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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).

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

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 and Ahalya

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 departing for Lanka in search of Sita when Ravana abducted her from Dandaka forests.

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.

Parshurama sleeping in Karna's lap

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.

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 as Bhairava

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.

Sage Narada

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 killed by Arjuna

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

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.

Lord Shiva giving Pashupata astra to Arjuna - Mahabharat

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.

 

Durvasa’s boons

Boons granted by Durvasa

Though Durvasa is notorious for his flying temper and curses, there are few boons which had a great impact in indian mythology. For example, the pandavas, who are at the centre of the epic Mahabharat were born due to a boon from Durvasa to Kunti.

Boon to Kunti

Durvasa was a sage who blessed liberally when happy. This is evident when Kunti got the boon from him. This boon gave the power to summon any god she wished. This boon became helpful when she was unable to give birth to babies and summoned Surya, Pawan and Indra for herself and Ashwini kumars for Madri. Thus they conceived sons who were later known as Pandavas.

Promise to Duryodhana

Once Duryodhana did great service to sage Durvasa. He became very happy and asked Duryodhana for a boon. Duryodhana thought of a plan to do something so that pandavas get to face the wrath of sage. He asked him to visit pandavas when everyone has eaten. Thus he thought that Pandavas will not be able to serve him with food and out of anger, sage durvasa will curse his enemies. Durvasa visited Pandavas but with the help of Shri Krishna, pandavas were saved.

Duryodhana and Durvasa – Indian mythology

Pandavas saved from curse – Duryodhana’s plan

Pandavas were once in a situation where Durvasa may have cursed them. As per the advice of Duryodhana, Durvasa with his ten thousand disciples reached panadavas. they reached at a time, when everyone had taken their meal. Draupadi has an akshaypatra which was able to feed anyone till the time she has not eaten from it.  That day, unfortunately, she ate from the patra. Durvasa demanded food for himself and devotees. Draupadi sought help from Krishna. Krishna found a grain in the patra and ate that. After that Durvasa and his disciples were not hungry.

Saving Draupadi from cheer haran

Contrary to the general Mahābhārata version, the Shiva Purana attributes her miraculous rescue to a boon granted by Durvasa. The story goes that the sage’s loincloth was once carried away by the Ganges’s currents. Draupadi quickly tore a piece of her garment to cover him. The sage was pleased with her. He granted Draupadi a boon which caused an unending stream of cloth to cover her when Dushasana was trying to strip her in Hastinapura’s royal dice-hall.

Birth of Swaminarayan – by curse of Durvasa

Narayana took birth as the saint Swaminarayan due to a curse by Durvasa. A great debate had been held in Badrikashram, the divine abode of the deity Nar-Narayan. They were discussing the great pain, the good and honest souls were suffering at the hands of the evil demons on earth. Durvasa Rishi stood at the back of the assembly. Several hours passed, but none noticed him. Durvasa Rishi got very angry and cursed the assembly, “May you all take birth on the earth. Let those evil demons harass you and make you suffer.”  On behalf of the entire assembly, Dharmadev and Bhaktidevi asked for forgiveness and pleaded with Durvasa Rishi to take back his curse. Durvasa Rishi replied, “The curse cannot be withdrawn. However, the supreme Lord will come with you onto the Earth. The Lord will destroy the evil demons and save you from your troubles.” This mythological episode has been stated in the scriptures to describe the reason why the supreme Lord Swaminarayan manifested upon this Earth.  The Akshardham temple houses Swaminarayan.

Durvasa curse and birth of Swaminarayan

Durvasa curse and birth of Swaminarayan

The Ramayana story in pictures – Ayodhya Kand (2)

Ayodhya Kand – The Ramayana in pictures

The Ramayana story is told by sage Valmiki in various kandas. This is the story which is told in Ayodhya kand and is primarily around Rama’s vanvaas. Kaikeyi and Manthra were the central characters towards Rama’s vanvaas.

Manthra and Kaikeyi

Manthra advised Kaikeyi to ask for her boons from Dashrath

Manthra advising Kaikeyi to ask for Bharat’s ascendance to throne. Kaikeyi had two boons from Dashrath. Dashrath was the king of ayodhya and Kaikeyi’s husband.

 Kaikeyi in kopa bhavan

Kaikeyi in kopabhavan – asking for her two boons to Dashrath

She asks Dashrath for two boons. These boons have been given to her when Dashrath was helped by Kaikeyi in Dev Asur sangram. He was wounded in the battle field and Kaikeyi rode her to safety and later, tended him. Pleased with her, Dashrath asked her for two boons. She has now asked for Bharat’s coronation and Rama’s banishment.

Dashrath and Kaikeyi

Rama is exiled for fourteen years and Bharat becomes the king of Ayodhya. Dashrath dies as he could not cope up with the parting of Rama. Dashrath had a curse earlier because of that he had to leave this world in this manner.

Once while hunting, he accidentally killed Shravan Kumar. Shravan kumar was a dedicated son who was serving his blind parents. When Dashrath told this unfortunate incident to them, they cursed him saying that he would also suffer for his son as they are suffering because of him.

Shravan kumar and his parents

Dashrath and Shravan Kumar

Dashrath and Shravan Kumar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dashrath’s was inconsolable when Rama, laxman and Sita were preparing to go to the forests.

Ram laxman preparing to go to vanvaas

Ram laxman preparing to go to vanvaas

Rama, alongwith Laxman and Sita go to forest to abide with their father orders.

Rama, Laxman and Sita

Bharat requests him to come back. But Rama refused as this was his duty to obey his father’s orders. Bharat then asks for his sandals and he put Rama’s sandals on the throne of Ayodhya. He then conducted the governance in the name of Lord Rama.

Rama and Bharat

Rama and Bharat