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322/365 – Arundhati

Arundhati is the wife of the sage Vashishta, one of the seven sages (Saptarshi) who are identified with the Ursa Major. She is identified with the morning star and also with the star Alcor which forms a double star with Mizar (identified as Vashista) in Ursa Major.

Arundhati, though the wife of one of the seven seers, is accorded the same status as the seven seers and is worshipped with them as such.

In the Vedic and Puranic literature, she is regarded as the epitome of chastity, conjugal bliss and wifely devotion. In post-Puranic epic poems in Sanskrit and Hindi, she has been described as “chaste and revered” and with a character that is “unblemished, inspiring and worthy of imitation”.

In the Hindu culture, there are several beliefs, practices and traditions centred around Arundhati including a ritual in the marriage ceremony after the Saptapadi, a fast, a belief about imminent death, and a maxim.

Life

As per the Bhagavata Purana, Arundhati is the eighth among the nine daughters of Kardama and Devahuti. She is the grandmother of Parashara and the great-grandmother of Vyasa.

The Shiva Purana describes her as being Sandhya, the mind-born daughter of Brahma, in a previous birth. On instruction of Vashista, Sandhya pleased Shiva by penance in order to purify herself from passion, and Shiva asked her to jump into Medhatithi’s fire.

She was then born as Medhatithi’s daughter and married Vashista. Some other Puranas describe her as the daughter of Kashyapa and sister of Narada and Parvata, and she was offered in marriage to Vashista by Narada.

The Mahabharata describes Arundhati as an ascetic who used to give discourses to even the seven sages. The wife of Agni, Svaha, could therefore assume the form of the wives of the other six seers amongst Saptarshi but not that of Arundhati.

The epic also narrates how once she pleased Shiva when it did not rain for 12 years and the seven seers were suffering without roots and fruits. Her chastity and service to husband is mentioned as unparalleled in the Mahabharata.

As per the Valmiki Ramayana, she bore a hundred sons, who were all cursed to die by Vishvamitra. She then bore a son named Shakti and later another one named Suyagya, who studied with Rama at Vashista’s hermitage.

Some sources say she had eight sons including Shakti and Chitraketu. She was the guide and controller of the lineage of Raghu, and the guardian angel of Sita.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundhati_(Hinduism)

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