51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Curses and Boons in Indian Mythology

Curses

Curses and boons are an integral part of mythological stories. Some popular and not so well known curses and boons are detailed. When it comes to curses, Karna from Mahabharata immediately comes to our mind. Similarly Sage Durvasa is also known to be a person, who cursed freely. But do we know, that Lord Rama and Shri Krishna were also cursed and Lakshman has to die as a consequence of a curse.  This article attempts to catalogue some famous and some unknown curses.

1. Curse on Lord Rama

Perhaps the most amazing unknown fact from The Ramayana. Tara (wife of Vali) cursed Rama so that he will soon lose Sita after he regains her. She also declared that Sita will return to the earth. This happened after Rama killed Vali when he was having a duel with Sugriva. Tara additionally cursed Rama that in his next birth, he will be killed by Vali. (Shri Krishna and the hunter).

vali tara the ramayana indian mythology story 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Tara curses Lord Rama

 

2. Curse on Jaya and Vijaya by Sanath Kumaras

This can be regarded as the most defining curse in Hindu mythology, which resulted in birth of Ravana, Kumbhkarna, Hiranyakashyap and Hiranyaksha. Lord Vishnu took four avatars to relieve them of their curse. [complete story]

3. Curse on King Dashrath by parents of  Shravan Kumar

Parents of Shravan Kumar cursed Dashrath to suffer for his son, which came true due to boons given to Kaikeyi.

shravan kumar killed by dashrath the ramayana 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Shravan Kumar killed by Dashrath

 

4. Sage Gautam’s curse to Ahilya

Gautam discovered an affair between Indra and his wife. He cursed ahilya to turn into a stone. She was later liberated by Lord Rama. This story is available in Balkand of ramayana.

rama ahalya madhubani painting indian mythology curse 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Rama and Ahalya

 

5. Sage Gautam’s curse to Indra

Indra was cursed with one thousand female genitals (Sahasrayoni). Later she reverted this curse into a boon and Indra got thousand eyes. Indra is also known as Sahasraaksha.

6. Curse on Hanuman

Hanuman has been very mischievous in his childhood. Some sages, irritated by Hanuman’s exploits, placed a mild curse on him by which he became unable to remember his own ability unless reminded by another person. The curse is highlighted in Kishkindha Kand and Sunder Kand, when Jambavantha reminds Hanuman of his abilities and encourages him to go and find Sita.

hanuman searching sita over ocean leap 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Hanuman departing for Lanka in search of Sita

 

7. Curse on Anjana – mother of Hanuman

She was an apsara but took birth as a vanar. Once she threw some fruits on a meditating vanar, who was a sage doing penance. The sage cursed her to born become a vanar the moment she fells in love. She was absolved of this curse later through Brahma’s boon.

8. Curse of Narada on Vishnu

Narada cursed Lord Vshnu to become dependent on Vanara. This was fulfilled when Hanuman helped Lord Rama in the Ramayana.

9. Gandhari to Shri Krishna

Gandhari held Krishna responsible for Mahabharat war and cursed that his end will be ordinary. She also cursed that his clan will also destroyed by infighting. Accordingly, her curse came true after 36 years of Mahabharata war.

10. The curse of sages (Vishwamitra, Durvasa, Vashista, and Narada) to Samba

Samba, Lord Krishna’s son and his friends once have joked with sages. They cursed him to give birth to a iron lump of mass which will bring the destruction of the entire Yadava race.

11. Shri Krishna’s curse to Samba

Shri Krishna curse to Samba (his own son) to be affected by leprosy.

12 Shri Krishna to Ashwaththama

After he tried to kill Abhimanyu’s son (Parikshit) with a deadly weapon brahmastra, Krishna cursed him to live forever.

13. Urvashi’s curse to Arjuna

To become a eunuch when he refused an alliance with her. Later, she diluted this for a year which he used in agyaatvaas. [related link]

14. Yudhisthira to womankind

That they could not hide anything from anyone. This was done after he came to know from Kunti that Karna was his elder brother who was slain in the war of Mahabharata. Kunti tried the mantra given by Sage Durvasa to test its effectiveness. This would have caused embarassment to her, so she had to let Karna go.

15. Parshuram to Karna

This is quite famous incident of a teacher and the student. Parshuram cursed Karna that he would forget the mantra when he would need most. There is a whole article on curses on Karna.

karna parshurama indian mythology 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Parshurama sleeping in Karna’s lap

 

16 Bhoomi devi to Karna

Owing to an incident where Karna cause distress to Bhoomi devi, She cursed him. In the battle of Mahabharat, the wheel of his chariot got stuck.

