The festival of Raksha Bandhan is known to have originated centuries before and there are several scriptures, epics of Hinduism is peppered with stories of rakhi and Raksha Bandhan. Some of the various accounts related to the Hindu mythology are described below:
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
As per an account of Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, when Lord Vishnu won the three worlds from the demon King Bali, he asked by the demon king to stay beside him in the palace. The Lord accepted the requested and started living with the demon king. However, Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu wanted to return to his native place of Vaikuntha. So, she tied the rakhi around the wrist of the demon king, Bali and made him a brother. On asking about the return gift, Goddess Lakshmi asked Bali to free her husband from the vow and let him return to Vaikuntha. Bali agreed to the request and Lord Vishnu returned to his place with his wife, Goddess Lakshmi.
King Yama and the Yamuna
Another legend says that the death God, Yama did not visit his sister Yamuna for a period of 12 years who ultimately became very sad. On the advice of Ganga, Yama went to meet his sister the Yamuna who has very happy and performed hospitality of her brother, Yama. This made the Yama delighted who asked the Yamuna for a gift. She expressed her desire to see her brother again and again. Hearing this, Yama made his sister, Yamuna immortal so that he could see her again and again. This mythological account forms the basis of a festival called “Bhai Dooj” which is also based on the brother-sister relationship.
Krishna and Draupadi
Based on an account of Mahabharat, Draupadi, wife of Pandavas tied a rakhi to Lord Krishna while Kunti tied the rakhi to grandson Abhimanyu before the epic war.
Indra Dev and Sachi
According to the ancient legend of Bhavishya Purana, once there was a fierce battle between Gods and demons. Lord Indra- the principal deity of the sky, rains, and thunderbolts who was fighting the battle on the side of Gods were having a tough resistance from the powerful demon King, Bali. The war continued for a long time and did not come on a decisive end. Seeing this, Indra’s wife Sachi went to the Lord Vishnu who gave her a holy bracelet made up of cotton thread. Sachi tied the holy thread around the wrist of her husband, Lord Indra who ultimately defeated the demons and recovered the Amaravati. The earlier account of the festival described these holy threads to be amulets which were used by women for prayers and were tied to their husband when they were leaving for a war. Unlike, the present times, those holy threads were not limited to brother-sister relationships.
It is said that the two sons of Lord Ganesha namely, Shubh and Labh were frustrated that they had no sister. They asked for a sister from their father who finally obliged to their sister on the intervention of saint Narada. This is how Lord Ganesha created Santoshi Maa through the divine flames and the two sons of Lord Ganesha got their sister for the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.