Why Indra sent Apsara Menka to distract Rishi Viswamitra

Rishi Viswamitra and apsara Menka story

6/6/2023

Maharshi Viswamitra is known for his great spiritual power. He was a king who left the throne when he realised that the power of a sage are far more superior to that of a king. He had devoted himself to intense penance and meditation to attain great spiritual power.

When Maharshi Viswamitra was performing intense austerities on the banks of Godavari River to achieve greater spiritual powers,

Devraj Indra, the king of Devas, felt threatened by Viswamitra's growing influence because of his dedication and increasing power. Indra believed that if Viswamitra continued on his path, he might surpass even the gods in power and status. To disrupt Vishwamitra's spiritual progress, Indra devised a plan.

Menaka was born during The Samudra Manthana (churning of the ocean) by the devas and asuras. She is one of the most beautiful and mesmerising apsaras in the three worlds, with quick intelligence and innate talent, but desired a family.

Indra deputed Menaka and sent her from heaven to earth to lure him and break his meditation. The heavenly damsel was scared because the Sage was famous for his short temper. If she failed in her attempt, she would be cursed.

But Menaka was left with no option. Menaka was renowned for her captivating beauty and her ability to allure anyone with her grace and charm.

When Menaka arrived before Viswamitra, she employed her celestial charms and seductive abilities to distract the sage from his austere practices. She created a beautiful environment with music, scented oil and fragrant flowers and then performed a sensuous dance with amorous glances and moves.

Viswamitra, momentarily swayed by Menaka's beauty and was forced to break his meditation. As Menaka interacted with Viswamitra, she successfully disrupted his meditation and weakened his spiritual focus. The distraction caused Vishwamitra to lose his accumulated spiritual powers, momentarily forgetting his higher purpose and succumbing to his desires. Senses overpowered the sage and he married her as per the Gandharva marriage. He lived in the ashram with her.

However, Menka fell in genuine love with him and gave birth to a girl child, who became Shakuntala.

However, over time, When Viswamitra realized that he had been tricked by Indra, he was enraged. But he merely cursed Menaka to be separated from him forever, for he loved her as well and knew that she had lost all devious intentions towards him long ago.

Viswamitra realized the consequences of his momentary weakness and the impact it had on his spiritual journey. He recognized that he had strayed from his path and resolved to regain his lost powers through renewed dedication and penance.

As her mission was successfully completed, Menka had to abandon the little girl on the banks of Malini River near the ashram of Sage Kanva and left for the palace of Indra.