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Savitri: A Tapaswini Unparalleled: 1

India is known for great Rishikas and women with excep­tion­al capa­bil­i­ties. Sav­it­ri is one such woman who is a Tapaswi­ni unpar­al­leled. It is the same Sav­it­ri about whom Shri. Aurobindo had writ­ten his mas­ter­piece work: Sav­it­ri where he poet­i­cal­ly described the sto­ry, tak­ing it beyond the human tale.

Sav­it­ri’s sto­ry appears in the Vana Par­va of the Mahab­hara­ta as nar­rat­ed by Markandeya Mahar­ishi to Yud­histhi­ra when the lat­ter asked about aus­tere women com­pa­ra­ble to Drau­pa­di. Markandeya Mahrishi nar­rat­ed thus:

Aswa­p­ati was a king who per­formed great penances to inorder to have chil­dren. The God­dess Sav­it­ri appeared and said that he would have a beau­ti­ful and mer­i­to­ri­ous daugh­ter imme­di­ate­ly. With­in a short peri­od, Aswa­p­ati begot a daugh­ter and he named her Sav­it­ri. When Sav­it­ri came of mar­riage­able age, her father, as per their fam­i­ly tra­di­tion, per­mit­ted her to trav­el in var­i­ous direc­tions and find a suit­able hus­band for her­self. Sav­it­ri accom­pa­nied by var­i­ous maids, ser­vants and brah­manas trav­elled to many cities, vil­lages and for­est, dis­trib­ut­ing wealth and food and search­ing for a suit­or.

Once when the King was sit­ting in his court with Sage Nara­da, Sav­it­ri arrived with news about her search for a suit­or. Sav­it­ri spoke about King Dyu­mat­se­na who had left his king­dom and trav­elled to the for­est with his wife and child because he had become blind. Sav­it­ri expressed that she would like to mar­ry Dyu­mat­se­na’s son Satya­van. Hear­ing Sav­it­ri’s choice, Nara­da Mahar­ishi expressed great shock as he knew the fate of Satya­van. He said to Aswa­p­ati Raja that Satya­van pos­sessed great mer­its and he was a per­son of excep­tion­al char­ac­ter. The only defect he had was that in exact­ly one year’s time from that day, he would leave his body. Sav­it­ri, of excep­tion­al qual­i­ties, insist­ed that it would be dif­fi­cult to mar­ry any­one else since she had already men­tal­ly accept­ed Satya­van as her hus­band. Sage Nara­da, look­ing at Sav­it­ri’s sin­cer­i­ty, expressed his per­mis­sion for the mar­riage to hap­pen.

When King Aswa­p­ati approached Dyu­mat­se­na in the for­est regard­ing the mar­riage between Satya­van and Sav­it­ri, on one side Dyu­mat­se­na was hap­py about the alliance, on the oth­er side he expressed his doubts about Sav­it­ri’s abil­i­ty to man­age life in the for­est, she being a princess. Aswa­p­ati assured Dyu­mat­se­na that Sav­it­ri would live an aus­tere life in the for­est. The mar­riage hap­pened with the bless­ings of the elders and brah­manas.

It is said in the Mahab­harath that Sav­it­ri took off all her jew­ellery and dressed in sim­ple clothes after her mar­riage. With great calm­ness she accept­ed the life in the for­est. She showed great respect towards her in-laws , she prac­ticed ascetic aus­ter­i­ties, spoke sweet words, wor­shipped her hus­band and treat­ed all of them with great love and respect. But the words of Sage Nara­da were con­stant­ly in her mind and deep down she was expe­ri­enc­ing sor­row. She was hap­py out­side but her heart ached with­in.

More on Sav­it­ri in the next post. PART 2

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