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Legends Behind Raksha Bandhan

- August 2, 2020

Raksha Bandhan is observed to acknowledge the sublime bond between siblings. Brothers promise to protect their sisters while sisters wish for their brothers’ immortality while tying a sacred thread ‘rakhi’ around the wrist of their brothers. The festival is celebrated on the day of the full moon in the month of Shravana, according to the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in August. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting stories around Raksha Bandhan in Indian mythology. 

Krishna and Draupadi 
Illustration: Durgesh Velhal

Amongst the better-known legends around the origin of Raksha Bandhan is the story of Krishna and Draupadi. According to one version of the Mahabharata, Krishna slit his index finger in battle, while hurling his divine weapon, the Sudarshan Chakra, at his nephew, Shishupala. Another version says he cut his finger while reaping sugarcane from the fields. Both stories conclude with Draupadi tearing a piece of her saree and wrapping it around his finger to stop the bleeding. Pleased by this loving gesture from Draupadi, Krishna took a divine oath to protect Draupadi’s honour in the future. This is also believed to be the reason why he came to her rescue during the infamous disrobing by the Kauravas. 

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Illustration: ACK Design Team
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi 
Images: Wikimedia   Illustration: ACK Design Team

Another legend about the festival revolves around the story of Goddess Lakshmi and King Bali. 

When Bali selflessly gave everything that Vishnu had asked for disguised as Vamana, Vishnu became very impressed by Bali’s devotion. He blessed Bali to be equal in status to Indra for as long as he lived. He also promised to protect Bali and his homestead and disguised himself as a gatekeeper guarding Bali’s palace. However, Vishnu’s wife, goddess Lakshmi, missed her husband in Vaikunth. Unable to bear her husband’s absence, she disguised herself as a poor Brahmin lady and went to Bali, and told him that she wanted a place to stay until her husband returned from the task he had set out to accomplish. Bali wholeheartedly welcomed her and protected her just like an elder brother.     

With the arrival of the goddess, Bali’s palace was filled with happiness and wealth. On the day of Shravana Purnima, the poor Brahmin lady tied a coloured cotton thread around his wrist. Overwhelmed by the gesture, Bali granted her a wish. The Brahmin lady pointed at the gatekeeper and asked for her husband to be set free. In an instant, Vishnu and Lakshmi then returned to their true form. King Bali was touched by the love and care they had shown him and requested Vishnu to go back to his abode with Lakshmi. However, he requested Vishnu to visit him at least once every year. It is believed that lord Vishnu visits King Bali for four months every monsoon. 

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Dasharatha, the prince of Ayodhya, was out hunting when he heard the sound of an elephant drinking water. Aiming his bow, the prince shot in the direction of the sound. Tragically, the arrow killed a youth who was filling water in a pitcher for his old and blind parents. The anguished father cursed Dasharatha that one day he would die grieving for his son. Dasharatha's son was the valiant and unparalleled, Rama.

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