Durvasas is a sage in Indian mythology known for his irascibility and for his curses. In the story of the churning of the MILK OCEAN, told in the PURANAS, Durvasas offers a beautiful gar-land to AI R AVATA, INDRA’s white elephant. The elephant picks up the garland with its trunk and throws it on the ground. Indra tries to placate the furious sage but he will not relent, saying that he is known for his implacability and lack of forgiveness. He curses the gods to have ill fortune. It is a result of this ill fortune that they must eventually stir the Milk Ocean to obtain good results.
   Another story, from the last chapter of the RAMAYANA, pits Durvasas against Lakshmana. The latter is guarding the entranceway to his palace while his brother, RAMA, talks with the god of death, YAMA. Yama has demanded that the meeting remain uninterrupted and has made Rama swear that he would kill anyone who inter-rupts them. Unfortunately, the perpetually angry Durvasas arrives at the entranceway and insists that he receive hospitality. Lakshmana asks for his patience but he has none. Durvasa threatens to curse all the kingdom, including Rama and Bharata, if he is not received. Lakshmana there-fore tells Rama of Durvasa’s arrival, knowing that Rama will be obliged to kill him. In the end Rama merely exiles Lakshmana, claiming that banish-ment and death are the same to noble men.
   Numerous tales are told in the mythology about the angry Durvasas, but one story in the Mahabharata credits him with giving Kunti a boon for treating him as a proper guest—she will have children by five gods. These five gods are the true fathers of the five PANDAVAS.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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