Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

brihaspati
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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby brihaspati » 19 Apr 2012 02:01

No - the Buddhism proper starts off in the 6th century - almost immediately after another cycle of the 1500 year period megadroughts. I am actually proposing that the philosophical moorings of the proto-Buddhist strain developed during the 1500-500 period, probably more accurately - between 1800-800.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby SaiK » 19 Apr 2012 02:50

Carl ji, any instances of stories that clearly says so and so ate this meat (earliest dates)? or cooked by prahmin houses?

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby kmkraoind » 19 Apr 2012 10:20

"Vatapi, Be Digested"

There is a Telugu custom, where mother says "jeernam jeernam vatapi jeernam ....." to infants, so that the digestion is quick and complete. Probably, the story denotes there is animal eating during puranic times.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby SaiK » 19 Apr 2012 10:38

mm.. again a rakshas becoming a goat and been eaten by a brahmin sage.. any other story that directly deals with cooking and eating live goats or animals?

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Murugan » 19 Apr 2012 11:03

Meat eating (animal killing) was restrcited after Brahmins became buddhists or Buddhist Brahmins started spreading buddhism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_Brahmins

The later day non-violence after Buddhism was due to spread of Jainism. though Mahavir swami was a senior contemporary of Gautam Buddh the later received more patronage especially after emperor ashok patronised it.

Jainism was later patronised by Kshatraps of Malwa and later day malwa kings, non-violence (no meat eating) became popular in these areas - gujarat, rajasthan, parts of MP. most of the vegetarians are found in these areas (and wherever jainism has influenced).

***

Jyotishtomen Swargakamo Yajet

In Jyotishtom yajna there are instructions of animal sacrifice. Controversy is whether it was symbolic or literal. There may be times people might have taken it as literal and started sacrificing animals. 54 Animals are supposed to be sacrificed by the host to get a seat with Indra in heaven. This is no more practiced perhaps because of Budhhist/Jain influence/Yoga sutra/Bhagvad gita influenced dharma.

In yajurved and shatpath brahmans one can find detailed instructions on Ashwamedh yajna in which horse is sacrificed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashvamedha

Latest ashwamedh was performed by Gupt emperor Samudragupt. One satavahan empress (?) is said to have performed ashwamedh

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby ManishH » 19 Apr 2012 11:33

Horse and goat sacrifices are even older than Yajurveda and Brāhmaṇas. RgVeda 1.162 describes a horse sacrifice, cooking followed by feast in substantial detail.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby RajeshA » 19 Apr 2012 16:09

One of the most enlightening speeches I've heard!


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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 19 Apr 2012 19:48

SaiK wrote:Carl ji, any instances of stories that clearly says so and so ate this meat (earliest dates)? or cooked by prahmin houses?

Also see such portions of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 6.4.18:

अथ य इच्च्हेत्पुत्रो मे पण्डितो विगीतः समितिंगमः शुश्रूषितां वाचं भाषिता जायेत सर्वान्वेदाननुब्रुवीत सर्वमायुरियादिति मांसौदनम् पाचयित्वा सर्पिष्मन्तमश्नियातामीश्वरौ जनयिता वा औक्षेण वार्षभेण वा |

"Now then, one who desires a son - learned, famous, frequenter of assemblies, etc etc - ...cook a meat-rice dish, with ghee and ... (the meat of) either the ox or the bull (i.e., beef)."

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby ManishH » 20 Apr 2012 10:19

Carlji:

Some refutation that above passage recommends eating bull or ox meat:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/27985414/A-Re ... a-Abridged

Basically on the lines of:
- This meat is needed only to beget a son who is well versed in atharva veda. Not a requirement for other vedas
- Here bull or ox are actually names of herbs (with references from caraka saṃhita). māṃsa is it's fleshy part. Revisionism at it's ardent best.

About Turkic südre, here is a complete Altaic etymology with cognates. There aren't many Altaic loanwords in IE languages (even in isolated IE branches like Tokharian); but reverse is abundant. Whatever Altaic borrowings exist in IE can be traced to later era (first millenium CE) eg. Iranian languages picked Mongol terms during Hun invasions; or Slavonic due to Attila.

It's unlikely that just one loanword südre got picked and that too not a significant enthonym in the foreign culture. Compare to Finno-Ugric word orja (for IE arya) used as a slave. Finno-Ugric has a slew of IE loan words.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby harbans » 20 Apr 2012 14:58

Didn't know exactly where to post this..but i think it's relevant to this:

here is something magic, something mesmerising, about the Star Wars saga. Many young viewers, after having seen the films, have a desire to experience some of the adventure that the heroes in Star Wars experience, and imbibe the chivalrous ideals exhibited by them. In other words, they desire to become like the Jedi knights in the films. Painfully aware that this is not possible (due not least to the absence of wookies, light sabres and star fleets in our part of the galaxy) they disappointedly get on with their lives in the ‘real world’, which seems grey and shallow by comparison to the Star Wars universe. However, a new book was recently published by Arktos Media about the Jedi religion and culture, which, according to the book, are based to a large extent on the Vedas, particularly on the kshatriya way of life and the stories of the रामायण Ramayana and महाभारत Mahabharata. The book I am referring to is The Jedi in the Lotus by Steven Rosen. In this article I will, on the basis of Rosen’s book, present some themes in the Star Wars films which I found inspiring and which could, perhaps with a little help from their source – the Vedic tradition –, be applied in the lives of idealistic Westerners like the readers of Aryavarta.


http://aryavarta.motpol.nu/

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 20 Apr 2012 21:23

ManishH wrote:Basically on the lines of:
- This meat is needed only to beget a son who is well versed in atharva veda. Not a requirement for other vedas.

What is the traditional perception about the subject matter and spiritual level of the 4 Vedas and their branches? I have often heard the Atharva-Veda derogated, and even associated with "foreign" influences by some in the south.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby ManishH » 20 Apr 2012 21:46

Atharvaveda is considered lowly by many traditional priestly families in south. But I know of families in Nepal who follow it.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Murugan » 21 Apr 2012 23:20

JohneeG

look at the brahmi numbers 1 to 9 and you will find how the modern angrezi numbers are using number 6, 7 and 9 as it is and 2,3,4,5 have close links with brahmi numerals.

http://www.indiancoins.org/PDF/BrahmiPrimerDec08.pdf

Use of Brahmi Numbers and scripts on Kshatrapa coins continuously for 200 years

http://coinindia.com/galleries-rudrasimha1.html
Use of Number and Scriplt

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Murugan » 21 Apr 2012 23:24

Modern Devnagari and Gupta Brahmi have close links

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby harbans » 23 Apr 2012 00:57

look at the brahmi numbers 1 to 9 and you will find how the modern angrezi numbers are using number 6, 7 and 9 as it is and 2,3,4,5 have close links with brahmi numerals.


