Monday, August 31, 2015

15. Pandu

Kuntibhoja arranged for a Swayamvara for his daughter and invited all eligible monarchs and princes. During the Swayamvra, Kunti chose the Kuru prince Pandu and garlanded him. Kuntibhoja  got  the marriage between Kunti and Pandu performed in the traditional way and sent the couple off to the Kuru kingdom after presenting his son in law with a lot of wealth.  After returning to his capital, Pandu installed Kunti  as the queen.

After sometime, Bhishma wanted to get Pandu married to a second wife.  He went to meet Salya, the King of Madra taking along with him several sages, Brahmins and other councilors. He was received by the King of Madra  in an appropriate way. After extending his hospitality to Bhishma and his entourage, King Salya politely asked Bhishma of the purpose of his visit.  Bhishma said, “I have come here to seek your beautiful sister Madri for Pandu. You are worthy of an alliance with us and we too are worthy of an alliance with you.”

King Salya said, “There is no one other than a member of your family with whom I can enter into an alliance. But there is a custom in our family which I can’t violate.”

Bhishma was aware of the custom referred to by Salya. He said, “I respect your family custom and I will comply with it.” He then offered to Salya a lot of gold, precious stones, ornaments, clothes, elephants, horses and chariots as gift. Accepting these gifts, Salya gave away his sister. Bhishma returned to the capital of the Kuru kingdom, taking Madri along with him.

Pandu was married to Madri on an auspicious day.

Pandu lived happily in the company of his two wives for about a month. After thirty days, he left the palace for conquering the world,  taking leave of his wives, Bhisma, Dritharashtra and other elders. When his entourage comprising an army of soldiers, elephants, horses and chariots left the capital, it received an enthusiastic ovation from the people.

Pandu first subjugated the robber tribes of Asrana. He then attacked the kingdom of Mabhadha. He killed the King of Maghadha and defeated  his army. He then vanquished the kingdoms of Mithila, Kasi, Sumbha and Pundra. All the kings vanquished by Pandu along with their forces were made vassals of the Kurus.  All the kings regarded Pandu as one single hero on earth just as the Celestials regarded their chief Indra.  On hearing of Pandu’s victories, people of Kuru kingdom exclaimed “The glory of the achievements of Santanu,  and of the wise Bharata, which was about to die, has been revived by Pandu”

When  Pandu returned to Hastinapura, he was given a rousing reception by the  citizens with Bhishma leading them. Everyone was astounded by the quantum of wealth brought by Pandu, carrying it on the elephants, horses , chariots, camels etc. and the  long line of elephants, horses and other animals that was following the victorious Pandu.

Pandu fell on the feet of Bhishma and offered his respects. He also saluted the citizens who greeted him.

At the command of Dhritarashtra, Pandu  offered the bulk of the wealth he had acquired to Bhishma, their grand-mother Satyavati and their mothers.  He also distributed  some of the wealth to Vidura and his other relatives. Using the wealth brought in by Pandu, Dritharashtra performed five great sacrifices which were equal to hundred great Aswameta Yagas (horse-sacrifices,) during which he offered a lot of wealth to the Brahmins.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

14. Karna

Surasena was a chief of Yadavas. He was the father of Vasudeva, (father of Krishna). Surasena  had a daughter by name Pritha. As per a promise he had made to his cousin Kuntibhoja, Sura gave his daughter in adoption to him. After becoming the adopted daughter of Kuntibhoja, Pritha came to be known as Kunti. She was engaging herself in extending hospitality to the guests of Kuntibhoja, by taking care of their needs.

Once, Sage Durvasa, known for his rigid vows and short temper visited Kuntibhoja’s palace. Kunti  looked after his needs diligently as she would of any other guest. Gratified by her care and attention, Durvasa imparted to her a formula for invoking certain gods, who summoned by her would bless her with children. Being an ascetic endowed with the knowledge of the future, Durvasa  had known that Pandu, whom Kunti would marry, won’t be able to beget any children because of a curse. He gave this boon to Kunti to enable her to get children so that Pandu’s lineage would continue.  

Sometime after the sage had left, Kunti  became curious to find out whether the formula would work. She pronounced the Mantra invoking Surya, the Sun God. Immediately, Surya  appeared before her, the effulgent light emanating from him momentarily  blinding her. 

He asked her, “Tell me what you want.” 

Kunti said that  she was just testing the Mantra given to her by Sage Durvasa and pleaded with him to pardon her for her impropriety. 

