Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Savitri - The Ideal Wife


Savitri was the daughter of King Aswapati of the Madra Kingdom. Having been childless for many years, he performed a penance towards Savitri (the Sun) and asked him the boon of a thousand vigorous sons. Surya however, gave him the boon of a virtuous daughter, who was named Savitri in honour of the Sun.

She was exceedingly beautiful, and her eyes shone with the radiance of the Sun, her benefactor. Unable to bear her blazing splendor, none of the Kings would marry her when she came of age, though they all desired her. The King became worried, and in desperation, asked her to go forth in the world and find a suitable husband for herself, one who would be able to match her abilities.

After traveling far and wide, she chose Satyavan, the son of Dyumatsena, the King of the Salwas. This King was currently in exile, owing to the machinations of his kinsmen. The royal family was now surviving on Satyavan's earnings as a woodcutter. King Aswapati was reluctant to sanction this marriage, for his daughter would be going to a household which was in dire poverty. Finally, he relented and allowed the marriage to take place, acting on the advice of the sage Narada. He was not happy, however, for Narada had disclosed the fact that Satyavan was not destined to live much longer.

Savitri was exceedingly happy with her husband, and pleased her in-laws by her devoted attentions to them. Time flew by, and the day that had been foretold to be Satyavan's last arrived.

On that day, Savitri accompanied her husband to the forest, and when he became tired, she asked him to lie on her lap. As she sensed her husband ease into deep sleep, she beheld a fearsome, radiant being who appeared near her husband. This was Yama, the lord of death.

Savitri pleaded with him to spare her husband's life, but he would not budge, for every man must die when his time comes, and dragged the soul of Satyavan along. Refusing to give up, Savitri followed Yama and her husband.

Yama was pleased with her devotion to her husband and granted her two boons, except the life of her husband. She first asked that her father-in-law's kingdom be restored to him, which Yama granted. She then asked for a hundred sons, which boon also Yama granted.

The moment the boon was granted Yama realized that he had made a blunder, for how could a hundred sons be born to Savitri, who was the soul of virtue, when her husband was dead? He was forced to give back the life of Satyavan, and also bless him with a long and prosperous life.

For this devotion to her husband, she is often offered as the example of the ideal wife.

Last Modified At: Sun Oct 30 23:57:16 2005