Bhakta Savithri

Madduri Rajya Sri

‘Matrudevobhava, Pitrudevobhava, Acharyadevobhava, Atidhidevobhava’ proclaim our sastras. In that list stands husband too. One who treats her husband as God ‘Patidev’ will attain such miraculous powers that she can dictate terms to God. This is the story of such a ‘Pativrata’ who spoke dharma to Dharmaraja himself and got back her husband’s life.
Savithri was born to king Aswapathi and queen Malavi. She was named after Goddess Savithri, to whom the couple prayed for 18 long years.

When the Goddess manifested herself before him he asked for a male child. He was a kind and just king and was worried his kingdom would go to dogs if he had no successor. Man proposes but God disposes. So Goddess Savithri said, ‘I know you have been praying to me for a male child, but Lord Brahma’s will is otherwise. You will get a female child. But don’t worry. Your daughter will attain name and fame as a pious soul. Because of her good nature you will be get sons.’

Savithri grew up to be a beautiful, intelligent and good natured girl. Her father began searching for alliances for Savithri. Savithri had heard of the most handsome and the best natured Satyavanth, son of Dhyumatsena and wanted to marry him, but she never expresssed it to anyone out of shyness.

One day, Lord Narada, came to Aswapathi’s house. He saw the beautiful girl and asked about her marriage proposal. The king said that he had been on the look out for a suitable bridegroom. He asked whether Savithri had any one in mind.

Savithri was overcome with shyness, but knew she should not miss this golden opportunity. So she came out with her innermost thoughts ‘Dear father! I am in love with Satyavanth. I know your objection. His father has become blind, has lost his kingdom and they have been living in the forest, but still I love him.‘

Aswapathi sought Narada’s opinion on Satyavanth. Narada was full of praise for him. Satyavanth was called so because of his truthful nature. He was known for his valour, intelligence good nature and for his handsome features. He was also called Chitrasvudu. After this eu logy of Satyavanth, he let out a bomshell. Satyavanth life would come to an end exactly after one year.

Naturally the father was worried about his daughter’s future rather than being impressed by his good qualities. He tried to dissuade his daughter but in vain. She opined that it doesn’t befit a high caste woman to love somebody and marry somebody else. She loved him wholeheartedly and would marry him at any cost.

Both the listeners were amazed at her strong decision. Narada encouraged the king to fulfil her desire. Oh King! Your daughter is known for her good nature. You cannot change her opinion. Be assured that her good nature would change her destiny. Have faith in God and leave the consequences to him.

On an auspicious day, the king went to the King Dhyumatsena king with all his Kith and Kin to seek his son’s hand for his daughter. Dhyumatsena was delighted at the proposal but he tried to reason out with Aswapathi. Your daughter was born and brought up in a royal palace while we lead the life of rushis in the forest. How will she withstand the rough and tough life of the forest ?‘ Aswapathi explained that material comforts are transient and that a brave soul would not be disheartened by the passing phases of life.

Dhyumatsena finally agreed for the marriage. Their marriage was performed with all the pomp and show there in the ashram. Savithri’s father offered many valuable gifts to his son-in-law and daughter and left for his kingdom.
Savithri and Satyavanth began to lead a happy married life. They felt they were blessed to have the other person as their life partner. She gave up the luxuries of royal life and blended herself into the ascetic life of her in-laws. Her soft spoken nature, her kind services and her devotion to her husband won the hearts of her in-laws and the applause of the ‘rushi patnis’.

Days were rolling by. Though Savithri was all smiles outwardly, her heart was burning within, as she counted her husband’s dooms day. She never once let out her anguish to anyone. She behaved normally.
Finally Satyavanth reached his last stage. Savithri had to face the one vitable. Only four days left in the chapter of Satyavanth’s life. Savithri went on a three day fast and prayed to God with undaunted faith. Her in-laws wondered at the way she was punishing herself. When asked about the reason she said that she would let them know at the right time. She only said that she was doing so to attain a particular objective. Finally it would do them good.
The last day had shown its ugly face to Savithri. That day Savithri woke up before dawn. She visualized the tragic death and tears rolled down her cheeks. She wiped them and appeared as normal as before. She continued her devotional duties to her husband and in-laws.

The father in law told her to give up her fast that day, but Savithri said she would not eat it till sunset. At that time Satyavant was on his way to the forest to fetch a few things from that, Savithri wanted to accompany him. Satyavanth said she would be weak after 3 days‘ fasting, but Savithri overruled the objection. She said, ‘I am not weak. I don’t feel tired as long as I am with you. I have been longing to see the beauty of the forest for a long time. So please allow me to go with you.

Savithri never demanded anything. So neither the husband nor her in-laws could object to her small desire. Savithri suppressed her fears with a forced smile on her face and followed him. Satyavanth showed her the grace in the movements of the ducks. See the loving way in which the creeper had entwined itself round the big tree. See now the insects are sucking the nectar from the flowers. Can you hear the chirping of the birds? Isn’t it a feast to the eyes?’
Savithri hadn’t come there to see keenly the beauty of nature, but to watch carefully the declining hours of her husband’s life. Of course she didn’t express it or didnot show it in her gestures. Poor husband moved around in the day around as long as life permitted him to so. He plucked many varieties of fruits. He was felling the trees which he could not continue for long and fell down weakly. He uttered a last few words to Savithri. ‘Savithri, I don’t know what befel me. I have a reeling sensation. My mind is out of control. It looks as if somebody is piercing me with a spear. I cannot stand. I will relax here for some time.‘

Savithri could read clearly the last signs of life on his face and made him lie down on her lap. Within a second his body lost its life. The next second she saw before him a Divya Purush. He loooked pitch dark and his face was fierceful. Eyes were burning like fire. Anyone would have died on the spot by the mere look at him. He had a noose in his hand.
As he approached Satyavanth, Savithri stood up and quentioned as to his details. He was surprised that Savithri could see him.

