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Mahabharat Chapter 2 - Devavrata

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King Santanu was hunting for deer in the jungle when he separated from his group. His horse was thirsty and so was he. He led the horse to the river for a drink. He saw a beautiful damsel by the banks of the river Ganga. “Are you thirsty?” she asked the King. She then offered him some water. Santanu was taken in by her beauty and decided right there that she would be his queen. “Marry me”, the King said simply. “You do not know anything about me and yet you want to marry me? I have one condition. You should not question what I do or stop me from doing what I want to do. You should love me no less. If you can give me your word on it, I will marry you. However, if you ever break your vow, I will go away from your life for ever,” said the girl. “You have my word. It is a Kshatriya’s(warrior’s) promise,” said King Santanu.

King Santanu and the girl got married and she became the queen. Soon the queen gave birth to a son. The king was very happy at the birth of his first child. The queen, however, took the child and drowned him in the river Ganga. The King was very sad, but because of his vow he did not stop or ask her. The queen gave birth to a second son and promptly drowned him in Ganga. The King was very sad, but kept his word for he loved his queen dearly. And so it went on for seven times, the queen would give birth to a son and promptly drown him. The King grew sadder with the death of his every child. The queen gave birth to their eighth son. The King foresaw what the queen would do. He could bear it no longer. As the queen carried the child to the river, King Santanu stopped her. “O Queen, I love you dearly but please stop. What kind of mother are you? You have drowned seven children of ours. I know I have broken my vow, but it was the vow that kept me from saving my other children. I cannot let this child die too.”

“O King Santanu, you have broken your vow and I will have to go away from your life. Please do not judge me so harsh, hear my story. I am goddess Ganga. The eight sons that I bore were the eight Vasus. Once they were having a picnic when they saw the sacred cow Nandini belonging to Rishi Vasishtha. The youngest of the Vasus, Prabhasa, wanted to play a prank on the Rishi. He took the cow and her calf and hid them. When Nandini and her calf did not return from the pastures in the evening, Rishi Vasishtha became concerned about them. Through his divine powers, the Rishi saw what had happened. He grew very angry and cursed all the eight Vasus that they are born on earth as mere mortals and go through the wheel of life (Chakra) until they attain moksha. The Vasus pleaded the Rishi to calm down and take back his curse. An arrow that leaves the bow and words that leave the tongue cannot be taken back. The Rishi gave them a way out. If Ganga were to be their mother on earth and take them into her when they were born, they will be liberated from their curse. I was doing a service to the Vasus. However, Prabhasa the youngest one has to live one life and suffer the sorrows of this earth. This eighth child is Prabhasa. I will take him with me, but will return him to you once he reaches the age of sixteen. You will attain higher regions of Moksha for your service” And goddess Ganga disappeared along with the little baby.

Years passed by, the King led a very austere life. He missed his wife Ganga and his son. Every time the sorrow became too much to bear, he would stroll by the river. One day, while he was walking the banks of Ganga, Santanu came upon a very handsome boy building dams with arrows and altering the flow of the river at his whim. It seemed like a child playing with his indulgent mother. King Santanu was impressed by the boy’s skill. Just then goddess Ganga appeared before him. “Santanu, this is your son Devavrata. He has learned the Vedas and Vendata from Rishi Vasishtha and arts and sciences from Rishi Sukra. He is skilled archer and well versed in the craft of state. Devavratha this is your father King Santanu.” She blessed the boy and handed him over to his father and disappeared.

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Bhishma's Vow  - King Santanu was very happy at the arrival of Devavratha who was soon crowned the yuvaraj (crown prince). The King had given up hunting after meeting and loosing goddess Ganga. Click here to read more....

Birth of Kauravas & Pandavas - When Kunti was a young girl, Rishi Durvasa came to live with them as guest for a year. Rishi Durvasa was well known for his quick temper. Kunti was given the immense responsibility to taking care of Rishi Durvasa. Click here to read more....

Click here to read all stories from Mahabharata