Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

The Birth of Satyavati

Stories From the Mahabharata


This story is from [Maha:1.63].

Long ago, there was a king named Uparichara, also known as Vasu. He was a very valorous and virtues king. He was fond of hunting for sport. He belonged to the Paurava (is it the same as Kuru?) dynasty, and was also known as Vasu. He was a friend of Indra, and by his blessing, had conquered the kingdom of Chedi. He was also in the habit of visiting Indra in heaven, riding his crystal chariot in the sky. (Since he wandered in high places, he got the name of Uparichara).

After a while, he decided to give up his royal way of living, and gave up the use of weapons. He retreated to a secluded forest and indulged in severe penances and austerities. When the Devas beheld this, they were worried. Their king Indra became afraid that Uparichara was performing this penance to obtain his post.

So the Devas led by Indra approached the king, and by soft speeches, succeeded in turning his heart away from ascetism. They promised him eternal friendship and great bliss in heaven, if only he would give up his present way of life. According to their advice, the King returned to his kingdom, and resumed his rule. Indra gave him his own garland, which was made of lotuses that were ever-blooming as a mark of his friendship and favor.

Since the King of the Gods had marked him with such honor, the fame of Uparichara spread all over the world. He instituted the tradition of a festival to Indra to honor the Devas. It was said that Indra himself would be present in the festivities, in the form of a swan and accept the homage offered to him. By the grace of the Lord of heaven, the kingdom flourished and was untroubled by enemies.

In due course of time, five sons were born to Uparichara. They rivalled him in virtue and prowess, and were installed as the governors of his provinces. Their names were Vrihadratha (who founded the kingdom of Magadha and was called Maharatha), Pratyagraha, Kusamva (called Manivahana), Mavella and Yadu. Much later, the five sons founded kingdoms named after themselves and established their dynasty.

There was a river named Suktimati that flowed in Uparichara's capital. Once, a neighboring mountain range called Kolahala was maddened by lust and attacked this river. The river sought the protection of the King. Uparichara chased the mountain away, kicking it with his foot. However, due to the union of the mountain and the river, twin children, a boy and a girl were born. The river gave them to the King in gratitude for his protection. Vasu made the boy the commander-in-chief of his army. The daughter, named Girika (daughter-of-the-mountain), became his wife.

One fine spring day, Girika and Uparichara were together in a garden in his palace. Desire struck them both. At this moment, the Pitris (dead ancestors) of Uparichara came there and asked the King to slay deer, to be used in their monthly remembrance ceremony. As the King could not disobey the orders of his Pitris, he set forth immediately on the hunt.

While wandering in the forest, he came upon an alcove of Asoka trees. There was a divine fragrance in the air. The King could not conquer the desire for his beautiful wife, which was burning in his heart. He then beheld a hawk sitting on the tree and addressed it thus: "O King of the birds. This is an auspicious time for begetting children. My wife Girika is awaiting my embraces in my palace. Carry my seed to her, so that a child may be born to us."

The hawk took the seed in its mouth and started flying towards the palace. It was seen by another hawk, which mistakenly assumed that it was carrying a piece of meet. It attacked this hawk, and they started fighting each other with their beaks. The seed fell in to the waters of the river Yamuna. There was a fish in this water, which was really an Apsara named Adrika, who had been transformed into a fish by a Brahmana's curse. The fished swallowed this seed and became pregnant as a consequence. Once she became pregnant, the Apsara was freed from the curse and her spirit left the body of the fish.

Some time later, some fisherman belonging to Uparichara's kingdom caught this fish. When they cut open the fish, they found twin children, a boy and a girl. They took the children to their King. He chose the boy to be brought up in his household and gave the girl to be brought up by the chief of the fishermen. This girl was Satyavati, the mother of Vyasa and the great-grandmother of the Pandavas and Kauravas. The boy later founded the kingdom of Matsya (Matsya=fish).

Since Satyavati was born inside a fish, she had an odor of fish about her. Later, when she yielded to the desire of the sage Parasara, he transformed her fish-odor into a divine fragrance, which gave her the name Yojana-Gandha (one who scatters her scent for a Yojana [measure of distance] around). The sage Vyasa was born of this union. Later, King Shantanu met her at her father's house and married her. That story is told here.


Last Modified At: Tue Oct 19 20:21:38 2004