Every culture in the world has always followed in the footsteps of its ideals, whom it considers to be the most perfect and worthy of admiration. Those who set the milestone and benchmark in society. Hinduism, therefore as the oldest living religion in the world is not an exception either. You can discover a role model in anything here, whether it be the ideal women or the ideal men.
In this article, we are going to list the five historic women from the vedic period who are said to be the ideal women of all time in the hindu scriptures. They are Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara, and Mandodari.
Together they are also known as the “Panchakanya”. There is even a sanskrit mantra called the “Panchakanya Mantra” dedicated to praising their glory.
अहिल्या, तारा, मंदोदरी, कुंती दृापदी स्मरणं, नित्यं, महापातक नाशनाम.
According to the verse and other ancient hindu texts, remembering and reciting the names of these five iconic women with a pure heart could destroy one’s greatest sins, and get blessed with a stable, happy life. These ideal women from the vedic period are also known as the five virgins, who symbolize the characteristics of a perfect chaste fenimine divinity.
In traditional Hinduism, Ahalya is considered the first of the five ideal women of Panchakanya (five virgins). She is also known as Ahilya. Her mention can be found in the epic Ramayana as the righteous wife of the sage Gautama.
According to popular legends, she was the most beautiful woman of her day. She was created by Lord Brahma to serve the sage Gautama for his penance and also to break the pride of Urvashi, one of the beautiful apsaras (celestial nymphs) of Lord Indra’s court. But this unexceptional beauty of Ahala’s did also bring destruction to her life.
As per the story, Lord Indra was once infatuated with her unmatched beauty. He wanted her so badly that he took the form of sage Gautama and tricked her into spending time with him. Ahalya had no clue that the person she had spent time with was not her real husband, but Lord Indra.
When sage Gautama returned to the ashrama and discovered his wife having an affair with another man, he cursed her and turned her into a stone statue. After hundreds of years, when Lord Rama visited the ashrama and touched that stone by his feet, Ahalya reverted to her real human form and was liberated.
One of the primary female characters in the epic Mahabharata, Draupadi, is also considered one of the five ideal women of Panchakanya. She was the wife and chief consort of the five Pandavas.
Draupadi was born as the result of a yagna (fire sacrifice), which was organized by her father Drupada, the king of Panchala State. It was one of the powerful states of ancient India. Since, king Drupada got her as a result of the fire sacrifice, she was also named Yajnaseni.
Draupadi is often portrayed as one of the strong female protagonists of the Hindu epics. She is known for her beauty, courage, and a rare polyandrous marriage with five men. One of the pivotal points that ensured the Mahabharata war was the shameful incident of her disrobing in the court of Hastinapura.
According to Hindu mythology, no other woman ever faced so much turbulence as Draupadi faced in her entire life. Even after being born as the princess of Panchala and having five heroic husbands, she had to undergo a 12 years of exile, a shameful public disrobing by her own in-laws, and lose all of her sons in the Kurukshetra war.
Yet, Draupadi bore all this without a single complaint. This is why she has been an inspiration for various traditional arts, performances, and secondary literature in India. In some temples in the north-east of India, she is also worshiped as a goddess.
Kunti is one of the primary female protagonists in the epic Mahabharata. She is well known as the wife of Prince Pandu (the king of Hastinapura) and the mother of five sons: Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. Since they all are the sons of prince Pandu, together these five brothers are also known as the Pandavas.
Apart from the Mahabharata, her mention can also be found in the Bhagavata Purana as a beautiful and intelligent woman. She was in fact the paternal aunt of Lord Krishna, meaning Kunti was the sister of Krisha’s father, Vasudeva. This is why her references can be found outside of the main epic of the Mahabharata.
Kunti was the biological daughter of Shurusena and a Yadava ruler. Her original name was Pritha. However, she was later adopted by her chindless uncle, Kuntibhoja, and thus got her name, Kunti. According to other Hindu texts, she was the incarnation of the goddess Siddhi. Therefore, throughout Hinduism, she is seen as a mature, foresighted, and affectionate lady.
Tara was the queen of Kishkindha, and wife of the monkey king, Bali. She was the daughter of Kishkindha’s chief physician, Susena. According to the legend, she married twice. She was first married with the monkey king, Bali but after his presumed death, she had to reunite with Bali’s younger brother, Sugriva. Actually, Sugriva was Tara’s brother-in-law.
However, Tara’s marriage with Sugreva was only performed as a custom of their culture. When Bali returned, she confirmed that they never had any physical relationship as Sugreva already had a wife who he loved the most. Later, Bali and Tara had a son together, named Angada.
Mandodari is also regarded as one of the Pancha Kanyas’ five ideal women. She is most remembered for being Ravana’s virtuous wife and Lanka’s chief queen. She was the daughter of Maysura, the king of all asuras (or, demons). From her childhood, she was an intelligent girl who studied various aspects of architectural construction.
She first met Ravana when she was 16 years old, and in their first meeting Ravana was infatuated by her incomparable charm and asked Mayasura to marry her. However, unlike Ravana, she was very righteous and dharmic.
Ravana married her because of her insane beauty, but he never gave her the required attention and time she deserved as his principal wife. In fact, it was Mandodari who first spoke out against Ravana after he kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife, Sita. She also advised him to return Sita back to her husband and begged for Lord Rama’s forgiveness.
However, despite knowing the faults of Ravana, she was actually proud of his powerful stature and carried out her duty as a wife. In fact, she was well aware of his weakness towards women prior to their marriage, but because she had also fallen in love with Ravana, she overlooked his flaws and accepted Ravana as he was.