No..all modern numerals are same and derived from the Brahmi. The Modern numerals we write are just minor deviants of the Brahmi. This is well explained in the Universal History of Numbers. The book is in 3 volumes by a French Moroccan author and the most authoritative research on it till date. He credits all modern mathematics including Computer Science to India. It's a MUST read and MUST buy! And it is written beautifully.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby SriKumar » 23 Apr 2012 04:26

harbans wrote: No..all modern numerals are same and derived from the Brahmi. The Modern numerals we write are just minor deviants of the Brahmi. This is well explained in the Universal History of Numbers. The book is in 3 volumes by a French Moroccan author and the most authoritative research on it till date. He credits all modern mathematics including Computer Science to India. It's a MUST read and MUST buy! And it is written beautifully.
harbansji, if you have read the book may I request you to do a short post on it (or a review) either here or in the book review dhaga. For example, what aspects of Indic mathematics does he comment on e.g. is it just numerals and arithmetic, or does it have something more e.g. algrebra, calculus, and what sources did he use.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby RajeshA » 23 Apr 2012 05:32

SriKumar ji,

here a link for the book

Code: Select all

http://uploading.com/files/get/1a73d32c/

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby SriKumar » 23 Apr 2012 09:00

RajeshA wrote:SriKumar ji, here a link for the book

Code: Select all

http://uploading.com/files/get/1a73d32c/
Wow! Lightspeed eh? Thanks for the file.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Murugan » 23 Apr 2012 09:24

harbans wrote:
look at the brahmi numbers 1 to 9 and you will find how the modern angrezi numbers are using number 6, 7 and 9 as it is and 2,3,4,5 have close links with brahmi numerals.


No..all modern numerals are same and derived from the Brahmi. The Modern numerals we write are just minor deviants of the Brahmi. ..


That is exactly my point harbans-ji. If you look at the brahmi numbers in the link provided, it becomes very obvious that the modern numbers are nothing but brahmi numbers in new avatar.

In the links to kshatrap coins which are 1800 years old, one can see number 2, 3 (without joints) 4,5,6,7, and 9 - which are still being used in modern angrezi numbers without much change.

http://www.coinnetwork.com/profiles/blo ... n-numerals

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Murugan » 23 Apr 2012 09:35

Srikumarji

I also recommend "The Crest of Peacock, Non-European Roots of Mathematics" by our own George Gheverghese Joseph. He even claims that calculus of newton were actually indian.

From same author another book

A Passage To Infinity : Medieval Indian Mathematics From Kerala And Its Impact

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby SriKumar » 24 Apr 2012 04:31

Murugan wrote: I also recommend "The Crest of Peacock, Non-European Roots of Mathematics" by our own George Gheverghese Joseph. He even claims that calculus of newton were actually indian.
From same author another book
A Passage To Infinity : Medieval Indian Mathematics From Kerala And Its Impact
Murugan saar, romba nandri. I will defnitely take a look at them.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby johneeG » 24 Apr 2012 11:31

abhishek_sharma wrote:Satyavati did not marry Rishi Parashar because her father wanted her to marry a king. She also had to leave her (and Parashar's) son (Vyasa) with him due to this reason. Sounds pretty bad.

From wiki

While Satyavati's presence of mind, far-sightedness and mastery of realpolitik is praised, her unscrupulous means of achieving her goals and her blind ambition are criticized.


I think this is not correct because her father made all decisions about her marriage. She was in love with Parashar.



Satyavati’s Biological Father:

"Vaisampayana said, 'There was a king of the name of Uparichara. That monarch was devoted to virtue. He was very much addicted also to hunting. That king of the Paurava race, called also Vasu, conquered the excellent and delightful kingdom of Chedi under instructions from Indra. Sometime after, the king gave up the use of arms and, dwelling in a secluded retreat, practiced the most severe austerities. The gods with Indra at their head once approached the monarch during this period, believing that he sought the headship of the gods(Indra-padavi), by those severe austerities of his. The celestials, becoming objects of his sight, by soft speeches succeeded in winning him away from his ascetic austerities.'

"The gods said, 'O lord of the earth, thou should take care so that virtue(dharma) may not sustain a diminution on earth! Protected by thee, virtue(dharma) itself will in return protect the universe.'

And Indra said, 'O king, protect virtue on earth attentively and rigidly. Being virtuous, thou shall, for all time, behold (in afterlife) many sacred regions. And though I am of Heaven, and thou art of earth, yet art thou my friend and dear to me. And, O king of men, dwell thou in that region on earth which is delightful, and abounds in animals, is sacred, full of wealth and corn, is well-protected like heaven, which is of agreeable climate, graced with every object of enjoyment, and blessed with fertility. And, O monarch of Chedi, this thy Dominion is full of riches, of gems and precious stones, and contains, besides, much mineral wealth. The cities and towns of this region are all devoted to virtue; the people are honest and contented; they never lie even in jest. Sons never divide their wealth with their fathers and are ever mindful of the welfare of their parents. Lean cattle are never yoked to the plough or the cart or engaged in carrying Merchandise; on the other hand, they are well-fed and fattened. In Chedi, the four orders are always engaged in their respective vocations. Let nothing be unknown to thee that happens in the three worlds. I shall give thee a crystal car such as the celestials alone are capable of carrying the car through mid air. Thou alone, of all mortals on earth, riding on that best of cars, shall course through mid-air like a celestial endued with a physical frame. I shall also give thee a triumphal garland of unfading lotuses, with which on, in battle, thou shall not be wounded by weapons. And, O king, this blessed and incomparable garland, widely known on earth as Indra's garland, shall be thy distinctive badge.

