|21 ‘Satyanarayana Vrata’ and Six ‘Kathas’ (Episodes) of His Glories|
Satyavratam Satyaparam Trisatyam Satyasya yonim nihitam cha Satey,
Satyasya Satyamrita Satyanetram Satyaatmikam twaam Sharanamprapannah/
Antarbhavenanta bhavantamevahyatatya janto mrigayanti santah,
Asantama pya ntyahimantarena Santam gunamtam kimu yanti santah/
(The objective of accomplishing Sacchinaananda Paramaatma is to perform Satya Narayana Vratam- which is the vehicle full of Truth, always absorptive of Truth, True-visioned and Truth-Souled; I seek refuge in Swami Satyanarayana! The fact that all human beings seek ‘Satya Tatva’ or the Consciousness of Truth is indeed transparent and patent; it is also clear that selfless dedication to Satya Narayana is the ultimate goal!)Vyasa Deva narrated that Sage Shounaka requested Sutha Maha Muni on behalf of a congregation of Munis at Naimisharanya as to which would be the most effective and none-too-complicated method of Realisation of Paramatma! Maha Muni Suta instanly took the name of Satyanarayana and prayed to him as follows: Navaambhojanetram Ramakelipaatram Chaturbaahu chaameekaram chaarugaatram/ Jagatraana hetum ripow dhumraketum sadaa Satyanaraayanam stoumi Devam (I pray to Bhagavan Satyanarayana who has the enchanting eyes of delicate and fully opened Lotus, who is deservingly playful with Bhagavati Lakshmi, who possesses four shapely arms and stunningly shimmering Physique of gold and the Unique Source of Might to shield the Universe against Evil Forces!) Shri Ramam Saha Lakshmanam Sakarunam Seetaanvitam Satvikam, Vaidehimukhapadma lubdha mathupam Poulasya samhaarakam/ Vandey Vandya padaambujam Suravaram Bhaktaanukampaakaram, Shatrughnena Hanumantaacha Bharatena sevitam Raghavam ( I salute with reverence Bhagavan Shri Rama who is the epitome of benevolence, whose lotus-like feet are always worshipped, who readily responds to devotees with mercy, who retains Lakshmana with Him and is accompanied by Devi Sita while benignly glancing at her lotus-like graceful face; who is worshipped by Shatrughna, Hanuman and Bharata; who is the destroyer of Poulastya, and the Symbol of Truth and Virtue as the Supreme of Devas). Sutha Maha Muni then proceeded to narrate the First Katha (Episode) of Devarshi Narada who having gone around the World in his periodic visits came down to Martya Loka (Bhu Loka) and felt sad that human beings were suffering a lot without any relief from their miseries; he approached Vishnu Deva and prayed for a solution to offer to the human beings who were constant targets of diseases, poverty, natural calamities and discontentment. Lord Vishnu replied instantly that the easiest and effective means of providing reprieve from human sufferings would be the sincere performance of Satyanarayana Vrata; genuine and heartfelt observance of this Vrata would indeed effect in endowing with wealth to the unfortunate, excellent children, Kingdoms to those who lost their positions, good quality vision to the blind, freedom to those who were imprisoned, courage to the frightened and fulfillment of one’s wants long cherished. The brief procedure of executing the Vrata is to make a firm resolve to do so without hindrances, keep a Tulasi Manjari in hands and pray to Shrihari as follows: Narayanam saandraghanaava daantam, Chaturbhujam peetamahaarvaasasam/ Prasanna vaktram Navakanja lochanam, Sanandanaadyaika rupa sevitam bhaje/ Karomi the Vratam Deva saayamkaaley twadarchanam, Shrutva Gaadhaam twadeeyam hi prasaadam tey bhajaamyaham/ (Bhagavan Narayana! You possess dark-cloud complexion, grand four arms, tranquil appearance, attractive eyes like fresh lotus, and worshipped by Sanaka Sanandana and other well-known Sages; I am always dedicated in my sincere devotion to You and have determined to perform puja by this evening and then only secure your ‘Prasad’ (blessings). Thereafter, commence the formal worship with five ‘Kalashas’and instal Satyanarayana ‘Pratima’in gold or silver or as per one’s convenience. The Puja would be according to ‘Purusha Sukta Mantra vidhana’ by way of the precsribed ‘Shodasopacharas’ viz.’Avaahayami’ (Invocation), ‘Suvarna Simha Samarpana (improvising a Golden chair), ‘Padyam’ (washing the Deity’s feet), ‘Arghyam’ (providing water to clean His hands), ‘Aachamaneeyam’ (offering water for sipping), ‘Suddhodaka Snaana’ (bathing the Deity’s Pratima with appropriate Mantra), ‘Vastra Yugmam’ (offering double clothing), ‘Yagnopaveetam’ (Providing the Sacred Thread), ‘Gandham’(offering Sandal Paste), then ‘Puja’by reciting the Names of Satyanarayana /Vishnu , either sixteen or hundred sixteen or thousand hundred sixteen, along with flowers or Tulasi leaves only by men and ‘Akshatas’or rice grains mixed with turmeric powder, ‘Dhupam’ (Incense material), ‘Deepam’ or lighting of oil-soaked cotton vicks, ‘Puspham’ or a variety of fragrant flowers; ‘Naivedyam’ or a full meal as Prasada comprising ‘Bhakshya’ or Sweets and Savouries, ‘Bhojya’or cereals and preparations, ‘lehya’ or items of tongue-licking type, ‘Choshya’ or items taken in as liquids and ‘Paneeya’ or drinks; ‘Tambula’ or betel leaves and betel nuts’, ‘Neerajanam’ or camphor lighting shown to Deity with the accompanying sounds of bells, ‘Matra Pupshpam’ / Vedic Chanting, ‘Pradakshina’ or circumambulation, ‘Saashtanga Namaskara’ or reverential prostration along with ‘Aparaadha Mantra’ to say that the Puja so performed was incomplete with accepted mistakes and should be forgiven. The worship should climax with ‘Chatram’ or symbolic holding of umbrella, ‘Chamaram’ or symbolic fanning to the Deity, ‘Nrittyam’ or devotional ecstasy displayed in dance form, ‘Geetam’ or devotional singing in praise of Satyanarayana, ‘Andolika’ or symbolic swinging of Deity in a decorated swing; ‘Ashwaarohana’ and ‘Gajaarohana’ or symbolic rides of the Lord on horses and elephants and all other possible ‘Upacharas’or Devotional Services devoid of capacity, devotion, ‘Mantram’or requisite formallity and attention! At the End, the following Mantra be recited while performing ‘Homa’ or offering to Agnihotra atlest hundred and eight times, viz. Namo Bhagavatey nityam Satyadevaaya dheemahi, Chatuh Pradaatha daatrey cha Namastubhyam Namo namah (My humble salutations to You Satyanarayana to whom we meditate always; You are the Master and Donor of the Four Kinds of ‘Purusha Arthaas’ viz. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha’; do grant us the same to us too). By so saying, Devarshi Narada left for Satya loka with the resolve of performing Satya Narayana ‘Puja’ as soon as possible. Suta Maha Muni then narrated Second Katha (Episode) signifying the ‘Mahatmya’ of Bhagavan Satyanarayana to the Sages who convened at Naimisharanya: In the city of Kashi, there was a pious, learned and poor Brahmana, called Shatananda with his wife and children, eking his livelihood by ‘Yayavaara’ or begging for rice from door to door. During his rounds of begging, an old Brahmana approached Shatananda and advised that instead of begging to look after his family, he should certainly perform the formal worship of Bhagavan Satyanarayana who was like a boat in the deep waters of ‘Samsara’. By so saying the old Brahmana disappeared and there was a stunning and dazzling figure of Narayana Himself standing before Shatananda with Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Saranga! The Brahmana got utterly shocked, instantly prostrated and prayed to Bhagavan as follows: Pranaami Jagannatham Jagat kaaranakaaranam, Anaatha naatham Shivadam Sharanyamanagham Shichim/ Avyaktam vyaktaam Yaatam taapatraya vimochanam, Namah Satyanarayanasya katrainamah Shuddha satvaaya vishvasya bhatrai, Karaala KaalaayaVishvasya hantrai namastey Jaganmangalaatma murtey/ Dhanyosmadya kruti Dhanyo bhavedya saphalomama, vangamanogocharo yastwam mama pratyaksha-maagatah/ Drishtim kim varnayaamyaho na jaaney kasya vaa phalam, kriyaaheenasya mandasya dehoyam phalavan kritah/ ( Bhagavan Satyanarayana! You are the Cause and the Cause-Maker of the Universe, the Saviour of the Hapless, the Provider of Propitiousness, the Last Resort of Shelter and Protection, the Epitome of Virtue, the Form of Purity and Auspiciousness, the Invisible yet Visible, the destroyer of the ‘Tapatrayas’ of Adhi Bhautika, Adhi Daivika and Adhyatmika Nature; the Designer and the Design of the Universe as well as its final Demolisher; the Unique Provider of the Best of the World; today I am the most contented as my life’s unknown and impossible desire has been achieved and what is more that I have heard Your Voice; could there be a bigger miracle that very effortlessly this dream has really come true!) When asked by Shatananda as to the procedure of performing the Vrata, Bhagavan replied that there was no need for ample money to perform it, but it would involve endless devotion and sincerity of purpose. What ever daily earnings that might be secured on account of pleading for food that day would be sufficient, with which to fetch the Puja material required for sugar, milk, gandha, flowers, fruits, dhup / deepa, betel leaves and coconuts and after Puja, the Prashad be shared with Brahmanas, family members, neighbours, relatives and others irrespective of caste, creed and social status. Bhagavan further asked that the Vrata be popularised along with the details of the Procedure and the Mantras to be utilised for it among Kings, Merchants and all the Commoners so that they too would get the advantage. By so saying, the Lord disappeared