Atri and Anusuya

॥ ॐ इत्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म । घृनणमिति द्वे ॥

After shuffling a very small part of this universe, there remained only one thing and it was called as Brahma and denoted by a single letter OM(ॐ). It has converted itself as two and was called as sun. It has a meaning as surplus also. Then Brahma desired to have ten Manasa putras, so the ten sons were born first in this universe. They are:

  1. Atri
  2. Angiras
  3. Prachetas
  4. Brighu
  5. Pulaha
  6. Narada
  7. Marichi
  8. Vasishta
  9. Pulastya
  10. Daksha (or Prajapati)

Then, Sun alone was with earth and later Mars, Mercuty, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn have been created. Later, after churning the milky ocean, Rahu and Ketu were also added to the planets group. Then, Shiva had half consumed the venom of the serpent and required a cooling facility over his head. Brahma agreed to provide it at the earliest. Then Brahma entrusted that work to Atri Muni.

Ahalya revived by Rama
Ahalya revived by Shree Rama

Later, Brahma created many items. One city called Prathishtanagar was there as the capital of a country, ruled by a king. Some more sages were there. Kaushika and Mandavya were some of them. There were pious ladies also. Prasuthi, Sumanthi, and Ahalya were some of them. Daksha Prajapathi had married Prasuthi and God had blessed them one female child called Anusuya.

When Anusuya had grown up, Atri Muni had married her. Anusuya started a pious life in the Hermit of Atri, near Mandakini River, a tribute joining to Rewa River, now called Narmada River.

After a few years, there was no rain for ten long years over the Narmada River, hence dried. People visited Atri’s hut to drink water. Other Rishis also came to Mandakini side due to famine. Since Anusuya was a pious lady, people had spoken of her ability to persuade, the angel of rain and water, Varuna, to cause rain, and prayed with her and to do so. Anusuya got permission from her husband and requested Varuna to shower rain there and Varuna was pleased to sanction sufficient rain every year thereafter.  Then, forests flourished due to various trees and water started flowing in the Narmada River. The area is called Chitrakoota. Western side, there were demons and the area was called Dandakaranya and in the southern side where people lived, that land was called as Panchavati.    

Kaushika was a poor man and was married to Sumanthi. When there was famine, Kaushika had worked hard to look after his family and due to over work and malnutrition, developed illness. When rain started again, Sumanthi had to carry him over her shoulder since he was very weak and unable to move. Somehow Kaushika and Sumanthi managed to live near Prathishtanagar. One day, Narada visited Prathishtanagar and gifted a small gold plate to the king of that city. After the king had food, the queen had kept the plate outside the dining room for washing.

Mandavya was an unmarried sage and had good personality but he was so active and always pacing, and never used to walk. He was conducting penance but looked like a merchant since he shaved his hair and had no beard. He would run to city and come home running moderately, after getting required items. 

On the following day, when the queen of Prathishtanagar searched for the golden plate to serve food for the king, it was untraceable, and theft was confirmed. Search warrant had been issued to the servants of the king to bring the plate at the earliest. The servants found Mandavya running home then and they caught hold of him, in suspicion, and produced before the king. Without any enquiry, the king ordered his servants to hang him. Unlucky Mandavya then had become a Rishi, but despite his pleading for his innocence, hanged to the crucifying double posts but left the spot since he was not fully dead for a long time. 

In the evening, after the hard labour, Sumanthi was carrying Kaushika, her husband on her back and shoulders, and the foot path was adjacent to the crucifying double posts. She could not recognize the hanging Mandavya on the posts and the leg of Kaushika touched his mutilated body, causing him severe pain.

The time was evening and the sun was setting in the West. Due to pain, Mandavya could not open his eyes but cursed loudly saying, let that person die when the sun rises on the next day morning. Kaushika heard the curse. Sumanthi carrying him reached their home, thinking of ways to save from the danger of the curse. Since Mandavya was a Rishi, his curse would happen to be true. But Sumanthi was more pious in life and her power to control the sun was God gifted. She decided the sun not to rise in the next day and uttered it loudly, and the couple peacefully slept.

Many years passed after the marriage of Atri and Anusuya. They were pious people, and leading a holy life like Rishis. The had conducted penance to have a boon of child. People were highly speaking of their exemplary life but they were grieved without a child. They continued their penance with determination.

