Matsya Avatara


25    Dharma Raja impressed with Savitri’s conviction and reverses Satyavan’s death
In the days of yore, there was a King named Ashwapati of Shaakala Vamsa in Madra Desha (the present Sialkot Territory) who did not secure a son. Being highly devoted to Devi Savitri (Gayatri), he intensified his worship to her and performed a daily ‘havan’/ oblation to Agni with white ‘Tilas’ (Sesame seeds) in the presence of thousand Brahmanas for ten months and finally Devi Savitri appeared to Ashwapati on a Chaturthi day and granted an illustrious daughter to him and queen Malati; the baby was named as Savitri since she was born by the grace of Devi Savitri. The daughter grew into a charming and highly virtuous girl; a chance visit of Brahmarshi Narada to the King and the daughter indicated that her husband would die on a specified day after her wedding. They both indeed were terribly worried about Narada’s prophesy but she was married in due course to the son of King Jhumnatsen called Satyavan who was a charismatic prince. But unfortunately the King lost his kingdom as also the eye sight of his and of the wife. Savitri emboldened herself and faced the situation with confidence and performed unreserved and steadfast service to the parents-in-law. At the sametime, she served her husband so much that Narada’s prophesy was always ringing in her ears constantly and never allowed the husband even for a while. She also worshipped her Guru and followed each and every advice of his as a word of law. Thus she was worshipping her husband, her parents-in-law and her Guru as much as never in history had performed in the past. As the specific Chaturthi that Narada warned about her husband’s death within a year, she took permission of her blind parents-in-law and her Guru and entered a jungle along with Satyavan and decided to keep her husband the happiest man and spent every moment with him by showing and sharing with him the most memorable beauties of Nature, the waterfalls, the cool waters, the fragrant and colourful flowers and so on. She described that coulpes of hares, crows, lions, monkeys, and deers were all in a state of maddening infatuation and such wonderful experiences tended to extend lives forever! Meanwhile, Satyavan felt like cutting wood from some dry trees but Savitri cautioned that he should not be away from her. In great fun, he said that he would never ever dare to be away from her. Suddenly, Satyavan felt excruciating pain in his head and fell flat. Even while realising as to what was happening, she sensed that some thumb-long figures tied to Satyavan’s soul and were ready to draw it towards the Southern direction and visioned that Yama Dharma Raja himself was present there. She screamed with astonishment and closely following Yamaraja sobbed away and said: Sacred Scriptures assured that sincere devotion to mother provided this loka, devotion to father would secure Swarga and devotion to Guru would fetch Brahma loka but of what avail was her sincerity if Scriptures made false promises? Dharma Raja replied: Do not interfere with my duty; indeed the Scriptures were right, the dead soul was a virtuous person and that she too was a real Pativrata, but there was a fixed procedure of terminating a human being as per one’s life span which was pre-determined and judgment was given as per norms. Savitri counter argued that for a woman, husband was a Deity and the provider of safety; a father, brother or a son were no doubt the safeguarders but the husband was above all and if he were to be forcibly taken away then she had no other alternative but to immolate her life. Dharma Raja was indeed taken back ar her firmness and smilingly said that such an incidence as this was rare and that he would be pleased to bestow any boon excepting her husband’s life. As Savitri took up the opportunity, she requested him to restore the eyesight as also the Kingdom to her in-laws and Dharma Raja readily granted these boons and asked her to go back so that he could perform his duty. He also asked her not to follow further and tire out herself without any aim or useful purpose. Devi Savitri replied that she would never feel tired following great celebrities of the stature of Dharma Raja, even if they were annoyed because only such emblems of Dharma could sift persons of genuineness or other-wise; it was stated in the Scriptures that one should never be afraid of even Agni, poison, and snakes compared to evil persons where as ‘Satpurushas’had an inner conscience and even if they were apparently rude and hurtingly outspoken, their basic quality would be outstanding and subject to change of stance since such ‘Mahatmas’ test the authenticity of other persons being faced. Even normal and impartial Kings and Administrators would tend to examine the realities of those who make requests and a Deity par excellence like Dharma Raja would like to the make sure whether her supplications were pure and straight from the heart or not. That was the reason why Savitri felt untired of following Dharma Raja! Apparrently, Dharma Raja was pleased with the logic of Savitri and replied that without insisting on the life of Satyavaan, she might ask for another boon. She grabbed the opportunity and requested that her parents were not blessed with a son; despite performing countless Sacred deeds and their daily homas in favour of Gayatri / Savitri they succeded on giving birth to a daughter but not a ‘Vamsoddhaaraka’. Dharma Raja conceded the second boon too and firmly admonished Savitri to pester further but should return home at once to organise the obsequies of her departed husband. Having secured the second boon from Dharmaraja, Savitri still followed the former and stated that any human being would like to fulfil three essential steps of Dharma, Artha and Kama as the corner-stones of an ideal life. She affirmed:

