Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Satyavati - Grandmother of Pandu and Dhritharashtra


Satyavati was born inside a fish. (The story of her birth is told in more detail here.) This fish was caught by the chief of fishermen, who adopted her as his own daughter, as he had no children. Since she was born inside a fish, she had an odor of fish about her. She assisted her father by running a ferry service across the river.

One day the great sage Parasara wanted to cross the river and availed himself of her services. Midway through the crossing, the sage was seized with a longing for this girl. He expressed this to her. She was flattered but frightened. At last she consented to his request, with the condition that no one should no of this escapade. By his yogic powers, the sage created an island in the middle of the river and surrounded it with mist, hiding it from prying eyes. In this island they consummated their relationship. The sage also granted her a boon and turned the fish-aroma into a divine fragrance.

After this a miracle happened, within minutes Satyavati gave birth to a son. What is more, the son grew before her own eyes and attained adulthood. This was none other than the sage Vyasa, who would compose the Mahabharata later. He saluted his mother and said that he would go his own way, but she only needed to think of him to command his presence.

Satyavati continued her ferry service even after this incident. No one knew about her indiscretion, as her virginity had been restored by a boon from the sage. Later, the king Shantanu came to visit her father. He saw Satyavati and was smitten by her beauty. Her father imposed a condition that Shantanu must disinherit his only son Devaratha or the marriage would not take place. The King could not do this and and went away in sorrow. His son however, after finding out the cause for his father's sorrow, met the chief-fisherman and renounced his claim to the throne and also took a vow of celibacy, so that his children might not pose a thread to Satyavati's children. For this terrible vow, he became known as Bhishma from that point onwards.

Satyavati married Shantanu and had two children named Chitrasena and Vichitraveerya. Chitrasena was killed by a Gandharva and Vichitraveerya died of illness without leaving behind a heir. Satyavati tried to persuade Bhishma to renounce his vow of celibacy, but he steadfastly refused to do so. In this predicament, she remembered her son Vyasa and he immediately appeared before her. She bid him to father valiant sons on her daughters-in-law and he obliged. Out of this were born Dhritharashtra who was born blind to Ambika, and Pandu who was born unnaturally pale. Vyasa also fathered Vidura on a servant girl.

Later when the enmity between the Pandavas and Kauravas started reaching alarming proportion, Vyasa took away his mother Satyavati and her daughters-in-law to the forest, to lead a life of ascetism, for they could not bear to see the events that would unfold. He had a premonition of the unsavory doings that were to come, by his yogic powers and wanted to spare his mother their pain. Later after the end of the Kurukshetra war, Dhritharashtra, Gandhari and Kunti joined them in the forest.

Last Modified At: Fri Nov 5 21:40:22 2004