Ahalyā, the wife of the sage Gautama and mother of another sage Śatānanda, is a well-known character in Hindu mythology. She is said to have been born out of creator Brahmā’s mind as the very personification of feminine grace and beauty and given in marriage to the maharṣi Gautama. Infatuated by her beauty, Indra the king of gods impersonated Gautama and seduced her. Consequently she was cursed by the sage Gautama to remain invisible for a thousand years sustaining herself only on air and wallowing in ash. She was redeemed by Rāma, the son of Daśaratha and restored to Gautama.

Some works like the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa say that she was converted into a stone. This version seems to be more popular.

When Uttaṅka (or Udaṅka), a disciple of Gautama, offered to fulfil any of her desires as his gurudakṣiṇā (fees due to the preceptor) she asked for the kuṇḍalas (ear-ornaments) of queen Madayantī (wife of the king Saudāsa). Uttaṅka secured them successfully, though with great difficulty.

See also GAUTAMA.