Devala (Astavakra) – in English

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First story
Devala was a disciple of Vyasadeva. In the Maha-bharata, Adi Parva, we see that he is mentioned along with Asita, Vaisampayana, Sumantu, and Jaimini.

The Brahma Vaivarta Purana contains the following story about Devala.

Devala was the son born to Asita Muni as the result of a boon granted by Siva. Rambha, the heavenly dancer fell in love with him, but Devala did not reciprocrate her love. So, she cursed his body to become crooked.

When this deformity manifested, he began to be called Astavakra (asta=eight, vakra=bent))

He penanced during six thousand years, after which Krishna and Radharani appeared to him.

Radha laughed at the funny form of Astavakra, but Krishna admonished her not to tease the sage. Then, He embraced him.
As Krishna touched him, Astavakra’s bodily deformity disappeared, and he became very handsome.
A vimana then descended from heaven and Radha, Krishna, and the Muni together disappeared in it.

Ekaparna, daughter of Himavan was this Devala Astavakra’s wife.
(Harivamsa, Chapter 18).

Second story
Once, there lived a sage named Asita. He did great penance to please Siva, so he could bless him with a child.
Siva blessed him, and he had a son called Devala.

Rambha, an important Apsara, fell in love with Devala, but he did not yield to her wishes. As a consequence, she cursed him, transforming his body with eight crooks. Thus, Devala began to be called Astavaskra.

Devala Astavakra penanced for six thousand years, after which Bhagavan Krishna, accompanied by Radha, appeared before him. Srimati Radharani was shocked by the ugliness of the sage, and did not like to look at him.
But Krsna, asking her to remain quiet, went and embraced him. At once, Astavakra lost all his crooks and became a beautiful man. (Consider replacing “beautiful man” for ‘handsome man’). At that moment, a chariot descended from heaven and all of them went to heaven in it.
(Brahma Vaivarta Purana)

6) Other information
(1) Astavakra was also present among the Rishi who partook in the coronation ceremony conducted after Rama’s return to Ayodhya from Lanka.
(Ramayana, Uttara Kanda)

(2) Astavakra cursed those celestial maidens who rebuked him for his ugliness, and they were born on earth as the wives of Sri Krsna.
When after the death of Krsna, they were being taken by Arjuna to the north, they were forcibly taken by some of the shepherds.
(Agni Purana, Chapter 15)


This is a section of the book “A Sidelong Glance”.

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