Years passed since Ganga left Shantanu and went away with their eighth child, Devavrata. The life of Shantanu was shattered. He had seen the death of his seven sons, the seven newborns. Even being the supreme lord of kingdom, he could do nothing. And when he gathered courage to stop Ganga, he was blamed of breaking his promise, and Ganga took the boy with her.
One day, Shantanu was roaming across the banks of a river, when he saw an adolescent playing with his bow and arrows. His dexterity amazed Shantanu and he stopped to witness the skills of that young man. While Shantanu was busy watching that young man, Ganga came, and revealed, “O Lord! This boy whom you are seeing with amazement is your son, Devavrata.”
Those words of Ganga were like dew drops on the deserted life of Shantanu. Delighted, he saw the boy in amazement. There was no end to his cheerfulness. He rushed towards his son, embraced him and the tears were rolling continuously through his cheeks. Ganga kept her promise. She came back with grown-up son of Shantanu. The joy and happiness returned to the life of Shantanu, and the kingdom of Hastinapur received its new heir. Years passed and Shantanu gradually shifted the responsibilities of the kingdom on Devavrata.
One fine day, when Shantanu was out for hunt, he experienced divinely fragrance mixed with the cool breeze. He started walking towards the source of smell. To his surprise, he saw a young woman. That woman with divine beauty immediately took away the heart of King Shantanu. He hadn’t experienced such emotions since the time Ganga left him, but that day, he once again got arrested by the desires and affection. He walked towards her and asked, “Who are you, O Goddess of Beauty!”
“I am Satyavati, daughter of a fisherman.”, she replied in her melodious voice. Shantanu got more attracted towards her and he expressed his desire of marrying her.
She smiled and said, “O Lord! You will have to seek permission from my father.”
Shantanu, who already have surrendered before that splendid demoiselle, immediately agreed to meet her father and asked for his permission for their nuptial.
Satyavati’s father, Dusharaja, listened to Shantanu’s proposal and agreed immediately. After all who can refuse the proposal of a king. But Dusharaja put a strong condition. He said, “O King! My daughter was born to rule the world and your presence here proves it. But before marrying her, you have to make one promise to me.”
“What is the promise?”, asked proud Shantanu. “I can give any amount of wealth for Satyavati.”, he added.
Dusharaja said, “This daughter of mine is no ordinary. And so, will be her children. Thus, you will have to promise me that the son born out of her will be the king after you.”
Albeit Shantanu wanted to marry Satyavati, but certainly not on that condition. He already had declared Devavrata as Yuvaraj. Hence, he politely denied and came back to his kingdom. But that sight of Satyavati didn’t go off his mind and he couldn’t hide his silence too. Devavrata sensed the changed behavior of his father and one day he asked, “O Father! What is making you unhappy? What is keeping the king of Hastinapur in sorrow?”
Shantanu didn’t tell anything about Satyavati and tried to convince Devavrata with his made-up smile. Devavrata was unconvinced but he didn’t want to question his father more.
Hence, he walked away from his chamber, with a thought of asking his father’s charioteer. He questioned the charioteer and came to know about the truth of Shantanu’s meeting with Satyavati. He immediately decided to go, meet them, and convince the father of Satyavati for her marriage with his father.
Dusharaja, father of Satyavati, was firm on his conditions. He repeated the condition before Devavrata. Devavrata readily agreed, “I give my word to you that the son born of this maiden will be the king after my father. I renounce my rights as heir apparent.”
Dusharaja said, “O noble prince! I have no doubt you will keep this promise. But what if, someday, your sons will come and claim their rights.”
Devavrata heard each word of Dusharaja. The sorrowful face of his father flashed in front of his eyes. He paused for a moment, then, raised his arms, looked up to the sky and in loud voice said, “I, son of Ganga, marking the sun, the sky, the rivers, the air, and the plants as my witness, vow that I shall never marry. I will live as the protector of this throne but will never think of ascending it as a king. — Yeh meri Bhishma Pratigya hai”
That day, Devavrata took a vow which nobody thought of. A vow to give up his pleasures for his father and follow a chastised life. That day, name “Devavrata” died, and a new name “Bhishma” was born.
Bhishma took Satyavati with him and arranged her marriage with his father. Satyavati’s marriage with Shantanu consummated and two sons – Chitrangada and Vichitravirya were born. But before the sons could see their adolescence, Shantanu died. Bhishma took over the responsibility of those two sons of Satyavati.
Years passed and Bhisma’s supervision made the two princes unrivalled. But before the elder son of Satyavati, Chitrangada, could take over the throne, a mishap happened claiming his life. Chitrangada died fighting a Gandharva and thus Vichitravirya had to take over the throne.
Time passed and Vichitravirya got married to princesses of Kasi – Ambika and Ambalika.
So, this was the story of Bhishma Pratigya. In next episode, we will see how Ambika and Ambalika got married to Vichitravirya, and birth of their sons.
Before we close today’s episode, let’s visit why Ganga killed her seven sons in last episode –
In the clan of Ishkvaku, founder of solar dynasty, Mahabhisha was born. He, with his undefeated prowess became the lord of the earth. His intelligence was unmatched and later he attained heaven and became the royal sage among all the Brahmanas in the courtroom of Sakra. One day when all the royal sages and Mahabhisha were performing the rituals for great sire Brahma, the queen of rivers Ganga also came to pay her adorations. As she enters, her clothes got displaced due to winds, leaving her uncomfortable in front of the sages. All the sages bent down their heads but Mahabhisha couldn’t control his emotions and continued staring at the uncomfortable queen of rivers. Seeing the uncontrolled desires of Mahabhisha, the Brahmanas present there cursed him that he had to reborn on the earth and after completing one more cycle of human life would come back. Ganga was also cursed to be born in the human race for one cycle.
While somewhere in other part, eight Vasu brothers were roaming with their wives on their celestial chariots. They crossed the hermitage of Rishi Vashishtha where they saw a cow. She was no ordinary bovine. She was Rishi Vashistha’s Nandini who was born to benefit the people of earth.
The wife of youngest Vasu, Dyu, got allured with the cow and she expressed her desire to take Nandini with them. Dyu couldn’t stand before the obstinacy of his wife and he took away the cow. Vashishtha when came to know about this unethical behaviour of the Vasus, summoned them and cursed all of them to be born on earth as human once. Vasus were ashamed of their act and they begged for the mercy. Considering it was venial act, Vashishtha gave them the option to choose their mother on the earth and told that seven of them can live on earth for one day only, but the youngest one had to complete his human life cycle.
Vasus then started searching for a woman with celestial powers who can hold them in her womb. The fate of Vasus and Ganga matched and when Vasu brothers requested Ganga to accept them as their sons in human form, she agreed. Vasus also asked her to kill the sons as soon as they would born so that they wouldn’t have to live in human form. Ganga accepted but mentioned that she would want one son from her husband to live his full life. Once again the fate met, the youngest Vasu was already cursed to live one human cycle.
Later, king Mahabhisha was reborn as Shantanu, who married Ganga. Ganga gave birth to eight Vasus as her sons, killed first seven but the youngest lived for one human cycle. That youngest Vasu, Dyu, was born as Devavrata, whom we know as Bhishma.