Vrat-Festivals | Vrat
Bad (Baragad or Banyan tree) Amaavas Vrat is observed by Hindu married women on the Amaavasyaa of Jyeshth month. It is a fast day, and is consecrated to the worship of the Vat or Vad or Bad or banyan tree (Ficus indica) by Hindu married ladies to preserve them from widow-hood.
The origin of this holiday goes back to remote antiquity. Dharm Raaj Yudhishthir once requested Lomash Rishi to tell him if there lived - in former times, a woman so chaste, beautiful, and sweet-tongued as Draupadee. The Muni, in answer to the above question, narrated the following account of Saavitree :
In former times there lived in Madra Desh a generous, virtuous, and learned King named Ashwapati, who, having no male issue, prayed incessantly for eighteen years, Saavitree, the wife of Brahmaa, for the gift of a son. The goddess was pleased with his prayers and promised that instead of a son he would be blessed with a daughter, whose fame as a chaste woman would be sung by the Puraan. In due time his queen gave birth to a daughter. The King named her Saavitree after the name of the goddess. As she reached nubile age, the King tried his best to find out a suitable husband for her, but being unsuccessful in his attempt, he asked his daughter to undertake this task herself. She then traveled a great deal in quest of a husband, and ultimately fixed her choice upon Satyavaan, the son of Dyumatsen.
In the meantime Naarad visited the King and tried to dissuade him from offering Saavitree in marriage to Satyavaan, as his father was a blind, penniless man, wandering from place to place in quest of the necessaries of life, and deprived of his patrimony by his kinsmen. Saavitree, on being asked by her father to change her mind, resolved to marry none but Satyavan, and plainly told him that all men except the object of her choice were her fathers, brothers, or sons, as they were respectively her seniors, equals, or juniors in age. So far as riches or poverty went, they were like a passing cloud, but she was as firm as the pole-star in her determination.
Naarad then went so far as to predict that Satyavaan was sure to die after a year, when she said that she would also die with him, but if at all there was any moral merit in her, she would even avert the calamity predicted by the Muni. Naarad blessed her saying that as she was a righteous woman, even that which was uppermost in her mind would happen and disappear.
Ashwapati then took his daughter into the wilderness, where Dyumatsen was passing his days in helpless poverty. He also tried to dissuade the King from giving his lovely daughter in marriage to his son, but on Ashwapati informing him of her firm resolution he was obliged to yield, and on a propitious day the marriage of Satyavaan with Saavitree was duly solemnized.
Saavitree started discharging her daily domestic duties as a dutiful wife and daughter-in-law for nearly a year, when she remembered that there were only four days wanting to complete the period mentioned by the Muni. She then fasted for three full days, not even touching any fruit, root, or water, although she was constantly told by her father-in-law not to fast so hard, but she kept back the secret from all.
On the morning of the fourth day Satyavaan went into the woods, unmindful of the death that awaited him, with an axe in his hand in search of fruit and roots. Saavitree, seeing that he could not be dissuaded from going into the wilderness, also accompanied him to the forest. At the approach of night, Satyavaan stood beneath a Vat or Bat or Bad (banyan) tree and began chopping off the branches, when suddenly a heavy piece of wood struck him on the head and he fell down and fainted. The loving wife tried her best to revive him, but he did not rally, and died at midnight.
While Saavitree was lamenting the death of her beloved husband, Yam Raaj approached the corpse, and having removed the astral body from Satyavaan's body proceeded on his way southward. Saavitree followed him, and begged him to tell her who he was. Yam Raaj told her that as she was renowned for her chastity, he was there in person to take her husband to his regions, and did not send his attendants as on ordinary occasions. He tried his best to dissuade her from following him, and told her to cremate her husband's remains, but she said she would on no account leave her husband, and would follow him wherever he went, unless he is pleased to restore her husband to life, which he could easily do if he really pitied her as his daughter, and did not like to see her become a widow.
Yam Raaj said that he was so much pleased with her that she was at liberty to ask for any boon she liked except the restoration of her husband's life. She then prayed for the restoration of her father-in-law's sight, which, being granted, he again exhorted her to go back, but she still followed him, saying that she was bent upon going to her father's house, meaning Fatal, and said that if she was really faithful to her husband in life, he, Yam Raaj, would not now forsake her as a helpless widow. He again asked her for another boon, and she solicited him to restore her father-in-law to his lost patrimony, to which Yam was pleased to say amen.
A third blessing was given to her, namely, the birth of a hundred sons to her father-in-law, and still she would not desist from following him. He then asked her to take a fourth blessing, which was that she should be called Janm Saavitree, Saubhaagyavatee, and Mangal Maheshwaree, which was readily granted, and she accordingly went back greatly delighted to the place where the corpse was lying, and, as ordered by Yam Raaj, touched her husband's chin with her hand and he was instantly came to life.
Method of Observing Vrat
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 09/29/13