Sabitri Satyaban

Niranjan Chitrakar


The Patuas paint tales on long scroll of cloth and sing them as they unfurl the scrolls. This story is a fragment from the epic poem Mahabharata. In this pata, the sage Markanda tells Judhisthir about the story of his ancestors Satyaban and Sabitri.


Judhisthir says, listen o great sage markanda,
Tell me the story of Satyaban and Sabitri.
The king named Ashya Pati who ruled over Avanti,
Lost his kingdom to enemies and lived in the forest.

One day Satyaban, his son went to the town to play,
With many children he was playing very happily.
At that time Sabitri was passing by this place,
And when she saw Satyaban, quietly she thought.
This person I shall marry, I accept him in my heart,
Thus engaging herself, the princess returned home.
To her parents Sabitri said directly,
It is to Satyaban you must arrange my marriage.
Upon hearing sadly the king said,
Such a poor boy I can’t let you wed.
See now how fate plays her game,
Upon hearing this sadly the king said
That very day to the royal court the sage Tapadhan came.
O great king of kings, tell me whose daughter is she?
The king answered o sage, this girl belongs to me.
The sage asked, did you get her married yet?
The king said I know not on whom her heart is set.
The sage asked the girl have you chosen anyone?
Which lineage do you choose over the one to which you were born?
The princess answered, o sage, that person is the same
As King Dumun Sen’s son, Satyaban is his name.
The sage says o princess, I know of Satyaban.
Do not marry him princess, choose another man!
The princess says o sage, with him my heart lay,
Tell me the reason sage to turn him away.
The sage says dear girl, heed what I speak,
It has been predicted, that boy’s future is bleak.
It is inevitable-Satyaban must die,
Only for another year with life is his tie.
The king is very sad upon hearing this news,

But on Sabitri’s saying, a wedding day he does choose.
As was fated, married are the two,
And to her new home Sabitri does go.

She cares for her inlaws and is a good wife in all ways.
As the month go by, she is counting the days.
The day on which Satyaban completes a year,
Sabitri celebrates Krishna Chaturdashi to protect her husband so dear.
The two wanders among the forest greeneries,
Together they see so many kinds of trees.
Satyaban climbs a tree to cut some wood,
When death comes to him as was predicted it should.
Satyaban calls out to Sabitri and says
I do not understand what game fate plays.
Sabitri says- Lord I know the reason you grieve,
Climb down and come to me, all your pain will leave.
Sabitri knows it won’t be too long before her husband dies,
How lord of death Yama claims him, she will see with her own eyes.
At the moment the messenger of death nears,
And in front of Sabitri he appears.
But Satyaban is protected by the love of his wife,
So the messenger returns without Satyaban’s life.
He tells his king Satyaban lies in the lap of his wife,
I cannot touch him o lord of afterlife.
Hearing how the messenger fails every time he tries,
King Yama himself goes to where Satyaban lies.
Sabitri asks him- lord who may you be?
Yama says I am the one whom at life’s end everyone can see.
Your husband prince Satyaban’s time is done.
To claim him and take him I have come.
Hearing this Sabitri surrenders Satyaban,
And the king of death takes his life out of him.
Grief stricken to see the death of her lord,
Sabitri follows Yama without a word.
Yama asks Sabitri how far will you follow me?
Besides Satyaban I will give you whatever you wish may be.
Sabitri says- o king, you are merciful and kind,
Grant to my father in law his kingdom and to my father a son.
I give you your wish Sabitri, both the things you want.
Now go back home,
This one wish of mine please grant.
Saying this much, Yama went ahead,
But Sabitri did not return she followed instead.
Yama says- Sabitri how far will you follow me?
Besides Satyaban I will give you whatever you wish may be.
Sabitri says- o king, you are merciful and kind,
Give to me a hundred sons of Satyaban.
Every five years I wish to have a son,
Thus I wish to have a hundred sons of Satyaban.
I give your wish Sabitri just as you want.
Now go back home,
This one wish of mine please grant.
Sabitri says o king your words cannot be undone,
If you have granted it then I will have a hundred sons
But as you go you take Satyaban’s life,
How will I have his sons if I am someone else’s wife?
Before you go make a fair judgment of this,
And I will follow you no more as you wish.
Hearing of his mistake, Yama was ashamed,
And returned Satyaban’s life fair as he was famed.
Sabitri and Satyaban returned to their home,
And a wife better than Sabitri was never known.

Thus ends the story of Sabitri Satyaban,
Everyone raise your voices with lord Hari’s name.
East medinipur district, Hobichowk is my home.
Singing the pata story of Sabitri Satyaban
I am Niranjan Chitrakar.