He said, ‘I am Yama. When the life span of people on the earth comes to an end, I send my assistants to bring them to my Yamalok. I punish or reward them as per their deeds. I have come personally to take your husband to Yamalok since he is a good soul. Nobody can see me! You could see me because of your ‘Patibhakti.’

So saying, he completed his task of securing his soul from the body and was on his way. Savithri, has been preparing herself for this situation throughout the year. So she sprang into action, suppressing her overwhelming grief. She preserved her husband’s body in a safe place and followed Yama. Yama asked her to go back but Savithri argued, ‘Oh Lord! you know very well one has to fulfil one’s dharma. My dharma is to follow the footsteps of my husband. So even if the path is thorny I will follow him. I am also confident that I will not face any difficulty in my mission in your Divine presence. You are the beacon light of dharma and you won’t leave me to my fate.’

Dharma raja was impressed by her thoughtful words except and so said, ‘You are very intelligent! Seek any boon, except your husband’s life. Savithri thanked him profusely and said, ‘My father-in-law lost his eyesight. Please restore his vision. Yama sanctioned it and was on his way, but Savithri didnot leave him. She praised his kind nature. Yama offered to sanction one more boon except her husband‘s life. Her second wish was to restore kingdom to her father-in-law.
Yama would appreciate her love for her husband and her concern for the in-laws but she should not proceed any further. The path ahead was more dangerous for human beings to tread upon.

Savithri would not give up her task half way through. She said, Those who practise Dharma wouldn’t give it up, come what may, in their life. ‘Dharmo Rakshati Dharma’ Dharma takes care of those who follow Dharma. My dharma is to go with my husband. Do I have to explain it to a person like You, who is an incarnation of Dharma ?
Dharma was further more impressed by her Dharmic principles. He sanctioned her yet another boon, but for her husband‘s life. This time she asked for male children to her parents.

Yama sanctioned her third wish and said that the path ahead was still more dangerous with wild animals and thorny bushes all over. Since he had sanctioned three wishes of hers it was hightime she left him.

| Savithri continued her argument. ‘All my life is centred round my husband. My God is no other than my husband himself ! What will I do with my life without his godly presence. Moreover, my life is blessed by the Holy Darsan of a Dharmathma like you. All my sins will be washed away in your presence. You are behind the normal functioning of the universe. Some punya of me has blessed me with your good company. You are worried about me like a God father. Will a God father leave his beloved to her fate? Please consider a poor soul like me!‘

Yama was touched by her words and a wave of sympathy ran over him. He promised to fulfil yet another wish. Savithri jumped with joy at that since that time Yama forgot to impose the condition, except your husband’s life. She pointed out that to the Lord and added that a woman’s life was insipid without her husband. Moreover shse would not be allowed to participate in any function involving women. Her husband was a good natured person. ‘So please bring him back to life. I don’t need anything else.‘

Yama Dharma Raja, who had been kind throughout, yielded to the final wish of a pativrata. He said, ‘Savithri! I am sanctioning your wish. You husband will live for many more years to come and will attain name and fame. He will pray to the Gods and will perform many yagnas. You both will beget hundred sons.‘ So saying He vanished.
Savithri ran back to her husband’s body and sat in her previous posture. Within no time, Satyavanth came back to life, as if from a deep slumber. He narrated his experience to Savithri. He dreamt that a powerful man had pulled him forcefully. It was so strong that he felt it was not a dream. Savithri made no comments on his dream but hastened him home. She noticed he couldn’t walk with vigour and proposed they stayed for the night in the forest. Satyavanth was more worried about his blind and old parents. He had never before left them for too long a time. So they might be worried about their son’s safety. So Satyavanth decide to go back home slowly with Savithri’s helping hand.
In the meanwhile, back in the ashram, Dhyumatsena thanks to Savithri got back his vision. He searched for his son but in vain. The loss of his son dominated over the restoration of his vision. So cried bitterly for his son, recollecting all his good qualities. The other ashramities gathered around and consoled them. After some time, Savithri and Satyavanth reached there.

Dhyumatsena asked why they were so late. Satyavanth explained all that had happened till he fell asleep and even his dream. Then Savithri took over. She said, ‘I learnt from Narada that your son was destined to die today. I knew that such great people’s words never go wrong. So I accompanied him to the forest. It was not his dream. Yama came in person to separate his soul from the body. I prayed to him in various ways. He sanctioned me four boons and the last one was to give back life to my ‘patidev’. She spelled out her other three wishes.

The old couple were more than delighted at the turn of events. They praised her for her ‘Patibhakti’ which brought over a sea change in their tragic lives. Her name would remain for ever in the world. All the other munis praised her and blessed her.

Within a few days, Dhyumatsena‘s miniters, courtiers and people came with all the pomp and show to invite their king to his kingdom. The one who had usurped his kingdom met with a tragic death.

The king thus regained his past glory and ruled well in lines of dharma and gained name and fame.
Praying to God wholeheartedly but looking down upon husband or in-laws is the law of the day, especially when ego clashes are ruling over the world. Savithri’s life is an eye opener for us all. She could impress Lord Yama with her showers of bhakti for her husband.


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