Since sunrise had not happened on the next day in time, the report has been submitted, by Chitra and Gupta to Yama, the controller of killings or death. Yama informed Indra and then God Vishnu was in the throne, the seat in Devaloka. The matter was discussed with God Shiva and they approached God Brahma for a solution for the smooth functioning of the universe. The Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva or Maheshwara, the trio or the holy trinity, decided to visit the problematic spot on the earth. Rising of the sun was a case of priority and they discussed mutually.

If Sumanthi is satisfied, then they would succeed in allowing the rising of the sun. But Kaushika was a poor man and bedridden and Sumanthi may not be able to entertain guests if they visited their house. Anusuya was not having much problems but she wanted a child, hence performing penance. Finally the trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara together decided to leave the problem to be solved by Anusuya convincing to everybody. Since she caused the rain to bless the River Narmada with water, grow forests nearby and the entire country had become rich in food grains for all, her virtues weighed more than the virtues of Sumanthi. But the curse of Mandavya was the most powerful when compared in urgency. The sun was silent, the world was under darkness.

Atri Rishi and Anusuya had known the incidences of Sumanthi, Kaushika and Mandavya.  Next day, in the early morning, Atri had got up and went to the River Mandakini to have his morning bath. He told his wife Anusuya not to call him, in case he was delayed while returning, since on that day, sun may not rise in time due to the curse of Sumanthi.

On the way, he heard the roaring of a cruel demon on the side of the foot path in the forest towards River. Hence he waited till the demon had gone away. When it disappeared, Atri inspected the place where it produced the sound and found a gold plate there. He could assess the situation being a Brahmarishi. The thief when passing through the forest, the demon had grabbed and ate him, and the gold plate of the king had been left there. He would return it to the king after sunrise, he decided, and with the plate moved towards the River.

The trio, Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara decided to test the chastity of Anusuya and appeared, early in the morning, before her. She welcomed them, and offered water and food. But they put a condition to accept the morning food. She should serve them food, without wearing any cloth, over her body. Since she knew about the dilemma of the sun due to the curse of Sumanthi, she took it as a benefit for herself as darkness would be a blessing for her and she could be able to serve food without wearing any clothes.

It was a black moon day and there was no other person in her hermit. The water pot of a Rishi is called Kamandalu. She agreed, put the holy water from the Kamandalu of her husband into the three different vessels, and kept them on the ground. Then she requested them to take one each, by them individually, and politely, requested them to wash their own hands and be ready to take food while she would go inside her private kitchen room to undress herself and bring the food without wearing clothes. She sprinkled the water from the Kamandalu of her husband over the heads of the trio and disappeared into her kitchen room.

Later, she placed three plantain leaves on the ground and served white rice and put cow milk over it as per their satisfaction. The room was dark and the trio could be feebly seen in the light of the holy lamp lighted there to welcome Atri Rishi who would be returning soon after the morning bath. After eating, they could not get up since they all had become children of age less than a year, unable to speak. Then Atri returned, and found the three children eating happily and he also felt happy to look after them in his house.

Even though it was delayed, in the morning, food time had crossed, but the trio Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara could not return to their own houses. On enquiry by Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi, they understood that their husbands have been arrested under the power of chastity of Anusuya.

They immediately started together to the hermit of Atri. They pleaded to release their husbands. But Anusuya told them to approach Sumanthi and solve the problems of the trio, Mandavya, Kaushika, and Sumanthi, and take appropriate action upon the king of Prathishtanagar. Anusuya treated them with reverence and assured them good luck. Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi asked, together the boon she needed, and she asked for a child. Atri Rishi gave the gold plate to Lakshmi and requested to dispose it appropriately. They entrusted the release of their husbands to Atri Rishi and started to regularize the issues with the king of Prathishtanagar, Mandavya Rishi and Sumanthi Kaushika couple.

Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi appeared as trio before Mandavya, Sumanthi and the king separately. Sumanthi had been requested to allow the sun to rise. But she could allow only if her husband Kaushika become healthy and live long for more than hundred years. Mandavya had to pardon Kaushika for his feet that touched his body. Kaushika felt sorry. Sumanthi carried him to the crucifying posts. He begged pardon with Mandavya Rishi as he was unable to observe him last day. Mandavya Rishi was found chanting the following verse continuously:

आपदामपहर्तारं दातारं सर्व संपदां ।
लोकाभिरामं श्री रामं भूयो भूयो नमाम्यहं ॥

The meaning is: God Rama, you are the remover of all troubles. You are the provider of all wealth. You are the sole power in this world to preserve peace and propagate the tranquility. God Rama, appear before me again and again, I salute with devotion to you. On the previous day, Narada had taught this verse to him.