and on the following day, Shatananda took a resolve to perform the Vrata to the best of his ability and on receiving double the amount than his daily earnings, secured the material as required and managed the Vrata very well. He strained every breath of his to popularise the purpose, procedure and reward of observing the Vrata and eversince then, Satyanarayana Vrata became popular all over since quick rewards started flowing in; thus there emerged universal acceptance and popularity of the most famous Satyanarayana Vrata.On his part, Shatananda attained recognition and social esteem not only in Kashi but all over wherever Hindu Faith prevailed and after his end his Soul got absorbed into Bhagavan. The Third Katha related to the King of Badari Khanda named Chandrachuda at Manipurak Nagara who was highly virtuous, soft spoken and popular among his Subjects.He was a devout ‘Vishnu Bhakta’. But, the Mlecchas of Vindhya Desha attacked Chandrachuda who having been defeated in a fierce battle had to flee into forests and strayed into Kashi Nagara and discovered that the entire population was highly contented and enjoyed quality life deviod of diseases, untimely deaths, robberies and natural calamities. He then came to realise that the key to the all round happiness of Kasi was entirely due to the constant observance of Satya Narayana Vrata and that the Originator of this Sacred Vrata was a Brahmana called Sadananda (Shatanand) who had the Vision of Bhagavan Vishnu Himself. Chandrachuda approached Sadananda and secured his ‘Upadesha’of the Format, Content, Method and the instant Fruit of the Vrata and immediately performed the Vrata sincerely. Bhagavan Satya Narayana appeared before the King and presented a powerful Sword to use against the Mlecchaas who had forcefully occupied his throne and Kingdom. The King thanked Sadananda profusely and having reassembled his army devastated six thousand Mlecchhas, retrieved his Kingdom and the lost prestige, thanks to the observance of Satya Narayan Vrata. Back to his throne, King Chandrachuda prevailed on all his Subjects to perform Satya Narayana Vrata as often as possible and before all Auspicious Tasks like Weddings, Birth days and Nama Karana functions were initiated and most definitely on every Purnima day of each month. The King ruled his Kingdom with great veneration for Satya Deva for sixty long years having built a new Capital and ultimately reached Vishnu loka leaving behind a great heritage of peace, prosperity and lasting fame. The Fourth Episode was of Bhills/ Nishadas (Wood cutters) who happened to visit Kashi Nagar to sell their wood, got lost in the City and approached the Hermitage of Vishnu Das (Shatananda) as they felt thirsty. They were impressed with an on-going worship in the Hermitage, even as Vishnu Das not only quenched their thirst but also encouraged witnessing the proceedings of Satya Narayana Vrata.The Nishads took the Prasad at the conclusion of the Vrata with humility and high devotion and tried to take leave of Vishnu Das. The latter enquired whether they would also like to perform the Vrata and the Nishads exclaimed that it was not possible for them to do so; they said that performance of a Puja was not only expensive but they were completely illiterate and could never observe this kind of a complicated Puja in their life time ever! Satyanarayana Vrata is neither expensive nor complicated; what is significant is the devotion and commitment rather than riches nor knowledge. This was made amply clear to the Bhills; he said that Lord Krishna while visiting Hastinapura did not accept the Chief Guest Status of Duryodhana but stayed in the humble cottage of Vidura instead! Krishna again took away the ‘tandula-kanas’ (rice-fries) from Sudama (Kuchela) with affection and bestowed such wealth that was not in the reach of Kings even; similarly He was so close to the illiterate and innocent Gopas and Gopis but kept aloof from even Great Sages!Having said this, Vishnu Das prescribed a simple and straight-forward format of observing the Vrata and enabled the Bhills to perform the worship in an effortless and easy way which even unintelligent children could follow provided however their hearts were transparent and Bhakti was paramount. The community of Bhills was thus prompted and encouraged by Vishnu Das, whereby they started earning by the sale of wood and gained profits and confidence in course of time.Eventually, their devotion became intense and their life-style changed so much that took firm steps towards attainment Vishnu Loka! The Fifth Episode centered on a Vaisya called Sadhu and his son-in-law. The famous King Chandrachuda of Manipuraka Nagar referred to in the Third Episode above was once performing