A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Raksha Bandhan – Festival of Rakhi.

There are many myths behind Raksha Bandhan. It began as a bond to take care of or protect against evil forces or perils of any kind. One of the first myths has its origin in the Vedic times, has a very different connotation from its later myths.

As per the Vedic myth Indra on behalf of the gods was waging a war against Vritra a very powerful demon. (The Indra-Vritra conflict has a very deep significance and symbolism, which is a topic by itself, but will skip for the present occasion). To avoid a defeat, against a very powerful adversary, Indra approached Brihaspati for a solution, who suggested wearing a sacred thread, powered by spells, on Sharavan Poornima (Full moon day of the month of Shravan). On this day, Indra’s wife Sachi tied this special thread, powered by mantra’s, which led to the victory of Indra in the battle. Later, Mahabharat has a reference of this myth as a story narrated by Lord Krishna to Yudhistira, when he had a similar plight.

However, during later times, this became a bond between a brother and sister and the Indra myth was nearly forgotten. Some of the important myths are that of Yama and Yamuna. It is said that on this day, Yamuna had bestowed immortality on Yama by tying a sacred thread on Yama’s wrist. Yama, moved by this gesture, declared this day as sacred and since that day, it is said that brothers who get this sacred thread tied by their sisters, get the gift of immortality from them.

Another myth says, that once Draupadi had tied a strip of her garment to stop Krishna’s bleeding finger. So touched was Krishna by this gesture, that he announced that he was bound to her by a brother’s love and would be there for her whenever she needed him. Mahabharat relates a number of instances when Krishna came to the aid of Draupadi.

Another legend has it that on this day, Goddess Lakshmi got her consort, Lord Vishnu back with her, as a wish granted by the Mahabali, the demon king, on tying a rakhi on his wrist. Vishnu was guarding the kingdom of Mahabali, leaving his own home Vaikuntha. (Though this myth might sound slightly contradictory in terms of dates of Onam and Raksha Bandhan, it is advisable not to look for chronology in Roman calendar when it comes to Indian festivals!)

Besides mythology there are a number of historical references of Raksha Bandhan too. One of the most well known is the episode of Rani Karnawati sending a rakhi to King Humayun seeking his help and intervention during the invasion of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. There is also a mention of Alexander’s wife having tied a rakhi to Porus, due to which Porus avoids killing Alexander many a times during the battle between the two.

Besides, the day is also celebrated as Nariyal Poornima, when people living in the coastal areas offer nariyal (coconut) to Varuna, the god of seas as an act of propitiation.

The significance of the day has not lost out on people till date. Even today, we find sisters tying colourful and now designer rakhis on their brother’s wrist, and renewing the bond of the relationship annually.

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