STORIES OF RAKSHA BHANDAN
“Raksha Bhandan”, in Sanskrit (ancient Indian language), literally means, “the bond of protection, obligation and care”. It is a popular traditional Hindu festival celebrated annually in the holy lunar calendar month of Sharavan (Shravan Sud Poonam), which falls in August. It is a day of the full moon. On this day sister ties a Rakhi (talisman/amulet) around the right-hand wrist of their brothers, as a symbol of love. In turn the brother pledges to protect his sister and gives a gift. Raksha Bhandan celebrates the bond between a brother and sister.
The festival is not only related between siblings (biological brothers and sisters), but is also adopted voluntarily by male and female, who have established a brother and sisterly relationship, which allows the adopted sister to tie a Rakhi to their adopted brother.
There are six stories on Raksha Bhandan. Raksha Bandhan is a time of bonding and celebration. We hope you have a fun telling your children these Raksha Bandhan stories. There is nothing more precious than sharing stories with our children to teach them some wonderful life lessons of love and bonding.
- KRISHNA & DRAUPADI
Krishna had an aunt named, Srutashrava, she gave birth to a son named Shishupal who had three eyes and four arms due to birth defects. The parents were ready to cast him out when a voice (Akashvani) came from above warning them not to do so. The parents prayed to the heavens, a voice came from above and foretold them that his extra body parts would disappear when a certain person took the child into his lap, and that he would eventually die by the hands of the same person.
One day Lord Krishna arrived at the court of his aunt. His aunt told Krishna I wish my son could be as attractive as you. Krishna took the baby from the cradle and sat down with the baby boy in his lap. At that exact moment, the extra eyes and arms of Shishupal disappeared. Krishna smiled and Satyavathi with a heavy heart told him it was foretold that Shishupal would die one day in the hands of the person who held him in his lap. She cried and made Krishna promise that he would pardon or forgive Shisupal’s mistakes ‘Hundred times’, before he kills him. Krishna agreed with his aunt.
When Yudisthir (Krishna’s cousin) decided to make the Rajasuya Yagna (The Rajasuya yagna is a consecration ceremony which involves imperial sacrifice, performed by the kings of the past). Shishupal insulted Krishna for the hundred and first time, and said he was a coward and worthless to be honoured as a King. Krishna was unable to bare this insult. Krishna took his Sudarshan Chakra and severed Shishupal’s head. Shishupal’s soul was liberated and attained salvation by merging into Krishna’s body. When he released the Sudarshan Chakra his finger was bleeding. Draupadi tore a piece of her sari and tied it to Krishna’s wrist to stop the flow of blood. Touched by the gesture Krishna promised to repay her kindness. During the Vastra Haran/Cheer Haran (Disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata to shame Draupadi and her and five husbands -Panch Pandev in front of the court). Draupadi’s husbands remained seated and did not take any action. Krishna came to her rescue, with his blessing Draupadi’s cloth became endless, and she could not be disrobed. Krishna became like a shadow protecting Draupadi from every big and small trouble or problem in her life.
- KING BALI & GODDESS LAKSHMI
Lord Vishnu was stuck in a difficult situation. He was forced to disguise himself as the doorman of King Bali, the grandson of Vishnu’s devotee Prahlada.
Vishnu had long been away from home, and this worried his wife, the Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi decided to visit the Earth to find out where Vishnu was. She disguised herself as a Brahmin woman and went to King Bali. She told him, “My husband has gone away for work. Could I please take shelter here?”
King Bali took great care of Goddess Lakshmi; he did not even know that the Brahmin woman was actually a goddess! On full moon day, Lakshmi tied a Rakhi around Bali’s wrist, praying for his protection at the same time. Bali was touched. “Please ask for anything you want, sister. I will grant you your wish.” Lakshmi said, “Please free your gatekeeper. He is my husband.”
King Bali was confused! Vishnu and Lakshmi then revealed their true identities to Bali. True to his brotherly promise, he requested Vishnu to return to his home. To commemorate Bali’s devotion to his sister, the festival of Rakhi is also known as Baleva. A brother’s love is unconditional, strong, and never breaks a promise, no matter how difficult to keep.
