By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Urvasi, UrvaZi, Urvashi
Urvaśi literally means ‘damsel born out of the thigh’.
When the sages Nara and Nārāyaṇa were performing austerities at the Badarikāśrama, Indra sent a few of his apsarās to disturb them. Seeing them, the sage Nārāyaṇa slapped his own uru or thigh, from which emerged a damsel who was more beautiful than all of them put together. Since she came out of the uru, she was called Urvaśi.
Later, as a result of a curse by Surya, she had to live in bhuloka as the wife of the king Pururavas. Once she fell in love with Arjuna who politely refused her advances. She then cursed him to become a eunuch. This curse was utilized by Arjuna at the time of living incognito in Virāṭa’s palace. He lived there under the pseudonym Bṛhannalā.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore