Arundhati (अरुन्धती)

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Arundhati (Samskrit : अरुन्धती) was the wife of Vasistha. Arundhati was known by the name Urja also. There is a Puranic story behind the marriage of Vasistha and Arundhati.

Sandhya

In her previous birth Arundhati was named Sandhya. She was born from the passion of Brahma. As soon as she was born she grew up. Seeing her exquisite beauty the Prajapatis were filled with excitement. Even Brahma, her father, was some-what excited at her sight. Siva, who understood this, teased Brahma. Sandhya was ashamed. Even after Siva, Brahma, Prajapatis and the others had gone their ways, she remained there blaming her birth. She said to herself: "The moment I was born, I grew up to be a young woman. My father and my brothers looked at me with desire. I also looked at them excitedly. As an atonement for this papa (पापम्), I will burn my body in fire. I do not want a body desired by my father and brothers. With this decision she went to the mountain Candrabhaga, which is the source of the river Candrabhaga, and began to perform penance. Brahma who came to know of this, was filled with pity and sent Vasishta to her. He went there in the form of a Brahmin boy and taught her how to perform penance. After the return of Vasistha she continued the severe penance to Visnu. Her penance became the subject of talk and wonder everywhere. After a short while Visnu appeared before her sitting on his conveyance Garuda. She praised Visnu. Visnu was pleased with her and asked what her desire was. She said: "Lord, creatures should not be sexually excited at their birth. They should have sexual desire only when they are grown up. The three worlds must know that I am chaste. In all my births I should not look at anybody except my husband with sexual desire. The man who looks at me with sexual desire should lose his manliness and become a hermaphrodite." Mahavisnu agreed to her request. It was from that day onwards that sexual desire appeared in creatures in their grown-up stage only, after they have passed the stages of infancy and childhood. Mahavisnu told her. "It is preordained that this body of yours will be burnt in fire. Medhatithi, (Meghatithi), the son of Priyavrata is performing the great yajna called Jyotistoma which is to be completed in twelve years. It is coming to a close. There is none equal to him because of this yajna. That great hermit's yajna is being performed in the basin of this river Candrabhaga. Unseen by the hermits, you should go there and get into the fire. Because of my blessing you will be born from that fire as the daughter of Medhatithi. You should go into the fire thinking of him whom you want to be your husband in this birth."[1]

Mahavisnu touched Sandhya with the tip of his finger. Sandhya walked to the yajna shala. Seen by none, she got down into the fire. She was burnt in the blazing fire. By the order of Visnu; the God fire placed Sandhya who was burnt in the yajnika agni, in the Solar region. The sun divided that body into two and placed them in his chariot. The upper portion became the pratassandhya (dawn) between the day and the night and the lower portion became the Sayantana Sandhya (the evening twilight) . At the end of the yajna, from the centre of the yajnika agni a girl, like the flame of fire rose up. Medhatithi took that child in his hands and called her Arundhati. The child became famous throughout the three worlds, as the name stood for the principle that on no reason what-soever will righteousness be obstructed. (Rodha means obstruction. So Arundhati is one who cannot be obstructed).

Marriage

Arundhati grew up in the hermitage of Medhatithi. Candrabhaga holy bath which was the playfield of Arundhati, is even today, known as Arundhati tirtha. Arundhati became five years of age. Brahma saw her when she was playing on the ground after having taken her bath. At the instruction of Brahma, Arundhati was entrusted to Savitri and Bahula for education. Savitri is the wife of the Sun. Arundhati lived in Manasa lake with Savitri, Gayatrl, Bahula, SarasvatL, Drupada and such other celestial women and completed her education. One day Arundhati happened to see Vasistha who was shining with radiance. They fell in love with each other. Parents and relatives and the elders came to know of this. Savitri patting Arundhati blessed her to become the wife of Vasistha. The marriage of Arundhati with Vasistha was conducted in the presence of the Gods.

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