Scene 1

(King Ashwapati and his daughter Savitri.)

ASHWAPATI: My daughter, you are so beautiful.

SAVITRI: Thank you, Father.

ASHWAPATI: My daughter, you are so spiritual.

SAVITRI: Thank you, Father.

ASHWAPATI: Savitri, I love you more than I love my own life.

SAVITRI: Father, I love you, too, more than I love my own life.

ASHWAPATI: Savitri, you are my All. In you is my realisation of the Truth. In you is the Perfection of my inner life. Do you know, my daughter, why I have named you Savitri?

SAVITRI: No, Father, I do not know.

ASHWAPATI: For many years your mother and I had no child. So I prayed and prayed to the goddess Savitri to grant us a divine child. After a long time the goddess was pleased with me, and gave me the gift I longed for. And that gift is your life, your dedicated life. So it is from the goddess Savitri, my Supreme Mother, that you get your name.

SAVITRI: Father, I am so happy, so proud to hear that. From now on I shall try to identify myself with that Supreme Goddess Savitri, and I shall try to please you in every way.

ASHWAPATI: Savitri, all along you have been pleasing me. You already please me in every way. I am so proud of you. Savitri, now the time has come for you to have a partner. You need a divine consort. I have tried very hard to get a suitable husband for you, but I have not succeeded. It pains me severely, but I don’t see anybody on earth who is really worthy of you.

SAVITRI: Father, forgive me, but you are mistaken.

ASHWAPATI: I will be happy if you can prove that I am mistaken. I really want to be proven wrong, for when I see that you have someone whom you love and who is really worthy of you, I will be the happiest person on earth. Please tell me, my daughter, what is the name of your future husband?

SAVITRI: Father, it is Satyavan.

ASHWAPATI: Who is he?

SAVITRI: Father, he is the son of King Dyumatsen. I am sure you have heard of Dyumatsen. He is the King of Shalva.

ASHWAPATI: Yes, my child, yes. Of course I know of Dyumatsen. But don’t you know that he has been driven out of his kingdom by his enemies? He is now roaming in the forest like a beggar.

SAVITRI: Yes, Father, I know, I know. It was in the forest that I met his son, Satyavan. He has conquered my heart, Father.

ASHWAPATI: My daughter, my Savitri, to please you is to fulfil my soul. But I know that on the physical plane you will suffer much if you marry the son of a beggar. You are embracing poverty, but I am ready to offer all my wealth to make you happy and to make Satyavan’s parents prosperous again. In your happiness is the fulfilment of my life and the manifestation of my soul.

SAVITRI: Father, Father, Father, I am yours. My life is yours. My life-breath is a garland of gratitude which I place at your feet.

(Enter Narada.)

ASHWAPATI: O sage Narada, do you know anything about Satyavan, the son of King Dyumatsen, who is now dethroned and roaming in the forest?

NARADA: Yes, I know, I know. Dyumatsen has now become blind. And his son — I have seen him quite a few times. He is very intelligent, very beautiful, very spiritual and divine. In every way he is a great, most promising young man.

ASHWAPATI: I am so happy, so happy to hear you say this, because my daughter wants to marry him.

NARADA: Savitri? Savitri wishes to marry Satyavan?

(Savitri looks down, embarrassed.)

SAVITRI: O sage, please tell me, what is wrong with that? What is disturbing you?

NARADA: Nothing is wrong with me, but everything is wrong with you, O Savitri.

SAVITRI: Please, please tell me what is wrong with me?

NARADA: Savitri, you have no vision of the future. But I do have that vision, and I tell you that Satyavan is going to die soon. Savitri, he will live on earth only for one fleeting year.

ASHWAPATI: Only one year, one year? And then I have to see my daughter a widow? Impossible, impossible!

SAVITRI: Father, just a few minutes ago you told me that to please me is to fulfil your soul. Now you are changing your mind. Father, real love does not care for earthly years. I love him, and that is all. I do not need anything more from my life. If my Satyavan is destined to live only for one year, I am fully prepared to accept him as my husband for that short time. If he dies, what can I do? To see him, to be with him for as long as I can, is the only thing I need in my life.

ASHWAPATI: My daughter, I am all for you. You want him; that is more than enough. I am going to speak to his father, Dyumatsen, and then we shall make arrangements for your wedding.

NARADA: Savitri, on the day you get married, start counting the days. When one year is completed, you will lose your husband. But my blessing will be with you, Savitri, because you are most devoted to him.

SAVITRI: Bless me, O sage. Satyavan, Satyavan! He is my heart’s light; he is my soul’s sun.