Surya  said, “Since you have summoned me, I can’t leave without granting you a child.”  

He tried to allay her fears and then embraced her. Instantly, a male child was born to Kunti as a result of her union with Surya. The child, who would become famous for his valor, had natural armor embedded on him. Surya  restored the maidenhood to Kunti and then took leave of her.

Kunti  reflected  on what she could do with the child. Since she would be shamed if the birth of the child was known to anyone, she cast the child into the waters of the river Yamuna. The child was picked up by Suta, a charioteer and was brought up by him and his wife Radha. Since the child was born with a natural armor and ear rings, they named it Vasusena, meaning born with wealth.

As Vasusena  grew up, he became skilled in all weapons. He adored the Sun and would worship the Sun from the dawn till mid-day. During that time, he would give anything sought by Brahmins. Taking advantage of this, Indra, the Lord of the Celestials, intending to protect his son Arjuna, came to Vasusena in the guise of a Brahmin and asked for his natural armour. Without any hesitation, Vasusena  cut off his armor and gave it to Indra.  This feat earned him the name Karna (Peeler of his own cover).

Pleased by Karna’s magnificent gesture, Indra gifted him a Dart named Indrashakti , which he said had the power to kill anyone whether he was a  human being, a celestial or a demon.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

13. Gandhari

After the birth of the three children - Dritharashtra, Pandu and Vidura - the Kuru kingdom grew in prosperity.  The citizens  were filled with hope when they saw the youthful faces of their princes.

Dritharashtra, Pandu and Vidura were brought up by Bhishma, as if they were his own sons. The children grew up into young men well versed in Vedas and skilled in athletics. They became skilled in the use of a bow, fighting on horsebacks and riding elephants. While Dritharashtra excelled in personal strength, Pandu excelled in archery. There was no one to match Vidura in his devotion to virtue and his knowledge of the rules of ethics and morality

 Since the eldest of the brothers Dritharashtra was blind, Pandu was crowned the king.

One day, Bhishma told Vidura, “We should take steps to perpetuate our race. I find that there are three maidens worthy of being allied to our race. One is the daughter of Surasena of the Yadava race. Another is the daughter of Suvala and the third is the princess of Madra. I think we should choose them for the growth of our race. Tell me what you think.”

Vidura said, “You are our father. You are our mother too. You are also our teacher. Therefore, please do what you think is the best for us.”

Bhishma sent messengers to Suvala, the king of Gandhara seeking his daughter for Dritharashtra. Though Sulava  was initially reluctant to accept the proposal because of Dritharashtra’s blindness, he subsequently agreed to the proposal considering  the glory of the Kurus. He gave his daughter Gandhari in marriage to Dritharashtra.

Learning about Dritharashtra’s blindness, Gndhari blindfolded her eyes, resolving not to have the faculty of vision which her husband did not possess. Sakuni, the son of Suvala, formally gave her away to Dhritarashtra.  Gandhari was  devoted to her husband. She  gratified her superiors by her good conduct.

Friday, August 28, 2015

12. The three brothers

Santanu married Satyavati. Two sons, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya  were born to them. After Santanu’s death, Bhishma installed Chitrangada  on the throne. Chitrangada was a man of great prowess. He vanquished many kings.  It was widely accepted that Chitrangada could not be vanquished by any human being and that only the Asuras (the demons) and the Gods (the celestials) could d defeat him.

A Gandharva once approached Chitrangada and challenged him for a fight. The two fought for three years on the banks of the river Saraswati.  Chitrangada was killed in the encounter by his stronger opponent.  After his obsequies were performed, Bhishma installed Vichitravirya on the throne. Since Vichitravirya  was too young to understand the intricacies of governance, Bhishma ruled the country under the command of his stepmother Satyavati.

When Vichitravirya reached the age of marriage,  Bhishma wanted to get him married. He heard that the king of Kasi had  arranged for the Swayamvara of his three beautiful daughters. (Swayamvara, meaning self selection of the groom, is a system  that  enabled a princess to choose one of the kings assembled at the place, offering themselves as grooms) Bhishma went for the Swayamvara as a representative of Vichitravirya, after conveying his plan to his step-mother and getting her approval.

Many kings were assembled  in the king’s court. The kings were  introduced one by one so that the brides would know their identities. When Bhishma's name was mentioned, he  rose from his seat and addressed  the king telling him about the eight kinds of marriage and pointed out to him that  sages had said that if a woman was considered a prized possession, a king could take her by force. Bhishma then took the three brides along and placed them in his chariot.  He then challenged the kings assembled there to stop him, if they could.

