Maha Sati Anasuya is generally quoted as the model of chastity. She was the wife of Atri Maharishi, a great sage and one of the Sapta Rishis (Sapta means seven and rishis mean sages in Sanskrit). She was well established in Pativrata Dharma.
Maha Sati:– Maha means great or big; Sati means Sati” means a virtuous woman. So Maha Sati means great virtuous woman.
Pativrata Dharma:– ‘Pati’ means ‘husband’ and ‘Vrata’ means ‘vow’- Pativratam is a great vow for a woman. A Partivrata is a chaste woman who have taken the vow of ‘Pativratam’ who sticks to her Partivrata Dharma, even at the risk of her own life. Who is faithfully devoted to her husband, who she worships him as a lord and who serves him with all her heart, mind and soul.
Rishi Atri was the human son of Bhrama. His sons included Chandra, Durvala, and Dattatreya. His wife was Sati (entirely devoted to the husband) Anusuya, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. She is greatly revered by women for her Sat (devotion to the husband) was strong enough to change the trinity of gods into babies.
Sage Narad praised Anusuya very much making the wives of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva jealous of Anusuya. They requested their husbands to go and break her “Pativrata” vrata (being loyal to husband all the time).So Bhramha, Vishnu and Shiva arrived at the ashram to test the strength of her devotion to her husband. At that time, Rishi Atri was not at home. They took the guise of Brahmins and asked Anusuya for bhiksha (the customary food that Brahmins would beg for from householders) but they put one condition that she would divest herself of all clothes and give them the diksha in that undressed state. Only in front of a baby can a woman be undressed without losing her decorum and thus using her powers gained by her devotion to her husband,She agreed and remembering her husband put the water on their converting them to 3 babies. Anusuya turned the three gods into babies and nursed them too.
The three gods were trapped as babies and unable to go back. Their wives Saraswati, Lakshmi & Parvati were waiting for their husbands to come back and eventually arrived at the scene to find that their husbands have been converted to babies. They requested Anusuya to restore their husbands to their adult form. Anusuya obliged and the three gods turned from babies to their adult, divine form.
The three gods then asked her to seek a boon. Devi Anusuya said, “having nursed all three of you has kindled my maternal instinct. May the three of you be born as my sons.” As a result of the boon from the three gods,So Atri and Anusuya had 3 sons namely, Soma or (the Moon) from Brahma, Dattetrya from Vishnu and sage Durvasa from Shiva . Among pativrata wives, who are devoted and dedicated to their husbands, Anusuya’s name heads the list.
When Ram was going from Chitrakoot towards Dandaka forest during his fourteen years in the forest, he stopped at first in Rishi Atri hermitage. Atri and Anusuya gave Ram, Sita and Lakshman a warm and affectionate welcome.
Ram extolled the virtues of Anusuya and her devotion to her husband and asked Sita to learn the lessons of ideal womanhood and dedicated devotion to husband’s welfare, from Sati Anusuya. Sita spent her time with Anusuya and learnt about the duties and expectations of an ideal wife. Anusuya also gifted her the divine garments she had received from Indra, the God of heavens, that made ones skin never look wrinkled or old as well as her own beautiful ornaments. On adorning these clothes and ornaments, Sita always looked resplendent and freshly dressed.
Sati Anusuya ashrama is in Chitrakoot, located further upstreams the Mandakini, 16 km from the town, set amidst thick forests that round to the melody of birdsong all day. It was here that sage Atri, his wife Anusuya and their three sons ( who were the three incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), lived and are said to have meditated.
As per description of Valmiki at one time there was no rain in Chitrakoot for ten years. There was a severe famine and nothing was left to eat or drink for animals and birds. Sati Anusuya performed hard and intensive austerities and got the river Mandankini down on earth. This led to the greenary and forests to grow which removed the sufferings of all sages and the animals.