The Story Behind Rakshya Bandhan

The festival of Rakhi is celebrated in the holy month of Shravana to cherish the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day, sister ties a sacred thread on her brother’s wrist and brother vows to protect his sister against all odds. The festival of Raksha Bandhan is known to have originated centuries before and there are several stories related to the celebration of this special festival. One of the most fascinating stories on Raksha Bandhan is that of Yama and Yamuna. It was first told in Rig Veda. Their story stands for the eternal brother-sister love and sacrifice.

Sanjna, the daughter of Vishwakarma, was the first wife of the Surya. After their marriage, she couldn’t bear the brilliance of Surya’s rays (brilliance). So once when Sanjana was pregnant with Yama and his twin sister Yamuna, Sanjna closed her eyes when she was beheld by the Surya. Therefore, in anger, Surya addressed to her cruel words: “you close your eyes as soon as I cast my looks on you, therefore, you will give birth to Yama, the destroyer of creatures!” Thereupon the goddess, stricken with fear, assumed trembling looks, at which the Surya again said to her. “Since beholding me, you have assumed trembling looks you will give birth, as your daughter, to the fickle river!” Thus by the curse of her husband she gave birth to Yama and the great river celebrated under the name of Yamuna.

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After that Sanjana couldn’t stand Surya’s brilliance any longer. So, when she was alone one day, Sanjna created a shadow woman of her own, Chaaya. Chaaya looked like Sanjna in every aspect. Sanjna instructed Chaaya to look after her children, stay with her husband and pretend to be her. She then immediately left for her father’s home on earth.

Over the time, Chaaya had one son with Surya, his name was Shani. Chaaya did not have that same excessive affection towards the sons and daughter of Sajna as she did towards her own child. Yama revolted with chaya for such behavior. In his anger and childishness, Yama threatened Chaya to kick her with his foot. He raised up his foot in anger and then immediately stricken with mercy he did not let it fall on her. Thereupon, illusory Sajna, with her palms trembling and lips expanded in anger, imprecated a curse on Yama: “Since out of irreverence you raised a foot against me your that very foot shall drop off “.

Yama went and reported it to Surya and also asked him to revert the curse. After hearing the incident, Surya deduced that Chhaya could not be Yama’s mother since no mother would curse her child in such manner. He interrogated Chhaya and after much resistance, she eventually spilled the truth. Surya then went in search of Sanjna. He discovered that Sanjna had done all this because she could not bear the fierceness of her husband’s rays. To put an end to his daughter’s dismay, Vishwakarma created a device that decreased the Surya’s intensity by one-eighth. Sanjna then agreed to return back to Surya Lok.

      

When Surya along with Sanjna came back to Surya Lok, Sanjna was appalled by her son’s situation. So, Surya brought about an end of the curse saying, “The worms, taking the flesh of his feet, shall fall down on the earth.” On this occasion, Surya saved Yama from Death, but not from mutilation. Because he was of virtuous looks and impartial both towards his friends and enemies, Yama was appointed the God of death.

Yama and Yamuna, the first mortal twins of Surya, loved each other a lot. As Yama became the king of the Land of the Dead and was being sent to the underworld, his sister Yamuna wept over the separation from her brother. Watching her in despair, the Gods decided to turn her into Yamini the Goddess of Night, who bridges the despair of sunset with the hope of sunrise. Yamini’s tears for her brother became river Yamuna.

Seeing their unconditional love for each other, Gods blessed them to be remembered throughout the time. This occasion is thus celebrated to remember the undying love of Yama and Yamuna. The Brothers and sisters are blessed by Lord Yama and Goddess Yamuna on this auspicious day.

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