The monarchs took up arms and began to fight Bhishma. However, Bhishma chased them away after destroying their weapons and inflicting injuries on them. One of them,  King Salya was not willing to give up and challenged Bhishma for a fight. With the other kings witnessing the fight as spectators, Bhishma humbled Salya in the fight but refrained from killing him. Salya went back to his country.

Bhishma brought the three young women to Hastinapura, the capital city of the Kuru kingdom and offered them to his step brother Vichitravirya. After consulting with his step mother Satyavati, Bhishma began to make arrangements for the marriage of the three girls with Vichitravirya. 

As arrangements were being made for the marriage, the eldest of the three girls, Amba, came to Bhishma and told him, “I have already chosen the king of Saubha as my husband and he has also agreed to marry me. My father has given his consent for the marriage too. It was arranged that I would choose him during the Swayamvara.  You know everything about morality and justice. Do what you think is right.”

Bhishma being a man of virtues consulted the  Brahmins well versed in the Vedas. he then  told Amba that she was free to do what she wanted to. She left the palace to meet her lover. 

The marriage between Vichitravirya and the other two girls Ambika and Ambalika was performed.
Vichitravirya lived a happy life in the company of his two wives for seven years. After this period, he was inflicted by a deadly disease.  No treatment worked and he soon died.

Satyavati was plunged into grief not only by the death of her two sons but also by the fact that the Kuru race was left with no heir, the only surviving prince Bhishma having renounced his right to become a king. 

She pleaded with Bhishma to raise offspring on the two young widows, ascend the throne and to marry another woman lest his ancestors, with their race cut off, should be plunged into hell. This advice was endorsed by the learned and wise men and the sages present there.

Bhishma said, “Oh mother, though what you want me to do is sanctioned by tradition, I can’t do so because I have taken a vow of celibacy and have also avowed not to ascend the throne.  I won’t  deviate from my  avowed status under any circumstance.” He also pointed out to her that he had given this pledge to her father and that a Kshatriya (one who belongs to the warrior race) should never commit a breach of trust.

Bhishma cited a few incidents from history to apprise her of what the right course was in situations similar to that. He first cited the story of Parasurama, the son of Sage Jamadagni, who, angered by the death of his father at the hands of the three sons of King of Haihaya, killed the king and subsequently wiped out the entire Kshatriya race. The widows of the Kshatriya kings, not out of lust, but out of a desire to keep their race alive, had offspring raised by Brahmins. As per the Vedas (the scriptures), a son so raised belonged not to the Brahmin, the child’s biological father, but to the Kshatriya who had married the child’s mother.

Bhishma cited another historical event involving Sage Dirghatamas. Dirghatamas, at the request of King Vali raised five illustrious sons through Vali’s wife Sudeshana. These sons were considered the sons of Vali. Bhishma suggested a course of action in these lines. He said that an accomplished Brahmin be invited to raise offspring on the wives of Vichitravirya.

Hearing Bhishma’s words, Satyavati said, “When I was a young woman, I was rowing the boat kept by my father for ferrying passengers across the river Yamuna. Once I was carrying the great sage Parasara. He was attracted by me and I yielded to his desire fearing that he would curse me if I resisted him. There was a revolting fishy odour in my body. The sage dispelled it and replaced it with a fragrance which is emanating from me even now. He said that after I gave birth to his child in an island on the river, I would become a virgin again. The child of Parasara born of me had become a great sage himself. He is known by the name  Dwaipayana (born in an island). That great sage has classified the Vedas into four parts. For this reason, he is called Vyasa (one who divides or arranges) and Vedavyasa. He went  with his father immediately after his birth. He had asked me to think of him when I needed his help. I think he can be asked to beget the children upon the wives of your brother. I will call him, if you agree with my suggestion.”

Bhishma endorsed Satyavati’s proposal since he knew Vyasa to be an ascetic of great virtues and immense power. Satyavati thought of Vyasa and Vyasa sensing her call appeared before her instantly.
After receiving Vyasa with due respect and offering him food, Satyavati requested him to beget children upon the wives of Vichitravirya, his step brother. Vyasa agreed to this request since it was sanctioned by custom. He said that the women should first be purified by observing for one year the vow to be prescribed by him. Only after that he would give them children. 