Goddess Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi appeared before the king. The king by this time had become humble. Then the queen treated them with reverence. Lakshmi told the actual facts, showing the gold plate to them, and then the king felt very sorry and ordered to release Mandavya Rishi from the crucifying place; the servants brought him to the king’s court again. The king begged his pardon. Being the king of that country, and Mandavya Rishi being a learned person, Goddess Parvathi advised them to rule the country observing the merits of the acts of men. Then, Mandavya Rishi got the posting as Minister to the king there.

All blessed Kaushika, good health and long life for him. He had forgiven Mandavya Rishi also. Sumanthi was pleased and allowed the sun to rise. It was already declared as a black moon day. Rahu had helped Sumanthi to fulfill her curse by withholding his appearance in the rising time. It was called as solar eclipse.

As a minister, Mandavya instructed the king to donate the gold plate to Sumanthi since she was pious. The king ruled his country, with the help of Mandavya Rishi as minister, for a long time. After Rama had reached Chitrakoota, Mandavya Rishi had supplied the required food grains for Rama, and frequently visited them during their halt for more than twelve years. In turn, Rama and Lakshmana had provided security from demons’ attacks to his country. Thus, people were happy there.

Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi disappeared after providing the gold plate. It was preserved in the house of Sumanthi.  Atri Rishi had brought up the three children by providing them good education. He had named Durvasa to the child born with blessings of God Shiva. Durvasa had took their leave and left to the Mountain Kailasha for performing penance. Atri and Anusuya had blessed him. Atri had provided the name as Chandra to the child born with blessings of God Vishnu. Chandra in his child hood itself had took their leave and left to the Mountain Kailasha for treating the headache problem of God Shiva. Atri and Anusuya had blessed him.

Then, Atri had combined the three heads of these children and treated the child born with the blessings of Brahma as Dattatreya. The Sanskrit meaning of the word is a child graced to Atri Rishi. It was carried over on the full moon day of Margashirsha month. On that day Sita, Rama and Lakshmana visited the hermit of Atri and Anusuya. Anusuya called Sumanthi also to her house on the day.  Sumanthi and Kaushika attended the house of Atri, Anusuya and presented the gold plate, so far preserved by them to the child Dattatreya. But Atri and Anusuya desired the gold plate may be gifted to God Rama and their child had prostrated to Rama and offered the gold plate before his holy feet. Rama blessed the child, Dattatreya. Atri and Anusuya felt very happy.

Sita, Rama and Lakshmana had stayed overnight in the residence of Atri and Anusuya. On the following day, they started to their own hermit built by Lakshmana. Anusuya had gifted Sita clothes, ornaments and essential utensils for her family. During their exile halt at Chitrakoota, Sita used to serve food to Rama in the gold plate offered by Dattatreya to them. After her abduction by Ravana, it was returned to Dattatreya again, as they started to south in search of Sita, leaving Panchavati hermit.

Atri Rishi has contributed to the fifth chapter of Rigveda. His son Durvasa had visited Ayodhya to decide the crowning day of Kusha, son of Rama, later. As per agreed terms, the son of Atri, Chandra or Moon has been provided to God Shiva and placed on his head to solve his health problems. Anusuya is the model Indian lady who would never feel jealous of other ladies, but possessed supreme power.


Ahalya was the wife of Gauthama Rishi. Her mother was Menakashwa, an Apsara and father was Brahma himself. She had three sons and one daughter. Her daughter was Anjana and sons were Shatananda, Sharadwantha and Chirakari. Gauthama Rishi had a very big Gurukula system and had many disciples. After the primary education, Ahalya had studied in the Gurukula of Gautham. Later, Brahma was pleased to give Ahalya to Gauthama in marriage. Uttanka was also his disciple and his daughter married Uttanka.

Being the daughter of an Apsara, Ahalya was very beautiful. After her joining as a student in the Gauthama Ashram, he also used to praise her beauty. Gauthama Rishi could not withhold his anger and used to scold the disciples immediately. In a sense, he was very strict in his life. He never liked jokes.

