Unlike today, back then (if you believe) curses had a reason and sometimes they shaped the future of millions upon millions. So did the boons, because of the power held in the person who uttered the words.
Take a look at the following curses and boons, that are the reasons for the existence of Indian mythology. I found this topic on an interesting thread on Quora.
1. The curse of Bhrigu without which Ramayana and Mahabharata would not have happened
There was a time when Asuras and Devas would fight all the time. After one of these fights, where the Asuras lost again, their teacher Shukracharya thought of a solution – to obtain the Mritasanjeevani Stotram – a mantra that will make the Asuras invincible. He set out to Shiva’s abode to obtain it through penance and told his Asura disciples to rest in the ashram of his father – Bhrigu.
The Devas knew that the Asuras were living as hermits in the ashram and had no weapons on them. They set out to kill the asuras. The Asuras went and sought the protection of Bhrigu’s wife. She was powerful enough to make Indra immobile. The Devas got scared and ran to Vishnu. Vishnu told them to enter his body for protection. Bhrigu’s wife threatened Vishnu with dire consequences if he did that.
Vishnu got angry and killed the woman with his Sudarshan Chakra. Bhrigu was furious when he heard that his wife was killed. So, he cursed Vishnu – to be born on Earth and suffer the cycles of birth and death several times.
And this is the reason we have had avatars of Vishnu on Earth, and hence the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
2. The curse of Vriddhashatra that backfired
Jayadaratha killed Abhimanyu in Kurukshetra. Arjun, being Abhimanyu’s father took an oath to kill Jayadratha before sunset of the next day.
Now Vriddhakshatra, Jayadratha’s father knew of this when he was told of this prophecy when Jayadaratha was born. To counter this in his sadness he too uttered a curse –
“He, who shall cause my son’s head to roll down on the ground, shall have his head burst at that very moment into fragments.”
Arjun kills Jayadaratha the next day with an arrow that severs his head.
Krishna tells Arjuna to fire more arrows in a way that Jayadratha’s severed head fell on the lap of Vriddhakshatra. Vriddhakshatra, who was meditating at the time does not realize that his son’s severed head has fallen on his lap. When he gets up from meditation the severed head rolls onto the floor and Vriddhakshatra’s head explodes in a thousand pieces.
3. The curse that led to the dogs being stuck after mating
Draupadi, as we know, shared 5 husbands.
They had figured out a novel way to have sex with her without the other brothers interrupting. It was decided that when a brother enters her room he should leave his sandals on the doorstep so indicate that Draupadi is busy and not available. One day one of the brothers went in and left his sandals outside the door.
After some time, a dog came by and took the sandals away playfully. After this Bheem also wanted to spend some time with Draupadi and saw that she was available, since there were no sandals there. He entered to find himself in shock. The brother who was having sex was angry at Bheem. Bheem in turn was angry at the brother for not leaving his sandals at the doorstep.
Realizing that someone played mischief and stole the sandals on the doorstep they searched for the culprit. Drupadi realizes that it is the dog who caused her so much embarrassment and cursed it to bear the shame after sex too.
This curse is the apparent reason dogs get stuck after having sex.
4. The curse that killed Karna and saved Arjuna
Krishna once explained to Arjuna that Karna was killed multiple times before Arjuna finished him off. This is one of those times. Karna, being a kshatriya, wanted to learn martial arts. He disguised himself as a brahmin and went to Parshuram to be his student. Parshuram accepted to teach him and one day after one of the lessons, Parshuram wanted to rest and laid his head on Karna’s lap.
A big wasp flew over and started burrowing into Karna’s thigh. The pain was immense, but Karna didn’t want to interrupt his guru’s sleep. When Parshuram did wake up he saw the big hole in Karna’s thigh and got furious because no brahmin could have tolerated this amount of pain. He cursed Karna for being a liar. His curse was that all the warfare training he had taken will escape his memory when Karna will need it the most.
That’s what happened in the end when his chariot is stuck in the mud and he forgets the incantations for a weapon to counter Arjuna.
5. The curse that made the villains of all mythology
Jaya and Vijaya are the two gatekeepers of Vishnu’s abode – Vaikuntha. Four sons of Brahma walked to the gates of Vaikuntha seeking to meet Vishnu. Jaya and Vijaya, thinking that these Kumaras are regular children did not let them in. These Kumaras got very angry and cursed Jaya and Vijaya. They cursed that they would lose their divinity and will be born as normal human beings. Vishnu entered the scene and Jaya and Vijaya appealed to Vishnu to null the curses they just got.
