Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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SATADHANU. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] A king who had a virtuous and discreet wife named Saibya. They were both worshippers of Vishnu. One day they met a heretic, with whom Satadhanu conversed; but the wife "turned away from him and cast her eyes up to the sun." After a time Satadhanu and his wife ascended his funeral pile. The wife was born again as a princess with a knowledge of her previous existence, but the husband received the form of a dog. She recognized him in this form and placed the bridal garland on his neck. Then she reminded him of his previous existence and of the fault which had caused his degradation. He was greatly humiliated and died from a broken spirit. After that, he was born successively as a jackal, a wolf, a crow, and a peacock. In each form his wife recognized him, reminded him of his sin, and urged him to make efforts for restoration to his former dignity. At length, "he was born as the son of a person of distinction," and Saibya then elected him as her bridegroom; and having "again invested him with the character of her husband, they lived happily together." When he died she again followed him in death, and both "ascended beyond the sphere of Indra to the regions where all desires are for ever gratified." "This legend," says Wilson, "is peculiar to the Vishnu Purana, although the doctrine it inculcates is to be found elsewhere.

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