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LOPAMUDRA (Vedic Period)

In the Rig Veda (I 179 1–2) we find a long conversation between her and the sage Agasthya, her husband, as quoted by Brihaddevata. According to the Mahabharata, Lopamudra was created by Agasthya and given as a daughter to the King of Vidarbha. The royal couple were delighted and gave Lopamudra the best cultural education. She was brought up in the midst of luxury. When she attained marriageable age Agasthya, who was under vows of celibacy and poverty, asked for her return. Lopamudra agreed and, renouncing all her worldly wealth and not apparently seeing any contradiction in the marriage, left with her husband for the hermitage.

Lopamudra is credited with two stanzas in a hymn dedicated to love where a strange dialogue is portrayed. Tired of her husband’s practices of austerity and continence, the wife, who had served faithfully for a long period, feels herself neglected and makes an impassioned appeal for his love and company. She writes:

For many long years in the past, both by day and by night,
And in the mornings, have I wearied myself serving you;
Now decay impairs the beauty of my limbs;
What then?—Let husbands approach their wives.
The ancient sages who attained truth,
And talked of truth with the very gods,
They did beget children, but did not break their penance
Therefore should the wives be approached by their husbands.

The directness and passion of these verses seem to be speaking of a real woman’s anguish behind the fiction.
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