Similar to the incidence of Jamadagni and Parasurama, one day, Gauthama Rishi ordered his son Chirakari, to cut the head of his mother, Ahalya. But Chirakari was a special type of man. He would never act in hurry. He used to think several times before performance of any works. Hence he never failed in his life. After ordering his son to kill his mother, Gauthama Rishi had left his Ashram for some urgent conferences with other Rishis at Ayodhya. Hence, Chirakari got sufficient time to think.

Narada Rishi got the news of the problem faced by Chirakari and wished to help him without letting him know. He has sent Devendra to the Ashram of Gauthama telling him that Gauthama is attending a conference at Ayodhya. Devendra was not invited there hence he was free to visit the Ashram of Gauthama. The purpose of his visit was to see the beautiful Ahalya and to save her life, avoiding her killing by her own son.

Chirakari was simply sitting in front of his mother, Ahalya and continued thinking till evening sunset. He thought to kill his mother is the greatest sin as his father himself once told with him in his class. In the next moment, he wanted to be an obedient son to his father by completing the works entrusted to him.

When Devendra entered the residence of Ahalya, he has disguised as Gauthama himself. Chirakari thought his father would have returned early and due to the risk of his works, not spoken with him and not looked into his face. It was night and food for the night meals had been served, by Ahalya to Chirakari, Shatananda and Sharadwanta, and also to his father at his normally eating place.

Gauthama Rishi was the head of his Institution. It was larger than a University. Usually, he never entertained others to sit in his seat, not even for eating also, any time in his residence.  Narada reached the conference hall of Ayodhya. He would attend anywhere without invitation also. He found Gauthama Rishi there. After evening prayer, he wished Gauthama Rishi friendly but intimated him that Devendra had entered his residence without his permission. Gauthama Rishi being a Good teacher was a representative of discipline. He knew Devendra and he thought the presence of the chief of Devaloka is not good where students should work hard to learn their lessons, daily.  Gauthama Rishi used to explain as follows to his students:

सुखार्थिनः विद्यां त्यजेत् विद्यार्थिनः सुखं त्यजेत् ।
सुखार्थिनः कुतो विद्या विद्यार्थिनः कुतः सुखं ॥

The meaning is: those desirous of pleasures should leave away from learning. Those desirous of learning should sacrifice pleasures and entertainment. What type of education is there with entertainment liking persons? How an education seeker could be enjoying? This means, students should work hard to gain knowledge.

While Gauthama Rishi had left his Ashram, he had ordered to kill his mother with Chirakari and by the time of evening, there is no chance of her living, he guessed. But to his surprise, he found Ahalya was serving food to Devendra who had come disguising himself as Gauthama Rishi. Since his seat had been utilized by another, undeserved one, he became angry. But being a guest, he should not accuse Devendra but could curse his own wife. Hence he cursed her to be a hard rock then and there.

Devendra pleaded it was his mistake and he called her father, Brahma and requested Brahma to advocate for him and withdraw his curse. Then Chirakari felt relieved to think he has not done any sin. Then he appeared before his father seeking excuse for delay in committing his entrusted task. Gauthama Rishi had left his Ashram, and announced, in a later time when Rama happened to come there and when the dust of his foot falls on the rock, Ahalya would regain her human form. Gauthama Rishi went to Himalaya for penance and after many years the abandoned area had grown as Tatakaranya forest. Demons like Khara, Dooshana and Tataka lived there, disturbing the Rishis.

Vishwamitra Rishi had shown the forest to Rama and Lakshmana and while they had crossed the rock, the dust of the foot of Rama fallen on it and Ahalya awakened. Later Gauthama Rishi had returned and once again started his Ashram.

The story of Ahalya had been presented differently by many writers corrupting the original truth of the Ramayana. Really, Ahalya had lived as a pious lady.

The story of Gauthama Rishi itself is more interesting and his son in law, Uttanka had made it crazier performing many heroic actions. That would be posted separately in this website.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Rama upon us.

Next posts, being of Tara and Mandodari respectively of Ramayana, may not be missed. Gauthama Rishi and Uttanka of Ramayana would be presented separately in another article. Readers may provide feedback and share this story with friends and family.

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