Legends of Rakhi
There are several popular and interesting legends behind the festival of Rakhi. The legends of Rakhi depict that the sanctity of brother sister relationship has been cherished in India since ancient times. Most legends date back to the mythological era and show how the course of destiny was changed by the simple yet powerful custom of tying Rakhi. Read on to know how greatly the brothers and sister in India regard the sacred thread of Rakhi and its underlying meaning.
Legend of Indra and Indrani
The legend narrates the story of a battle between Gods and Demons. The story goes that once Gods led by King Indra were overpowered by demons led by King Bruta in a protracted battle. Seeing an imminent defeat, Lord Indra approached Guru Brihaspati for a solution. Guru Brihaspati advised that Indra should tie a sacred thread powered by mantras on the auspicious day of Shravan Purnima. Following the advise of the sage Indras consort Indrani also called Sachi tied the sacred thread on the decided time. It is believed that it was the power of the sacred thread called Raksha that helped Gods win the battle against Daitya Raja. From then on started the custom of tying Rakhi on the day of Sharava Purnima.
Legend of King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
This very interesting legend of Rakhi narrates the story of King Bali who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had sent King Bali to patalalok to maintain the supremacy of Gods. However, seeing the good behavior of Bali Lord Vishnu granted him a boon. Bali expressed a wish that Lord Vishnu be seen on every door of Patala. Thus, Lord Vishnu left his abode in Vaikunth and became the Dwarapalak of King Bali. This distressed Lord Vishnus consort Goddess Lakshmi as she wanted him back in her abode. To this end Goddess Lakshmi disguised herself as Brahmin woman and seeked refuge from Bali till her husband returned. Balis Kingdom prospered in the presence of Goddess of Wealth.
It is said that on the auspicious day of Shravana Purnima Goddess Lakshmi tied a sacred thread to King Bali. The King asked the Brahmin woman to reveal her real identity. The Goddess did and narrated her plight caused by the absence of Lord Vishnu. Bali was touched by Goddess Lakshmis concern and requested Lord Vishnu to accompany her. Bali is said to have sacrificed all he had for Lord Vishnu and his devoted wife. The event initiated the custom of sisters trying Rakhi on the day of Shravana Purnima.
The legend depicts Balis devotion for Lord Vishnu and explains why Rakhi Festival is also called Baleva. The couplet chanted on Rakhi also bears reference to the legend of King Bali.
The Rakhi Couplet:
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."
Legend of Krishna and Yudhishtir
Famous Hindu epic Mahabharata has an interesting episode related to Raksha Bandhan. It says that Lord Krishna advised Yudhishtir - the eldest of Pandavas to perform Rakhi ceremony to protect himself and the army in the war. Following Lord Krishnas advice Pandavas mother, Kunti tied a rakhi to Abhimanyu her warrior grandson while Draupadi tied a Rakhi to Lord Krishna.
Legend of Varuna
Believing a legend that Rakhi is celebrated to worship Varuna - the mythological Sea God some offer coconut to Lord Varun on the day of Raksha Bandhan. At several places fairs and ceremonial bathing is also organized in waterfronts to mark the day of Rakhi.
Yama and the Yamuna
The legend says that when Lord Yama - the Hindu mythological God of Death visited his twin sister Yamuna after a long gap, Yamuna tied a sacred thread of Rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality to him. Lord Yama was immensely touched with his sisters touching gesture. He announced that whosoever receives a Rakhi from sister and promises protection to sister will not be hurled to hell.
The Story of King Alexander and King Porus
It is believed that King Alexanders wife tied a Rakhi on the wrist of King Porus. In return King Porus promised to protect her and her husband. Later, when Alexander invaded Indian subcontinent in 326 BC a bloody battle between Alexander and Porus took place. It is said that during the battle King Porus had the opportunity to attack Alexander, however, King Porus showed restraint because of his Rakhi vow to Alexanders wife.
The Story of King Humayun and Rani Karnavati
It has been noticed that during the Mughal Period the custom of tying Rakhi helped to bind the Hindu Rajputs and Mughal rulers of Delhi together. It is said that when Rani Karnavati of Chittor was attacked by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat she sent a Rakhi to King Humayun and requested help. Humayun did come to his Rakhi sisters help though he was late. Chittor had fallen and the Rani had immolated herself by performing the Rajput custom of Jauhar.