"The slayer of Vritra (Indra) also gave the king, for his gratification, a bamboo pole for protecting the honest and the peaceful. After the expiry of a year, the king planted it in the ground for the purpose of worshipping the giver thereof, viz., Sakra(Indra). From that time forth, O monarch, all kings, following Vasu's example, began to plant a pole for the celebration of Indra's worship. After erecting the pole they decked it with golden cloth and scents and garlands and various ornaments. And the god Vasava(Indra) is worshipped in due form with such garlands and ornaments. And the god, for the gratification of the illustrious Vasu, assuming the form of a swan, came himself to accept the worship thus offered. And the god, beholding the auspicious worship thus made by Vasu, that first of monarchs, was delighted, and said unto him, 'Those men, and kings also, who will worship me and joyously observe this festival of mine like the king of Chedi, shall have glory and victory for their countries and kingdom. Their cities also shall expand and be ever in joy.'

"King Vasu was thus blessed by the gratified Maghavat(Indra), the high-souled chief of the gods. Indeed, those men who cause this festivity of Sakra to be observed with gifts of land, of gems and precious stones, become the respected of the world. And king Vasu, the lord of Chedis, bestowing boons and performing great sacrifices and observing the festivity of Sakra, was much respected by Indra. And from Chedi he ruled the whole world virtuously. And for the gratification of Indra, Vasu, the lord of the Chedis, observed the festivity of Indra.

"And Vasu had five sons of great energy and immeasurable prowess. And the emperor installed his sons as governors of various provinces.

"And his son Vrihadratha was installed in Magadha and was known by the name of Maharatha. Another son of his was Pratyagraha; and another, Kusamva, who was also called Manivahana. And the two others were Mavella, and Yadu of great prowess and invincible in battle.

"These, O monarch, were the sons of that royal sage of mighty energy. And the five sons of Vasu planted kingdoms and towns after their own names and founded separate dynasties that lasted for long ages.



Satyavati’s Birth and Adoption:

"And when king Vasu took his seat in that crystal car, with the gift of Indra, and coursed through the sky, he was approached by Gandharvas and Apsaras (the celestial singers and dancers). And as he coursed through the upper regions, he was called Uparichara. And by his capital flowed a river called Suktimati. And that river was once attacked by a life-endued mountain called Kolahala maddened by lust. And Vasu, beholding the foul attempt, struck the mountain with his foot. And by the indentation caused by Vasu's stamp, the river came out (of the embraces of Kolahala). But the mountain begat on the river two children that were twins. And the river, grateful to Vasu for his having set her free from Kolahala's embraces, gave them both to Vasu. And the son was made the generalissimo to his forces by Vasu, that best of royal sages and giver of wealth and punisher of enemies. And the daughter called Girika, was wedded by Vasu.

'And Girika, the wife of Vasu, after her menstrual course, purifying herself by a bath, represented her state unto her lord. But that very day the Pitris of Vasu came unto that best of monarchs and foremost of wise men, and asked him to slay deer (for their Sraddha). And the king, thinking that the command of the Pitris should not be disobeyed, went a-hunting thinking of Girika alone who was gifted with great beauty and like unto another Sri herself. And the season being the spring, the woods within which the king was roaming, had become delightful like unto the gardens of the king of the Gandharvas himself.

There were Asokas and Champakas and Chutas and Atimuktas in abundance: and there were Punnagas and Karnikaras and Vakulas and Divya Patalas and Patalas and Narikelas and Chandanas and Arjunas and similar other beautiful and sacred trees resplendent with fragrant flowers and sweet fruits. And the whole forest was maddened by the sweet notes of the kokila and echoed with the hum of maddened bees. And the king became possessed with desire, and he saw not his wife before him. Maddened by desire he was roaming hither and thither, when he saw a beautiful Asoka decked with dense foliage, its branches covered with flowers. And the king sat at his ease in the shade of that tree. And excited by the fragrance of the season and the charming odours of the flowers around, and excited also by the delicious breeze, the king could not keep his mind away from the thought of the beautiful Girika. And beholding that a swift hawk was resting very near to him, the king, acquainted with the subtle truths of Dharma and Artha, went unto him and said, 'Amiable one, carry thou this seed (semen) for my wife Girika and give it unto her. Her season hath arrived.'

"The hawk, swift of speed, took it from the king and rapidly coursed through the air. While thus passing, the hawk was seen by another of his species. Thinking that the first one was carrying meat, the second one flew at him. The two fought with each other in the sky with their beaks. While they were fighting, the seed fell into the waters of the Yamuna. And in those waters dwelt an Apsara of the higher rank, known by the name of Adrika, transformed by a Brahmana's curse into a fish. As soon as Vasu's seed fell into the water from the claws of the hawk, Adrika rapidly approached and swallowed it at once. That fish was, sometime after, caught by the fishermen. And it was the tenth month of the fish's having swallowed the seed. From the stomach of that fish came out a male and a female child of human form.

The fishermen wondered much, and wending unto king Uparichara (for they were his subjects) told him all. They said, 'O king, these two beings of human shape have been found in the body of a fish!' The male child amongst the two was taken by Uparichara. That child afterwards became the virtuous and truthful monarch Matsya.

"After the birth of the twins, the Apsara herself became freed from her curse. For she had been told before by the illustrious one (who had cursed her) that she would, while living in her piscatorial form, give birth to two children of human shape and then would be freed from the curse. Then, according to these words, having given birth to the two children, and been killed by the fishermen, she left her fishform and assumed her own celestial shape. The Apsara then rose up on the path trodden by the Siddhas, the Rishis and the Charanas.

"The fish-smelling daughter of the Apsara in her piscatorial form was then given by the king unto the fishermen, saying, 'Let this one be thy daughter.' That girl was known by the name of Satyavati. And gifted with great beauty and possessed of every virtue, she of agreeable smiles, owing to contact with fishermen, was for some time of the fishy smell. Wishing to serve her (foster) father she plied a boat on the waters of the Yamuna.


Satyavati was the biological daughter of King Vasu(Uparichara) and a cursed apsara who was in the form of fish. King Vasu gave Satyavati to the chief of fishermen for adoption.

Satyavati was also called Kali. She had a strong odor of fish emanating from her body. She used to ply the boat on river Yamuna. Her foster father, the chief of fishermen, maintained a boat for the purpose of Sva-dharma. And to serve sva-dharma, Satyavati rowed the boat.

Satyavati was exceptionally beautiful and virtous.

Birth of Vyasa:

"While engaged in this vocation, Satyavati was seen one day by the great Rishi Parasara, in course of his wanderings. As she was gifted with great beauty, an object of desire even with an anchorite, and of graceful smiles, the wise sage, as soon as he beheld her, desired to have her. And that bull amongst Munis addressed the daughter of Vasu of celestial beauty and tapering thighs, saying, 'Accept my embraces, O blessed one!'

