Hindu mythology has characters that are so formidable, impressively large and larger than life that it sometimes seems impossible to believe that such characters ever walked this planet or ever existed. Today I would write about such female characters of Hindu mythology who are not only considered magnificently strong but also had magnetic and extraordinary beauty and charm in terms of physical appearance. These beautiful women were not only mere objects of beauty but they also changed the course of Hindu mythology time to time.
Tilottama– In Adi Parva of Mahabharata, when Pandavas marry Draupadi, sage Naarad tells them that a woman can become a reason of quarrel between brothers and recites the story of two demon brothers Sunda and Upsunda who loved each other so much that when Lord Brahma refused to grant them boon of immortality, they asked for the boon that only they could kill each other for they knew the fact that they would never kill each other as there was no object that could come between the brotherly love that they had had. But a woman became the reason of quarrel between them. You are right. That woman was Tilottama!
When Sunda and Upsunda wreaked havoc in the universe, drove devatas out of heaven and started killing and harassing the sages and common humans, devatas witnessed that there is no reason of quarrel between these demon brothers and there is no hope of their death, they went to Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma ordered the divine architect Vishwakarma to create a woman whose beauty is something never witnessed in the three worlds so that she could seduce them and bring them to their fate i.e. death by each other. Now Vishwakarma collected all the valuable gems he could possibly gather from the three worlds and created a woman who had the beauty unrivaled and unparalleled. She was sent for the task and she started plucking flowers at the bank of the river in Vindhya Mountains where the two brothers were relishing liquor. After witnessing the beauty they never had seen in the three worlds they both wanted to marry her but none of them wanted to hand her to the other. They eventually started the duel and ultimately killed each other. The reason of the contention between brothers was made and had won the battle from devatas’s side.
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Name given to her was Tilottama. Now ‘Til’ means sesame seeds and ‘Uttam’ means of very high quality or best quality making the meaning of Tilottama=every bit (even the size of sesame seed) of whose body is perfect. Such was her beauty that even Lord Shiva who is known for his ascetic nature and no materialistic wish or desire was enchanted by her beauty.
There is a story that lord Brahma despite of the fact that she was like his daughter, was aroused by her charm and luster emanating from her body and hence sent her to mount Kailash so that she could offer her obeisance to lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was spellbound and since goddess Parvati was sitting beside him and he couldn’t see Tilottama because of her presence, faces emerged on all four sides of his head so that he could see Tilottama while she was circumambulating around him and goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati put her hands on his eyes veiling the universe in darkness and thus his third eye emerges.
Another version says that Shiva revealed himself to Tilottama as the five Brahmans, with his five faces. The east face signifying his sovereignty over the world, the north face to sport with Parvati, the west to ensure the happiness of creatures; the south face, to destroy the universe and the fifth face was invisible as it was beyond the comprehension of Tilottama.
At last, Lord Brahma granted Tilottama a boon that no one could stare at her for more than few seconds for her glittering luster and enchanting beauty and also that she could roam freely in whole universe without any restriction.
Urvashi– When Nar–Narayan(Nar later on took birth as Arjun of Mahabharata, and Narayan was of course Lord Krishna aka Narayan) were practicing penance and meditating in Badrinath region, Indra(King of demigods in heaven) got scared due to the intensity of their meditation of one thousand years and didn’t want them to acquire divine powers and hence, in order to break their meditation sent two celestial nymphs or apsaras–Rambha and Menaka along with other supporting apsaras. Indra was of course ignorant in knowing the reality of Nar and lord Narayan.
When apsaras told Nar and Narayan that Indra has presented Nar–Narayan the most beautiful apsaras of heaven and Narayan realized that she was supercilious about her beauty and was extremely proud of herself, he struck his thigh with a flower and from there emerged a woman whose beauty was more than enough to put the apsaras of Indra to shame. She was born from the ‘UR’ part of the thigh, and thus was named Urvashi by Narayan.
Narayan did so to make apsaras realize that physical beauty and materialistic possessions are not to be so proud of and then asked the apsaras to take Urvashi with them and to present her to Indra from his behalf. Apsaras finally realized their mistake and apologized to Nar–Narayan and left for the heaven.
Since Urvashi was born from the thigh of lord himself, her beauty is considered as unparalleled. After this incident, Urvashi became the glory or the most beautiful apsara of Indra’s court. Not only this but she is also considered as one of the most beautiful women in Hindu Mythology.
Mandodari- Mandodari(wife of demon king Raavan)is described in Ramayan as a ‘beautiful’ woman.
Though her beauty is not much discussed in the epic but her beauty can be understood by some versions of Ramayan which narrates that when Hanuman visited Lanka for the very first time to search Sita, he thought Mandodari to be Sita because the description of Sita’s beauty by Ram and others matched that of Mandodari’s appearance. That, in itself is sufficient to tell that Mandodari was extremely beautiful and virtuous lady.
Ahalya- What can be said of the woman who is considered as not born of a woman. Yes you read that right. According to Ramayan it is considered that Ahalya was created by Lord Brahma by molding pure creative energy.
According to Mahari dance tradition, Brahma created her with water as the most beautiful woman in order to break pride and arrogance of Urvashi whose beauty is already known to us and has also been stated above. Such was her beauty that Indra(king of demigods in heaven) couldn’t control his desire to get her and took form of her husband sage Gautam to seduce her, eventually getting a curse both for himself as well as her.
Ahalya is considered as one of the most beautiful woman ever created.
Damyanti- Princess of Vidharbha kingdom, Damyanti was extremely beautiful. It was her beauty that made demigods like Indra, Yama, Agni, and Varun come from heaven to participate and marry her in her Swayamvar.
