Many years ago there ruled a king in India by the name Ashwapati. The king had a devoted queen and both lived very righteously. They enjoyed the highest regard of their countrymen but were sad on the account that they did not have any child.
Every day, the king recited the national prayer Savitri, worshipped his Lord and asked for a child. This went on till he became very old. One day while Ashwapati was praying, he heard a prophecy that a child would be born to his wife. At last, the king’s prayers were going to be answered. He rushed to his queen to share the news.
In due course, the queen gave birth to a baby girl. The whole kingdom danced in joy upon the arrival of the divine gift. The little princess was named ‘Savitri’. Savitri grew up to be a beautiful and intelligent girl.
When Savitri was 18 years old, the king decided to marry her off. When Savitri came to know of this, she told the king that before taking any decision she wanted to go on a pilgrimage, meet holy men, listen to her inner call, and do accordingly. The king liked the idea and made all the necessary arrangements.
The journey began. Savitri led the life of an ascetic while she visited the holy places and met hermits. She slept on the ground, wore simple clothes, and took only one meal in a day. One day while passing through a forest, Savitri saw a young man collecting firewood. Though he was dressed in ordinary clothes, Savitri could sense that there was something special about him and asked her people to gather more information. Thereafter, ending her pilgrimage, Savitri directly returned to her palace.
King Ashwapati was very happy to see the princess return and enquired whether her mission was accomplished. Savitri gave a detailed account of her pilgrimage. She revealed that she had met a prince called Satyavan, who she had chosen as her life partner. She further disclosed that Saytavan was staying in the forest with his parents as the ministers had banished the old and blind king from his kingdom.
Sage Narada, who was present there, jumped in horror upon hearing Savitri’s choice. He told King Ashwapati that Saytavan was destined to live only one year after his marriage. So if Savitri marries him, she would become a widow within a year of her wedding. Ashwapati became sad on hearing this and tried to persuade Savitri to give up her choice. However, Savitri firmly and politely replied that since she had already accepted Satyavan as her husband, like a true Indian woman, she would stick to her decision, come what may.
With no other option, King Ashwapati sent Savitri’s marriage proposal to Satyavan’s father in the forest. The proposal was accepted with the condition that after marriage Savitri would have to stay in the forest with her in-laws, which Savitri readily agreed. After her wedding, Savitri went to live in the forest as decided. She did not disclose the secret of Satyavan’s life to anyone but kept a count of the days. She served her husband and the aged in-laws to her heart’s content.
Three days before the due date, Savitri went on a fast. On the ill-fated day, Savitri requested her in-laws to let her accompany Satyavan to fetch firewood. The old king and his queen were very pleased with Savitri’s conduct so they allowed her to go.
Savitri kept a close look on Satyavan while he cut the trees. During noon, Satyavan suddenly fell unconscious. Savitri placed his head gently in her lap and waited steadfastly, for she knew that the final moment had come. Soon there started a storm blowing away all the dry leaves. When the storm settled, the Lord of Death, Yama appeared on a buffalo and dragged Satyavan’s soul out of his listless body.
Savitri carefully placed Satyavan’s head on the ground and followed Yama. After a while, on hearing footsteps, Yama turned back and saw Savitri. He was surprised and told her that her husband was dead and she should return to perform his last rites.
Savitri calmly replied, “The duty of a wife is to always follow her husband. Please do not stop me from doing my duty”.
Pleased with Savitri’s reply, Yama told her to ask for any boon except Satyavan’s life.
Savitri said, “Lord, may my father-in-law get back his eyesight”. Yama agreed and proceeded on his way. A little later upon hearing the footsteps once again, he turned back and saw Savitri following him.
Yama was happy with Savitri’s determination, and told her to ask for another boon except Satyavan’s life.
Savitri implored, “Lord, may my father-in-law get back his lost kingdom”. Yama said, “Granted. But you must go back now”.
After a while Yama looked back and saw Savitri still following him. Yama declared, “No living being can dare to follow me. I am, however, happy with your courage and perseverance. Ask for the last boon except your husband’s life. And this time you must return”.
Savitri requested, “Lord may I have many sons and see their children happy before I die”. Yama said, “Granted”, but saw that Savitri was still waiting.
Yama asked, “Have I not granted your last wish?”
Savitri replied, “Yes my Lord! But how can a devout wife have children without her husband?”
Yama was perplexed. Savitri had defeated him by her intelligence. He had to release Satyavan’s soul. Savitri thanked Yama and hurriedly returned to Satyavan, who was waiting for her.
Upon seeing Savitri, Satyavan asked, “What had happened to me?”
Savitri smiled, “Nothing, my Lord. You just fell asleep “.
- Before taking any decision, calm your mind and make an inward journey.
- Perseverance is the most essential thing for success.
- Self-confidence can help overcome any obstacle.
- Think of the welfare of others first, before your own.