Madhura was the most gorgeous looking among the celestial nymphs. All gods secretly desired her, but in her heart she was in love with Shiva. She did years of penance to please him but to no effect, as Shiva was lost in his meditation. Finally she set out to find him and reached Kailash. Lo! There he was seated in deep meditation. She quietly sat before Shiva with folded hands. After a while Shiva opened his eyes and saw the beautiful young woman seating before him. He instantly fell in love, and as the night progressed they couldn’t resist making love.
Next morning when Shiva’s consort Parvati who was away on an errand returned home she found a strange lady in her bed. She became livid with anger. Her anger grew, and erupted into a curse “You despicable woman, I curse you to turn into a frog and live in a well for the next twelve years”. Madhura burst into into tears. Shiva tried to console her but he was helpless as there was no way to deflect the curse. Crestfallen Shiva said,” Madhura I cannot change the curse, but I will bless you that after living as a frog for twelve years, you will turn into a beautiful woman and marry a great man of honour.”
Meanwhile, Asura king Maya and his queen Hema were yearning for a baby girl. They already had two boys, Mayavi and Dundubhi, but now they desired a girl. Asura Maya began a twelve-year penance for having a baby girl. Twelve years went by and on the last day of the penance they heard the sound of a baby crying. They followed the cry, and realized that it emanated from a nearby well. As they peeped into the well they saw a beautiful baby girl floating on the water. It was Madhura- the frog, who had completed the twelve year curse of living as a frog and transformed into a baby girl. They were taken back by her brilliant beauty and said to themselves, “ Oh at last Shiva has blessed us with a baby girl. Let’s take her home as our daughter”.
They took the girl to their palace and named her Mandodari. Mandodari grew into a most beautiful woman, and as the fame of her beauty grew among Asura kings, Ravana came seeking her hand in marriage. Ravana, was not only a handsome brave warrior, but also an erudite brahmin- who had the knowledge of Vedas and an accomplished musician as well. Mandodari instantly fell in love with Ravana and married him. She had three sons, Meghnad, Atikaya, and Akshkumar with him.
Image details: Mandodari, a painting at the Temple of Emerald Buddha, Bangkok