Satya Narayana Puja along with a large number of followers, when a wealthy Vanika from Ratnapur landed by his ship filled up with considerable riches. When the highly decorated Puja Mandap, Sadhu enquired as to what was going on at that busy Place, he was told that Satyanarayana Vrat was being performed under the auspices of Chandrachuda Maharaj along with several other devotees.Sadhu was also interested as he had no offspring and thus joined the group and prayed to Satya Narayana to bless him with a child. The Sabhapati was conveyed of the wish of the Vanika and as though Bhagavan Himself approved the wish, the desire was approved but on the condition that soon after securing a child he should perform the Vrata in a manner that would become of the rich Vanika. In course of time, Sadhu’s wife conceived and a female child was born. The Name-Giving Function was celebrated with great pomp and show of the wealthy Vanika and the baby was named Kalavati after consultations of her ‘Kundalini’. The wife of Vanika reminded of Sadhu’s promise that now that they were blessed with a child, the Vanika should recall the promise made by him to perform Satya Narayana Vrata. He kept on delaying the fulfillment the promise somehow. Meanwhile, Kalavati was growing into a fine girl and Vanika commenced searching for a suitable bridegroom; Ashta varsha bhaved Gauri Nava varsha cha Rohini, Dasa varsha bhavet Kanya tathah proudhaa Rajaswala (An eight year old girl is known as Gauri and a Nine Year old is Rohini, a ten year old is said to be a Kanya and Proudha having come of age suitable for marriage!). Thus Vanika Sadhu planned for Kalavati’s wedding first rather than redeeming the promise made to Satya Narayana Deva. A suitable son-in-law named Sankhapati who was very rich too was selected as Kalavati’s husband. After the wedding, Sadhu kept his son-in-law in his own house as his business partner and the joint business flourished well. On the reminder of Sadhu’s wife about the promise to perform Satya Narayana Vrata, Sadhu postponed again till his daughter’s securing a child. A few days later, Sadhu accompanied by his son-in-law undertook a business tour beyond River Narmada. They stayed out for long and the promise to perform the Vrata was almost forgotten. As though Bhagavan got angry about the callousness of Sadhu in redeeming his promise about the Vrata, the two-some of in-laws faced considerable difficulties in the business and on their return journey back home stayed at a Guest house overnight and at that very night there was a theft in the King’s Palace and both Sadhu and son-in-law got entangled as they were strangers there and got imprisoned; morever, there was expensive pearl-necklace found on the body of the son-in-law of Sadhu. While the two were languishing in the prison awaiting judgment for robbery, there was a theft in Sadhu’s house at his native place and both Kalavati and daughter suddenly turned as paupers and were some how eking their existence. In the Sixth Katha, Suta Maha Muni explained that Bhagavan Vishnu could utilise the means of ‘Tapatrayas’viz. Adhyatmika, Adhi Daivika and Adhi-Bhoutika forms to punish a human being when a person would go astray from ‘Dharma’; in the case of Vanika Sadhu, the promise to execute Satya Narayana Vrata was wantonly ignored. Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi Devi had four sons viz. Dharma, Yagna, King and Thief and Lakshmi was equally fond of all of them. The charity given to Brahmanas and Guests is of the form of Dharma which targets Money; the Deva Yagna and Pitru Yagna are of the forms of Yagnas and in this case too Money is involved; a King who is responsible to safeguard both Dharma and Yagna also aims at Rajya Lakshmi and finally a ‘Chor’ (Thief) too is after Money in the final analysis. In the case of Vanika Sadhu, he was basically a Thief as he did not redeem his pledge to Satya Narayana Himself and hence there were two thefts were involved-one by way of suspicion by the King and another a theft in Sadhu’s own residence. Thus the victims of the unhappiness of Satya Narayana were all the members of Sadhu’s family, thus analysed Suta Muni about the consequences. Be that as it might, Kalavati could not withstand her hunger and approached a Brahmana’s house where a Vrata of Satya Narayana was being observed; she returned home late along with the ‘Prashad’or the remains of the Offering to the Deity at the Puja. The mother was annoyed that Kavavati returned home late but as was conveyed by Kalavati that the delay was due to a Satya Narayana Vrata; Kalavati was then reminded of the lapse that occurred in not performing the Vrata and approached a past companion’ s house and begged money for performing the