The Indian Artist: Ahalya’s Curse

Hi everybody! I hope that your fall break has been going well! I am here with a new installment of my blog column. Today, I will be telling the story of the curse of Ahalya, an ancient tale that I depicted in a recent piece done in acrylic paint and colored pencil on paper. I hope you all enjoy it!

Ahalya was Brahma’s most prized creation and was known to be the most beautiful woman that he ever brought into existence. She was sent off to live with Sage Gautama who fell in love with Ahalya almost immediately and ended up marrying her.

In an unsurprising turn of events, Indra, the God of Thunder, became infatuated with Ahalya and her beauty and was gutted when he found out that she was set to marry Gautama. He entered the village disguised as Gautama and seduced Ahalya, tricked her into having intercourse with him. The real Sage Gautama returned to find the fake Gautama and his bride-to-be making love and became outraged (understandably). He cursed Indra to be covered with a thousand eyeballs. He also cursed Ahalya to be turned into stone, only to be released from her rock-hard form when the sacred feet of Lord Ram touched her.

Hundreds of years later, Lord Ram is passing by a hermitage with his brother and wife when the dust from his feet touches the stone that is Ahalya. At that moment the curse is broken and Ahalya returns to her stunning human form. Gautama takes Ahalya back as his wife and all ends happily ever after.

The drawing pictured here is detailing the beautiful scene where Ahalya is returned to her human form when encountering Lord Ram. The foreground was done entirely with colored pencil while the background and environment is done in acrylic paint and watercolor. I was commissioned to do this piece and thought it would be a great way to detail another exciting story and aspect of my culture. As always, if anything that I discussed in this post stands out, or if any questions arise please feel free to comment and share your thoughts!

Looking forward to next Monday!


~ Riya



Personal website:

Riya Aggarwal

My name is Riya and I am currently a Sophomore at Umich. Art has been a huge passion of mine from a very young age and in this column, I look forward to sharing my perspectives and outlooks on life (and specifically my culture) through my personal work!

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