Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi, is one of the most important and holy festivals which is celebrated not only in India but also in many sub-continents and other parts of the world. The reason for such wide globalization of the festival is linked up with the past. There are many stories which altogether explain the significance and importance of Rakshabandhan in Hindu culture.
Originating from the Sanskrit word ‘????????????,’ Raksha means protection and Bandhan means the bond of protection. In Hindu values, it is not bounded to tie Rakhi your blood-brother, but you can also show your love to your soul-brothers and to your sworn brothers.
To give testaments to the above thoughts, there are some legendary stories on Rakshabandhan. Here’s a collection of the stories that explains us about the history of the festival Raksha Bandhan.
10 Legendary Stories on Rakshabandhan
1. Indra and Indrani:
There is no evidence of the starting of the festival of Rakhi, but according to Hindu myth and believes, the festival is first originated because of the heavenly pair of husband and wife- Indra and Indrani.
According to Rig Veda, “Indra” was the enemy of a powerful demon “Asura Vritra”. At the time of war, Indra was not able to survive in the match and hence he has to run to save himself. He takes advice of the Gurus and Devas in his court. Then Indra's wife Indrani (Sachi) was asked to tie a thread around her husband's wrist to ensure his victory in the upcoming duel. The next day was the full moon night of the month of Shravana. The charm was prepared as prescribed by the sacred texts and Indrani tied it on the wrist of her husband. And no sooner did Indra appear on the battlefield with the charm on his hand than the demons scattered and fled. The demons bit the dust and the gods were victorious.
Therefore, it seems that Raksha Bandhan of today has been derived from this belief.
2. Lord Krishna and Draupadi:
Perhaps the most popular story of Rakhi in our mythology is of Lord Krishna and Draupadi.
It is said that once Krishna cut his little finger while handling sugarcane on Makar Sankaranti. Rukimini, his queen, immediately send help to get a bandage. While, Satyabama his other consorts, run to bring cloth herself.
Draupadi, watching all of this, rather simply tore a part of her sari and bandaged his finger. In return for her deed, Krishna promised to protect her in time of distress. His spoken words have been uttered in “Akshyam” which was a boon: “may it be unending”. That is how Draupadi’s sari become endless and saved her embarrassment.
3. King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi:
When Lord Vishnu was in some difficult situation, he was asked to hide as the doorman of King Bali. It was a long time when Vishnu has not been to his home, and this worried his wife, the Goddess Lakshmi. Then Lakshmi decided to visit the Earth as she wants to find out where Vishnu was. She disguised herself as a Brahmin woman and went to King Bali. She told him, “My husband has gone away for work. Could I please take shelter here?”
King Bali took great care of Goddess Lakshmi; he did not even know that the Brahmin woman was actually a goddess! On full moon day, Lakshmi tied a Rakhi around Bali’s wrist, praying for his protection at the same time. Bali was touched. “Please ask for anything you want, sister. I will grant you your wish.” Lakshmi said, “Please free your gatekeeper. He is my husband.”
And after listening to the full story, Bali freed her husband Vishnu. In order to commemorate Bali’s devotion to the lord and his sister, the Goddess this festival is also known as Baleva.
In fact, to commemorate Bali’s devotion to his sister, the festival of Rakhi is also known as Baleva. A brother’s love is unflinching, strong, and never breaks a promise, no matter how difficult to keep.
4. The birth of Santoshi Maa:
Lord Ganesha was the father of two sons, named Shubh and Labh. Every year on Raksha Bandhan, they got very upset and sad as they do not have any sister. One fine day, they went to their father and said that they also want to celebrate Raksha Bandhan. Luckily, the saint Narada also appeared at that time. He convinced Ganesha to have a daughter so that his sons can also enjoy the festival of Rakhi. Then something magical happened a daughter was born whom we fondly call Santoshi Ma (Goddess of Satisfaction). Shubh and Labh were happy, as they could now celebrate Rakhi with their new sister. And this is why Santoshi Ma’s pooja is an important part of Raksha Bandhan celebrations.
5. Roxana and King Porus:
Roxana was the wife of Alexander, the great. So, when Alexander invade India, his wife, Roxana, sent a sacred thread to Porus, the king of the Pauravas, and asked him not to harm her husband on the battlefield. Even though Porus lost the battle, he won Alexander’s respect and honour, which not only reinstated him as a satrap (governor) of his own kingdom, but also granted him dominion over lands to the south-east extending until the Hyphenise (Beas).
6. Queen Karnavati and Emperor Humayun:
After her husband Rana Sangha was dead, queen Karnavati, was declared as the official of Mewar and ruled and ruled the city name of her elder son Vikramjeet. When Bahadur Shah of Gujarat attacked Mewar for the second time, the queen began to look for support from other kingdoms. Karnavati at that time, wrote to Mughal Humayun for help, sending him a Rakhi and sought protection. When Humayun’s father, Babur, had defeating Rana Sanga in 1527, he abandoned everything to pay his attention to Mewar to help Karnavati.
The Mughal emperor was heartbroken when he couldn’t make it on time. The Rajput army was defeated in Chittor, and Rani Karnavati had immolated herself in the Rajput custom of Jauhar. But later, Humayun restored the kingdom to Karnavati’s son, Vikramjit and this is how he showed his concern towards her Rakhi.
7. Yama and Yamuna:It is said that the ritual of Rakshabandhan is followed by Yama, the lord of death and the river Yamuna, which flows in India.
Yama and Yamuna were brother and sister. But, Yama had not visited his sister Yamuna for twelve years. She missed her brother alot and wanted to meet him. So, she went to the Goddess Ganga for help.
Then the Goddess Ganga helped her by telling her brother Yam to go and meet her sister Yamuna. She welcomes Yama very happily, with lots of sweet and food. She also tied a Rakhi on his wrist. Yama was so touched by her gesture that he gave her a boon of her immortality. He also declared, “Any brother who was tied a Rakhi and promised to protect his sister would also become immortal!” It is since that day that brothers go to meet their sisters on the occasion of Rakhi. The love that siblings share is immortal.
8. Lord Krishna and Shubhadra:
Shubhadra was born as Krishna and Balarama’s Affectionate sister. When Shubhadra wanted to marry Arjun, Krishna going against the wishes of his elder brother Balaram, made her sister marry with the great worrier Arjun.
The bond between the brother and sister is so strong that in Puri, Shubhadra is worshipped along with Krishna and Balaram.
9. Ravana and Surpanakha:
Ravana, the king of Lanka, and most knowledgeable of all, loved his sister a lot. The entire Ramayana has happened because of his brotherly love for Surpanakha. Ravana even abducted Sita to take revenge for her sister Surpanakha. It is said that when Ravana was leaving Lanka to take revenge, Surpanakha tied a sacred thread which even now said to symbolize the love of siblings called Rakshabandhan.
10. Lord Vishnu and Parvati:
Parvati grew up in the hope of marrying Lord Shiva. But due to the loss of his love Sati, Shiva refused to marry her. Parvati worked hard to make herself eligible to marry Shiva and Lord Vishnu help her to reach her goal. It is also said that Lord Vishnu asked Parvati to tie a Thread to His wrist so that he can remove all the obstacles coming her way.
Lord Vishnu has also performed all the ceremonies of their marriage which were supposed to be performed by the bride’s brother.