Savitri was the beautiful daughter of Aswapati, the king of Madra Desa (Madra Province). She selected Satyawaan as her husband. Satyavan was a prince in exile whose father Dyumatsen had lost his kingdom. He lived in the forest with his blind father and mother. When Narada Muni – a divine sage and a traveling monk with the ability to visit distant planets- got to know about the decision of Savitri, he told her father that Satyavan would lose his life within a year.
The King, listening to this, got worried and tried to convince Savitri not to marry Satyavan. However, Savitri was adamant and told her father that Arya girls choose their husbands only once in life and she will marry Satyavan only.
After getting married to Satyavan, Savitri left the palace and started living in forest with her husband and his family. Savitri started fast three days before the predicted day of Satyavan’s death. On the fateful day, when her husband went to cut wood in the forest, she took permission of her in-laws and went with him. While cutting wood, Satyawaan got a severe headache and fell down from a tree and died in the lap of his wife, Savitri.
When Yamraj (God of Death) appeared to take away the soul of Satyawaan, Savitri too went after him and appealed to Yamaraja to give back her husband’s life. Yamaraja, looking at the loyalty and dedication of Savitri, asked her to demand anything other than her husband’s life. She asked to return the vision of her father-in-law and mother-in-law. Yamaraj granted her the wish but she did not stop going after him. Yamaraj again granted her a wish and this time she asked for the lost kingdom of her father-in-law and hundred brothers.
When again she followed the Yamaraj, she was asked to make yet another demand. She asked for hundred sons. Yamaraja granted this wish too and started walking away with Satyavan’s soul. When he saw Savitri following him again, he told her to go away. Savitri then asked him that how she could fulfill her wish of becoming a mother of hundred sons without her husband? On hearing this, Yamaraja was bound to return the life of Satyavan.
When Savitri returned to the Vat tree under which Satyavan’s dead body was lying, she bowed before that Banyan tree and started Parikrama of the tree (going round the tree). When she stopped, her husband’s dead body came alive. Savitri and Satyavan both returned home happily. All the wishes granted by Yamaraja to Savitri got fulfilled. Since then Savitri became the epitome of an ideal dedicated wife who took back the life of her husband even from the God of Death!
The married women in India observe the Vat Savitri Vrat or fast on the full moon day in Hindu Jyeshtha month (May-June) and offer pooja (worship) to the Banyan tree in hope of health and longevity of their husbands. They also read and listen to the Vat Savitri Katha or the story of Satyavan and Savitri. Read Vat Savitri Katha in Hindi