishupala, the crown prince of Chedi and a cousin of Krishna. Shishupala was also a vassal and close associate of Jarasandha and hence an ally of Rukmi.
The first son of Queen Rukmini was Pradyumna, and also born of her were Charudeshna, Sudesna and the powerful Charudeha, along with Sucharu, Charugupta, Bhadracharu, Charuchandra, Vicharu and Charu, the tenth(SB 10.61.8–9). Of them, Pradyumna was the crown prince of Dwaraka.
S is for Shanta
Shanta is a character in the Ramayana. Although it is not mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana that there was any sister of Rama but in some versions of the epic, Shanta is said to be the daughter of Dasharatha and Kausalya, given to Romapada and Vershini (her maternal aunt) in adoption, whereas in other versions she is only mentioned as the daughter of Romapada, not as his adopted daughter. Shanta was married to Rishyasringa, son of the legendary Indian Hindu sage Vibhandaka.
In some versions of the story, Shanta was born to Kausalya and Raja Dasharatha, and was later given in adoption to Raja Romapada, king of Anga. In other versions, she is only mentioned as the daughter of Romapada, not as an adopted daughter. Shanta was educated in vedas, arts, craft as well as in warfare, and was considered to have been very beautiful. One day, while her father, the king Romapada, was busy in conversation with Shanta, a brahmin came to ask for help in cultivation in the days of the monsoon. Romapada did not pay attention to the brahmin’s plight. This irritated and enraged the brahmin, who left the kingdom. Indra, the god of rain, was unable to bear the insult to his devotee, so there was little rainfall during the monsoon season resulting drought in kingdom. Meanwhile, Dasharatha wanted a son to continue his legacy and to enrich his royal dynasty. It was advised that the troubles of both kingdoms could only be alleviated by yajnas performed by a brahmin with powers that come from observance of perfect chastity and that the only such person was Rishyasringa. Rishyasringa had been raised by Vibhandak Rishi, isolated from society without knowledge of women. He had to be brought to the city and be persuaded to carry out the necessary yajna ceremonies. Despite their fear of the power and anger of Vibhandak Rishi, both kings send young women to introduce the boy to the normal society, then Shanta fulfils this task and Rishyasringa marries Shanta, he then agrees to perform yajna for Anga, during the recitation of it, it rained heavily, the public rejoiced and there were festivals in Anga. Rishyasringa also performed a Putra Kameshthi Yajna for Dasharatha to beget progeny, and as the consequence of the said Yajna were born: Rama, Bharata, and the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
T is for Trijata
Trijata is a rakshasi or demoness in the Ramayana who is assigned the duty of guarding the kidnapped princess and goddess Sita, she was the daughter of Vibhishana. Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, has been abducted by Ravana of Lanka, a demon king whom Trijata serves.
In the Ramayana, Trijata appears as a wise old rakshasi, who dreams of Ravana’s destruction and Rama’s victory. She accompanies Sita on a survey of the battlefield of the war between Rama and Ravana, and reassures Sita of Rama’s well-being when Sita sees her husband unconscious and presumes him dead. In later Ramayana adaptations, Trijata becomes the daughter of Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana who sides with Rama. She plays a much greater role in later versions, especially Southeast Asian ones.
Barring a few exceptions where Trijata is cast as Ravana’s agent, she is generally portrayed as a friend and loyal companion of Sita in her adversity. On numerous occasions, she offers solace to Sita and brings news from the outside world; she also dissuades Sita from committing suicide. After Rama’s victory and Ravana’s death, Trijata is richly rewarded by Sita and Rama. While some Ramayana adaptations mention her being a devotee of Rama, Southeast Asian versions often depict her as the wife of Rama’s vanara general Hanuman, whom she bears a son. She is worshipped as a local goddess in Varanasi and Ujjain; both in India.