Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Sisters of the Valkyrie? (Part V) Apsara

There are Valkyrie-like goddesses and demi goddesses in other belief systems, who resemble the characteristics of the Northern Valkyries. It makes you wonder if they belong to the same species or come from the same root legend. I plan to make several entries about the subject, starting with individuals and then perhaps go onto research different aspects of the Valkyrie.

The fifth entry on the series "Sisters of the Valkyrie" is about the Apsara from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. These divine supernatural female beings resemble beautiful young women. They're also called Vidhya Dari, Widodari, Apson, Hapsari, Tep Apsar, Bidadari, Accara, Bidadari and Apsarasa.

These Apsaras are celestial nymphs who dance in the court of Indra, thunder god and king of the Devas. Apsaras entertain by dancing and their beauty has made them official seductive agents of Indra, to go on missions and disrupt any sage who is against Indra. Sages can be bedded by an Apsara and turned mad, but if an Apsara doesn't succeed her task properly, or if not at all done, she can be cursed by a sage. Indra has also set a curse of a failed Apsara by turning her into stone or casting her to live as an animal on earth. These curses wore off eventually and they resumed their proper beautiful appearance.

Apsaras serve Indra, and they have ridden across the skies on horses, wind and wings. Now the Apsaras are perpetual virgins who remain pure in form and body. They're perpetual dancers who flatter the souls of the war dead when they've been awarded a place in heaven at Indra's court.

There are many Apsaras who appear in the Natya Shastra, an ancient Indian writing for performing arts. These nymphs are also scattered over temples in the form of sculptures, depticted as groups of scantily clad dancing maidens. The Apsara dance is played across many countries and cultures in modern times, from India to China, Cambodia and Indonesia. There are also cave paintings of Apsara in China.

The Apsara may be similar to the "pearls of heaven", the Houri, beautiful celestial virgins who appear in the Quaran that are described as pure and lovely. Certain warriors died in order to enter that dwelling of heaven and encounter the Houri. Sometimes a Houri delivered a soul of a warrior to heaven. In some part of the world where Islam replaced the pagan religions, the belief of the Apsara may have transformed into the 72 virgins/Houri over a period of time.    


Apsara - Wikipedia

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