Sri Satyanarayan Katha

Stories of Devotion for Lord Vishnu

Lord Satyanarayan being worshiped by devotees and saints.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says: “One who knows my divine birth and activities will not be born again.” Hindus consider Sri Satyanarayan Katha or the divine story of Lord Vishnu as one such activity that can ensure the liberation of the soul and help one attain Moksha.

Sri Satyanarayan Katha forms a vital and integral part of the Satyanarayan Vrata Puja – the ritual fast and worship or Lord Vishnu.

It begins with the concerns of Narad Muni who is disturbed by the sufferings of people on earth due to their wrong or evil actions. So, Lord Vishnu recapitulates the teachings from the Law of Karma to Narad. Our good actions reward us with fruits of joy on this earth. Similarly, the wrong actions produce negative fruits in the form of sufferings. 

It is necessary to understand that sufferings are also beneficial to the individual as they make one introspect about the reason of the sufferings. The goal is to lead the individual to a higher spiritual plane and end in recognizing ‘parama atman’ or absolute soul. All living beings are programmed to achieve this goal. Good actions quicken the process while wrong actions result in various sufferings and slow down the process – however that too, is to teach the individual the true goal of life.

Divine souls never ask God just to bless them. Their actions always benefit others and the society in general.

The sufferings due to our wrong actions can be quite prolonged. Sri Satyanarayan Vrata or vow acts as a catalyst to overcome and end such prolonged suffering much more quickly by showering the worshiper with God’s blessings and lead a peaceful life. Goddess Lakshmi confers her grace on the worshiper with the righteous wishes and aspirations of the worshiper being fulfilled.

Such is the compassion of Lord Narayan.

The fast should be undertaken with love and faith. Chanting the name of God together with friends is the main goal of the Vrata. The family or individual taking part in the Vrata is expected to follow a righteous and divine path of life. The individual must not harm others knowing that they are all forms of the great divine being. It also requires the worshiper to help others through ‘seva’ or service in all walks of life. The worshiper should constantly try to go within and recognize the divine qualities of love, compassion and happiness.

It is important for the devotee to know that all the possessions and wealth are the blessings of God. They need to be accepted from the Lord as his grace or 'prasada.’ The worshiper must renounce worldly possessions, and more importantly, share these with others in need. Everything in life needs to be accepted as the ‘prasada’ of the Lord. It is not wealth or ego but true faith and devotion that bring us close to God. 

In the words of Swami Sivananda: “He who observes this Vrata, which is even being observed by the Gods themselves, with faith, devotion and self-surrender; he who hears the sacred story of Lord Satyanarayan with faith and devotion; he who attends the worship and eats the prasada — he certainly attains health, wealth and joy.

He is uplifted from the mire of worldliness and the clutches of death. He finally abides in the Truth. In the Kali Yuga, worship of the Lord through the Satyanarayan Vrata makes one happy, peaceful and prosperous. This is the truth described in the ancient epics.”

All devotees attending the ‘puja’ or ritual are given the ‘prasada’ with respect. The performers of the ‘puja’ take the ‘prasad’ with humility, devotion, and love and vow to discard all the negative feelings of hatred, jealousy, and greed. Thus they get their wishes fulfilled.

NEXT PAGE: Read the stories that comprise Sri Satyanarayan Katha retold by Babita Thakker

There was an old and poor Brahmin in the city of Kashi or Varanasi. He was a man of virtue and good character but was extremely poor. Lord Vishnu came to him in the guise of an old Brahmin priest and inquired, “Tell me my friend, how can I help you?" The Brahmin replied, "I am an old and poor man and I shall be grateful if you can tell me how to get rid of this poverty of mine which does not seem to leave me.” The Lord replied, "Perform your actions with complete love and devotion from now on and observe this Vrata or ritual fast and you will see a difference.

The poor man now wanted to keep the Vrata. He pondered over the thoughts of the Lord and went to bed. Again in the morning he had the same thoughts and he said to himself, "Whatever I earn today I shall use it to perform the Vrata". On that day the Brahmin received plenty of money. Very pleased, he bought the Puja items and performed the Vrata.

He found peace within and shared this story with everybody in the village. Since he started worshiping, doing his actions with love and faith he had good results and he did not ever have to beg from others. The Lord does not want our material possessions but is won by the genuineness of our feelings.

Moral: Perform your actions with full love and devotion. Do not act with an attitude of inferiority or superiority, or with worries or doubts in your heart. Love God and thank him for everything you have and do your actions properly. Good always brings forth good.

[Sri Satyanarayan Katha as retold by Babita Thakker]

Once there was a good king. He was wedded to truth, good conduct and sense-control. Every day he used to visit the temple, worship the Lord, and distribute alms to the needy. Once he was performing Sri Satyanarayan Vrata on the banks of a river when there came a merchant in a ship loaded with precious goods. He approached the king and was curious to know about the puja and wanted to understand the reasons and fruits of performing the ritual.

