The previous episode marked a very important event in the entire Mahabharata story, which signifies the birth of Bhishmaachaarya. As we’ve witnessed, King Shantanu and Ganga Devi marry each other upon the condition that Shantanu should not question Ganga Devi on anything that she does. Initially, King Shantanu did not realize the seriousness of what Ganga Devi was telling, but eventually when they started having children, Ganga Devi was mercilessly killing one after the other by strangling the babies to death! It is at this point in time that King Shantanu realized the seriousness of what Ganga Devi had asked him earlier. Since it was the rule behind their marriage, King Shantanu had no other option but to keep quiet and be a mute spectator to what Ganga Devi was doing. However, when the eighth child was about to meet the same fate, King Shantanu couldn’t resist this anymore and he immediately confronted Ganga Devi on what she was doing. As Ganga Devi reminded King Shantanu of the rule, she left him immediately and with this, the eighth baby was saved from the clutches of death. This baby was none other than Bhishmaachaarya, who was named as “Devavrata” by his mother, Ganga Devi when he was born. However, as Ganga Devi leaves behind both of them, she assures that this baby would grow into an invincible person and none can stand in front of him in terms of warfare and other “Kshatrya” qualities.
However saying thus, Mother Ganga Devi took the baby along with her after a thought, and she assured King Shantanu that she would leave the baby back to him after he grew up a bit. With this, Ganga Devi took away Devavrata with her, and King Shantanu was ruling the kingdom. He was a great king and ensured all aspects of “Dharma” were followed. After a few years, one fine day when King Shantanu was standing nearby the river Ganges, Mother Ganga once again appeared in person in front of him. She came to King Shantanu and explained thus, “Oh King! Please see that boy who is standing at a distance, playing with his small bow and arrow. This is none other than Devavrata, who is your son! From today onwards, you can take him along with you and henceforth he will be your son.” As Ganga Devi says thus, tears rolled from King Shantanu’s eyes. Initially he thought that Ganga Devi had come back to lead a life with him. However, after she introduced the little boy to him, she left both of them and again disappeared into the river! Devavrata was thus united to his father and thus, King Shantanu brought up Devavrata under his parenting.
As days and months rolled by, one day King Shantanu was gazing across the river Ganges and eventually his eyes fall on Satyavati, who was coming along that way. It should be remembered that Satyavati is the mother of Sage Veda-Vyaasa as she got together with Sage Paraashara to give birth to Sage Vyaasa. After this, with the divine “Anugraha” of Sage Paraashara, she once attained her virginity and was ready for marriage. It was at this time, Satyavati was spotted by King Shantanu and the moment he saw her, he fell in love with her. However, he had Devavrata as his son already. Will Satyavati accept someone who is already a father of a son? Also, when he had asked Satyavati’s father, who was a fisherman, he was very clear in seeing this as an opportunity – He demanded that King Shantanu can marry his daughter only under the condition that the son born to this couple would only ascend the throne and not the existing Devavrata! Thinking about these things deeply, King Shantanu was sitting amidst the river banks with a worry on his face written all over. However, when Devavrata asked his father multiple times as to why was he feeling sad, King Shantanu never disclosed that he was in love with a woman by name Satyavati, but he was in a dilemma as to whether she would accept him or not.
Unable to get an answer from his father, Devavrata went straight to the charioteer of King Shantanu and enquired. The charioteer had somehow overheard the conversations that had happened between King Shantanu and Satyavati’s father, and hence, briefed Devavrata as to what had happened. The charioteer clearly explained that if King Shantanu marries Satyavati, Devavrata would not be able to be his successor. Only the child that Satyavati obtains with him would be able to rule the Hastinapura kingdom. It is only for this reason that King Shantanu keeps quiet. He doesn’t want to disclose this to his son, Devavrata and somehow is in a dilemma as to how to proceed further. He did not know how Devavrata would react when he heard this from King Shantanu.
As Devavrata heard this accord from the charioteer, he rushes back to the kingdom and straightaway goes to meet his father in a great hurry. Now what is Devavrata going to reply? Is Devavrata going to accept the fact that he is not going to be eligible to rule the kingdom? Or, is he going to launch a protest on this? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