Nara Narayana Rishi and the Birth of Urvasi


Srimad-Bhagavatam tells this story:

In the fourth incarnation, Lord Visnu became Nara and Narayana, the twin sons of King Dharma. They spent many years undergoing severe austerities to control the senses.[1]

Seeing this, Indra became worried, thinking that they wanted to take his place as King of the celestial kingdom. So Indra, not knowing who the two sages really were, sent Cupid and his associates to Badarikasrama.

The God of Lust created a sensual atmosphere with charming spring breezes and then he himself attacked the Lords with arrows in the form of irresistible gazes of beautiful women.

Nara Narayana did not feel offended by this attack, and smiling, said:

“My dear Kandarpa[2], I will not curse you, but on the contrary, I will offer you some gifts. So do not be afraid.”

And then the Supreme Lord manifested before the eyes of Cupid and the celestial damsels many young girls, all surprisingly beautiful, decorated with beautiful dresses and ornaments, and all faithfully engaged in the service of the Lord.

When those who had been sent by Indra to disturb Nara Narayana saw these mystical beauties, they felt stunned and diminished in their own beauty. They were no match for these beauties. The Devas came to observe that wonder.

At that time the Lord of lords[3] smiled slightly and told the representatives of heaven, who were bowing before Him,

“Choose one of these ladies. She will become the ornament of the celestial planets.”

Vibrating the sacred syllable Om, the servants of the demigods selected Urvasi, the best of the Apsaras. She was manifested by the Lord’s thigh. The Sanskrit word for thigh is “uru”. From uru comes the name Urvasi.

The Devas placed her in front of them out of respect and returned to the celestial planets.

When Indra heard of what had happened, he felt both scared and amazed.


To become Indra, one needs to do austerity for a very long time. Nara Narayana Rishi were doing it and Indra felt in danger and tried to tempt the two wise men with material pleasures. But there is no material opulence that can compete with the spiritual wealth. So he had to admit defeat and realized who Nara Narayana Rishi were.


In addition, in this story we find information on the birth of Urvasi, a Puranic character of considerable importance.

[1] Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.9

[2] Kandarpa or Kamadeva are names for Cupid

[3] Lord Visnu or Narayana


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