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Apala – A Woman Saint during Vedic Period

Apala is the name of a woman saint mentioned in the eighth mandala of the Rig Veda Samhita. She is also mentioned in the Satyayana Brahmana. It is believed that Apala is the daughter of Sage Atri. She is believed to have had a serious skin disease. Due this her husband, Krshasava, abandoned her.

Sage Atri advised Apala to do intense penance to please Indra. She is believed to have offered the juice of somalata plant to Indra when she appeared before her.

It is believed that Apala asked for three boons – one to transform the barren field of her father into fertile land, cure for her father’s baldness and a cure to her skin disease.

Indra grants all the three boons.

To eradicate her skin disease Indra cleanses her thrice – first her human body, next her vital breathing and finally her soul. After this ritual Apala transforms into a beautiful woman.

Story of Apala is found in the Sukta 91 of the 18th manadala of the Rig Veda. Seven mantras here dedicated to Indra were chanted by Apala.