Vishnu said that the curses Kumaras gave cannot be reversed, but can be modified so that Jaya and Vijaya can choose their manner of birth and gave them two options –
1. To be born seven times as devotees of Vishnu.
2. To be born 3 times as the enemies of Vishnu.
Jaya and Vijaya could not bear living without their lord and hence chose to be born as enemies of Vishnu, so that they would get to meet him personally.
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Hence, they were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha in their first life, Ravana and Kumbhakarna in their second and Dantavakra and Shishupala in their third.
They were killed by Vishnu in all their lives and gave us the incredible villains to ponder about.
6. The curse because of which all women gossip
We all know the story of Karna. The Pandavas didn’t know that Karna was their own brother. When Karna is killed by Arjun, Kunti reveals the secret to the Pandavas. Yudhisthira, the man who has spoken only the truth till now becomes furious and curses that no woman will be able to hold a secret ever in the future.
So, now you know.
7. The most famous loophole found in a boon
We all know how Hiranyakashipu came to be born. He was a very learned asura and went on to do a very difficult tapasya that impressed Brahma who granted him one of the
most benevolent boons.
As per the boon, Hiranyakashipu –
1. Cannot be killed by any man or animal.
2, Cannot be killed by an entity created by Brahma.
3. Cannot be killed by a demi-god or a demon or a snake from the lower planets.
4. cannot be killed on day or night.
5. Cannot be killed indoors or outside.
6. has no equal in battle and has all the powers of Brahma himself.
Hiranyakashipu rules mercilessly spreading his tyranny and his son Pralhad prayed to lord Vishnu to save him and Earth from Hiranyakashipu.
So Vishnu came as Narasimha and killed Hiranya –
1. By incarnating as half lion and half man.
2. By being the creator and not an entity created by Brahma.
3. By choosing twilight as the time to kill.
4. By ripping his stomach with his nails.
5. On the threshold, i.e neither the indoor nor the outdoors.
8. Probably the most angry curse ever
Ashwatthama, angry at losing the war fired an arrow towards the womb of Uttara, the wife of Abhimanyu. She was carrying Parikshit, who was the grandson of Arjuna and hence Ashwatthama wanted to finish the line of Pandavas once and for all.
But the rules of combat does not allow a warrior to attempt to kill a woman.
Krishna was furious and cursed Ashwatthama in all his anger that –
1. Ashwatthama will carry the burden of sins of all the people in the world
2. He will never get love and recognition by anyone
3. He will never have a home and will always be in isolation
4. He will have many diseases and will have ulcers and sores and leprosy that will never heal
5. He shall suffer this disease until the end of Kaliyuga
A foul curse indeed.
9. The curse that directly led to Ramayana
Ravana was famous for doing gruelling tapasyas. After one of them he was granted a boon of immense power. He got power-drunk and decided to invade heaven itself and take the throne of Indra. Narada tells Indra that Ravana gets his powers from his prayers to Shiva.
He also tells him to interrupt the prayers Ravana’s mother is doing. So Indra walks over to that place and kicks the lingam and destroys it, interrupting her prayer. Ravana is furious after hearing this and vows to bring Shiva himself down to earth for his mother to pray. Everyone knew about Ravana’s ferocity while doing tapasya. Parvati, fears that Shiva will leave Kailash forever and goes to Vishnu to seek help. After Ravana’s austerities, Shiva is impressed and agrees to grant any boon Ravana asks for.
Vishnu bewitches Ravana’s tongue and that leads to Ravana asking for Parvati instead of Shiva himself. This angers Parvati so much that she curses Vishnu that he will be parted with his loved one too one day.
This leads to Sita being abducted in Ramayana and Rama going on a mission to rescue her.
10. The curse that led to Shiva being worshipped as a Lingam
The sage Bhrigu once stood in front of Kailash wishing to meet lord Shiva. He knocked on the door of Shiva’s residence but no one responded. This was because Shiva was making love to Parvati and didn’t interrupt the lovemaking session to open the door.
Sage Bhrigu grew frustrated with waiting and started pounding on the door.
After Shiva finished his lovemaking session he opens the door with Parvati on his side. Sage Bhrigu is furious that Shiva preferred lovemaking to welcoming a great sage like himself and cursed Shiva.
He cursed Shiva that no one in the future will worship Shiva in his true form. He will always be worshipped as the Lingam.