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By Swami Harshananda

Ahalyā literally means

  1. without deformation; without ugliness
  2. beautiful; pleasing; agreeable.
  3. the daughter of Mudgala, wife of the sage Gautama, mother of the sage Śatānanda; the first woman created by Brahmā, and one of the traditional five women renowned for their pure and noble character[1]

Ahalyā was the wife of the sage Gautama and mother of Sage Satānanda. She is said to have been born out Brahmā’s mind as the very personification of feminine grace and beauty and given in marriage to the Maharṣi Gautama.

Infatuated by her beauty, Indra the king of gods impersonated Gautama and seduced her. Consequently she was cursed by the Sage Gautama to remain invisible for a thousand years sustaining herself only on air and wallowing in ash. She was redeemed by Rāma, the son of Daśaratha and restored to Gautama. Some works like the Adhyātma Rāmāyana say that she was converted into a stone.

When Uttaṅka (or Udaṅka), a disciple of Gautama, offered to fulfill any of her desires as his gurudakṣiṇā she asked for the kuṇḍalas (ear-ornaments) of queen Madayantī (wife of the king Saudāsa) which Uttaṅka secured.


  1. Valmiki Rāmayana
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore
  • Ahalyā by Jit Majumdar

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