Sathybhama’s father is Satrajit. Satrajit is a great devotee of Surya, the Sun God. They were also great friends. Surya gives him a jewel, the Syamantaka from Surya as a token of his affection. He wears this on his neck as he enters Dwarka. It shone as brightly as the sun itself. His brilliance blinded the eyes from the distance. Everyone assumed Satrajit to be the sun god himself.
People approached Sri Krishna ‘O Lord of the Universe! He (Satrajit) is blinding everyone’s eyes with intense effulgent rays’ they said. The Lord smiled and said ‘This is not the sun god but Satrajit who is glowing because of the jewel.’ Satrajit later installed the jewel in his prayer room. One day Sri Krishna requested that Syamantaka be given to the King of Yadu but Satrajit refuses.
One day, Satrajit’s brother, Prasena, wearing the brilliant jewel during a hunting trip, was killed by a lion. One Jambavan, a mythical character, killed the lion and took possession of the jewel, only to give it to his daughter to play with. Now Krishna, is falsely accused of killing Prasena to get the jewel by back-hand trick. That accusation causes a blemish on the Lords impeccable life.
So he wages war against Jambavan and a fist fight ensues. Realising that he was physically embroiled with the Lord, Jambavan apologises to ‘The Ultimate Creator of All Creators....you are the Subduer of all Subduers, the Supreme Lord and Supreme Souls of all Souls’. Thus addressed, Jambavan happily honoured Lord Krishna by offering him his maiden daughter Jambavathi together with the Syamantaka jewel.
Krishna had been gone for 12 days and the people of Dwarka, prayed to Chandrabhaga, Durga’s manifestation for his safe return. Just then Krishna appears with his new bride Jambavathi wearing the Syamantaka jewel. All were filled with joy. Satrajit was summoned to the palace. He hung his head in great shame takes the jewel back. However he was in remorse and was cursed by the populace. “How can I cleanse myself of my contamination and how many Lord Achyuta to become satisfied with me?” Thus saying, Satrajit gave the jewel to Sri Krishna together with his daughter Sathyabama. Sathyabama married Krishna in a proper religious fashion. She possessed excellent behaviour, along with exquisite beauty, broad mindedness and all other virtues. She is known for her strong willed personality and heated melo-dramas with Krishna.
Sathyabhama was the most feisty of the Ashta-Bharyas. She was adept in the warfare of archery. She was also known for her temper tantrums. One day the sage Narada appears. He is known to cause confusions wherever or whenever he appears. This time around it he brings a Parijata flower to cause confusion. As he appeared, Sathyabama was decorating herself awaiting Sri Krishna’s arrival. She is prided with her looks and yet was jealous of Rukumani.
Narada sang praise of Rukmani and gifted the heavenly parijata flower to her. This upsets Sathyabama; she also insisted to have one. After all Narada had whispered into Sathyabhama that being more charming than Rukmani, as younger queen, she deserved more attention. ‘The parijata grows exquisitely in the spiritual world and heavenly planets’ so she tells Krishna ‘and ‘I want one too’. The Lord has a million things to do! But if tantra does not work, Sathyabhama, like all married women, had her special mantra, in Tamil, the ‘thalayanai-mantra’ – pillow mantra! How would the Lord not oblige. So to fulfil her wishes, Sri Krishna, much against the wishes of Lord Indra, brought a parijata tree from Swarkalokha and had it planted it in Sathyabama’s palace garden in Dwarka. You see Krishna had made a pledge to Vishnu that he would keep Sathyabama happy at all times.
Once envy takes the better part of Sathyabhama. The sage Narada, yet again adds fuel to fire when he quietly tells Sathya that Krishna’s love towards her is fake. Upon being asked to prove, Narada tricks her into accepting a vrata to give Krishna away in charity and reclaim him by giving wealth equivalent to his weight. This is the Thulabharam tale. Sri Krishna watches the fun. He is given away in charity to Narada despite the other wives pleading not to do so. So much gold and ornaments have been added on the other pan but showed no signs of tipping the scale.
Krishna mocks Sathyabhama’s ego that he is to become Narada’s possession and slave; the wives are to suffer the separation. Sathyabhama finally swallows her pride to seek out Rukmani. She rushes to Rukmani’s private chambers and pours out the dire state of affairs. Rukmani is cool. On the way, she passes by a Tulasi Maadam and plucks a single leaf and continued her way to the hall. She prays to Krishna and places a tulasi leaf on the pan. The pan containing Krishna flew up and remained underbalanced.
Puranic stories have spiritual philosophy built in. Sathyabama looks to Krishna for an explanation. “Try removing your riches, Bhama” says the Lord lovingly. With much scepticism, Bhama removed everything from the pan except the tulasi leaf. The scale tipped. “When you gave all your riches for me, there was no devotion in that offering; just possessiveness. On the other hand Rukumani offered just a leaf. But her intentions were noble and the leaf placed with utmost devotion towards me.” Thus through Narada’s confusions, Bhama learnt the power of devotion and love towards the lord. The tale thus speaks the glory of tulasi, devotion to the Lord and the fact that Rukmani was calling the shots in the Dwarka palaces. It is not so much what is offered to God or its value but it is the bhavana. Love is God and God is Love.
Lord Krishna expands Himself in innumerable ways. Just as Radharani is the unlimited expansion of Krishna, Vishnupriya is also an expansion of Sri Krishna. Later day Vaishnavite writings would state that, in Gauranga lila, Satrajit became Sanatana Mishra, a great Vishnu bhakta. Sathyabama became Vishnupriya Devi. She was popularised by the Sankritan movement initiated by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya was an excellent proponent of bhakti school under Gaudiya Vaishnavism. He is revered as as an avatar of Sri Krishna and claimed by ardent followers to have exhibited the Universal Form of Sri Krishna on several occasions. Chaitanya emphasised on pure love of Krishna as the ultimate goal of human life. Siksastaka, a prayer of eight verses under Gaudiya Vaishnava school, is his only writing.
Srimati Vishnupriya is said to be the second wife of the Lord but is also said to be the manifestation of Radharani. Once Vishnupriya lost her nose-rings and hurt her foot. That set her weeping. Wiping her tears with his garment, Chaitanya embraced her and told her that Lord Sri Krishna is the supreme Husband of all – ‘your name is Vishnupriya, she who is dear to Lord Vishnu. Please make your name true to yourself. Please do not torment yourself with worries of the world or what they will say. Dedicate your mind and body to serving Sri Hari.’ After his departure, Vishunupriya lived her life in the slow burning agony of separation from Sri Gauranga but led a very strict spiritual life.
Vishnu tatva has three energies, Sri – Goddess Lakshmi; Bhu – Goddess of Earth and Nila or Lila – Goddess of Pastimes. Lakshmi is Vishnu’s Sri-sakti and Vishnupriya is his Bhu-sakti, the energy that creates the cosmic manifestation. Knowledge is of two kinds: apara vidya or material knowledge and para-vidya or transcendental knowledge. Vishnupriya Devi is the personification of transcendental knowledge. Hari Om