Usually, people familiar with Hindu culture know that Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati had two sons – Skanda (Kartikeya, Murugan), who became the commanders of the Gods, and Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of wisdom. But the Divine couple also had a daughter, Ashok Sundari, also with an unusual birth.
The story of Ashoka Sundari is well told in Padma Purana. She is believed to bless her devotees with beauty and luxury. She is mentioned in the Padma Purana, which tells her story. The Hindu goddess is mainly worshiped in South India as Bala Tripura Sundari and Goddess Rayaki and Goddess Jwalaimukhi in North Indian Region.
Birth Story of Ashok Sundari
The story of the birth of Ashok Sundari is detailed in the Padma Purana. Accordingly, Lord Shiva and Parvati lived on Mount Kailash. One day Parvati expressed a desire to take a walk in the beautiful forest of Nandanvan. During the walk, Shiva and Parvati admired nature, but one tree was liked by the Goddess the most. Shiva said that this is Kalpavriksha – a wish-fulfilling tree. Parvati wanted to try it and made a wish that it would create a beautiful girl child. It was fulfilled immediately.
The girl greeted Parvati and asked her: Why did you create me? What should I do at your request? I created you simply to satisfy curiosity, Parvati replied. But now that you are created let me call you Ashokasundari. In the future, in the lunar dynasty, a king named Nahusha will be born – he will be your husband.
In this way, Ashok Sundari became the daughter of Parvati and Shiva, who raised her. And Parvati became very attached to the pretty girl. The Term ‘Asoka’ and ‘Sundari’ combined means a beautiful woman with no sorrows.
Curse to Asura Hunda
When the time of youth overtook, Ashoksundari, despite her mother’s protests, went to the forest to perform asceticism, where Asura Hunda saw her and was inflamed with a desire to get her. He offered Ashoksundari to become his wife, but she flatly refused, saying that she had already been married to Nahusha by her parents. But the asura could not accept his defeat.
Hunda tried to kidnap the girl cunningly, and He disguised himself as a widow whose husband had been killed by him and asked Ashoksundari to accompany her to her abode. Ashoka Sundari went with the Asura in disguise and reached his palace. The fancy palace revealed the true form of Asur Hunda. When Asoka Sundari learned of his betrayal, she cursed him to be killed by Nahusha. Being scared, angry, and sad, she fled to her parent’s home, Mount Kailash.
Marriage to Nahusha
At that time, Nahusha was still small, and asura Hunda tried to kill him. But the little prince was sheltered by his parents in the ashram of the sage Vasishtha. There he grew up and then everything planned came true.
When Hunda abducted Ashoksundari, he lied to her saying that he had killed Nahusha. A married couple saw Ashokasundari’s distress and consoled her, telling her about the wellbeing of Nahusha and predicting that she would give birth to a powerful son named Yayati and one hundred beautiful daughters. Nahusha then mounted a fierce battle against Hunda, overpowered him, and rescued his wife-to-be.
Over time, in the absence of Indra, Nahusa temporarily became the ruler of the Swarga. Indra’s pride caused him to be cursed and which led to his downfall. In his absence, Nahusha was temporarily given his throne, which Indra later recaptured.
Ashoksundari and Nahusha had a son, Yayati, who laid the foundation for the dynasty of Yadavas and Pauravas, who in turn are the ancestors of the Pandavas and Kauravas, the heroes of the Mahabharata.
Who is Nahusha?
In Hindu Scripts, Nahusha is the king of the Aila Dynasty (Moon Dynasty) and the 3,698,256 Senses (position). He was the son of Ayu, the eldest son of Pururava, and Prabha, the daughter of Svarbhanu. Nahusha rules from Pratishthana.
He married Viraja/Ashoksundari. They had six or seven sons, according to the different Ancient Puranas. His eldest son Yati became a muni (hermit). He was succeeded by his second son Yayati.
Nahusha was appointed King of Svarga after Indra’s disappearance. He soon became arrogant and was later removed from the throne. While ruling on Indra’s throne, he tried to seduce Indra’s wife Indrani, for which he incurred a curse to take a serpent form.
To escape from the curse, he hid in Indra’s palanquin. But sage Agastya found his hiding place and called him out. Immediately Nahusha fell from the palanquin in the form of a serpent. He would keep this form until he meets with Yudhishthira.
The time came during the Dvapara Yuga when the Pandavas were on their last voyage toward the Himalayas. Bhima saw a serpent (Nahusha) and was ready to kill him as it could threaten their journey. However, due to having a benediction from Agastya, he was too powerful even for Bhima’s enormous strength. Yudhistira looked for him soon after and found them both.
Nahusha when saw Yudhishtira revealed himself to be Yudhishthira’s progenitor and unveils his damnation to him. Then they have a discussion regarding Dharma and its meanings. Nahusha points out Yudhishthira’s blunders, asking him to gain knowledge from them. Consequently, Nahusha frees himself from his disturbance and ascends to heaven; at the same time granting Bhima gigantic power.
Unknown but interesting facts about Ashoksundari
- According to scriptures, when Shri Ganesha was beheaded, Ashoksundari was also there, and fearing her father and mother, she hid behind a sack of salt. Later, Lord Shiva pacified her. Thus, she is related to salt, without which life is tasteless. Ashok Sundari is also called Okha, and salt is not bought in her memory in Chaitra.
- Mata Parvati was pleased to receive her daughter, so Mata gave a boon to Ashok Sundari that she would be married to a powerful man like Devraj Indra.
- The triangular friend and foe between Ashokasundari, Hunda, and Nahusha reflect the beauty-lured misdeed that was done justice by courage. Ashokasundari symbolizes beauty and desires born of devotion and knowledge. Hunda symbolizes greed and evil. Nahusha symbolizes the learning of Yoga, justice, goodness, and courage.