Satyavati replied, 'O holy one, behold the Rishis standing on either bank of the river. Seen by them, how can I grant thy wish?'

"Thus addressed by her, the ascetic thereupon created a fog (which existed not before and) which enveloped the whole region in darkness. And the maiden, beholding the fog that was created by the great Rishi wondered much. And the helpless one became suffused with the blushes of bashfulness. And she said, 'O holy one, note that I am a maiden under the control of my father. O sinless one, by accepting your embraces my virginity will be sullied. O best of Brahmanas, my virginity being sullied, how shall I, O Rishi, be able to return home? Indeed, I shall not then be able to bear life. Reflecting upon all this, O illustrious one, do that which should be done.' That best of Rishis, gratified with all she said, replied, "Thou shall remain a virgin even if thou grant my wish. And, O timid one, O beauteous lady, solicit the boon that thou desirest. O thou of fair smiles, my grace hath never before proved fruitless.' Thus addressed, the maiden asked for the boon that her body might emit a sweet scent (instead of the fish-odour that it had). And the illustrious Rishi thereupon granted that wish of her heart.

"Having obtained her boon, she became highly pleased, and her season immediately came. And she accepted the embraces of that Rishi of wonderful deeds. And she thenceforth became known among men by the name of Gandhavati (the sweet-scented one). And men could perceive her scent from the distance of a yojana. And for this she was known by another name which was Yojanagandha (one who scatters her scent for a yojana all around). And the illustrious Parasara, after this, went to his own asylum(Ashram).

"And Satyavati gratified with having obtained the excellent boon in consequence of which she became sweet-scented and her virginity remained unsullied conceived through Parasara's embraces. And she brought forth the very day, on an island in the Yamuna, the child begot upon her by Parasara and gifted with great energy. And the child, with the permission of his mother, set his mind on asceticism. And he went away saying, 'As soon as thou remember me when occasion comes, I shall appear unto thee.'

"And it was thus that Vyasa was born of Satyavati through Parasara. And because he was born in an island, he was called Dwaipayana (Dwaipa or islandborn). And the learned Dwaipayana, beholding that virtue is destined to become lame by one leg each yuga (she having four legs in all) and that the period of life and the strength of men followed the yugas, and moved by the desire of obtaining the favour of Brahman and the Brahmanas, arranged the Vedas. And for this he came to be called Vyasa (the arranger or compiler).

The boon-giving great one then taught Sumanta, Jaimini, Paila, his son Suka, and
Vaisampayana, the Vedas having the Mahabharata for their fifth. And the compilation of the Bharata was published by him through them separately.



Parashara Maharshi was enticed by the beauty of Satyavati. He wanted to have her. Note that he did not want to marry her. He merely wanted to enjoy her once. He proposed the same to Satyavati. Satyavati was quite young at the time. Such a proposal from the celebrated Rishi surprised, confused and frightened her. She expressed her fear of censure from the world, her father, ...etc.

The Rishi convinced her that she does not have to fear for anything. He created a dark fog that eclipsed their boat which was in the middle of the river Yamuna with many people standing at both banks. However, due to the dark fog, they could not see the boat.

Then, the Rishi promised that Satyavati would not suffer any loss of virginity. Then, the Rishi asked the Satyavati to ask for anything. Satyavati, who had a strong fish odour asked for a remedy of the same. It needs to be noticed that Satyavati was young and a bit naive. Parashar Maharshi granted her wish.

Satyavati was freed from the fish odour. She now had a pleasant scent emanating from her. Since, Satyavati had already acquired this favour from Maharshi, she consented for Rishi's proposal.

Immediately after Maharshi enjoyed Satyavati, he left her and went away to his Ashram. Satyavati became pregnant immediately and conceived the same day on an island in Yamuna. Her son, who was born on an island, was called Dwaipayana. Since, he was dark, he was called Krishna. The child was also extra-ordinary. He possessed great spiritual splendour. As soon as, he was born, he asked for the permission of his mother for practicing Tapas. Satyavati granted his wish. The child left her and promised that he would return to help her whenever she remembered him.

The child, in future, would edit the Vedas into 4 categories(Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva) earning the name Veda Vyasa.

The obviously this incident raises questions about the morality of Satyavati and Parashara Maharshi.

According to Scholars: The simple point is that when a great being is to be born, he needs an extra-ordinary parents. When divine beings are born, people with divine qualities will have to parent them. But great people are not always available. So, great Yogis or Rishis are temporarily deluded by the Mahamaya for the benefit of the world.

What is the speciality of Yogis or Rishis?

Generally, they are urdhva-retas. It gives them a special power according to Hinduism.

According to David Frawley:
Functions of Prana, Tejas and Ojas in Reproductive System
Prana, tejas and ojas are nourished by the reproductive fluid which functions as their support in the physical body. They are three aspects of the transformed reproductive fluid (shukra). Ojas is the latent state of the reproductive fluid that provides not only reproductive power but strength in general and nourishes all the bodily tissues from within, particularly the nerve tissue.

Ojas is our power of endurance and ability to sustain us, not only sexually but through all forms of exertion, physical and mental.

Tejas is the activated state of the reproductive fluid when it is transformed into heat, passion and will power. This occurs not only in sexual activity but whenever we are challenged or need to exert ourselves. Tejas gives us valor, courage and daring.

In yoga this force is necessary to enable us to perform tapas or transformative spiritual practices. Prana is the life-creating capacity inherent in the reproductive fluid. This aids in longevity and rejuvenation and stimulates the flow of prana through the nadis, giving a deeper energy to the mind. Without the proper reserve of reproductive fluid, we will become deficient in prana, tejas and ojas. Wrong or excessive sexual activity depletes all three forces.


Essentially, one who is celibate and practices certain spiritual and yogic excercises, they acquire extra-ordinary powers.

When a great being is to be born, such yogis or divine beings are chosen to parent them. For the birth of a great being like Vyasa, Parashara(the great rishi) was tempted temporarily into embracing Satyavati. It is to be noted that Parashara did not waver in his celibacy either before or after this incident. That shows that this incident was an exception and it was part of a divine plan.

Infact, this can be seen in the birth of many great people in Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Birth of Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Vali, Sugriva, ...etc are all similar.

Actually, come to think of it...even the birth of Satyavati(from a fish) is strange. Satyavati is mentioned as being virtuous. The fact that she was chosen to be the mother of Vyasa itself shows that she was a great being.