Satyavati pleaded with him to do it immediately since the Kuru race had been without a heir for sometime. Vyasa said that in that case the women had to bear his ugliness and strong odour. This would be the most austere penance for the women, he said. He told his mother to ask her daughter in law to be attired well wearing ornaments and wait for him in her bed chamber.

Satyavati went to her elder daughter in law Ambika and persuaded her to agree for the proposal in the interest of  continuation of the Kuru race. Ambika agreed to this after a lot of persuation from her mother in law. She was waiting in her bed when Vyasa entered. Seeing his  matted her and ugly appearance, she closed her eyes. She never opened her eyes once when Vyasa had been in unison with her. When Vyasa came out,  he was met by Satyavati.  He told her that a strong, valiant and intelligent son would be born but he would be born blind because of the fault of his mother.

Satyavati was upset on hearing this. She asked him to give another King since a blind person won’t be able to protect the kingdom.  Vyasa said 'So be it,' and left. Eventually, Ambika gave birth to a blind child.

After securing the assent  of her younger daughter in law Ambalika, Satyavati summoned Vyasa again. Ambalika, terrified by the looks of Vyasa,  became pale with fear. Vyasa told Satyavati that Ambalika’s son would be pale in complexion and suggested that he be called Pandu (the pale.) Satyavati requested him for one more child. Again Vyasa said, ‘So be it’ and left the palace.

After sometime, Satyavati solicited Ambika to approach Vyasa. Recalling the ugly looks of the sage and the strong odour emanating from him, Ambika wanted to avoid him. She sent her maid, a beautiful woman, after adorning her with her own ornaments.  When Vyasa arrived, the maid saluted him, treated him with respect and waited on him pleasingly. Pleased with her, Vyasa said, "Oh maid, you will no longer be a slave. You will give birth to a virtuous child who will be known as the most intelligent man on the  earth."

He told his mother how he was deceived by her daughter in law and was made to beget a son upon a Sudra woman. He then went away.

The son born to the maid was named Vidura. He was considered the brother of Dritharashtra and Panduby virtue of being the son of Vyasa. Vidura was free from desire and passion. He was conversant with the rules of governance. He was in fact the Lord of Justice born on earth under the curse of sage Mandavya.

Monday, August 17, 2015

11. Bhishma's Vow

King Santanu built up a reputation for being wise, virtuous and truthful.. He ruled the whole world from Hastinapura, the capital of the kings belonging to the Kuru dynasty.  Kings of the neighbouring countries lived without fear since Santanu, the emperor, never troubled them.

One day, when Santanu was pursuing a deer he had struck with an arrow on the banks of the Ganges, he was amazed to find that the river had become shallow at one place. Then he noticed a young man of strong build and beautiful appearance keeping the river in check using his celestial weapon. The youth was none other than Shantanu’s son Devavrata. While Devavrata had recognized Santanu, Santanu couldn’t recognize his son immediately.

Presently, Devavrata vanished from Santanu’s sight. It then struck Santanu that the youth he just saw was his own son. He mentally appealed to his wife Ganga to show him his son. Responding to his appeal,  Ganga appeared along with Devavrata and presented the young man to his father. “Oh king, here is your son Devavrata. He has learned the Vedas from Sage Vasishta. He has also been trained in the use of weapons. He has acquired all knowledge about the duties of a king. I am handing him over to you as per my promise.”

Ganga took leave of Santanu. Santanu took Devavrata to his palace, introduced him to his ministers and others and installed him as his heir-apparent.

Four years after this, when Santanu was hunting on the banks of Yamuna, he perceived a sweet fragrance. When he went in pursuit of this scent, he found that the fragrance was emanating from a young woman of exquisite beauty.  Santanu went to her and asked her who she was. She said that she was Satyavati,  the daughter of the Chief of the  fishermen and that she was engaged in carrying people across the river on a boat.

Santanu met the Chief and sought the hand of his daughter in marriage. The Chief said that he would be glad to get his daughter married to Santanu, if Santanu gave a pledge that the son born to his daughter would be Santanu’s successor for the throne.

Unwilling to accept this stipulation, Santanu left for his palace. However, he was unable to forget Satyavati, the fisher woman of exquisite beauty. He was in a melancholy mood always. Noticing this, Devavrata asked his father the reason for his somber mood. Santanu replied, “You are my heir. I am not interested in marrying again. But the scriptures say that having one son is equivalent to having no son at all. You have been engaging yourself in valiant acts. You may get killed in a battle. I am worried about what will happen to the Bharata race, if something were to happen to you.”

