According to Hindu theology, Apsara is unique, very beautiful, skillful in many arts, and a brilliant and supernatural divine woman living in Devlok. It is mentioned in Vedas and Puranas that there used to be many types of women like Devi, Pari, Apsara, Yakshini, Indrani, and Pishachini. Apsaras are considered to be the most beautiful and endowed with magical powers. Apsaras have been called Hur in Islam.
Origin of Apsara
According to its origin (Apsu Sartti Gachchatiti Apsara:), Apsara is considered to be living in the water. According to Atharvaveda and Yajurveda, they live in water. And according to the Atharvaveda, she lives on the Ashwattha and Nyagrodha trees, where she swings in a swing and the sweet sound of her melodious instruments (Sarkari) is heard. They entertain themselves by being engaged in dancing, singing, and sports. Apsaras have no prescribed age. All of them are immortal.
Yakshas, Gandharvas, and Apsaras have been mentioned in Indian Puranas. Yaksha, Gandharva, and Apsara are considered in another category of deities. It is said that after composing 108 hymns, Indra revealed the Apsaras. The idols of Apsaras inscribed in attractive postures in every corner of the temples attract attention with beautiful body shapes and expressions. The names Urvashi, Menaka, Rambha, Ghritachi, Tilottama, Kunda, etc. have been mentioned in the legends of Vedas and Puranas. Is. All Apsaras have strange stories. It is believed that these Apsaras used to live in Gandharva Lok. They used to entertain the gods in Devloka through dance and music.
Stories of Indra and Apsaras
According to the Puranas, Indra, the king of the gods, Indra, has used Apsaras many times to break the harsh penance of saints and ascetics to protect the throne. The names of these Apsaras have come in many places in the Vedas and Puranas, where they broke the meditation of sages engaged in severe penance.
According to the scriptures, 11 Apsaras were the main servants in the heaven of Devraj Indra. These 11 Apsaras are Kritasthali, Punjikasthala, Menaka, Rambha, Pramlocha, Anumlocha, Ghritachi, Varcha, Urvashi, Purvachitti and Tilottama. The main Apsara of all these Apsaras was Rambha.
In different beliefs, the number of Apsaras has been told from 108 to 1008. Some more names- Ambika, Alamvusha, Anavadya, Anuchana, Aruna, Asita, Budbuda, Chandrajyotsana, Devi, Ghritachi, Gunamukhya, Gunuvara, Harsha, Indralakshmi, Kamya, Karnika, Keshini, Kshema, Lata, Lakshmana, Manorama, Marichi, Misrasthala, Mrigakshi, Nabhidarshana, Purvachitti, Pushpadeha, Rakshita, Ritushala, Sahajanya, Samichi, Saurabhedi, Shardwati, Shuchika, Somi, Suvahu, Sugandha, Supriya, Surja, Sursa, Surata, Umlocha, etc.
Apsara Rambha appeared during the churning of the ocean and the other was the daughter of Kashyapa and Pradha. Whether the two were the same may be a matter of research. Indra had obtained Rambha from the gods for his court. Rambha was famous in all three worlds for her form and beauty.
In ‘Mahabharata’ it is described as the wife of a Gandharva named Turumba. Rambha danced to welcome Arjuna to heaven. Apsara named Rambha was in the assembly of Kuber. Rambha lived as a wife to Nalkuber, the son of Kuber. Ravana ridiculed the relationship between Rambha and Nalkuber.
Because of Ravana’s sarcasm and mockery in this way, Nalkuber cursed Ravana ‘Go, whenever you have sex with a woman who does not love you, then you will have to lose your life.’ It is believed that due to the fear of this curse, Ravana did not even touch Sita after Sitaharan. Elsewhere, it is mentioned that Ravana tried to rape Rambha, and because of this Rambha cursed him.
According to Shrimad Bhagwat, this Urvashi was the most beautiful Apsara of heaven (part of the north of the Himalayas). Once, during the dance of Urvashi in Indra’s assembly, King Pururava (the original father of the Chandravanshis) was attracted to her, due to which her rhythm got spoiled. Due to this crime, Indra got angry and cursed both of them to live in the mortal world.
Pururava and Urvashi started living as husband and wife in the mortal world with some conditions. His 9 sons Ayu, Amavasu, Vishwayu, Shrutayu, Durbhayu, Shatayu, etc. were born. Indra loved Urvashi a lot.
Urvashi is believed to have originated from Narayan’s thigh, but according to the Padma Purana, it was born from Kamadeva’s Uru. Urvashi was immortal. The same Urvashi was once attracted by seeing Arjuna in Indra’s meeting and she made a love request to Indra, but Arjuna said- ‘O Goddess! Our ancestor had increased the pride of our dynasty by marrying you, so being the mother of the Puru dynasty, you are equal to our mother….’ Hearing such words of Arjun, Urvashi said- ‘You have spoken words like eunuchs, so I curse you that you will remain manless for 1 year.
Menaka was the most beautiful Apsara in heaven. When the great ascetic sage Vishwamitra started penance for the construction of a new heaven, then Devraj Indra got scared of his penance and sent Menaka to dissolve his penance.
Menaka broke the tenacity of Vishwamitra, who was absorbed in penance, with her beauty and beauty. Leaving everything Vishwamitra drowned in Menaka’s love. Vishwamitra married Menaka and Vishwamitra got a beautiful girl from Menaka who was named Shakuntala. When Shakuntala was young, one day Menaka left her and Vishwamitra and went to heaven again.
After Menaka left, Shakuntala was brought up and educated by Rishi Kanva, so he was her godfather. Shakuntala was married to King Dushyant. King Dushyant of Puruvansh and Bharat, son of Shakuntala, is counted among the 16 best kings described in ‘Mahabharata’.
Tilottama was the most beautiful Apsara of heaven. According to the Puranas, to create it, Lord Brahma had filled every mole of the beautiful things in the world. It is also said that she was born from the fire pit of Brahma. Due to the curse of Durvasa Rishi, this Tilottama was the daughter of Baan. In the month of Magha, she stays on the chariot of the Sun along with the Solar Gana. According to another belief, Tilottama is the mistress of the chariot of the Sun along with the other seven Sauraganas in the month of Ashwin (Magha according to Vayupurana). Ashtavakra cursed her.
Birth of Tilottama
Kashyapa Rishi had two prominent sons Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. In the lineage of Hiranyakashipu, a demon named Nikumbha was born, who had two mighty sons named Sunda and Upasunda. To conquer Trilokya, both started doing penance on Vindhyachal Mountain. When Brahmaji came to give the boon, both of them asked for the boon of immortality. But when Brahma refused to grant this boon, both the brothers thought that they were very much in love with each other and that they never fight and cannot fight with each other. That’s why he told Brahmaji that he should get this boon that no one in Trilok can kill him except each other. Brahma said – Amen.
After getting a boon from Brahma, Sund and Upasund started committing atrocities in Trilokya, due to which there was a hue and cry everywhere. Therefore, to make these two brothers fight with each other, Brahma created an Apsara named Tilottama.
Tilottama was sent to the Vindhya mountain, the abode of Sunda, Upasunda. On seeing Tilottama, both the brothers started fighting with each other to get her and were killed by each other. In this way, there are more different stories of 108 Apsaras.