Dharmaarjanam tathaa kaaryam purushena vijaanataa,
Tallaabham Sarva laabhebhyo yadaa Daiva viseshatey/
Dharmaschaartha scha kaamascha trivargo janmanah phalam,
Dharma heenasya kaamaarthey vandhyaa sutasamou Prabho/
Dharmadarthastathaa kaamo Dharmaallokadwayam tathaa,
Dharma ekonuyaatyenam yatra kwachanagaaminam/
Shareerena samam naasham sarvamanya -ddhi gacchati,
Ekohi jaayatey jantureka eva vipadyatey/

(Deva! Any Enlightened person seeks to earn Dharma since that secures the best of gains; the objective of life is to fulfil the means of Dharma viz. Artha and Kaama; conversely, wealth and fulfilment of desires alone without Dharma would be wasting one’s life. Dharma would certainly fulfil the means to achieve it and could at the same time lead to Salvation too. In the final analysis, a dying person leaves every thing behind except Dharma and a person born does not bring any possessions nor takes anything at death). Dharma Raja was pleased with what Savitri said and asked her a third boon to that outstanding Pativrata who had been fighting for her husband’s life. In turn, Savitri asked the boon:

Varayaami twayaa dattam putraanaam shatamourasam,
Anapatyasya lokeshu gatih kila na vidyatey/

(Deva! I request you to give me the boon of securing hundred sons of my own, since without obtaining sons,
there would be no ‘Sadgati’to her and husband as parents).

Yama Raja then granted this boon also and Savitri commended Dharma as follows:

Dharmaadharma vidhaanajna Sarva Dharma Pravartaka,
Twameva Jagato naathaha Prajaa samyamaney Yamah/
Karmanaaman -rupena Yasmaad Yamayasey Prajaah,
Tasmaad vai proachyasey Deva Yama ityeva naamatah/
Dharmaneymaah Prajaah Sarvaa yasmaad ranjayasey Prabho,
Tasmaat tey Dharma raageti naama Sadbhirirnigadyatey/
Sukrutam dushkrutam chobhey Purodhaaya yadaa janaah/
Tatsavakaasham mrutaa yaanti tasmaat twam Mrutyu ruchyatey/

(Dharamaadharma Vidhaataa! You are the highest Administrator of Dharma; since you are the Chief Regulator of Dharma, you are called Yama. As you ensure that human beings do not indulge in Adharma and make them follow the Path of Truth, you are known as Dharma Raja. Since when human beings die, you confront them with a full account of their good and bad deeds, and hence you are knwn as Mrityu. As the dead persons are approached by you with the details of each action of theirs by each Kshana/ second, and measure of Kaala or Time, you are called as Kaala. Since you are the designated Authority to terminate the life of each and every ‘charaachara’ or mobile and immobile being, you are titled Antak. As you are the eldest son of Surya Deva who has the name of Viwasvaan, you carry the name of Vaiwasvata. As and when the life of any being is over, you catch him suddenly and that is why you have another name viz. Sara praanahara. Devesha! Thanks to you the Ruk-Yajur- Sama Vedas continue to popularise the Principles of Virtue and Justice eternally; you are the upkeeper of nobility and discipline the world over and I have come to the shield of safety from you; kindly give back my husband at once as my in-laws too are frantic now for his life. As Savitri concluded her desperate prayers, Dharma Raja asserted that he was giving away Satyavan’s life back, that he would secure her hundred sons who would all become famous Kings, that her parents too would be blessed with hundred sons of virtue and that her brother would be popular as Malava, the King of Malva.

Thus concludes the Sacred Legend of Maha Saadhvi Savitri:

Tasmaad Saadhwyaha Striyah Pujyaah Satatam,
Taasaamtu vakyam bhavateeha midhya na jaatu lokeshu charachareshu/
Tasmaat sadaa taah pari pujaneeyaah, Kaamaan Samagraanabhi kaamayaanaih/

(Hence women of High Virtue ought to be worshipped since the Three Lokas are preserved due to their grace. The voices of Pativratas should never be ignored as they are worthy of veneration and fulfill their desires).

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