Devavrata, being an intelligent person realized that his father had been facing a dilemma which he was reluctant to share with him. He asked the King’s ministers whether they knew what the reason for the king’s grief was. The minister who accompanied Santanu when he met Satyavati’s father told Devavrata about the king’s desire to marry Satyavati and the condition stipulated by her father for getting her married to the king.

Devavrata, accompanied by some Kshatriya chiefs, went to the Chief of fishermen and requested him to give his daughter Satyavathi in marriage to his father Santanu. The Chief reiterated his condition that the son born to his daughter should ascend the throne.

Devavrata then took a vow that he would abdicate his right to the throne in favor of Satyavati’s son. The Chief appreciated Devavrata for his sacrifice and said, “I have no doubt that you will keep your word. But how can I be sure that your sons won't stake a claim to the throne?’

Hearing this, Devavrata said, “Right at this moment, I take the vow of Brahmacharya (celibacy). I will not marry or beget children as long as I live.”

Once Devavrata uttered these words, flowers were showered on him from the heaven by the celestials and the sages. A chorus of voices from the heaven said, “You are Bhishma (the terrible – one who performed a great feat).”  Satyavathi’s father accepted the marriage proposal and told Bhishma “I bestow my daughter to your father.”

Bhishma told Satyavati, “Oh mother, please get into the chariot and let us go to our house.”

After reaching Hastinapura, Bhishma narrated the events to his father . Hearing this, those assembled  in the palace exclaimed, “He is really Bhishma.”

Santanu was overwhelmed by the sacrifice of his son for the sake of his happiness and gave him a boon that Bhishma would live as long as he wished to. “Death will approach you only after obtaining your command,”  he said.(Bhishma made use of this boon by postponing his death till an auspicious time arrived after he was pierced by Arjuna’s arrows in the war.)   

Prince Devavrata thus transformed himself into Bhishma, a man of sacrifice who would devote his entire life to safeguard the rulers of Hatinapura.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

10. Ashta Vasus (The Eight Vasus)

Vasishta, the son of Varuna, the God of Rains, was a great sage who had attained an exalted status through intensive penance. He was also known as Apava. He had his abode in Mount Meru, where he was doing penance.

Daksha had a daughter by name Surabhi who was married to Sage Kasyapa.  Surabhi  gave birth to Nandini, a cow. This divine cow was a Cow of Abundance, capable of granting any wish sought from it. Vasishta obtained this cow for performing the rites. This cow would provide him things like Ghee required for performing a Homa (fire sacrifice), which was a routine activity for sages like him. Nandini dwelled in Vasishta’s Ashram, roaming in the woods freely. Nandinin was adored by all sages for its divine power of delivering whatever was requested of it.

The Vasus, the eight brothers with Prithu as their head, came to the forests, along with their wives. When they were wandering in the forests, they sighted Nandini, magnificent in appearance. The wife of Dyu, one of the Vasus pointed the cow to her husband and asked about it. Dyu told her that it was a divine cow that belonged to Sage Vasishta and that those who drank its milk would retain their youthfulness for 10000 years. She said that she had a friend Jitavati, who was a daughter of Sage Usinara and who was endowed with intelligence and was devoted to truth. She wanted Nandini’s milk to be given to her so that she could live long without being affected by any disease.
Intending to please his charming wife, 

Dyu momentarily failed to realize that he would be committing a sin and stole the cow with the help of his brothers. Sage Vasishta returned to his abode in the evening and fund that Nandini was missing. Through his divine vision, he realized what had happened. He got angry and cursed that the eight Vasus be born on earth.

The Vasus, on learning about the sage’s curse, returned the cow to him and begged him to forgive them. The sage said that he could not take back his curse but agreed to tone down the curse to the effect that the seven brothers other than Dyu would be freed from his curse within a year of their being born on earth. However, Dyu, the main culprit, would have to spend a long time on earth. He would not beget children and would remain a celibate throughout his life.

After narrating the story of the Astavasus to Santanu, Ganga told him about her meeting the Vasus and their requesting her to be their mother when they would be born as human beings.

Ganga suggested the names Gangeya and Devavrata to the child. She then went away taking the child with he,r after promising to send the child back to Santana after he grows up to become a youth.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

9. Santanu

Pratipa, while being a powerful monarch was also an ascetic.  He would often do penance sitting on the banks of the river Ganga.

