Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Tapati and Samvarana

Stories From the Mahabharata


This story is narrated by a Gandharva named Angaraparana to Arjuna in [Maha:1.173].

Tapati was the daughter of Vivaswat (Surya) and the sister of Savitri (another sun God). She was the most beautiful woman in the three worlds. Not even the divine Apsaras were her equals in grace and charm. She was also chaste and virtuous. When she reached a marriageable age, Savitri was on the look out for a groom worthy of his sister.

Around the same time, Samvarana, the son of Riksha, was the king of the Kurus. He was a mighty warrior and an illustrious ruler. He was also a great devotee of Surya, and used to offer worship to the sun daily.

One day, King Samvarana went on a hunting expedition in the mountains. While wandering in quest of game, his horse became exhausted and collapsed. Bereft of his horse, the King did not have an easy way to get back to his kingdom. Besides, he was also tired and hungry. While wandering in the mountains in search of food, he came across a very beautiful maiden. Such was her lusture that Samvarana thought for a moment that it was the Goddess Laxmi herself in person.

The King's heart was captivated by that damsel, and he became as one who had lost his senses. He fell desperately in love with her. He went near her and asked, "Who are you? What are you doing in this desolate mountain regions? Excellent lady, you are the most beautiful woman I have either seen are heard of? I have fallen in Love with you, will you marry me?"

However, the maiden did not speak a single word. While he kept imploring her to speak up, she held her silence. Then, in front of his eyes, she disappeared. Samvarana was struck with grief. He lamented his fate that had given him a glimpse of heaven, only to have it snatched away so soon. He fell down senseless, weakened by an excess of grief and desire.

When he awoke from his swoon, he saw that the damsel was once again standing in front of him. He once again addressed words of love to her and said, "O Maiden, it is said that of all forms of marriage, the Gandharva form, where a man and woman are united in love is said to be the best. I am the King of the Kuru race, and held to be illustrious and virtuous. I have never seen anyone to equal you in beauty. Make me the happiest man on earth by accepting my proposal of marriage."

This time the damsel spoke. Her voice was as sweet as her form was graceful. She said, "O King. I know your fame. I am not a mistress of my own fate. I am still under the protection of my father and elder brother. When the opportunity comes, ask my father Aditya (Surya) for my hand. If my father bestows my hand upon you, I shall be your obedient wife. I am called Tapati and I am the younger sister of Savitri and the daughter of Vivaswat." Then Tapati ascended the skies and disappeared from Samvarana's sight.

Samvarana stood rooted to the spot, unable to think clearly. His chief-minister, who had been searching for him everywhere, found him in this state. The King then told his ministers that he was going to start a penance to Surya then and there. The minister tried to persuade him to return to the kingdom, but the King was firm in his resolve.

After purifying himself with a bath, and with his joined palms and upturned face, began to offer worship to Surya. He also thought of his chief-priest, the great sage Vasishta, as one who could offer him advice on the proper mode for propitiating Surya. The King continued his prayers day and night, without intermission. On the twelfth day, the sage Vasishta came to see him. He already knew by his Yogic power that the King was pining for the love of Tapati. He spoke sweet words to the King and assured him of his assistance in prosecuting his suit.

True to his promise, Vasishta went to the abode of Surya and offered worship to the God. Surya, pleased with the devotion of the sage, and honored that the great sage had personally come to visit him, welcomed him with all due respect. He said, "O first among Rishis. Tell me what is your pleasure? What do you want from me?"

Vasishta said, "The good King Samvarana of the Kuru dynasty has fallen in love with your daughter Tapati. The maiden also seems to love him in return. She asked him to solicit her hand from you. To this end, Samvarana is praying to you in the mountain, offering you worship without rest. This monarch is virtuous and well known. He comes from a great dynasty and is in every way worthy of your daughter. Bestow your daughter in marriage to this King. This is my request."

Surya said, "Samvarana is well know to me. Indeed, he is one of my foremost devotees. If I searched all three worlds for a groom, I will not be able to find a better husband for my daughter. Accept my daughter Tapati on his behalf from me. Let the wedding be celebrated according to the rights ordained in the Vedas."

It was thus that the beautiful Tapati, the daughter of Surya, became the wife of Samvarana, an ancestor of the Pandavas. Since they were born in her race, they are also known as Tapatyas.


Last Modified At: Wed Nov 17 22:58:46 2004