17 Brahmin curse to Karna

To die as a helpless as he has killed a cow. Karna had his more than share of curses. Details can be read on this article which is all about curses on Karna.

18 Curse of Vasishtha on Vasus

 Vasishtha cursed vasus to be born on earth as mortals since they have abducted his cow, Nandini. This curse is also related with birth of Bhishma.

19. Rishi Kindam’s curse to Pandu

Pandu accidentally killed Sage Kindam alongwith his wife. He cursed Pandu to die a similar death. Pandu died alongwith Madri, his second wife.

20. The curse on King Yayati by Shukracharya

Sage & Guru Shukracarya cursed King yayati to go as a Old man as Yayati secretly wedded Sharmishtha. (She was Devayani’s sister.) He was allowed to exchange his state from someone who was willing to do. Yayati’s all sons refused, but Puru agreed and he later became his successor.

shukracarya yayati curse 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Shukracharya curse to Yayati

 

21 Shiva’s curse to Brahma

Shiva decided that Brahma would not be worshipped as he had lied to him [complete story]. Another associated curse is on ketaki flower that it would not be used in worship.

22 Saraswati’s curse to Brahma

Brahma not being worshipped is associated with Saraswati’s curse too. He was cursed after being irritated with undue advances from Brahma.

23 Brahma’s curse to Shiva

Originally Brahma has five heads. Once Parvati mistook him for Shiva and when she realized she told this to Shiva. Shiva removed Brahma’s fifth head as Kal Bhairav. Brahma cursed Shiva that the fifth head will be attached to Shiva and will cause him hunger. The  fifth head must be attached to his hand itself and hereafter Shiva must be affected having hunger, having no sleep. Parvati sought Vishnu’s advise and got rid of the fifth head ‘Kabala’.

shiva bhairava brahma fifth head indian mythology 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Shiva as Bhairava

 

24 Ganesha’s curse to Moon

Ganesha cursed moon for him being impolite. The whole story is available here.

25 Narada’s curse to sons of Kuber

Narada cursed Kuber’s sons to become trees. They were liberated by Shri Krishna.  Nalakuvara and Maṇigriva were Kubera’s sons. Once they were taking bath in water with their wives naked. Sage Narada came that way. The ladies took their garments after seeing the sage. But the sons of Kubera ignored him. Narada gave a lecture on the false prestige and madness after drinking liquor by the rich and influenced. Then Narada cursed them to become twin trees to be released later by Lord Krishna.

narada indian mythology 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Sage Narada

 

26 Vasishtha’s curse to Satyavrata

He is popularly known as Trishanku and cursed with a debilitating disease. He was cursed because he stole the cow of Sage Vasishtha and killed it. He then ate it later. But he took care of Sage Vishwamitra’s family, Vishwamitra wanted to send him to heaven.

27 Curse of Radha to Sridhama

To be born as in a low family. Sridhama also cursed Radha that she will be separated from Krishna for 100 years.

28 Curse on Shantanu and Ganga by Brahma

Shantanu and Ganga were celestial beings who had also been cursed to be born on earth as human beings.  Shantanu was King Mahabhishak and he and Ganga were cursed by Brahma for their indecencies in their past lives.

29  Saraswati’s curse to Laxmi

To be born as a tree. Saraswati as a result of Ganga’s curse would become the wife of Brahma. Ganga due to Saraswati’s curse would become a holy River to demolish the sins of those who take baths on her waters.

30 Curse of Kabandha

Rama meets the rakshasa Kabandha and kills him, freeing him from a curse. The freed Kabandha advises Rama to seek the help of Sugriva to find Sita.

Boons

Similar to curses, there are interesting boons which are closely related to curses. I am sure you will enjoy some of the known and unknown boons.

31 Meghnaad’s boon

He was granted boon by Brahma that he would never be won over in any battle, until his Yagna (fire-worship) of his native goddess Nikumbala was disturbed and destroyed. Lakshman disturbed his yagna and finally killed him in the battle.