- SANTOSHI MA LONGING FOR A SISTER
Lord Ganesha had two sons, named Shubh and Labh. Every year on Raksha Bandhan, they got very upset, as they had no sister to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with!
They went to their father and said, “Father, we want a sister too. We want to celebrate Raksha Bandhan as well.” Luckily, the Saint Narada also appeared at that time. He persuaded Ganesha to have a daughter. Having a daughter, he told him, would enrich his life as well as make his sons’ lives more fruitful.
Then a miracle happened, magical flames leapt out of Ganesha’s wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, by divine intervention. A daughter was born whom we fondly know as Santoshi Ma (Goddess of Satisfaction). Shubh and Labh were happy, as they could now celebrate Rakhi with their new sister. And therefore, Santoshi Ma’s pooja is an important part of Raksha Bandhan celebrations.
- YAMRAJ & YAMUNA
Yama, the God of Death, and Yamuna, were brother and sister. However, Yama had not visited his sister for twelve long years. Yamuna was very sad. She missed her brother and wanted to meet him. She went to the Goddess Ganga for help.
The Goddess Ganga reminded Yama about his sister and asked him to go and meet her. Yamuna was ecstatic. She welcomed Yama grandly, with lots of food. She also tied a Rakhi on his wrist. Yama was so moved by her gesture that he granted her immortality. He also declared, “Any brother who has tied a Rakhi and promised to protect his sister would also become immortal!” It is since that day that sisters go to meet their brothers on the occasion of Rakhi. The love that siblings share is ever lasting.
- EMPEROR HUMAYUN AND RANI KARNAVATI
This is a real Raksha Bandhan story that is said to have happened long ago when India was being ruled by the Mughal kings. At that time, the Rajputs in Chittor, Rajasthan, were facing the threat of invasion from the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah. Chittor was being ruled by Rani Karnawati.
Rani Karnawati knew that the Mughals were very powerful and that she could never hope to defeat them in battle. She knew that her kingdom was facing war and that there was little hope of surviving it. As a last hope, she sent a Rakhi to the Mughal emperor Humayun who was then waging a military campaign in another region. She sent this as a token of love from a sister, giving Humayun the status of a brother, and asking for protection.
Humayun was a keen and brave conqueror. He would normally not have changed his military plans for anyone or anything. However, he could not refuse this beautiful gesture of love. For the sake of his Rakhi sister, he asked his troops to change direction. He instantly rode to help her, also making a promise that come what may, he would protect his sister under all circumstances.
Sadly, Humayun could not save Karnavati. Before he could arrive, Bahadur Shah entered Chittor, and ransacked the castle. But even so, the undeterred manner in which Humayun left everything for his sister, and made sure his sister came first.
The bond between a brother and a sister is strong and pure. Even if you are not related to someone by blood, the custom of tying Rakhi is a beautiful way to make and seal this bond. Humayun and Karnavati’s story is testimony to this.
- KING ALEXANDER THE GREAT & HOW A RAKHI SAVED HIS LIFE
King Alexander is one of the most famous emperors and conquerors of all times. This Raksha Bandhan story for kids is a popular part of Indian history.
A long time ago, Alexander invaded India, which was ruled by King Porus, the ruler of North-West India. In battle. Alexander’s wife Roxana was very worried about her husband. In an attempt to save his life, she sent a Rakhi to King Porus. Her Rakhi brother vowed to protect her and her husband.
On the battlefield, Porus and Alexander came face to face. The legend goes that Porus was about to kill Alexander. However, he remembered the promise he had made to his adopted sister. He did not kill Alexander – his brotherly promise and the importance of Raksha Bandhan was more important to him than winning any battle.
Translated by Neelaben & Dalubhai Mistry (my wonderful parents), and written and adapted by Sunita Shah.
WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY RAKSHA BHANDAN FROM THE JAI JAIS