Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 43 (2010)
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Chastity is the Hallmark of a Woman

Realize that you and I are one
Everybody is afraid of Yama, god of death. He goes about in every corner of the world and takes away the life principle of those whose life sojourn on earth comes to an end.
Chastity endows women with immense power
When Yama took the life of Savitri’s husband Satyavan, Savitri was full of grief and prayed to him to bring her husband back to life. She said, “You either give back my husband’s life or take my life also. I cannot live without my husband; we are one”.
When Yama wanted to go away after taking the life of her husband, Savitri blocked his way and did not allow him to move. Yama had no choice but to listen to her prayer. He asked her, “Mother! What do you want”?
“Give my husband back to me because it is not possible for me to live without him,” said Savitri. Ultimately, Yama had to yield to her prayer and revive Satyavan. Yama not only brought Satyavan back to life but granted many boons also to both Savitri and Satyavan, happy as he was with the chastity and determination of Savitri. It was because of her power of chastity that Savitri could bring her dead husband back to life.
Chandramati was another great woman of the sacred land of Bharat (India) who set a shining example of chastity in the world. When she, along with her husband Harischandra and son, was crossing a forest, it was suddenly engulfed in wild fire, which threatened their life. Then Chandramati prayed, “If I am truly a chaste woman and have been adhering to dharma all my life, let this wild fire be extinguished”. And lo and behold, the fire was extinguished in a trice, and the entire forest became calm and serene. So great is the power of penance and chastity of a chaste woman!
But she was always humble and expressed gratitude to God, saying, “It is by the grace of God that I have been able to uphold the dharma of a chaste woman.” She always followed her husband and could never bear separation from him even for a moment. That is the hallmark of a chaste woman. Both husband and wife should live together in harmony whole of their life.
(Here Bhagavan narrated the story of King Harischandra and his chaste wife Chandramati, who, in spite of undergoing untold sufferings, upheld the virtues of truth and righteousness and set a shining example of virtuous life.)
This land of Bharat (India) has given birth to many noble women, like
Damayanti, who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity, and
Sita, who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed.
(Telugu Poem)
Life finds fulfillment when husband and wife live in unity
When Sita was put to the fire test, the fire god himself manifested out of it and told Rama, “Sita is a woman of great chastity.” There were many women of chastity in the sacred land of Bharat, like Sita, Chandramati, Damayanti, and Savitri. People are afraid of Yama, the god of death, but Yama is afraid of the women of chastity. Just as Savitri could bring her dead husband back to life by the power of her chastity, Sita could also come out of blazing fire unscathed by the power of her chastity.
All these examples of chaste women of Bharat set the ideal that for a woman her husband is God. These ideals set by such chaste women made India a teacher of the world and leader of all nations. Except in Bharat, in which country of the world do you find examples of women who brought their dead husbands back to life? Even if you search the entire world, you cannot find such chaste women. Such is the sacredness of this land of Bharat. That is why God loves to incarnate in Bharat.
Just as women should observe dharma for a chaste woman (patrivrata dharma), men should also adhere to dharma for an ideal husband (sativrata dharma). A woman must be a chaste woman, so also her husband, an ideal husband.
The wife should never go against the command of her husband; similarly, the husband should conduct himself according to the wishes of his wife and should look after her with great love.
But, unfortunately, only a few men today observe dharma for an ideal husband, though a large number of women adhere to dharma for a chaste woman. God is pleased with those women who observe dharma for a chaste woman.
When there is unity between husband and wife, they can achieve anything and find fulfillment in life. Draupadi had five husbands, and she considered them as her five life-breaths. Women today should observe chastity like Sita, Savitri, Draupadi, and Damayanti. It is the sacred land of Bharat where you find such a large number of chaste women and nowhere else. People who leave such a sacred land and go to other countries waste their life.
You say, my body, my handkerchief, so on and so forth. But who is this ‘my’? That is the Self or I. I means Atma. Without realising the Atma, all spiritual practices like rituals and sacrifices are of no use. You say, this is mine and that is thine. What is the use of doing any spiritual practice unless you give up the feelings of mine and thine? Get rid of the narrow feelings of mine and thine and realise that you and I are one.
Selected Excerpts From This Discourse
Story

1. Harishchandra’s Strict Adherence To Truth

Chandramati extended full cooperation in every way to her husband Harishchandra, who gave away his entire kingdom to Sage Viswamitra in charity and became a pauper without having even a single paisa with him. When Sage Viswamitra asked Harishchandra to give him money offerings (dakshina) after getting his kingdom in charity, Harishchandra prayed to him to give him some time to pay the money offerings. Leaving his kingdom, Harishchandra went to Kasi along with his wife and son Lohitasva to earn money to pay the offering to the sage. Finding no other way to pay the offering, he sold his wife and son to a Brahmin. Being a queen, Chandramati had never done any household work, but she was asked to do menial work of washing the dishes and cleaning the house by the Brahmin. Harishchandra himself took up the job of a caretaker of a cremation ground. The owner of the cremation ground assigned him the work of collecting tax from those who came to the cremation ground to cremate dead bodies. One day, the Brahmin sent Lohitasva along with other children to the forest to collect grass (darbha), to be used in worship. There, he was bitten by a snake and died. The other children brought his dead body to Chandramati. Since she had to finish the household work before taking the dead body of her son to the cremation ground, it was night when she reached the cremation ground with her son’s dead body. When the caretaker of the cremation ground, who was none other than her husband, Harishchandra, asked her to pay the tax for cremating her son’s body, she told him that she had no money to pay the tax. Seeing her wedding necklace (mangalsutra) around her neck, Harishchandra said, “How do you say you have no money? I see the wedding necklace you are wearing”. On hearing this, she thought to herself, “Only my husband can see my wedding necklace, no one else”. She asked him, “Aren’t you my husband, Harishchandra”? Harishchandra replied in the affirmative; he was grief-stricken on coming to know about the death of their only son. However, he told her that he could allow her to cremate the dead body of their son only when she paid the tax. Since she had no money to give, she took out her wedding necklace to give it to him. At that very moment, Lord Siva manifested there. He praised Harishchandra for his strict adherence to truth and told him that all this was a divine play to show to the people of the world that there were still some highly exalted persons in the world who followed truth scrupulously. He also brought their dead son, Lohitasva, back to life. Meanwhile, Viswamitra also came there. He returned the kingdom of Harishchandra to him and told him that he had done all this to test his commitment to truth. Thus, Harishchandra demonstrated the divine quality of truth. Truth is God.
Topic

2. Real Significance of Ugadi / New Year

Today is Ugadi, the first day of the first month of Indian calendar (Chaitra Masa). It denotes the commencement of New Year. In fact, Ugadi means the beginning of a new era.

But Ugadi is not the real beginning of a new era; the real new era commences when a person has new and noble thoughts. Therefore, look within and experience God, who is present in your heart. That is the real celebration of Ugadi.