Satyavan and Savitri- The Tale of Eternal Love

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Indian history is full of epic tales and heroic myths of gods and goddesses. One such Hindu mythology is ‘Mahabharata’, a story of righteousness, redemption, salvation, and ultimately unprecedented depravity of Kali Yug. An epic of Immorality, sexism, politics, and war pulse its resemblance even today. It was written some 2000 years ago by a Sanskrit poet Ved Vyasa- an ancient plot of ‘our time’.  

While many of you would were aware of how this story unfolds, not much would know about the tale of Savitri and Satyavan. A legendary couple is known for their love and devotion toward each other. While Savitri was the daughter of Sun God Savitr itself, Satyavan was a prince in exile, yet their enormous love for each other even surpassed the horrors of death! It’s an Indian love tale that takes you down the tour of responsibility, commitment, proclivity, and loyalty.

An escapade affair of Satyavan and Savitri

The tale starts in one of the episodes from Mahabharata, where Pandu’s son Yudhishtira asked Rishi Markandeya, that “who would have been more devotional than Drupad daughter Draupadi?” Upon which the Rishi Markandeya replied with a story-

Madra king Aspavati was childless and hence performed an ancient ritual of Savitr-Yajna from which he was blessed with a baby daughter by the Sun god Savitr. The exuberant king named her after her godfather ‘Savitri’. As she was the Oblation of god, so was reflected in her nature which was full of affection and love for the people.  She grows into a beautiful maiden whose power doesn’t come with her beauty but also her wits, courage, and intellect. Such a boon, it becomes impossible to find any suitable man for Savitri and thus the Madra king suggests her daughter seek a husband of her choice herself. Savitri sets on a journey to find a prince for her but for many days wandered without any luck. One day, disappointed Savitra found a man cutting woods in the forest that seem ordinary enough to be a prince yet it is his valour that attracted Savitri. This man was Satyavan son of blind king Dyumatsena, a prince in exile, whose kingdom was taken away from him, and thus to feed his family he works as a woodcutter in the town. She reached out to him, talked for a while, and just like this, the duo fell in love with each other. Savitri was determined to marry Satyavan!

Back in Madra when Savitri tells Aspawati her choice, the king doesn’t argue and at once agrees to the wedding. However, sage Narad who was present at the scene warns her that Satyavan was destined to die after a year of their marriage. The concerned father tries to convince her daughter yet the determined Savitri doesn’t want to choose otherwise. Soon, Savitri and Satyavan were married in the presence of several Rishis who showered their blessings over. Later, the couple dressed as sage moved back to Satyavan’s house in the forest.

The day of the dawn

They live happily for a year and then arrive the day of prophecy. Satyavan as usual pick up his axe and made his way towards the forest but this time Savitri requests him to take her along. Satyavan agrees and both went to the forest together where Satyavan plucked few flowers for Savitri as she weaves a garland, while he went back to chop the woods. After a few hours, Satyavan gets tired and feels dizzy thus he comes back to Savitri and lays his head on her lap to rest for a while. As the shadows grew dark and the wind changed its way, Savitri saw a dark figure in the woods and instantly recognized him as Yama, the god of death.

“I have come to take your husband,” said Yama, and within moments Satyavan’s soul leaves his body. Savitri tries to stop Yama and pleaded with him to either take her along to the land of death or give back her husband’s soul. “Your time has not come yet, go back home” replied Yama but Savitri refused to leave. She follows Yama with no fear towards the land of the dead. Irate Yama asked her “where do you think you are going?” to which Savitri replied, “I am following my husband”. For a long time she kept on following Yama and along his way offers him great eulogies. Impressed by her dedication Yama offers her three boons except for the life of her husband, to which Savitri agrees. She first asked for her father-in-law’s eyes to be restored and for her second wish, she asked Yama to return their kingdom. Yama grants her both wishes and asks for her last wish. Finally, for her third wish, she says “I want to be the mother of many children”. But the last wish cannot be fulfilled without Satyavan’s life because he was her husband and according to Hindu Dharma, she can only have kids with her husband. Impressed by her divine wits, Yama finally gives back the life of Satyavan. And they both happily return back to the world of the living.

The story of Satyavan and Savitri is told in 300 ślokas or 600 hemistichs in the book of Mahabharata. It’s a perfect example of true love and wifely devotion that measures no limit even in the face of death. Savitri’s greatness is that she upholds herself marvelously facing the god of death himself and yet managed to save her husband’s life. 

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