Strange and Mysterious Story of Mandodari, Queen of Lanka

We at Vedic Story always read and hear about the great sacrifices of Rama, son of Dashratha, King of Kausala. Many of us even hear the different tales of Sita, like how she gave the Agni Pariksha to prove her chastity and how the mighty Hanuman soared high to cross the ocean and reach Lanka. However, 21st-century researchers and mythologists often dive into the narrow lanes of the Valmiki Ramayana to narrate the perspective and story of Mandodari—an apsara, a celestial nymph, a queen, and a cursed frog.

However, many missed that she was a woman too, who sacrificed a lot and lost everything to fulfill her duties as a daughter, princess, wife, queen, and mother.

Today, in the panchakanya series, we at Vedic Story are narrating the story of Mandodari, a woman with a slender waist.

Legends of Mandodari: An Unusual Birth Story and Life

Mandodari, the wife of the Demon King Ravana, was an elegant and beautiful woman. According to the ancient text, the Puranas, Mandodari got her celestial beauty with the blessing of Shiva.

The Uttara Ramayana narrates the previous birth story of Mandodari, where she was named Madhura, a celestial damsel. However, she took birth as Mandodari due to the curse of Goddess Parvati turning into a frog.

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Madhura: An Avid Devotee of Shiva

Madhura was a beautiful celestial nymph, an avid devotee of Shiva, who used to observe the great Somvar Vrat. Once, after the fast, Madhura went to Kailash Parvat to meet Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati was not present on the mount when Madhura. Eventually, when Parvati saw Madhura’s elegant and breathtaking beauty, she got jealous. Parvati found Madhura smeared with ashes on her body and got furious enough to curse.

Lord Shiva Gave A Boon to Madhura

Shiva was surprised by Parvati’s curse. Therefore, to maintain the relationship between a lord and a devotee, he rescued Madhura and gave her a boon. After twelve years as a frog (Manduka) in a forest well in the Himalayas, she would turn into a beautiful woman. Madhura would even marry a man with great valor.

Story of Mandodari: Madhura to a Cursed Frog to Mandodari

Meanwhile, Mayasura, the King of Asuras, and Hema, an Apsara of Heaven, desired a daughter. They had two sons, Mayavi and Dundubhi. The couple began to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva in the forest of the Himalayas.

They dreamt Lord Shiva appeared and asked them to search the nearby well. The next day, they searched near the well and heard a cry. They found it to be a girl. Madhura, a celestial nymph turned frog by the curse, had turned into a baby girl, Mandodari.

Mayasura and Hema gave her a name, Mandodari, the princess of Mayapura and Hemapura and the little sister of Mayavi and Dundubhi.

Mandodari: A Damsel with Strong Opinions and Knowledge of Dharma

With time, Mandodari grew into a beautiful young woman, developed strong opinions, and did things according to the Dharma.

As per the Sanatan Dharma and various Hindu myths, Mayavi and Dundubhi were fighting. Mandodari stepped into the fight and stopped them by grabbing their hair. She said, “You, brothers, are a shame to the Asura lineage. You are fighting with each other even though you are brothers. Nobody will come to save you when you need help. The world is full of evil people who always look for opportunities to clutch fools like you. Stop fighting immediately and remain brothers with good bonds.”

This incident highlights the character and understanding of Mandodari about the world and Dharma, as well as her ability to stand up for right and oppose wrong.

Forceful Marriage of Mandodari and Ravana

Once, Ravana, the King of Lanka, visited the kingdom of Mayasura, witnessed the ethereal beauty of Mandodari, and fell for her. At the sight of Mandodari, Ravana felt his weakness for women and wanted to marry her immediately.

He approached Mayasura, explained who he was, and asked the hand of Mandodari for marriage. Ravana said, “I am a man of riches and great knowledge. My lineage could be traced with great valor and tapas for generations. You will never find a suitable match for your daughter, as I am the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva. Please give me your daughter, Mandodari, for marriage with me.”

Seeing such a confident candidate and learning about his lineage and accomplishments as a scholar, King Mayasura agreed to the wedding. He married off her daughter, Mandodari, to Ravana, the Demon King.

Mandodari: An Affectionate Mother

Soon after the marriage, Mandodari realized the true identity of Ravana and his disgusting weakness for other women. However, she always remained a loyal and chaste wife and gave birth to three sons: Maghanadha (Indrajit), Akshaya Kumara, and Atikaya.

Mandodari: A Devoted Wife—Ravana Abducted Sita

When Ravana, King of Lanka, abducted Sita, Mandodari tried to dissuade him and requested that he not do wrong to Sita. He must give her back to Lord Rama. Ravana kept Sita hostile, but Mandodari never felt jealous of Sita.

Here is the shloka from the Valmiki Ramayana that narrates Mandodari’s confidence:

न कुलेन न रूपेण न दाक्षिण्येन मैथिली |

मयाधिका वा तुल्या वा त्वन् तु मोहान्न बुध्यसे ||

Translation

Sita is no match for me, neither in birth nor in beauty. You did not understand this with passion.

Mandodari Met Hanuman

The Valmiki Ramayana narrates that Hanuman, several times in Lanka, thought of Mandodari as Sita.

When Lord Hanuman reached Lanka, he searched for Mother Sita and landed at the Harem of Ravana. He found a woman worshiping Goddess Parvati thought to be Ma Sita.

In another account, Lord Hanuman was believed to have taken the form of a cat and scratched the breasts of Mandodari, one of the panchkanyas of Hindu mythology. He wanted to tint the fame of Dashananda through Mandodari as not being a chaste woman.

Mandodari Saved the Life of Sita

In another shloka of the Valmiki Ramayana, Ravana, the King of Lanka, threatened Mandodari to kill Sita. Queen Mandodari protested and immediately visited the Ashoka Vatika, stopping her husband from killing Sita. She said, “Killing a chaste woman is the greatest sin in the world and is against Dharma.”

Controversial Relationship Between Mandodari and Sita

As per the Puranas and other Indian scriptures, Ravana used to store the blood of the reversed sages he killed. He used to drink the blood to attain supreme yogic powers. Meanwhile, Sage Gritsamada had stored the milk in a pot made of Durbha grass. He purified the milk with mantras to bear a daughter.

Ravana killed the rishi and mixed the milk with the pot of blood. Enraged with this great sin, Mandodari committed suicide and drank the pot of blood. Instead of dying, Mandodari gave birth to Sita. In fear, she buried the baby in the soil. Rajarishi Janak, King of Mithila, found the baby Sita.

When Mandodari first encountered Sita, her breasts were flowing with milk.

The War of Lanka

Lord Rama and Ravana fought on the battlefield. Lakshmana killed Indrajit. Lord Rama killed Kumbkaran and Ravana and won the war. She always stood for Dharma but remained alone. Mandodari made great sacrifices. She was a dutiful, devoted, and chaste woman to remember in ancient mythological history. Hence, the story of Mandodari was complex, unusual, and divine, yet painful and mysterious.

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