Do you see any similarities between chain mails and “satya narayana vrata“? Chain mails, as you know contains a photo or some text about which nobody has proper information or nobody has time to verify. The mail contains direction you need to follow, do it like this or send it to so many people. There will be couple paragraphs that look more like advertising the same e-mail. Time will be specified to do the needful, typically ten minutes. Information will be something like “….This is very rare photograph of sai baba…” or “…
This happens only once in 2000 years …” etc. It will be followed by that stories of people who benefited by forwarding the mail. Next paragraph about the consequences if you fail to do what is needful. Basically chain mail is nothing but a junk which is created to keep the network busy. It works based on the reader’s spiritual/religious/patriotic feeling (any feeling as a matter of fact) into blackmail.
How does Satya Narayana vrata (written as vruta or vrita sometimes) is related to these chain mails. Satya Narayana vrata is one of the very famous Vrata‘s (Indian ritual of fasting/sacrifice, that’s best I can say) lately. Many families (especially new-wed) conducts it on the day of house warming ceremony.
“…In North India the vow is observed by the vast majority of people. It takes about three hours to complete the whole observance. It is generally observed on the full moon day, particularly the Kartik, Vaisakh, Sravan and Chaitra Purnimas and the Shankranti day. It can also be done on new moon days…” Read the more information about how it is celebrated here SatyaNarayanaVrata . There will be a framed photo of Lord Satya Narayana will be placed. Arati, saligrama, tulasi, sandalwood paste etc. etc will be there as usual.
After the pooja is over, the priest will tell stories about the Vrata. The entire story goes like a chine mail you have received this morning. “… so and so had done the vrata, and they got these much money. So and so person has done it twice and he made a big fortune … “etc. After mentioning all the beneficiaries, the losers will come. “So and so person has ignored, and did not do the vrata and he lost his business, his ship sunk etc”. They can mention any kind of possible losses for a common man, right from the loss in business to multiple organ disorders. Nobody can validate, if those things really happened. Questioning is arrogance, the person who is listening will be completely taken hostage emotionally.
The priest will walk away with his pocketful of dakshina (gifts). Now that your neighbor, whom you have invited to attend this function have heard the story. If he ignores, a flying pig will shit on his head (as for the chain mail). So he calls the priest next week. This is how it works. The first story (source above mentioned link) is about how all things started:“…The Story of a Poor Brahmin There was a very poor Brahmin. He was living on alms. Lord Narayana appeared before him in the form of an old Brahmin, asked him to observe the Satya Narayana Vrata and gave him His word of assurance that he would be free from poverty, by observing this Vrata. The Brahmin acted accordingly. All his desires were fulfilled…”
One more story about how it continued:“…The Story of a Wood-cutter the same Brahmin then did the Vrata on a grand scale. A poor wood-cutter entered the compound of the Brahmin to drink some water. The Katha of Satya Narayana was going on. The wood-cutter, attracted only by the skill of the story-teller, sat down and heard it with rapt attention. He also was inspired to observe the Vrata in his house. He took some prasad and ate it.Then he went to the market-place and sold his bundle of fuel. He received double the usual amount for his fuel. He immediately purchased the things that were necessary for the Vrata and observed it along with his family members, with intense faith and devotion. All his desires were fulfilled. He enjoyed everything that was possible on this earth plane. After death he attained the supreme abode of Satya Loka where Truth alone prevails…” Then one more story about the consequence about not continuing the chain. According to the story this is how a GOD treats his children, who forgot to praise him.
“…Lord Narayana felt it was high time He reminded Sadhu of his resolve. One night, while Sadhu was at a place called Ratnasarpur, he was suddenly arrested and imprisoned along with his party by the royal police. The police suspected them to be thieves. At the same time, thieves had robbed the property of Sadhu in his native place. Meanwhile, poor Lilavathi and Kalavathi were leading a miserable life in the streets…” Now that they decided to do satya narayana vrata, they should be given back all the things they lost. If everyone starts doing one or the other vratas our GDP shall grow with 50% percent annually.
“…The king at once released Sadhu and his party from prison, giving them doubles the value for their merchandise. Sadhu came back to his boat and found that all the bags contained jewels again. He worshipped Lord Satya Narayana with intense faith and devotion…”
If you happen to search in history of Sanskrit literature, there will be no mention about this particular ritual anywhere before 1900. (This part of the information came to me from my Sanskrit teachers). No Vedopanishdpuranaas (Vedas, Upanishads and mythologies) and no literature dating before that have any mention of such a thing. Every thing was created; when priests wanted one more way of income. Build a beautiful story, take the IQs of people into hostage, and blackmail them quoting the bad consequences, advertise the fortunes. This makes me wonder, how many rituals present now, do not have any meaning at all? How may of them are created based on interest of a group of people? May be after couple of years one more story will be included in the list of vrata. One person did not put banner linking “satya narayana vrata “in his blog. His blog got spammed. When he resolved to do vrata, his blog won international award!