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Savitri: A Tapaswini Unparalleled: 2

Sav­it­ri was silent­ly count­ing the days and grew anx­ious about the fate­ful day that Nara­da had men­tioned. When the day was four days away, Sav­it­ri under­took immense tapasya and fast­ing. She spent the day and night in Vra­ta. When the day came clos­er, she spent the pre­vi­ous night anx­ious­ly, unable to sleep. Her par­ents-in-law, unable to pre­vent her from car­ry­ing her vra­ta, wit­nessed it with a heavy heart. On the fate­ful day, Sav­it­ri sought the bless­ings of her in-laws and said that she would con­sume food or water only when the sun sets. Satya­van set out to the for­est to cut some wood. Sav­it­ri insist­ed that she would accom­pa­ny him. When Satya­van dis­cour­aged her say­ing that she is too fee­ble to walk, she explained that it would be impos­si­ble for her to be sep­a­rat­ed from him on that day. Her par­ents-in-law per­mit­ted her to go to the for­est.

While Satya­van was cut­ting trees, he had a severe headache and felt weak all of a sud­den. He told Sav­it­ri that he would like to lie down on her lap. Grow­ing more anx­ious about Narada’s pre­dic­tion, Sav­it­ri was sit­ting there with tears in her eyes. Sud­den­ly, there was a bright light and Sav­it­ri noticed a being with red eyes and dark com­plex­ion throw a noose at Satya­van and car­ry Satya­van’s sub­tle body about the size of a thumb.

Sav­it­ri placed her hus­band’s head on the ground, stood up and ques­tioned the being’s actions. Lord Yama men­tioned that His atten­dants are the ones who nor­mal­ly come to take­way mor­tal but since Satya­van was a very mer­i­to­ri­ous per­son, He Him­self had come there. Lord Yama start­ed trav­el­ling towards the South. Unable to bear the sep­a­ra­tion from her hus­band, Sav­it­ri start­ed fol­low­ing Him. When dis­suad­ed by Lord Yama, Sav­it­ri said that her obser­vance of vows, respect for elders and devo­tion to her hus­band had giv­en her immense strength and noth­ing can stop her on her path.

Pleased with the devo­tion of Sav­it­ri, Lord Yama grant­ed her a boon (except the life of her hus­band). Sav­it­ri asked that her father-in-law’s sight be restored. Lord Yama grant­ed her the boon and asked her to return. Sav­it­ri refused to return and men­tioned that she feels no tired­ness in the pres­ence of her hus­band’s soul. Pleased again, Lord Yama grant­ed her anoth­er boon. This time Sav­it­ri request­ed that her father-in-law regain his king­dom. Lord Yama grant­ed the boon and asked Sav­it­ri to return. She refused again and said that the duty of good peo­ple is to do good to even to ene­mies. She remind­ed Lord Yama how he con­trolled peo­ple through his law and took their life with­out per­mis­sion. Unable to con­vince such a strong lady, Lord Yama grant­ed anoth­er boon. Sav­it­ri men­tioned that her father had no sons as heirs to their king­dom. Lord Yama grant­ed his father a 100 sons. Sav­it­ri went on the praise Lord Yama as to how he treat­ed all crea­tures equal­ly for main­tain­ing right­eous­ness in the world. Pleased with Sav­it­ri’s thoughts on Dhar­ma and Jus­tice, Lord Yama grant­ed her a fourth boon. Sav­it­ri prayed for a 100 sons who will per­pet­u­ate Satya­van’s race. Lord Yama grant­ed this fourth wish too. He told her that she has come too far and she must return. Sav­it­ri remind­ed Lord Yama of the foruth boon and said that with­out Satya­van it would not be pos­si­ble for her to beget 100 sons. Very much con­vinced with Sav­it­ri’s strong ideals and resolve, Lord Yama grant­ed the life of Satya­van.

In the for­est, Satya­van woke up from Sav­it­ri’s lap and enquired about his long sleep. He said that he was feel­ing a lit­tle bet­ter but was still affect­ed by the headache. He was con­cerned with his par­ents liv­ing alone in their house and request­ed Sav­it­ri that they leave for home imme­di­ate­ly. Sav­it­ri placed the hand of Satya­van on her shoul­der and helped him reach home.

In the mean­time, Dyu­mat­se­na had his eyes restored and went from for­est to for­est in search of his son and daugh­ter-in-law. They also remem­bered the pre­dic­tions about Satya­van’s death. The Brah­mana Suvar­chas said that by the virtue of the aus­ter­i­ties and tapasya of Sav­it­ri, he was very sure that Satya­van was alive. Gau­ta­ma and Dhaumya both assured Dyu­mat­se­na that Satya­van was alive due the tapasya per­formed by the cou­ple. In a short while, Satya­van and Sav­it­ri reached home and every­one was very hap­py to see them. Sav­it­ri nar­rat­ed the hap­pen­ings to the rishis and par­ents-in-law. Dyu­mat­se­na had been restored of his eye sight and he also got the news that the cur­rent ruler who had usurped had been killed and the peo­ple had accept­ed him uncon­di­tion­al­ly as their king. In course of time Aswa­p­ati had 100 sons and Sav­it­ri too had 100 sons. They all lived hap­pi­ly bring­ing glo­ry to the Sal­wa race.

Thus the sto­ry of Sav­it­ri appears in the Pativra­ta-Mahat­mya par­va of Vana Par­va.

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