She agreed to Parashara Maharshi's proposal partly out of awe(of the great Maharshi and his cursing potential) and partly out of wanting to get rid of her bad odour.

After the incident, Satyavati returned to her home. There is nothing to suggest that anyone other than Satyavati, Parashara and Vyasa were aware of these events. It seems no one knew that Satyavati had already a son.

Now, about Shantanu:

Shantanu’s Past Life:

"Vaisampayana said, 'There was a king known by the name of Mahabhisha born in the race of Ikshvaku. He was the lord of all the earth, and was truthful (in speech) and of true prowess. By a thousand horse sacrifices(Ashewamedha Yagya) and a hundred Rajasuyas he had gratified the chief of the celestials and ultimately attained to heaven.

"One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshipping Brahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on the spot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay her adorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of the moon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person became exposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sage Mahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was for this cursed by Brahman, who said, 'Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyself at the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shall again and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born in the world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall be provoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'King Mahabhisha then recollecting all the monarchs and ascetics on earth, wished to be born as son to Pratipa of great prowess. And the queen of rivers, too, seeing king Mahabhisha lose his firmness, went away, thinking of him wishfully. And on her way, she saw those dwellers in heaven, the Vasus, also pursuing the same path. And the queen of rivers beholding them in the predicament, asked them, 'Why look ye so dejected? Ye dwellers in heaven, is everything right with you?'

Those celestials, the Vasus, answered her, saying, 'O queen of rivers, we have been cursed, for a venial fault, by the illustrious Vasishtha in anger. The foremost of excellent Rishis, Vasishtha, had been engaged in his twilight adorations and seated as he was, he could not be seen by us. We crossed him in ignorance. Therefore, in wrath he hath cursed us, saying, Be ye born among men!' It is beyond our power to frustrate what hath been said by that utterance of Brahma. Therefore, O river, thyself becoming a human female make us the Vasus, thy children. O amiable one, we are unwilling to enter the womb of any human female.'

Thus addressed, the queen of rivers told them, 'Be it so and asked them, 'On earth, who is that foremost of men whom ye will make your father?'

"The Vasus replied, 'On earth, unto Pratipa shall be born a son, Santanu, who will be a king of worldwide fame.' Ganga then said, 'Ye celestials, that is exactly my wish which ye sinless ones have expressed. I shall, indeed, do good to that Santanu. That is also your desire as just expressed.' The Vasus then said, 'It behoveth thee to throw thy children after birth, into the water, so that, O thou of three courses (celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean) we may be rescued soon without having to live on earth for any length of time.'

Ganga then answered, 'I shall do what ye desire. But in order that his intercourse with me may not be entirely fruitless, provide ye that one son at least may live.'

The Vasus then replied, 'We shall each contribute an eighth part of our respective energies With the sum thereof, thou shall have one son according to thy and his wishes. But this son shall not begat any children on earth. Therefore, that son of thine endued with great energy, shall be childless.'

"The Vasus, making this arrangement with Ganga, went away without Waiting to the place they liked.'"


King Mahabisha could not control his desire and looked at Ganga lustfully. Ganga liked Mahabisha. Brahma Deva cursed that they would have to spend their time among mortals. In a way, this curse is fulfillment of their wishes. Mahabisha wanted Ganga, he got her. Ganga also liked Mahabisha. The day, Mahabisha could defy Ganga(i.e. control his love for her and stand up for the right), both Ganga and he would be freed from the curse.


Shantanu’s Birth:

"Vaisampayana said. 'There was a king of the name of Pratipa, who was kind to all creatures. He spent many years in ascetic penances at the source of the river Ganga. The accomplished and lovely Ganga, one day, assuming the form of a beautiful female, and rising from the waters, made up to the monarch.

The celestial maiden, endued with ravishing beauty, approached the royal sage engaged in ascetic austerities, and sat upon his right thigh that was, for manly strength, a veritable Sala tree. When the maiden of handsome face had so sat upon his lap, the monarch said unto her, 'O amiable one, what dost thou desire? What shall I do?'

The damsel answered, 'I desire thee, O king, for my husband! O foremost one of the Kurus, be mine! To refuse a woman coming of her own accord is never applauded by the wise.'

Pratipa answered, 'O thou of the fairest complexion, moved by lust, I never go in unto others' wives or women that are not of my order. This, indeed, is my virtuous vow.'

The maiden rejoined, 'I am not inauspicious or ugly. I am every way worthy of being enjoyed. I am a celestial maiden of rare beauty; I desire thee for my husband. Refuse me not, O king.'

To this Pratipa answered, 'I am, 'O damsel, abstaining from that course to which thou wouldst incite me. If I break my vow, sin will overwhelm and kill me. O thou of the fairest complexion, thou hast embraced me, sitting on my right thigh. But, O timid one, know that this is the seat for daughters and daughters-in-law. The left lap is for the wife, but thou hast not accepted that. Therefore, O best of women, I cannot enjoy thee as an object of desire. Be my daughter-in-law. I accept thee for my son!'

"The damsel then said, 'O virtuous one, let it be as thou sayest. Let me be united with thy son. From my respect for thee, I shall be a wife of the celebrated Bharata race. Ye (of the Bharata race) are the refuge of all the monarchs on earth! I am incapable of numbering the virtues of this race even within a hundred years. The greatness and goodness of many celebrated monarchs of this race are limitless. O lord of all, let it be understood now that when I become thy daughter-in-law, thy son shall not be able to judge of the propriety of my acts. Living thus with thy son, I shall do good to him and increase his happiness. And he shall finally attain to heaven in consequence of the sons I shall bear him, and of his virtues and good conduct.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'O king, having said so, the celestial damsel disappeared then and there. And the king, too, waited for the birth of his son in order to fulfil his promise.'

"About this time Pratipa, that light of the Kuru race, that bull amongst Kshatriyas, was engaged, along with his wife, in austerities from desire of offspring. And when they had grown old, a son was born unto them. This was no other than Mahabhisha. And the child was called Santanu because he was born when his father had controlled his passions by ascetic penances. And the best of Kurus, Santanu, knowing that region of indestructible bliss can be acquired by one's deeds alone, became devoted to virtue.


Pradipa was tested by Ganga. Ganga acquired a beautiful form and sat on his right lap and then proposed to him. Pradipa had great self-control. He also recognised and remembered that sitting on the right lap indicated a relationship of daughter, daughter-in-law, grand-daughter..etc. So, Pradipa passed the test. He was blessed by Ganga that his son would marry her.

