Painting in Angkor Wat of Vyasa narrating the Mahabharata to Sri Ganesha (contributed by By Janice)

Table of Contents (The Complete Condensed Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Satyavati’s Birth

Satyavati grew up into a virtuous and beautiful young woman, and because she was around fisherfolk all the time, her body smelled of fish. This young maiden ferried a boat across the Yamuna River to help her foster family.

One day, Rishi Parashar saw Satyavati when he happened to pass through that region. He became so enamoured by her beauty that a strong desire to unite with this young woman arose in him. 

He approached Satyavati and said, “Accept my embrace, O blessed one.”

Satyavati replied, “O holy one, there are rishis standing on both the banks of the Yamuna. How can I grant you this wish when they can see us clearly?”

Hearing Satyavati’s words, Rishi Parashar created a fog that enveloped that entire region in darkness. Satyavati was filled with wonder when she witnessed this feat of the rishi, and she blushed as soon as she realised the implication of the fog. Feeling shy and embarrassed she said, “O holy one, I am a maiden who lives in her father’s house. I will lose my virginity if I accept your embrace. O sinless one, how will I return home? Think about this O holy one and then do what is correct.”

The noble rishi was pleased by her words. He replied, “O beautiful maiden, you will remain a virgin even if you grant my wish. O maiden with a beautiful smile, ask me for a boon. My words have always come true.”

Satyavati asked the rishi to remove the swell of fish that emanated from her body and replace it with a sweet fragrance. Rishi Parashar immediately granted her wish.

Pleased that her wish was fulfilled, Satyavati’s body immediately manifested its fertile season and she accepted the embrace of the rishi.

After this event, Satyavati always emitted a sweet and beautiful fragrance wherever she went. She became known as Gandhavati and Yojanagandha because her sweet smell left its mark for the distance of one yojana.

The child conceived from her union with Rishi Parashar was born that day itself on an island in the Yamuna. This child was gifted with immense energy. As soon as he was born, he asked for his mother’s permission to practise asceticism and left the island saying that he would appear before her as soon as she thought of him.

This child was called Krishna-Dwaipayana. ‘Krishna’ because he had a dark complexion, and ‘Dwaipayana’ because he was born on an island.

After leaving the island where he was born, the learned Dwaipayana saw, through his inner vision, that virtue and the strength of humans and their lifespan diminishes with the passing of every yuga. 

Motivated by the desire to obtain the favour of Brahman Deva and the brahmanas, Rishi Dwaipayana, organised and classified the four Vedas and was thereafter known as Vyasa. Sometime after that, he composed the Mahabharata which is also known as the fifth Veda.

He taught all these works to Sumanta, Jaimini, Paila, his son Suka, and Vaishampayana.

Next Post: A Summary of the Birth of the Main Characters in the Mahabharata

Click on the image below to check out the book — Namaha.

Satyavati in Javanese Wayang 

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Benefits of Reading the Mahabharata

There was once a king called Vasu in the Paurava dynasty. He was devoted to virtue but was also addicted to hunting. Upon instructions from Indra Deva, the powerful King Vasu conquered the Chedi kingdom. His five sons were as strong and powerful as him and he gave each of them a province to govern. Eventually, his children went on to found their own dynasties.

At one point, Vasu left warfare and his kingdom and retreated to a secluded place to practise severe austerities.

When Indra Deva and the other Devas noticed his austerities, they became concerned because they assumed that Vasu was performing the penances to become the king of heaven. They approached Vasu with the intention of dissuading him from his austerities.

Indra Deva spoke in a gentle tone with the king. He said, “O king, your duty is to ensure that virtue does not diminish on earth. Protect virtue, O king, and virtue, in turn, will protect the universe.”

The chief of the Devas went on to remind him of the beauty and wealth of his kingdom. He reminded Vasu of how virtuous his subjects were. He assured the king that his own virtue would help him eternally see and visit sacred places. Indra also extended his friendship to the king and gave him two gifts. The first was a crystal vehicle that could fly in the air and the second was a lotus garland that would remain perpetually fresh and protect the king from weapons. Indra also gave him a bamboo pole that would protect honest and virtuous people from harm.

Vasu accepted Indra’s request and returned to his kingdom and took on the responsibility of sustaining virtue. The king often coursed the skies in the crystal vehicle gifted by Indra Deva to find out everything that happened in his kingdom and all the three worlds. In the skies, he was greeted by gandharvas and apsaras, and was known as Uparichara.

A year after returning to his kingdom, Vasu planted Indra’s bamboo pole in the ground and established the festival of worshipping Indra by decorating the pole, making offerings, and giving generous gifts.

Some time after that, Vasu married a maiden called Girika who was the daughter of a river called Suktimati that flowed by his capital city. One day, Girika approached Vasu after her menstrual period had ended and the time was conducive to conceive children.

However, on that day, Vasu’s pitris also approached him and asked him to hunt deer for shraddha. The king did not want to disobey his pitris so he went to the forest to hunt for deer while his mind remained occupied with thoughts of his wife. The beautiful spring season, the smell of wonderful flora, the melodious notes of the kokila bird, and the maddened bees buzzing around with excitement intensified the king’s desire to unite with Girika. Sitting under an Asoka tree, and thinking about his beautiful wife, he let out his vital seed on a leaf. Vasu gave the leaf to a hawk and asked him to take it to his wife. But the hawk was attacked on the way to the palace by another hawk and the leaf fell into the waters of the Yamuna river below. As soon as the king’s vital-seed fell into the river, a fish (who was actually an apsara called Adrika) gulped down the king’s vital seed. Ten months later, the fish was captured by some fishermen. When they cut open the fish they were shocked to find two human babies in the fish’s womb. Being Vasu’s subjects, the fishermen went to their king and gave him the babies after telling the strange story of their birth. The king kept the male baby (who eventually became the king of Matsya) and gave the little girl to the fishermen and asked them to raise her like their daughter. This girl, born of King Vasu and the apsara, Adrika, and raised by fishermen was known as Satyavati.

Next Post: Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa’s Birth