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MAṆḌODARĪ I(मण्डोदरी)

  • (MANDODARĪ). (In South India the name Maṇḍodarī is current). Wife of Rāvaṇa. The Uttara Rāmāyaṇa contains a story about the previous history of Mandodarī. Maya, an asura, was born to Kaśyapaprajāpati of his wife Danu. Once Maya went to Devaloka to see the dances of the celestial maidens there. Devas came to know that Maya was in love with the nymph Hemā and they married her to Maya. Maya went to the southern vallcy of Himavān and lived there with Hemā constructing there a city called Hemapura. They got two sons Māyāvī and Dundubhi. But they grieved over the lack of a daughter and she went to a side of Himavān and started penance there to get the blessings of Śiva. Once a celestial damsel named Madhurā after observing Somavāravrata went to Kailāsa to pay obeisance to Śiva. Pārvatī was absent from the place then, having gone to attend the birthday celebrations of one of her sons. So Madhurā met Śiva sitting lonely and this led to a clandestine sexual union between them. When Pārvatī returned she saw traces of the ashes from the body of Śiva on the naked breast of Madhurā and Pārvatī in her anger cursed Madhurā to live in a well for twelve years as a frog. Śiva was stupefied at the curse and he went to the well and consoled her by saying that she would after the twelve years of life as a frog become a very beautiful maiden and would be married by a man of great fame and valour. It was near this well that Maya and his wife were performing penance to get a daughter. After twelve years the frog changed itself into a beautiful maiden and cried loudly from the well. Hearing the cry Maya and Hemā, who were nearby peeped into the well and seeing the young girl took her home and brought her up giving her the name Mandodarī. Rāvaṇa returning after his victory march by that way visited Maya and seeing the girl fell in love with her and married her according to Vedic rites and took her to Laṅkā. Rāvaṇa got three sons of her, Meghanāda, Atikāya and Akṣakumāra. Mandodarī was a very beautiful woman. Hanūmān when he entered the bed-room of Rāvaṇa in search of Sītā was dumb-founded at the beauty of Mandodarī and mistook her for a second for Sītā. [Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa]. 

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