On the way to Mithila, Viswamitra took Sri Rama past Ahalya’s Asrama. The story of Indra and Ahlaya is very famous. Ahalya was the mother of Satananda, the priest of Raja Janaka the king of Mithila and Sita’s father. We also know that Ahalya was the wife of Gautama Maharshi. This story must be after the time when Gautama and Ahalya lived on Brahmagiri and discovered the Godavari.
To Err is Human: Indra was in love with Ahalya, since the time that Brahma had created this great beauty. But Brahma decreed that Ahalya should marry the pure and good Gautama. Ahalya was a devoted wife and she made Gautama very happy. But, one day, Indra came and expressed his love for Ahalya. And she, a beautiful, young lady, was flattered that the handsome and strong king of the Devas, was interested in her. She wondered how it would be if she had been with Indra, instead of with Gautama. When Gautama came home and found them together, he was badly hurt and he cursed both of them. Indra became Sahasraksha – the one with a thousand eyes, and Ahalya became a spirit living in the abandoned Asrama waiting to be redeemed from the curse. Some say she lived in a stone.
And To Forgive is divine: When Sri Rama passed the hermitage in which Ahalya lived, his foot touched the stone that Ahalya was in. And Ahalya turned back into a lovely lady again. Gautama Maharshi came there too at that time. Ahalya was purfied by Rama and Gautama forgave her and loved her again. Satananda and Viswamitra were very happy to see this kind-heartedness. It also gave them a clue, that he might forgive his own wife, if the situation came up. This is one of the reasons that Gandhiji praised Rama as Patita Pavana (the one who purifies the fallen).
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