As every traditional festivity is associated with ancient legends and myths, Rakhi is no exception to it. The tales and stories related to the Rakhi festival tells us about the great devotion and the affectionate bond between brothers and sisters. Some of them are enumerated over here:-
1. Yama and Yamuna:
According to a mythological tale, Yama, the Lord of death, was blessed with eternity as his sister Yamuna tied up a Rakhi thread on his wrist. Since that time the festival of Raksha Bandhan is associated with tying of rakhi thread.
2. The Tale of Lord Bali and Goddess Lakshmi:
According to this tale King Bali one day approached Lord Vishnu to get his kingdom safeguarded from its enemies. Lord Vishnu decided to help his great devotee and was set to leave his heavenly home. Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu, did not want her lord to leave the home and reached to the Bali’s mansion in disguise of Brahmin woman to seek shelter. On the auspicious day of Shravan Purnima Lakshmiji while tying a revered thread on Bali’s wrist told her purpose for being there. Touched by the tender feelings of Lakshmiji for her family, King Bali requested Lord Vishnu to not leave his abode. Therefore, the Rakhi festival is also called “Baleva” that means the devotion of King Bali to Lord Vishnu.
The following mantra (in Sanskrit) conveys the whole significance of Raksha Bandhan: “Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah, tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala.” It says, “I tie you the Rakhi that was tied to king Bali, the king of Demons, O Rakhi I pray that you never waver in protecting your devotee.” Many sisters keep this aspect in their minds while tying the rakhi to their brothers.
3. Indra and Sachi:
It is said that Indra, the king of devtas, had lost his kingdom to the asura Vritra. Indra’s wife Sachi than tied a thread around her husband’s wrist to ensure his victory in the upcoming war between him and Vrita. This was done at the behest of guru Brihaspati. Thus, the tradition of typing rakhi began.
4. Draupadi and Krishna:
Lord Krishna was left with a bleeding finger, after Shishupal’s death. To stop the flow of blood, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, had torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist. Touched by her concern, Krishna declared Himself to protect her and promised to repay the debt manifold, and spent the next 25 years of his life doing just that.
Evidences from History
There are also evidences from history that foretells how Rakhi festival originated in the course of time. These historical facts speak grandiose stories of sacred bond between the great heroes and heroines of the ages. They are as follows:-
1. King Porus and Alexandar’s wife:
Another rakhi tale comes from the battle between Alexander, the Greek king and Porus, the Hindu king. Wife of Alexander sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with Hindu traditions, Porus gave full respect to rakhi. In the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow on Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his hand and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
2. Humayun and Queen Karmavati:
During those days Queen Karmavati of Chittor had sent a Rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun to protect her from Bahadur Shah of Mewar. Humayun, then engaged in an expedition against Bengal, turned back to carry out his sacred brotherly duty and tried to protect her but was too late. Chittor had already fallen and the Rani had immolated herself in the Rajput custom of Jauhar.
3. Rabindranath Tagore’s call to nation:
During the partition of Bengal in 1905, Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet used the occasion of the Raksha Bandhan as a community festival and gave a call to tie a rakhi amongst all Hindus and Muslims so as to maintain peace and harmony between them and spread the nationalist spirit among people from different ethnic backgrounds.
This is how Raksha Bandhan came into existence in the ages of old Hindu mythology and has moved into the modern ages as a symbol of universal brotherhood and goodwill. But today it goes way beyond it, as some people tie Rakhi to their neighbours and close friends signifying a peaceful co-existence of every individual.