Vrata. Her companion replied that in the heydays of Kalavati, the latter gave a loan which would now be retuned. Thus, Kalavati perfomed the Vrata as prescribed and Swami Satyanarayana was indeed satisfied. As a result, Vishnu Deva came into the dreams of the King who kept Sadhu and son-in-law in his custody; the former ordered the King to free the alleged prisoners, Sadhu and Shankhapati at once. Next morning the King called the Minister about the strange dream of Satya Narayana and his instruction to the King. The Minister called the Prisoners and found out their full antecedents. The King apologised to Sadhu, gave lot of money and freed them. Sadhu and son-in-law got back to their ship but even now there was no hint of remorse for not having performed the Vrata. Bhagavan took the form of a Hermit near the Ship and asked Sadhu and his son-in-law as to what was in the Ship. As a matter of fact there were many valuables forcefully taken by the King’s soldiers from the Ship and since restored, besides many gifts from the King to them when released after their imprisonment. But Sadhu and son-in-law mocked at the Hermit and replied that the ship contained only dried leaves and grass and there was nothing worthy of donating to him. The hermit replied: ‘Tadhastu’ (So be it!). Sadhu and son-in-law really and literally discovered dried leaves and grass, instead of the valuables in the Ship! They were stunned and searched for the hermit and fell on his feet. The hermit reprimanded Sadhu by recalling all the incidents when Sadhu first encountered the ‘Pratima’ (Idol) of the Satya Narayana at the Palace of King Chandrachuda; he prayed for a child and pledged that he would perform Satya Narayana Vrata befitting his status but on getting a child he did not do so; he said that when the child grew of age and after her wedding, he would perform the Vrata but again he did not; he asked for lot of wealth which was also granted, but still he did not redeem the pledge; when he was imprisoned and sought help then too, did not; when he was let free from the prison and Bhagavan’s help was sought even then he never thought that Bagavan gave the help; now too, he lied and said there was nothing for charity in the ship except grass and dried leaves! Sadhu the fell flat on his knees, displayed genuine shame and repentance and prayed as follows: Satya Swarupam Satyasandham Satya Narayanam Harim, Yatsatyatvena Jagatastwam Satyam twaam Namaamyaham/ Twanmayaa mohitat-mano na Pashyayantyatmanah Shubham, Duhkaambhodhou sadaa magnaa Duhkhecha Sukhamaaninah/ Moodhoham Dhana garvena Madaandheekruta lochanah, na jaane swaatmanah Kshemam kathampashyaami Mudhadhih/ Kshamaswa mamadouraatmyam tapodhaamne Hare Namah, Aajnaapayatmadaasyam me yena tey charanow smarey/ (Satya Swarupa! Satyasandha! Satya Narayana Bhagavan Hari! Human Beings tend to become victims of ‘Maya’ (Illusion) and get victimised with the thoughts that happiness is in the deep Oceans of ‘Samsara’ and seek to attain those momentary joys; persons like me become arrogant and ego owing to small amounts of wealth and imagine no end of themselves foolishly; You are well-known as ever-merciful to those who are repentant. Mahatma! Could You not provide me one chance of correcting myself to devote my entire Self at the lotus-like feet of ours!). Bhagavan Satya Narayana, the ever-compassionate replied positively and blessed the Vanika. A few days later, the ship of Sadhu sailed off and a message reached Kalavati that her husband was arriving ashore soon. She was so excited that the concluding part of the Satya Narayana Vrata being performed was ignored and did not even secure the ‘Prasada’ presented to Bhagavan as the ‘Naivedya’ and ran off to welcome the husband. But as soon as the ship was cited from a distance, she witnessed the horror of the sinking ship! Kalavati fell unconscious and after recovering her senses prepared herself to immolate in a Fire- Pit. As she was about to jump into the Fire, a Celestial Voice was heard saying that Kalavati who was already perfoming the Vrata did the unpardonable indiscretion of ignoring the Prasada and hence the calamity of the sinking ship, but if she went back to the house and took the Prasada with veneration, then the situation might change for the better! Kalavati was ashamed of her and did the amends at once; the sinking ship stood up and got anchored safe. There was a happy reunion of the family. Indeed, none could ever ignore the Lord who is other-wise ever-forgiving, considerate and clement! In Kali Yuga, the most fruitful, effective and instantly result-oriented worship is indeed that of Satya Narayana Vrata, undoubtedly.
Prev:The advent of Kali Yuga and the Ongoing Phases - Arrival of Gautama Buddha