32 Jayadrath father’s boon

Whosoever causes the head of his son to fall on the earth, his head would blow into thousand pieces.One day Jayadratha met his father Vridhakshtra who was a sage. He asked his father to grant him a boon by which he could choose the time of his death just like Shantanu who gave a similar boon to Devavrata (i.e. Bhishma). He said that who ever caused the head of Jayadrath to fall on the ground, will be killed immediately by having his own head burst into hundred pieces. When Arjuna beheaded Jayadrath, he ensure that his head falls in the lap of his meditating father.

jayadratha shot arjuna mahabharat 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Jayadratha killed by Arjuna

 

33 Lord Shiva’s boon to Jayadrath

Jayadrath had another boon that he could hold all the Pandavas for a day in battle, except for Arjuna. This proved to be undoing of Abhimanyu when Arjuna was not around in the battle and Drona formed a chakravyuha.

34 Bhishma from Shantanu

Shantanu blessed his son that he would chose his own time of death. This was following the Bhishma pratigya taken by Devvrata.

Bhishma pratigya nishaadraaj mahabharat indian mythology 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Bhishma taking oath for being unmarried – Bhishma Pratigya

 

35 Gandhari’s boon to Duryodhana

The whole story is narrated here.

36 Durvasa to Kunti

Birth of Pandavas. Kunti served sage Durvasa for a year and he became very pleased with her. He has given her a mantra. Using this, she could call any god at anytime who would assist her in begetting a son. Kunti used this mantra four times and Madri couple of times.

37 Sage Parashar’s boon to Satyavati

The boon of fragrance.

38 Boon of Vali

Ram has to kill him in disguise because of a boon. While in fight, opponents half strength would be transferred to him. This story is also available in the link given above.

39 Parshuram’s boon to Karna

Parshuram cursed Karna which resulted in him being defeated in the Mahabharata. But Parshuram also blessed Karna to have everlasting fame.

40 Boon to Hiranyaksha by Brahma

 Once Hiranyaksha did a lot of austerities so that Lord Brahma would give him a boon. He asked and received a boon that no god, demon, beast or human could ever kill him. He was killed by Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu.

41 Hiranyakashyap’s boon

Hiranyakashyap had a similar boon. And his boon also included that he would not be killed in day or night, inside or outside a house, nor by a human or beast. He was killed by Narsingh avatar – a Vishnu dashavatar. His son Prahlad was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and he summoned his lord after Hiranyakashyap challenged him that where is his lord?

42 Shri Krishna granted boon to Shishupal’s mother Shrutishrava

Shri Krishna promised to his aunt to forgive hundred misdeeds of Shishupala before killing him.

43 Shiva’s boon to Arjuna

The boon which Arjuna is said to have received was called Pashupata, Shiva’s most powerful weapon.

arjuna shiva pashupat astra mahabharat indian mythology 51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

Lord Shiva giving Pashupata astra to Arjuna – Mahabharat

 

44 Shiva’s boon to Ganesha

Shiva granted Ganesha a boon that before beginning of any undertaking or task people would worship Lord Ganesh. Thus the reason for worship of ganesha before start of any work.

45 Boon of Madhu and Kaitabh

These demons had a boon that they would only die when they want it. Lord Vishnu killed them eventually.

46 Brahma’s boon to Anjana

Anjana was initially cursed to live as a vanaar, Brahma told her that she would be absolved of the curse if she gives birth to a incarnation of Lord Shiva.

47  Boons to Hanuman

Hanuman was blessed with two boons which were useful in Sunder Kand.

First was given to him by Brahma that no weapon could harm him. When Brahmastra was used on him, he let himself captured to honour the greatest weapon brahmastra.

Second was given to him by Surya. He was given Laghima and Garima (to be able to attain the smallest or to attain the biggest form). With the helo of these, he went past Sursa.

48 Karna’s boon to Kunti

Karna assured Kunti that  will not use a weapon twice against Arjuna. He later did not use the Naga astra. He also promised Kunti that she will have five sons, so he did not killed Pandavas other than Arjuna, though he could do so.

49. Kaikeyi’s boon by Dashrath

Dashrath granted couple of boons to Kaikeyi during Dev Asur sangram. Dashrath was deeply wounded and he was tended by Kaikeyi. She claimed two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her, which resulted in Lord Rama’s vanvaas.

50 Shiva’s boon to Draupadi for desired husband(s)

Draupadi wanted to have a husband with fourteen qualities. Shiva said this is difficult. Upon insistence, he said that she will get five husbands. He gave another boon to her.

51 Draupadi’s boon to remain as a virgin

Shiva granted a boon that she would regain virginity as soon as she takes a bath in the morning. Thus she was able to become the wife of five pandavas at the same time.

 

One Response to “51 curses and boons (Indian mythology)

  • very interesting facts of ramayana and mahabharta episodes.vast knowledge only can be had from the computers.with all the best wiishes to publisher.

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