Thursday, January 14, 2016

Samtanu and Satyavati

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Mahabharata: a Book Report, in which I'm slowly reading through the Hindu epic poem The Mahabharata, and writing a book report on what I read.  

King Samtanu's son Bhisma grew in wisdom and strength, and was well-regarded in his father's kingdom of Hastinapura.  One day, when King Samtanu was walking along the Yamuna river, he encountered a lovely fisher-girl and fell madly in love with her.  This was interesting because Samtanu had also met his first wife Ganga by the banks of a river.

Anyway, Samtanu askd the girl's father, the fisher king, for his daughter's hand in marriage.  The fisher king replied that he would only consent to the marriage if his daughter's son, and not Bhisma (the rightful heir) became king after Samtanu.  The king went away despondent.

Back at the palace, Bhisma asked his father why he was so sad.  The king didn't mention the fisher-girl.  Instead, he made up some bullshit about wanting more sons.  Bhisma consulted one of his father's ministers and learned the real reason--his father wanted Satyavati.

Bhisma, being a noble and self-sacrificing hero, went to the fisher king and said he would give up his claim to the throne so that his father could be happy.  He even promised that he would take a vow of celibacy so that there would be no rivalry between his sons and Satyavati's.  Bhisma was even more respected after this great and difficult promise he'd made for the sake of his father.

So King Samtanu got to marry Satyavati.  To thank his son, Samtanu granted Bhisma the boon (special gift) that he could choose the hour of his death.

King Samtanu and Satyavati.

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