» Raksha Bandhan In Mythology And History

The roots of most of the Hindu festivals can be traced to Hindu Mythology. We do hear about why is Holi celebrated or what is the significance of Diwali but hardly anyone knows why Raksha Bandhan is celebrated. All one knows about it is that it is the festival for the brothers and the sisters when they wish good life to each other and the sister ties rakhi to her brother.

Raksha Bandhan is mentioned in our epics as a festival of Gods. It is said that Yamuna, the sister of Yama, the lord of Death used to tie rakhi to his brother on every Shravan Purnima. Indrani tied Rakhi to his brother Lord Indra. Yama was so impressed by the occasion that he declared that whoever got a Rakhi tied from his sister would become immortal. From that day onwards girls tie rakhi to their brothers wishing them a long life and brothers bestow their blessings by promising to take care of the sisters through thick and thin.

 

While tying the rakhi, the girls spoke :

"Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala"

Meaning : "I am tying a Rakhi on you, like the one on mighty demon king Bali. Be firm, O Rakhi, do not falter."

The legend relates that the mighty Demon king Raja Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. When lord Indra could not counter Bali, he went to Lord Vishnu for help. Vishnu overthrew Bali to the nether world. Lord Vishnu promised King Bali immortality till he would be crowned as Indra and also that he would guard the kingdom of Patala leaving his own abode in Vaikunth.

Godess Laxmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu, wished the Lord to be back at Vaikunth. Disguised as a Brahmin woman she went to Bali to seek refuge till her husband returned home after finishing some important task. King Bali obliged. With her came the happiness and wealth. All auspicious things happened.

On the Shravan Purnima Goddess tied the sacred thread to Bali and prayed for his well being. Bali was touched by the gesture. He accepted her as her sister and requested her to make a wish. At this She revealed herself and told that it war Narayan himself guarding hid Kindom. King Bali immediately requested the Lord to return to his abode.

From that day on, girls tie rakhi to their brothers and seek blessings. Now, we relate more to the historical events rather than the mythological tales. The once we heard as parts of our history in schools are the base of the festivities today.

The most ancient incident refers to the invasion of Alexander the Great. It is said that Puru was a mighty king. Alexander had to face a great resistance from him. Worried about her husband’s safety, Alexander’s wife seeked audience with King Puru. She requested him to accept her as his sister. Puru obliged her and promised not to harm Alexander. The Rakhi on Puru’s hand is said to be the savior of Alexander.

In the medieval times, rakhi meant a call for help. The Rajput kingdoms were being attacked by the Muslim rulers. The Royal ladies solicited help from the fellow Rajput rulers sending them Rakhi. The Rajputs considered it their responsibility to respond to the request and help them.

A famous incident relates how the widowed queen of Chittor, Rani Karnawati sent rakhi to Emperor Humayun to help her save the honor of the dependent Ladies. Humayun immediately followed the request and reached there with his troops. He despite all his efforts reached their late and the royal ladies had already performed the Jauhar.

All this signifies that Rakhi was not always an only brother sister festival. It was to fulfill the basic need of protection. It was an un- maligned prayer for good will and protection. It is said that at one time the Sages tied the sacred thread for protection to themselves and their followers.

Rabindranath Tagore started Rakhi Utsavas, a congregation signifying the harmonious relationship amongst the community. It was a vow for peaceful existence and commitment to all the members of society. This was Raksha Bandhan’s universal outlook.

Rakhi in today’s scenario though celebrated, as a sibling’s festival, if taken in true sense has a much broader perspective. The festival encompasses true sense of peace and brotherhood. The values propagated by the occasion if inculcated by all human beings can bring the much-needed relief from the ongoing violence and mistrust.

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