The king explained, "My friend, what we are doing is a Vrata called Sri Satyanarayana Puja. We are worshiping Lord Narayana or Maha Vishnu".

The merchant said, "Please tell me in detail how to perform this Vrata. As I have not been fortunate to have a child even after many years of marriage, I would like to pray for a child." The king told him about the Vrata in detail and the merchant returned home. He narrated it all to his wife and they took a resolution to perform this Vrata and fast once they have a child.

Sometime later his wife Lilavati became pregnant and delivered a girl who was named Kalavati.  Lilavati reminded her husband about the Vrata but he was quite casual about it and kept on postponing it. On Lilavati’s persuasion, he convinced her that they would now perform the puja on the auspicious occasion of their daughter’s wedding. Years went by and his daughter grew of age and was ready to be married.

The merchant found a suitable groom and married his daughter off, and in all the preparations and celebrations, again forgot to perform the Vrata.

The merchant and his wife Lilavati had not kept their promise they had given to the Lord twenty years ago. They developed a habit of saying things and not keeping their promises.

The merchant had all that he desired for but the merchant had forgotten to worship God and do good deeds of charity. The Lord now wanted to remind him.

The law of Karma applies to all living beings. Due to all this wrong karmas their family had been doing, it was now time to pay for the wrong karmas and go through some difficulties. They witnessed a big loss in their business, and started getting health problems. The merchant’s wife remembered that they are paying for their own wrong deeds and so she took the first step of correcting it.

They decided to do the Satyanarayan Vrata, reconsidered that 'God is All,' and started following the rules of living righteously. Gradually, their conditions improved and they all lived happily again.

Moral: Promises are meant to be kept. Always keep your word. Think before talking and giving your word. Once you say something try your best to keep your word, do not become selfish and forget what you had told.

[Sri Satyanarayan Katha as retold by Babita Thakker]

The merchant still was not able to give up his habit of not keeping his word and lying. The merchant and his son-in-law were once returning from a business trip with a ship full of precious merchandise. Lord Vishnu in order to test him again, comes in the form of a ‘Sanyasi’ or old saint and inquires about what is the cargo in his ship. The merchant simply bluffs and says that it contains only dried leaves.

To this, the saint smiles and says, "Tathasthu – So be it!”

When the merchant goes back to the ship he finds that all his goods have turned into dried leaves. The merchant falls unconscious with the shock and when he regains his consciousness he realizes that these are doings of the saint whom he had lied to earlier. He goes and finds him and begs for forgiveness. The ever-merciful Lord again forgives him.

The merchant sends a messenger to Lilavati his wife, to let her know that they are on their way home. Lilavati tells her daughter Kalavati to complete the Satyanarayan Puja they were performing and goes ahead to receive them. Kalavati does the Puja, but in a hurry to meet her husband, she neglects to take care of feeding the guests.

She too reaches too see them and tells her husband that she had quickly wrapped up everything to meet him. The merchant who has now learned the importance of being truthful and keeping your given word, explains to his daughter that what you did is not a righteous action.

It is important to complete the task in your hand and then run for other things. After reaching home, the family worships and takes the prasada together. Kalavati also takes the prasada with all faith and reverence. She personally carries the prasada to all her friends and even distributes it among the other villagers.

Moral: Do not ever lie even for the sake of just a quick thoughtless answer. Lying is a wrong habit. Always complete a given task in the best manner and perform your actions with sincerity and faith.

[Sri Satyanarayan Katha as retold by Babita Thakker]

This is the story of a good and righteous king, and yet, because he became egoistic, he had to suffer.

Once, this king was returning from the forest. He rested for a while under a tree when he saw that a few yards away a small group of cowherds had gathered to perform Sri Satyanarayan Puja. They did not have anything except their daily bread that they were had with them, yet they performed the ritual with full devotion.

At the end, they offered the prasada to the king, who out of contempt and pride did not respect it and rudely left the place.

God does not like when you start treating others wrongly. God exists in all and everybody’s faith and love should be respected.

The king was getting into the wrong habit of feeling superior and this habit slowly caused him lots of suffering as years went by. As his sufferings increased, he contemplated and remembered to perform the Satyanarayan Vrata himself which inspired him to live a righteous life according to Dharma.

Slowly and steadily he kept improving himself, to become humble and honest. He realized that God is the controller of this world and every human being has God within. His ego started to disappear and he became kind and learned to respect all. Thus his difficulties went away.

Moral: The law of Karma applies to all. No one can escape from it, and prayers help us to gain wisdom if the rituals and the prayers are done with proper attitude. One who takes the effort to follow the righteous path of honesty, hard work and kindness, and does the Vrata by fasting on the full moon, being grateful to God and remembering Him with love on that day, and reads the stories to re-emphasize the morals of life and then eats the ‘Saatvik’ food served to God; such a devotee will be bestowed with wisdom and grace of God. 

[Sri Satyanarayan Katha as retold by Babita Thakker]