Apsaras And All Their Forms

Anyone who has read the mythological stories from our country would be familiar with the role Apsaras played in the making (and unmaking) of great stories.

Apsaras were artists of great finesse and incredible looks. Usually they danced, sang and played instruments in the court of Indra – the king of the Gods.

Occasionally Indra also entrusted a task which extended much beyond the usual call of their duty. They were ordained to descend to earth, perform before a person pointed out by Indra and distract him. And that was to be no ordinary distraction – it had to be so powerful as to sway that man from the path of research or a project he had undertaken, which, if successful, would weaken the power of Indra.

The problem of women researchers and entrepreneurs seems to have been solved by mortal men themselves by creating a male dominated society where women are not even allowed to discover their full potential beyond progeny and dependence. If there were male counterparts of the fabled Apsaras, men would not have liked to document their existence and activity since it might suggest that they were not capable of keeping their women ‘in control’.

Anyway. The famous men who fell to the charm of Apsaras include Vishwamitra, whose distraction is attributed to Urvashi – luckily for us readers, it led to Kalidasa’s famous, beautiful “Abhigyaan Shakuntalam” – which is what got me to think about Apsaras some time back.

I believe Apsaras exist. Even now. I have met them.

But when I did, they were not in their human form, whether male or female.

I have been working hard on my studies these days. What happens when my desire to study is confronted by an opportunity to travel to exotic places, like the Victoria Falls? A proposed journey like that re-invoked my childhood memories of the vivid, amazing accounts written by David Livingston, a missionary. I read those as translated in Gujarati, published monthly in the issues of a children’s magazine.

The description of incredible beauty whose equivalent does not exist in one’s own country, the tropical conditions in which the travel took place, whose equivalent was never experienced by the explorer in his own country,my own childhood curiosity – they all made such valuable impressions on me – they stick to me closer than my skin does, I believe.

So now I had ten days’ trip dancing before me and then there was my library and writing routine. What should I have done?

It was Kalidas who helped me with the story of Vishwamitra.

Who says Apsaras are only in human form? They exist in the form  of tantalizing imagery, opportunities and possibilities, alternatives and what not.

When they dance, they put the resolve of the strongest-willed ever also to tough test.

What was I to do? I needed to tell my self what really mattered to me at that moment. Not to that form of me who was carrying baggage of unfulfilled wishes and desires, but me in today, and to my judgment of what was most meaningful thing to do in the current phase in my life.

Today another extension led to me ask: who says that these Apsaras have to be beautiful?

If someone rubs me in the wrong way, is that so overpowering that I allow my thoughts to sway from what I really need to think and feel and get preoccupied by the reactivist material?


Apsaras exist.

They tempt men as well as women.

They can take any form – charmingly attractive and seductively ugly.

That is life. Not mythology.


12 thoughts on “Apsaras And All Their Forms

  1. Shrey says:

    I understood u r a woman by reading the initial lines where u wrote men wont like to document about male counterparts of apsaras if they ever existed 🙂


    • Hi! Thanks for dropping by – let me just go back and read what I had written.. I forgot. But if it is actually as you say, then I give you one more thing to infer about me – “Elementary, my dear Watson.” It’s easy. I am sure you’d make it..


  2. Raj Purohit says:

    Guilt of Not Fulfilling desires earlier !


    • What do you say about that?
      Say, I had a desire to select a branch of study.
      Say for a lot of reasons I ended up in a different place.
      N years later, one would agree that there would be a pinch of occasional “Kaaash..”
      One can probably try to still make up for the lost opportunity in some way, but it can hardly ever be another degree in desired area at 40. So of what use is that guilt? My view is that beyond a point those regrets should not be moving us in way that are not aligned to our present goals.


      • Raj Purohit says:

        Yes, A person may not get that desired degree at 40 (I am that case, I wanted to study Literature) but he / she can Inspire someone or support the closed ones to dare for their desired path.
        … and thus doing “Shraddh” of the will.

        Like, Anupam Kher said To SRK in DDLJ, “… ja ji le apni zindagi aur agar apni ji chuke ho to jaa ke MERI JAWAANI JI LE !”


        • That makes two now, I also wanted to study literature or psychology.
          Well – you mention Sharddh and it is also very significant to me not because it is a ritual, but the fact that one begins to live with the fact that certain things are now a thing of past – bygone. One can pay tribute to that fact by keeping the spirit alive, but it can never be in the same bodily form… a lesson so hard to learn!


  3. arpitppanchal says:

    Nice Read, ma’am:)


  4. Raj Purohit says:

    Apsara – literally means offspring of water (ap = water), and we believe every living form does exist due to water, “Livivng” Desires ?


    • Interesting interpretation. What caught my attention was that some of those desires need to be grown out of, put behind, done Shraddh of. If their ghosts linger, we end up getting swayed.


      • Raj Purohit says:

        oh no, I spelled “living” wrongly !

        Nevertheless, sometimes, Haunting ghosts keep you alert and make you stornger; Recalling the character of “Alen Quatermain” played by Sean Conery in “League of Extra Ordinary Gentleman” is in regret that he didn’t trained his son properly and hence he’s dead; In the course of story, finally he trains Tom Sawyer (grown up, now an American secret Agent), He dies Happily.

        So, sometimes Living desires or burning bellys, can keep us motivated and when it is fulfilled, we feel like we had “Moksha” ! Though I’m aware of fact that, the Apsaras Here are form of some object, or in revrse order, that breaks the focus.


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