One day, when he was meditating on the river bank, the river Ganga assumed the form of a beautiful damsel and sat on the right side of his lap. When the king asked her what she wanted, Ganga said that she wanted him to marry her. Pratipa told her that the right thigh was the seat for the daughters and daughters in law while the left thigh was the seat for the wife. Since she had sat on his right lap, she couldn’t become his wife, he clarified.

Ganga then beseeched him to accept her as his daughter in law. She said that she would make his son happy and bear him children and thus help him reach heaven. However, she told Pratipa that his son should never question the propriety of her actions. She then left for her abode.

After some time, Pratipa got a son. It was Mahabhisha who was born as his son as per Brahma’s curse. He was named Santanu. The name was derived from the word ‘Santi’ meaning tranquility and equanimity, the state of mind of Pratipa!

Santanu, like his father, grew up as a man of virtues. When he became a youth, his father told him “A beautiful young woman approached me sometime back and expressed her wish to marry you. She said she would bear you children and keep you happy. If she approaches you and offers to marry you, accept her offer. However, you should not question the propriety of any of her actions. He then crowned Santanu as the King and retired to the forests for doing penance.

King Santanu was fond of hunting and spent most of his time hunting animals in the forest. One day, he saw a beautiful lady on the banks of Ganga. Enchanted by her looks, he approached her and asked her who she was.

She said that she won’t reveal her identity but offered to marry him. However, she said that he should not question any of her actions, however disagreeable they might be. Santanu accepted her condition and married her, without knowing her identity. She conducted herself with dignity and the couple had a happy living. After sometime, a child was born to them. Immediately after giving birth to the child, Ganga carried the child to the Ganga and drowned it in the river. Though shocked by this cruel act, Santanu had to restrain himself from questioning her, since he was bound by the word he had given her before marrying her.

Ganga drowned her second child also and then went on to drown the next five children too. When she was about to drown her eighth child, Santanu stopped her and wanted to know why she was doing that cruel thing.

Ganga said that she won’t drown the eighth child but told him that she had to leave him since he had, in violation of his promise, questioned her action. She then revealed her identity to him and narrated the story about the curse of the Ashta Vasus and about why she was born as the mother of the Ashta Vasus.

Santanu wanted to know why the Ashta Vasus had to bear the curse of being born into the world as human beings. Ganga then narrated the story of the Ashta Vasus.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

8. Mahabhisha

King  Mahabhisha born in the Ikshvaku vamsa (race) achieved glory by conquering many countries and by performing  many sacrifices including the Rajasuya, considered  the greatest of all sacrifices. Yet, he was brought down by his lust.

There was an occasion during which all the celestials had assembled at a place to worship Brahma, the Creator.  King Mahabhisha was a part of the assembly. Many royal sages and Ganga, the sacred river, were also present. 

Brahma graced the gathering by appearing before them. There was a sudden gust of wind which momentarily lifted up Ganga’s garment. All the celestials bowed their heads down so as to avoid looking at the exposed part of Ganga’s body. But  Mahabhisha, unable to resist his temptation, stared at Ganga.

Angered by Mahabhisha’s conduct, Brahma cursed him to be born on the earth. He ordained that Ganga be born on the earth and cause him mental hurt.  When Mahabhisha was sufficiently provoked and showed his anger, he would be freed from the curse, said Brahma.

King Mahabhisha prayed that he be born as the son of King Pratipa, a monarch of great prowess. Ganga felt an attraction towards Mahabhisha caused by his lustrous gaze of her body.

While returning home from the assembly, Ganga met Vasus, a celestial tribe. Intrigued by their despondent looks, she asked them what their problem was. 

They said that while walking in the forest in the early hours of the morning, they had inadvertently stumbled on Sage Vasishta who was doing penance, because they were unable to see him in the dim light of twilight. Sage Vasishta had cursed them to be born as human beings. 

Learning that Ganga was also to be born as a human being as per Brahma’s edict, the Vasus requested that she be their mother. When Ganga asked them who would they choose to be their father, they mentioned  the name of Mahabhisha who would be born as Santanu, the son of King Pratipa.

The Vasus requested that Ganga throw them into the river as soon as they are born so that they would be relieved of the curse quickly. Ganga said that she should leave at least one son to Santanu. The Vasus accepted this. They said that they would each contribute one eighth of their energy to the one that would survive. However, they said that this son would have no children.