Shri Krishna with Sudarshan Chakra in Mahabharata

Famous Curses in Indian mythology

Curses and boons are an integral part of mythological stories. 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 catalog some famous and some unknown curses.

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

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]

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. Dashratha accidentally killed Shravan Kumar while he was fetching water for his parents. Upon knowing this, his parents cursed him that he would also suffer with separation of his children. This came true when Kaikeyi demanded that Rama should be banished.

Sage Gautam’s curse to Ahilya

Indra disguised himself as Sage Gautam and had a relationship with Ahilya . Sage Gautam came to know of this and 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

Sage Gautam’s curse to Indra

Lord Indra with thousand eyes

After Indra cheated Sage Gautam’s wife Ahalya, He was cursed by Sage that he would have one thousand female genitals (Sahasrayoni). Later this curse reverted into a boon and Indra got thousand eyes. Indra is also known as Sahasraaksha.

Curse on Lord 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

Curse on Anjana – mother of Hanuman

Anjana was actually 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.

Gandhari shrap to 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.

The curse of sages (Vishwamitra, Durvasa, Vashistha, 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.

Shri Krishna’s curse to Samba

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

Shri Krishna to Ashwaththama

Ashwaththama, son of Guru Drona, tried to do the unthinkable. After he tried to kill Abhimanyu’s unborn son (Parikshit) with a deadly weapon brahmastra, Krishna cursed him  and to live forever. He also took out the shining jewel from his forehead.

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]

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 and kept silent about it. This is why Yudhishthira cursed womankind.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

Vasishtha’s curse to Satyavrata – Trishanku

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.

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.

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.

Curse of Kabandha

Kabandha was a Gandharva. Lord Indra made Kabandha in a ugly creature. He gave him two long arms and a mouth on his belly. Indra said that Kabandha would regain his original form when Rama severs his arms. 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.

Kabdandha’s salvation by Rama and Lakshman

Ganesha’s curse to Moon

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

12 thoughts on “Famous Curses in Indian mythology”

  1. Thanks Kulwant. This is great to here that you like the articles on freeflow. There are many more stories which you will find interesting here. If you have any suggestions, please do let us know. Regards.

  2. The following story depicts about the narada curse against vishnu as mentioned in this blog. Rama was separated from Sita due to a curse by Narada. Based on the legend, Narada was in deep penance when Lord Kamadev tried to disrupt him. Since Narada was graced by Lord Shiva, he managed to resist Lord Kamadev and continue his meditation. Overwhelmed by his victory over Lord Kamadev, Narada boasted to everyone despite several warnings and advice. He even went to the extent of visiting Lord Vishnu’s abode to boast about his strength.

    On his way back from Vishnu’s abode, he came across the ceremony where King Sheelnidhi organized a swayamvar for his daughter and Narada fell in love with her immediately. Narada went back to God Vishnu seeking good looks to win over the King’s daughter. To teach him a lesson, God Vishnu tricked him and gave him a monkey’s face.

    After being embarrassed during the ceremony, Narada cursed God Vishnu’s avatar of Rama to be split from his wife and will be reunited with the help of a monkey.

  3. Brahma is one of the Trimurti (Three primary Gods of Hinduism), the others being God Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma was not created by anyone, but was self-born out of a Lotus flower thus he is referred to as Prajapati. Brahma is commonly represented as having four heads, four arms, and red skin. But as per Puranas, Brahma actually had five heads, which later became four due to his ego.

  4. Bharvi Bhatt-Burgess

    very good narration, however a humble request to not use our historical events as Mythology as it means it is a myth and not the facts, while we all believe that this is a fact. Haribol!!

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