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The Power of Chastity

Adapted from Garuòa and Märkaëòeya
Garuòa Puräëa 1.142.19-29 tells the story of a
Brahmin named Kaushik who lived in the city
Kaushik was afflicted with leprosy, but still his
wife, Sandili, worshiped him like a god. She was
very chaste and faithful to her husband. Even when
he rebuked her, she never ceased to consider him
her worshipable deity.
One evening, Kaushik instructed his wife to take
him to the house of a prostitute. Obeying his order,
Sandili brought a quantity of money with her, and
carrying her husband on her shoulders, set off.
On the path, the sage Mandavya, who had been
wrongly accused and then punished by the king for
being a thief [see Bindu 203], was sitting impaled on
a pointed lance which penetrated his body all the
way to his head. Not seeing him in the darkness,
Sandili came too close to him and her husband’s
foot accidentally bumped the sage. Mandavya
became furious and cursed him, saying, “He who
kicked me with his foot shall die at sunrise.”
Hearing this, Sandili said, “If I am truly chaste
then the sun will no longer rise.”
The balance of the story is given in the sixteenth
chapter of Märkaëòeya Puräëa:
Don’t Think It’s Exaggeration
Çré Hari-bhakti-viläsa 11.515
yan-näma-kértana-phalaà vividhaà niçamya
na çraddadhäti manute yad utärtha-vädam
yo mänuñas tam iha duùkha-caye kñipämi
[The Supreme Lord to Baudhayana] Unto
those who do not believe in the results of
chanting the holy names of the Lord that are
described in the revealed scriptures, but rather
consider them to be an exaggeration, I personally
inflict upon them various sufferings and
throw them into the ocean of miseries in this
material world. ·
— Çré Hari-bhakti-viläsa. By Sanatan Goswami. Translated by
Bhumipati Das. Ras Bihari Lal & Sons. Vrindavan. 2006
Sri Krishna-kathamrita Bindu Issue Two Hundred Five, Page — 3 Top left 3
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 
The next morning, the sun did not rise, nor the
rest of that day, nor the next. A constant night
continued for many years. Terrified, and not understanding
what was happening, the demigods approached
Lord Brahma for help. He told them, “The
sun cannot rise due to the greatness of a pativratä,
a chaste wife. The power of austerity [referring to
Mandavya Muni] has been defeated by the power
of chastity [Sandili]. If you desire to return things
to normal then you must approach Anasuya, the
great lady ascetic and faithful wife of Atri Muni. If
she is pleased with you then she can arrange for
the sun to again rise.”
The demigods then went to Anasuya, offered
homage to her, and requested her to restore the
system of days and nights as it was before. She
replied, “O devas, so as not to diminish the greatness
of a chaste wife in any way, I shall make the
sun rise again, but only after honoring that virtuous
lady. I will both reestablish the cycles of day and
night, and simultaneously make sure that the good
wife and her husband are not destroyed.”
Anasuya then went to Sandili, and said, “O
blessed woman! I hope that you rejoice upon seeing
your husband’s face. May you consider your
husband to be greater than all of the gods! I have
achieved the greatest rewards simply by faithfully
following my husband. By my service to him, all
of my desires have been fulfilled and all obstructions
removed from my path. Everything that can
be obtained by a man with great effort is obtained
by a woman simply by dedication to her spouse.
Therefore, you should always focus on serving
your husband.”
Pativratä Sandili replied, “O best of the chaste
women, we are blessed to receive your merciful
glance and kind instructions. I assure you that service
to my husband is my life. Please tell me why
you have come and how we may serve you?”
Anasuya said, “Due to your vow, the natural
order of day and night has stopped. Because of
this, no one has been able to do sacrifice [which is
supposed to take place during the day] and all of
the devas have been deprived of the regular offerings
from mankind. The devas have begged me to
restore the system of day and night. That is why I
have come to you.
“O virtuous woman, due to the absence of the
sun and daytime, the devas are not getting any
nourishment. Consequently, there is an absence
of rain, and the entire world faces destruction. So,
I’m appealing to you, good woman, to alleviate
the distress of the world. Let the sun run its normal
course as before.”
Hearing her words, Sandili, the devoted wife of
Kausika, hung her head and said, “Please forgive
me, but how can I agree to your request? The angry
sage Mandavya cursed my husband to die as soon
as the sun rises. If I withdraw my words then my
husband will lose his life.”
Anasuya then told her, “O chaste woman, if you
like I can restore your husband’s life and give him a
fresh, youthful body free from leprosy. O beautiful
lady, I am dedicated to glorifying chaste women,
and therefore I desire to honor you.”
Sandili agreed to her request. Then, taking sacred
water in her hand, in that dark night that had been
continuing for many years, Anasuya invoked the
sun. Then Bhagavan Vivasvan, the sun, rose and
shone with his full glories.
At that moment, the Brahmin Kausik fell to the
ground dead. Seeing the lifeless form of her beloved
husband, Sandili embraced his body and
began to wail.
Anasuya comforted her, “Good woman, do not lament.
Witness the power I have acquired by serving
my husband! On the strength of my chastity to my
husband, by the power acquired by fully devoting
my body, mind, and speech to his service, may
this Brahmin live again as a young man free from
all disease for one hundred years in the company
of his wife.”
In this way, the sun was restored to the universe,
and the Brahmin Kausik’s life was saved. Pleased
with Anasuya for her efforts, the demigods offered
her a boon of her choice. Anasuya replied that she
wanted the three guëa-avatäras, Brahma, Vishnu,
and Shiva, to be born as her children. The Çrémad
Bhägavatam (4.1.15) thus describes:
Issue Two Hundred Five, Page
Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu
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atreù patny anasüyä tréï jajïe suyaçasaù sutän
dattaà durväsasaà somam ätmeça-brahma-sambhavän
Anasuya, the wife of Atri Muni, gave birth to three
very famous sons — Soma, Dattatreya and Durvasa
— who were partial representations of Lord Vishnu,
Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Soma was a partial
representation of Lord Brahma, Dattatreya was a
partial representation of Lord Vishnu, and Durvasa
was a partial representation of Lord Shiva. ·
— Garuòa Puräëa. English translation by a board of scholars.
Edited by Prof. J. L. Shastri. Motilal Banarsidass. Delhi. 1978.
— Mandakranta Bose. Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval,
and Modern India. Published by Oxford University Press. New
York. 2000.
— Märkaëòeya Mahäpuräëam, With Hindi translation by
Pandit Kanayalal Mishra. Published by Hindi Sahitya Sammelan.
Prayag. 1996
— Çrémad Bhägavatam. English translation and commentary by
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Singapore. 1982.

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