Anasūyā

(‘one without jealousy’)

One of the most celebrated women of Hindu mythology, considered as a model of wifely virtues, Anasūyā was a daughter of Kardama and Devahūti. She was married to the great sage Atri whom she served with intense devotion and love. Once, when there was a severe famine, she saved people by producing vegetables and fruits through her power of tapas (austerity). She even made the river Gaṅgā which had dried up, flow again.

The Trinity (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva) subjected her to a severe test of her chastity from which she emerged successfully. As a reward they were born as her children: Viṣṇu as Dattātreya, Śiva as Durvāsas and Brahmā as Candra.

When Rāma and Sītā visited Atri’s hermitage in the daṇḍaka forest Anasūyā taught Sītā the value of devoted service to one’s husband as the necessary and sufficient discipline for spiritual welfare.

See also ATRI.