Sunday, 30 July 2017

Mahabharata: The Story Behind the Birth, Marriage and Death of Satyavati

Unknown Facts about Satyati

The greatest epic of ancient India, Mahabharata started with a curse and ended with a curse too. In this epic, there are some key characters which stand as pillars to the Mahabharata. Among those characters, Satyavathi is one of the legendary women that you must know if you love Indian Mythology.

Satyavathi, the queen of Hastinapur and the great-grandmother of Pandavas and Kauravas, is the fisher woman who turned into a queen. Like other legendary ladies of Mahabharata, she also played a pivot role in Mahabharata.

Birth of Satyavathi

She is the daughter of Vasu, Chedi King and cursed celestial nymph (apsara) turned fish called Adrika. When Vasu was on a hunting expedition, he dreamed about his wife, and he had a nocturnal emission. Through eagle, he sent his semen to his queen but due to mid-fight with another eagle, the semen was dropped into the river, and that semen was swallowed by the Adrika(fish). Consequently, the fish become pregnant.

One day a fisher man caught the fish and found two babies (one male and one female) inside the fish. The fisherman presents the two babies in front of King. The king accepted the male child and gave the female child back to the fisherman.

The fisher man named her as Kali (the dark one) because of her dark complexion. After some year, the kali earned the name Satyavati. She is also called as Matsyagandha (She who smells like fish) because of the smell emanating from her body.

The birth of Vyasa (Satyavathi’s First Son)

With Satyavathi, Parashara fathered Vyasa. Parashara was the grandson of Vasistha and the son of Sakti Maharsi. When Satyavathi was ferrying the Parashara across the river Yamuna, the sage suddenly wanted Satyavathi to satisfy his lust. Satyathi tried to dissuade him but finally give in, realizing that if she did not heed to his request, he might sink the boat midstream. Kali (Satyavathi) agreed and told him to wait until the boat reaches the bank.

Satyavati Son Vyasa

On reaching the shore Parashara again grabbed her hand, but she declared that her body stank. At these words, the sage changed Matsyagandha into Yojanagandha (She whose fragrance can be smelled from across a yojana). Kali now smelled of musk. When Sage was approaching her again, she interrupts him by saying that the act was not appropriate in the daylight as her father and other see them in sex from the other bank. The sage turned the entire in fog. She again interrupted him with another reason that he would rob her virginity and leave her shamed in society.

The Parashara blessed her with Virgo intact. She asked him to promise her that the coitus would be a secret and her virginity intact. She again asked the sage that the son she bore would be a great sage and her fragrance and youth would be eternal. The sage granted her those wishes. The sage left her after the act and never meets her again.

She gave birth to the baby on the same day on an island in the Yamuna. The son immediately grows up as a youth. The son was called Vyasa. He promised her mother that he would come to her aid whenever she called him and left her to do penance in the forest.

Satyavati and Shantanu

One day the King of Hastinapur(Shantanu), come to the forest on hunting was mesmerized with the fragrance and follow that fragrance and meet Satyavati. After seeing her, he fell in love with her at first sight. He never waited to ask her hand for marriage. The fisherman Dushraj said he would marry her daughter to him if only if her sons would inherit the throne. The King Shantanu already have a son called Bhishma(Devavrata) from Ganga.

Satyavati and Shantanu

Shantanu unable to promise the fisherman as his eldest son was the heir to the throne and return to his kingdom. Devavrata came to know about his father problem and gave his word to the fisherman that he would give up his throne to his daughter’s children. Satyavati’s father retorted that even if he rejects the throne his children would still claim the throne. Bhishma then takes the vow of lifelong celibacy (the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations).

Satyavati's Children

Shantanu and Satvathi married and bore two sons named, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Satyavathi is always grateful to the Bhishma who was the son of her husband’s previous marriage. After the Shantanu’s death, Satyavathi and her two prices ruled the kingdom with the help of Bhishma. Later Bhishma made Chitrangada. He was killed by a Gandharva (a celestial musician).

After Chitrangada death, Bhishma throned the Vichitravirya as King. Vichtravirya was married to Ambika and Ambalika, the princesses of Kashi-Kosala. But ill fate never leaves Satyavathi side, when she can’t come over the loss of her first child; the second child leaves her without giving grandchildren.

Birth of Dhritarashtra and Pandu

Satyavati asked Bhishma to marry her widow daughter-in-laws but he refused and reminded her of the promise he made to her father. Later Bhishma gives her the idea to call her first son Vyasa to conceive children with Vichitravirya’s wives (following the practice of Niyoga). Satyavathi then called her son Vyasa and asked him to have niyoga with his brother’s widows. Vyasa accepted her request for the sake of perpetuation of the dynasty and the promise he given to her mother.

Dhritarashtra and Pandu

Satyavathi invited Vyasa to Ambika’s bedchamber, during sex with Vyasa, Ambika closed her eyes because of his dark appearance, so her son born as a blind. Later Vyasa visited Ambalika’s bedchamber because of Satyavati’s request. Ambalika fell pale due to Vyasa’s grim appearance, as a result the child born as a wan. The blind Dhritarashtra and the pale Pandu were born. Satyavathi again invited Vyasa to Ambika’s bed chamber. Ambika substituted a Shudra (lower cast) maid in her place and sent her to Vyasa. The maid was not afraid of Vyasa and respected him. Vyasa blessed her with an intelligent man. The maid gave birth to Vidura, an incarnation of the god Dharma.

Satyavathi End

After the death of Pandu, Satyavati did not wish to live and longer. Vyasa warned Satyavathi, the destruction of the kin is coming, which she would not be able to bear in her old age. Satyavathi left to forest with her daughter-in-laws Ambika and Ambalika, and she died in the forest and attained heaven.

Satyavati last days


It is an ancient Hindu practice, in which the husband died or incapable of fatherhood the wife would request and appoint a person to help her bear a child. In Niyoga the bodies are covered with ghee so that there is no place for lust in mind. Persons who are engaged in Niyoga must associate with this process

•    The woman should not agree for pleasure; this is only for the sake of rightfully having a child
•    The child is considered as the child of Husband and wife, not the appointed person
•    The appointed man would not have any paternal relationship with the child in the future
•    A man should participate in Niyoga maximum of three times in his lifetime to be appointed in such a way


Gandharvas are male nature spirits and the husbands of Apsaras. They have super musical skills. Sometimes they act as a messenger between the gods and humans.

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