Mahabisha chose to be born as a son to Pradipa because he was of such great character. Also, the Ikshvaku dynasty was so great.

Shantanu’s marriage to Ganga:

When Santanu grew up into a youth, Pratipa addressed him and said, 'Some time ago, O Santanu, a celestial damsel came to me for thy good. If thou meetest that fair-complexioned one in secret and if she solicit thee for children, accept her as thy wife. And, O sinless one, judge not of the propriety or impropriety of her action and ask not who she is, or whose or whence, but accept her as thy wife at my command!'"

Vaisampayana continued, 'Pratipa, having thus commanded his son Santanu and installed him on his throne, retired into the woods. And king Santanu endued with great intelligence and equal unto Indra himself in splendour, became addicted to hunting and passed much of his time in the woods. And the best of monarchs always slew deer and buffaloes. And one day, as he was wandering along the bank of the Ganges, he came upon a region frequented by Siddhas and Charanas. And there he saw a lovely maiden of blazing beauty and like unto another Sri herself; of faultless and pearly teeth and decked with celestial ornaments, and attired in garments of fine texture that resembled in splendour the filaments of the lotus. And the monarch, on beholding that damsel, became surprised, and his raptures produced instant horripilation. With steadfast gaze he seemed to be drinking her charms, but repeated draughts failed to quench his thirst. The damsel also beholding the monarch of blazing splendour moving about in great agitation, was moved herself and experienced an affection for him. She gazed and gazed and longed to gaze on him evermore.

The monarch then in soft words addressed her and said, 'O slender-waisted one, be thou a goddess or the daughter of a Danava, be thou of the race of the Gandharvas, or Apsaras, be thou of the Yakshas or the Nagas, or be thou of human origin, O thou of celestial beauty, I solicit thee to be my wife!'"

"Vaisampayana said, 'The maiden then, hearing those soft and sweet words of the smiling monarch, and remembering her promise to the Vasus, addressed the king in reply. Of faultless features, the damsel sending a thrill of pleasure into the heart by every word she uttered, said, 'O king, I shall become thy wife and obey thy commands. But, O monarch, thou must not interfere with me in anything I do, be it agreeable or disagreeable. Nor shall thou ever address me unkindly. As long as thou shalt behave kindly I promise to live with thee. But I shall certainly leave thee the moment thou interferest with me or speakest to me an unkind word.'

The king answered, 'Be it so.' And thereupon the damsel obtaining that excellent monarch, that foremost one of the Bharata race for her husband, became highly pleased. And king Santanu also, obtaining her for his wife, enjoyed to the full the pleasure of her company. And adhering to his promise, he refrained from asking her anything. And the lord of earth, Santanu, became exceedingly gratified with her conduct, beauty, magnanimity, and attention to his comforts. And the goddess Ganga also, of three courses (celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean) assuming a human form of superior complexion and endued with celestial beauty, lived happily as the wife of Santanu, having as the fruit of her virtuous acts, obtained for her husband, that tiger among kings equal unto Indra himself in splendour. And she gratified the king by her attractiveness and affection, by her wiles and love, by her music and dance, and became herself gratified. And the monarch was so enraptured with his beautiful wife that months, seasons, and years rolled on without his being conscious of them.


Pradipa coronated Shantanu. He told him that a beautiful woman would marry him and that he should accept whatever conditions she places for the marriage. Then, Pradipa retired to the forest.

Shantanu met Ganga. He agreed to her conditions and married her. And they enjoyed marital bliss.

Birth of Bhishma:

And the king, while thus enjoying himself with his wife, had eight children born unto him who in beauty were like the very celestials themselves. But, O Bharata, those children, one after another, as soon as they were born, were thrown into the river by Ganga who said, 'This is for thy good.' And the children sank to rise no more.

The king, however, could not be pleased with such conduct. But he spoke not a word about it lest his wife should leave him. But when the eighth child was born, and when his wife as before was about to throw it smilingly into the river, the king with a sorrowful countenance and desirous of saving it from destruction, addressed her and said, 'Kill it not! Who art thou and whose? Why dost thou kill thy own children? Murderess of thy sons, the load of thy sins is great!'"

His wife, thus addressed, replied, 'O thou desirous of offspring, thou hast already become the first of those that have children. I shall not destroy this child of thine. But according to our agreement, the period of my stay with thee is at an end. I am Ganga, the daughter of Jahnu. I am ever worshipped by the great sages; I have lived with thee so long for accomplishing the purposes of the celestials. The eight illustrious Vasus endued with great energy had, from Vasishtha's curse, to assume human forms. On earth, besides thee, there was none else to deserve the honour of being their begetter. There is no woman also on earth except one like me, a celestial of human form, to become their mother. I assumed a human form to bring them forth. Thou also, having become the father of the eight Vasus, hast acquired many regions of perennial bliss. It was also agreed between myself and the Vasus that I should free them from their human forms as soon as they would be born. I have thus freed them from the curse of the Rishi Apava. Blest be thou; I leave thee, O king! But rear thou this child of rigid vows. That I should live with thee so long was the promise I gave to the Vasus. And let this child be called Gangadatta.'"


7 children were born to Ganga and Shantanu over a course of time. All of them were drowned by Ganga in the river Ganga. Shantanu was not happy with these actions. But he did not protest for the fear of losing his wife. But, he could not bear when the 8th child was being taken by Ganga for drowning.

Shantanu intervened and stopped Ganga from drowning the child. Ganga then revealed her real identity. Till now, Shantanu was not aware that his wife was the river Ganga herself. She was not a human being(unlike Shantanu). She was a celestial who acquired a human form. She was not born to any human parents(unlike Shantanu).

Ganga, then, revealed the secret behind drowning of the children:

Bhishma’s past life:

"Santanu asked, 'What was the fault of the Vasus and who was Apava, through whose curse the Vasus had to be born among men? What also hath this child of thine, Gangadatta, done for which he shall have to live among men? Why also were the Vasus, the lords of the three worlds, condemned to be born amongst men? O daughter of Jahnu, tell me all.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed, the celestial daughter of Jahnu, Ganga, then replied unto the monarch, her husband, that bull amongst men, saying, 'O best of Bharata's race, he who was obtained as son by Varuna was called Vasishtha, the Muni who afterwards came to be known as Apava. He had his asylum on the breast of the king of mountains called Meru. The spot was sacred and abounded with birds and beasts. And there bloomed at all times of the year flowers of every season. And, O best of Bharata's race, that foremost of virtuous men, the son of Varuna, practised his ascetic penances in those woods abounding with sweet roots and water.

