Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Story of Savitri - Part 1 of 31

This month of October - the month of Navratri and Festivities... so, we shall focus on learning a short story from the Puraanas - story retold in parts throughout the month.

Am bringing in the story of Savitri, which is found in the Pativrata-mahatmya Parva (Vana Parva) of the Mahabharata. This beautiful story comprising only 300 verses is ideal reading matter for students and is usually read by those who have finished reading a Sanskrit textbook and want to read a medium-sized original Sanskrit story. This translation is pulled out from one of the free-from-copyright old text editions.

Let us get on with the story, which is more popularly called in the south as Satyavan-Savitri Story.

Yudhishthira said to Sage Markandeya, 'O mighty sage, I do not so much grieve for myself or these my brothers or the loss of my kingdom as I do for this daughter of Drupada. When we were afflicted at the game of the dice by those wicked-souled ones, it was Krishna that delivered us. 

And she was forcibly carried off from the forest by Jayadratha. Hast thou even seen or heard of any chaste and exalted lady that resembleth this daughter of Drupada ?'

Sage Markandeya said, 'Listen, O king, how the exalted merit of chaste ladies, O Yudhishthira, was completely obtained by a princess named Savitri. There was a king among the Madras, who was virtuous and highly pious.

And he always ministered unto the Brahmanas, and was high-souled and firm in promise. And he was of subdued senses and given to sacrifices. And he was the foremost of givers, and was able, and beloved by both the citizens and the rural population. And the name of that lord of Earth was Aswapati.

And he was intent on the welfare of all beings. And that forgiving (monarch) of truthful speech and subdued senses was without issue. And when he got old, he was stricken with grief at this.

And with the object of raising offspring, he observed rigid vows and began to live upon frugal fare, having recourse to the Brahmacharya mode of life, and restraining his senses. And that best of kings, (daily) offering ten thousand oblations to the fire, recited Mantras in honour of Savitri (also called Gayatri, the wife of Brahma) and ate temperately at the sixth hour.


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