Scene 4

(Savitri and Satyavan are in the thick of the forest. Satyavan has just plucked a few fruits, unripe, which they both are eating.)

SAVITRI: Do you come here every day? This place is not safe. I hear the sounds of ferocious animals. How do you come home safely?

SATYAVAN: Savitri, you have more faith in God than I have. It is God who protects me. It is God who has given me the strength to cut down the trees and make fuel. We are poor, Savitri, you know, but there was a time when we were rich and my father used to rule the Kingdom of Shalva. Now the days of outer prosperity are gone, but the days of inner prosperity have started. This last year, since you have come into my life, has been all Joy, all Love, all Delight, all Divinity. Savitri, you have transformed our inner kingdom. Before we met you, our inner kingdom was the kingdom of worries, but now it is the Kingdom of Light and Delight. Our outer kingdom was the kingdom of frustration; now it is the Kingdom of Joy and Fulfilment. (Pauses.) Savitri, I have finished eating. Now you observe, while I go and cut down trees.

(Savitri meditates with folded hands, silently looking at Surya, the sun god.)

SAVITRI (in a low voice): O God, Lord Surya, O Sun, today is the last day of my husband’s life. Protect him, protect him. Narada told me that today would be my husband’s last day. I know the prophecy of the sage Narada can never prove false. But, O Lord Surya, you can save me, you can save my husband. I pray to you.

(She begins chanting Surya’s name. Satyavan comes over to where she is sitting.)

SATYAVAN: Savitri, I feel extremely tired. I don’t know why, but I am unable to move. My hands have no strength at all. My feet have lost all strength; I can’t stand up.

(Satyavan falls to the ground. Savitri takes her husband’s head on her lap. Enter the King of Death, Yamaraj, tall and stout.)

SAVITRI: Who are you?

YAMARAJ: I am Yamaraj, the King of Death.

SAVITRI: What brings you here?

YAMARAJ: Your husband’s life has ended.

SAVITRI: I was told that it is your messengers who come to take people away. How is it that you have come yourself, O King of Death?

YAMARAJ: Your husband led a most devoted, spiritual and divine life. That is why I personally have come instead of sending my messengers. Savitri, now your husband is my possession. I am taking him with me.

(Satyavan rises and follows Yamaraj, like a sleepwalker. Savitri follows Yamaraj and Satyavan.)

YAMARAJ: What are you doing? Where are you going?

SAVITRI: I am Satyavan’s wife. Wherever my husband goes, I have to go.

YAMARAJ: Go home. You will not be able to come with us. I will not take you: your time has not come. We will walk very fast. We will disappear.

SAVITRI: O King of Death, be compassionate. I have been all devotion to my husband. I want to be with him. Now, can you not take me also? To live without my husband is impossible for me. Take me with you, please. Do me this favour. I am at your feet.

YAMARAJ: Savitri, don’t be so silly. I cannot do that. But if you go home, I will give Satyavan’s father back his eyesight. I will grant you that boon, if you will go home now.

SAVITRI: Thank you. I am so grateful that you will give my father-in-law back his eyesight. But I cannot leave my husband. I want to go with him.

(Savitri has been following Yamaraj for a long time. She is becoming exhausted, but she will not stop.)

YAMARAJ: Savitri, I am ready to give you any boon you want, but I tell you, I can’t take you with me, nor can I give back your husband’s life.

SAVITRI: O Yamaraj, either take me with you wherever you carry my husband, or give his life back to me. I will not leave him.

YAMARAJ: Savitri, your love for your husband is unique. I shall give you another boon. I shall bless you with one hundred sons. These sons will make you happy.

SAVITRI: O Yamaraj, what kind of boon are you offering me? How will I have one hundred sons without a husband? How is it possible? I have been all faithfulness, all devotion to my husband. You know, during this one year of our marriage, what kind of life I have led.

YAMARAJ: Savitri, forgive me. Forgive me.

SAVITRI: O Yamaraj, I do not want to have one hundred sons. Even if you give my husband’s life back, I do not want a hundred sons. I want only my husband. My husband is all I need. Either give his life back to me so that we can go home where his old blind father is waiting for us, or allow me to go with you wherever you carry him. I shall follow your footsteps. I am tired, I am exhausted, but I am prepared to die while following my beloved husband.

YAMARAJ: Savitri, your faithfulness, your devotion, your love have pleased me. Yours is the life of love, yours is the life of devotion. Your life has taught humanity what love is, inseparable love, divine love. Your life has taught and will teach humanity what devoted oneness is. Savitri, I give you your husband.

(Yamaraj touches the forehead of Satyavan and disappears.)

SATYAVAN: Where am I, Savitri? I don’t recognise this place. Where have you brought me? Where am I?

SAVITRI: Is this place new to you?

SATYAVAN: Totally new. I have never seen this place. How did you bring me here?

SAVITRI: Well, I shall tell you tomorrow how I brought you here.

SATYAVAN: I was fast asleep, Savitri. Why didn’t you wake me up? True, I was exhausted, but I would have got up. I would not have been offended. Now what will Father think of us? He will think that both of us today have been very immature. Poor Father, I am sure he is thinking of us, he is missing us. Every day in the evening I come back home. Now it is already night. Father will think that, just because today we have been together in the forest, we have forgotten all about him.

SAVITRI: I shall speak to your father. I shall ask him for his forgiveness and he will surely grant it.

SATYAVAN: But tell me, tell me, how have I come here? How is it that we are here? This place is so unfamiliar.

SAVITRI: I will tell you all about it, O Satyavan, O Lord of my life. Let us go home, let us go home. I have a sweet story to tell you. This story will give you immense joy. Let us go home. Father is waiting. He needs us desperately. Let us go home.