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