"Daksha had a daughter known by the name of Surabhi, who, O bull of Bharata's race, for benefiting the world, brought forth, by her connection with Kasyapa, a daughter (Nandini) in the form of a cow. That foremost of all kine, Nandini, was the cow of plenty (capable of granting every desire). The virtuous son of Varuna obtained Nandini for his Homa rites. And Nandini, dwelling in that hermitage which was adored by Munis, roamed about fearlessly in those sacred and delightful woods.

"One day, O bull of Bharata's race, there came into those woods adored by the gods and celestial Rishis, the Vasus with Prithu at their head. And wandering there with their wives, they enjoyed themselves in those delightful woods and mountains. And as they wandered there, the slender-waisted wife of one of the Vasus, O thou of the prowess of Indra, saw in those woods Nandini, the cow of plenty. And seeing that cow possessing the wealth of all accomplishments, large eyes, full udders, fine tail, beautiful hoofs, and every other auspicious sign, and yielding much milk, she showed the animal to her husband Dyu. O thou of the prowess of the first of elephants, when Dyu was shown that cow, he began to admire her several qualities and addressing his wife, said, 'O black-eyed girl of fair thighs, this excellent cow belongeth to that Rishi whose is this delightful asylum. O slender-waisted one, that mortal who drinketh the sweet milk of this cow remaineth in unchanged youth for ten thousand years.' O best of monarchs, hearing this, the slender-waisted goddess of faultless features then addressed her lord of blazing splendour and said, 'There is on earth a friend of mine, Jitavati by name, possessed of great beauty and youth. She is the daughter of that god among men, the royal sage Usinara, endued with intelligence and devoted to truth. I desire to have this cow, O illustrious one, with her calf for that friend of mine. Therefore, O best of celestials, bring that cow so that my friend drinking of her milk may alone become on earth free from disease and decrepitude. O illustrious and blameless one, it behoveth thee to grant me this desire of mine. There is nothing that would be more agreeable to me.'

On hearing these words of his wife, Dyu, moved by the desire of humouring her, stole that cow, aided by his brothers Prithu and the others. Indeed, Dyu, commanded by his lotus-eyed wife, did her bidding, forgetting at the moment the high ascetic merits of the Rishi who owned her. He did not think at the time that he was going to fall by committing the sin of stealing the cow.

"When the son of Varuna returned to his asylum in the evening with fruits he had collected, he beheld not the cow with her calf there. He began to search for them in the woods, but when the great ascetic of superior intelligence found not his cow on search, he saw by his ascetic vision that she had been stolen by the Vasus. His wrath was instantly kindled and he cursed the Vasus, saying, 'Because the Vasus have stolen my cow of sweet milk and handsome tail, therefore, shall they certainly be born on earth!'

"O thou bull of Bharata's race, the illustrious Rishi Apava thus cursed the Vasus in wrath. And having cursed them, the illustrious one set his heart once more on ascetic meditation. And after that Brahmarshi of great power and ascetic wealth had thus in wrath cursed the Vasus, the latter, O king, coming to know of it, speedily came into his asylum. And addressing the Rishi, O bull among kings, they endeavoured to pacify him. But they failed, O tiger among men, to obtain grace from Apava--that Rishi conversant, with all rules of virtue.

The virtuous Apava, however, said, 'Ye Vasus, with Dhava and others, ye have been cursed by me. But ye shall be freed from my curse within a year of your birth among men. But he for whose deed ye have been cursed by me he, viz., Dyu, shall for his sinful act, have to dwell on earth for a length of time. I shall not make futile the words I have uttered in wrath. Dyu, though dwelling on Earth, shall not beget children. He shall, however, be virtuous and conversant with the scriptures. He shall be an obedient son to his father, but he shall have to abstain from the pleasure of female companionship.'

"Thus addressing the Vasus, the great Rishi went away. The Vasus then together came to me. And, O king, the begged of me the boon that as soon as they would be born, I should throw them into the water. And, O best of kings, I did as they desired, in order to free them from their earthly life. And O best of kings, from the Rishi's curse, this one only, viz., Dyu, himself, is to live on earth for some time.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having said this, the goddess disappeared then and there. And taking with her the child, she went away to the region she chose. And that child of Santanu was named both Gangeya and Devavrata and excelled his father in all accomplishments.

"Santanu, after the disappearance of his wife, returned to his capital with a sorrowful heart. I shall now recount to thee the many virtues and the great good fortune of the illustrious king Santanu of the Bharata race. Indeed, it is this splendid history that is called the Mahabharata.'"


Ganga revealed the secret to drowning the children and the past life of Bhishma. According to the pre-nuptial agreement, Ganga left Shantanu. She took the child also with her.

Vasus did not want to be born to ordinary woman or man. So, they requested Ganga to be the mother and chose Shantanu to be their father. This further cements the point that when divine beings have to born on the earth, they need extra-ordinary parents for the purpose.

Bhishma’s coronation:

"Vaisampayana said, 'The monarch Santanu, the most adored of the gods and royal sages, was known in all the worlds for his wisdom, virtues, and truthfulness (of speech). The qualities of self-control, liberality, forgiveness, intelligence, modesty, patience and superior energy ever dwelt in that bull among men, viz., Santanu, that great being endued with these accomplishments and conversant with both Religion(Dharma) and profit(Artha), the monarch was at once the protector of the Bharata race and all human beings. His neck was marked with (three) lines, like a conch-shell; his shoulders were broad, and he resembled in prowess an infuriated elephant. It would seem that all the auspicious signs of royalty dwelt in his person, considering that to be their fittest abode. Men, seeing the behaviour of that monarch of great achievements came to know that virtue(dharma) was ever superior to pleasure(kama) and profit(Artha). These were the attributes that dwelt in that great being--that bull among men--Santanu. And truly there was never a king like Santanu. All the kings of the earth, beholding him devoted to virtue, bestowed upon that foremost of virtuous men the title of King of kings. And all the kings of the earth during the time of that lord-protector of the Bharata race, were without woe and fear and anxiety of any kind. And they all slept in peace, rising from bed every morning after happy dreams. And owing to that monarch of splendid achievements resembling Indra himself in energy, all the kings of the earth became virtuous and devoted to liberality, religious acts and sacrifices. And when the earth was ruled by Santanu and other monarchs like him, the religious merits of every order increased very greatly. The Kshatriyas served the Brahmanas; the Vaisyas waited upon the Kshatriyas, and the Sudras adoring the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas, waited upon the Vaisyas.

