We all know the popular story of Savitri who went to Yama’s abode to bring her deceased husband back to life. The story is so popular in the households of India that we assume that only a woman is capable of such a sacrific. Little is known about the sacrifice of Ruru as told in the Mahabharata. Ruru was a Rishi in the lineage of Bhrigu Muni. Bhrigu had a son by name Chyavana. Chyavana had a son Pramati and Ruru was born to Pramati. Ghritachi the celestial dancer was Ruru’s mother.
Pramadvara was the daughter of Rishi Sthulakeshu and she lived in a hermitage in the forest. She was a woman of great beauty and calmness. Charmed by her beauty and attitude, Ruru expressed to Sthulakeshu, his desire to marry her. Close to the day of the wedding, Pramadvara was bitten by a snake when she was playing with her friends. She fell on the ground unconscious and died due to the snake’s venom. Several holy men including Swastyatreya, Mahajana, Kushika, Sankhamekhala, Uddalaka, Katha, and Sweta of great renown, Bharadwaja came to the spot to mourn her death. Unable to bear the loss, Ruru wept in pain and cried aloud “if it is true that I have perfromed penances, let Pramadvara come to life through the fruit of that”. A divine messnger came from heaven and offered Ruru a boon. Ruru offered a half his lifetime to Pramadvara. The messenger carried this message to Dharamaraja and Dharmaraja answered “O messenger of the gods, if it be thy wish, let Pramadvara, the betrothed wife of Ruru, rise up endued with half of Ruru’s life”. Pramadvara came back to life and Ruru’s lifespan was reduced by half. Rishi Sahasrapath who was cursed to be a venomless snake was also brought back to life by Ruru. Ruru and Pramadvara were married and led a life of sincerity and happiness. Marriage is but the shedding of a part of oneself to accommodate the other.