But she fell in love with Nala of Nishad kingdom just by listening about his virtues. Described in Vana Parva of epic Mahabharata, Damyanti is one of the most beautiful and revered woman in Hindu Myhtology.
Mohini- What can anyone say about the beauty of a woman who was god almighty himself who took form of a woman and that too to entice the asuras. After Samudra manthan i.e. the churning of the ocean when devatas and asuras got into a quarrel about the possession of amrit i.e. nector of immortality, lord Vishnu came himself for the solution taking form of a woman named Mohini(one who attracts) who was so beautiful that asuras couldn’t resist her beauty and forgot all about amrit giving Mohini the chance to present all the amrit to devatas. She also beheaded a demon named Rahu who, by deception tried to consume amrit.
But this is not enough. Known as an ascetic who is completely detached from the worldly affairs, Lord Shiva also got allured by Mohini’s beauty. According to many different versions of Mohini’s story, Shiva went completely mad and crazy about Mohini and wanted to consummate with her.
As per Brahmanda Puran, as a result of Lord Shiva’s love for her, two deities, Ayappa of Kerala and Aiyanar of Tamil Nadu were born. At last, Lord Vishnu revealed his real form to Lord Shiva and told him that even Lord Shiva could not escape his Maya(illusion).
Mohini, known as femme fatale and a beauty that brings doom to the seduced male, again comes in Hindu Mythology. This time to save Lord Shiva from demon Bhasmasur who at last met his end by using the boon given by Shiva on himself which said that anyone on whose head he would put his hand, would burst into flames and would turn into ashes. Mohini seduced and allured Bhasmasur and he forgot about boon and put his hand on his own head while dancing and imitating Mohini.
Known as an ultimate enchantress, Mohini is one of the most or some say, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN in Hindu Mythology.
Rukmini- Incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi herself, Rukmini is considered as one of the two most beautiful women in Mahabharata. Daughter of king Bheeshmak, king of Vidarbha, Rukmini was a perfect princess. In Mahabharata, it is said that she was such a beauty of Dwapar yug that every king of that era wished to marry her but she was already in love with Lord Krishna whose virtue, valour, gallantry and charm was enough to make her fall in love with him.
Rejection of Shishupal by Rukmini was one major reason of hostility in his heart for Lord Krishna.
Draupadi- As I wrote above that Rukmini was one of the two most beautiful women of Mahabharata, its obvious to write about the other one as well who was none other than one of the main characters of Mahabharata i.e., Draupadi. Born out of sacrificial fire of Yagna, Draupadi’s beauty was fiery as well. Dark in complexion, Draupadi was a beauty whose swayamvar was attended by almost all the greatest warrior kings and princes of that era but it was the hero of Mahabharata, Arjun who won her in the swayamvar.
Draupadi’s virtue and beauty was known to whole world since she was born as an adult from sacrificial fire. According to Mahabharata, she was the most beautiful woman of Dwapar yug whose beauty could be matched only with Rukmini. It was her beauty which made Naarad recite Pandavas the story of Tilottama telling them how such a beautiful woman can make even brothers enemies of each other.
In Hindu Mythology, Draupadi is considered as one of the most beautiful women ever walked this earth.
Sita- We often talk about the best creation in any list of best people in the last and that logic applies here as well. Last but definitely not the least but in fact the MOST beautiful woman ever created or known to the creation of God in Hindu Mythology is undoubtedly Goddess or Maa Sita. Unlike many other women stated above, Sita was neither created by god nor born of some divine course. She in fact was a self manifested form of Goddess Lakshmi in Treta yug to be with his divine consort Lord Vishnu in Ram Avatar and was found from the womb of earth by King Janak of Mithila who raised her as his own daughter.
In Ramayan, it is said that her beauty was unparalleled and was second to none. It is even written that even Goddess Parvati and Goddess Lakshmi could not match her beauty as they had particular physical appearances and attires because of living in mountains and ocean respectively. But Sita was completely PERFECT in all the manners possible. If Mandodari’s beauty was not described in much detail in Ramayan then a reason behind it is the presence of Sita in the epic.
The beauty that she had can be understood by the fact that Raavan(demon king who had conquered the three worlds and who abducted her later) who had all the apsaras or heavenly nymphs, and all the most beautiful women from the three worlds as his maids was spellbound when he, for the very first time had the opportunity to behold her. Raavan who had become crazy for Sita just by the description given by Shurpnakha was speechless after witnessing it himself and ultimately abducted her.
In Kamba Ramayanam,Tamil version of the epic, it is written how Raavan got maddened by Sita’s beauty. When Raavan sees her for the first time he compares her hair with thunderbolt, he compares and asks himself if he is watching the second moon on earth! He feels so numb that he gets confused if it’s all a reality or he is under some kind of illusion. At last he convinces himself that she could only be the lady that her sister Shurpnakha had described to him.
But all this just describes Sita’s physical beauty. Sita’s inner beauty was many times more beautiful than her physical appearance. Her virtue, her morality, her motherly affection, her love for every single creature-living and non living, her nobility and all aspects in her nature can be compared only with her and not with anyone else born before or after her.
She forgave all those who pointed fingers on her chastity and her character. In fact, before leaving earth and going back to mother earth’s womb, she requested Lord Ram to forgive all those who questioned and blamed her character. Such was her love for all that all the creatures called her Van Devi (prime deity of forest)and considered her as their mother when she was in 14 years of exile with Ram and also when she was abandoned by Ram and lived in sage Valmiki’s hermitage.
Due to her persona and perfection, Sita is considered as an epitome of perfection of womanhood making all the women described above second to her and also making her the most beautiful woman in Hindu Mythology.