And Santanu residing in Hastinapura, the delightful capital of the Kurus, ruled the whole earth bounded by seas. He was truthful and guileless, and like the king of the celestials himself conversant with the dictates of virtue. And from the combination in him of liberality, religion and asceticism, he acquired a great good fortune. He was free from anger and malice, and was handsome in person like Soma himself. In splendour he was like the Sun and in impetuosity of valour like Vayu. In wrath he was like Yama, and in patience like the Earth. And, O king, while Santanu ruled the earth, no deer, boars, birds, or other animals were needlessly slain. In his dominions the great virtue of kindness to all creatures prevailed, and the king himself, with the soul of mercy, and void of desire and wrath, extended equal protection unto all creatures. Then sacrifices in honour of the gods, the Rishis, and Pitris commenced, and no creature was deprived of life sinfully. And Santanu was the king and father of all--of those that were miserable and those that had no protectors, of birds and beasts, in fact, of every created thing.

And during the rule of the best of Kurus--of that king of kings-- speech became united with truth, and the minds of men were directed towards liberality and virtue. And Santanu, having enjoyed domestic felicity for six and thirty years(36 yrs), retired into the woods.

"And Santanu's son, the Vasu born of Ganga, named Devavrata resembled Santanu himself in personal beauty, in habits and behaviour, and in learning. And in all branches of knowledge, worldly or spiritual, his skill was very great. His strength and energy were extraordinary. He became a mighty car-warrior. In fact he was a great king.

"One day, while pursuing along the banks of the Ganges a deer that he had struck with his arrow, king Santanu observed that the river had become shallow. On observing this, that bull among men, viz., Santanu, began to reflect upon this strange phenomenon. He mentally asked why that first of rivers ran out so quickly as before. And while seeking for a cause, the illustrious monarch beheld that a youth of great comeliness, well-built and amiable person, like Indra himself, had, by his keen celestial weapon, checked the flow of the river. And the king, beholding this extraordinary feat of the river Ganga having been checked in her course near where that youth stood, became very much surprised. This youth was no other than Santanu's son himself. But as Santanu had seen his son only once a few moments after his birth, he had not sufficient recollection to identify that infant with the youth before his eyes. The youth, however, seeing his father, knew him at once, but instead of disclosing himself, he clouded the king's perception by his celestial powers of illusion and disappeared in his very sight.

"King Santanu, wondering much at what he saw and imagining the youth to be his own son then addressed Ganga and said, 'Show me that child.' Ganga thus addressed, assuming a beautiful form, and holding the boy decked with ornaments in her right arm, showed him to Santanu. And Santanu did not recognise that beautiful female bedecked with ornaments and attired in fine robes of white, although he had known her before. And Ganga said, 'O tiger among men, that eighth son whom thou hadst some time before begat upon me is this. Know that this excellent child is conversant with all weapons, O monarch, take him now. I have reared him with care. And go home, O tiger among men, taking him with thee. Endued with superior intelligence, he has studied with Vasishtha the entire Vedas with their branches. Skilled in all weapons and a mighty bowman, he is like Indra in battle. And, O Bharata, both the gods and the Asuras look upon him with favour. Whatever branches of knowledge are known to Usanas(Shukracharya), this one knoweth completely. And so is he the master of all those Sastras that the son of Angiras (Vrihaspati) adored by the gods and the Asuras, knoweth. And all the weapons known to the powerful and invincible Rama(Parashurama), the
son of Jamadagni are known to this thy illustrious son of mighty arms. O king of superior courage, take this thy own heroic child given unto thee by me. He is a mighty bowman and conversant with the interpretation of all treatises on the duties of a king.'

Thus commanded by Ganga, Santanu took his child resembling the Sun himself in glory and returned to his capital. And having reached his city that was like unto the celestial capital, that monarch of Puru's line regarded himself greatly fortunate. And having summoned all the Pauravas together, for the protection of his kingdom he installed his son as his heir-apparent(Yuvaraja).

And O bull of Bharata's race, the prince soon gratified by his behaviour his father and the other members of the Paurava race: in fact, all the subjects of the kingdom. And the king of incomparable prowess lived happily with that son of his.


Ganga returned after several years to give Shantanu the possession of his child(who was now a grown up young man). Shantanu's son was named Devavratha. He was well-educated and greatly skilled.

Shantanu installed his son as Yuvaraja.

Shantanu’s met Satyavati:

"Four years had thus passed away, when the king one day went into the woods on the bank of the Yamuna. And while the king was rambling there, he perceived a sweet scent coming from an unknown direction. And the monarch, impelled by the desire of ascertaining the cause, wandered hither and thither. And in course of his ramble, he beheld a black-eyed maiden of celestial beauty, the daughter of a fisherman. The king addressing her, said, 'Who art thou, and whose daughter? What dost thou do here, O timid one?' She answered, 'Blest be thou! I am the daughter of the chief of the fishermen. At his command, I am engaged for religious merit(dharma), in rowing passengers across this river in my boat.' And Santanu, beholding that maiden of celestial form endued with beauty, amiableness, and such fragrance, desired her for his wife.


Shantanu spotted Satyavati and desired her to be his wife. So, he went to her father with marriage proposal.

Satyavati’s father’s precondition to marriage:

And repairing unto her father, the king solicited his consent to the proposed match. But the chief of the fishermen replied to the monarch, saying, 'O king, as soon as my daughter of superior complexion was born, it was of course, understood that she should be bestowed upon a husband. But listen to the desire I have cherished all along in my heart. O sinless one, thou art truthful: if thou desires to obtain this maiden as a gift from me, give, me then this pledge. If, indeed, thou give the pledge, I will of course bestow my daughter upon thee for truly I can never obtain a husband for her equal to thee.'

"Santanu, hearing this, replied, 'When I have heard of the pledge thou askest, I shall then say whether I would be able to grant it. If it is capable of being granted, I shall certainly grant it. Otherwise how shall I grant it.'

The fisherman said, 'O king, what I ask of thee is this: the son born of this maiden shall be installed by thee on thy throne and none else shall thou make thy successor.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'O Bharata, when Santanu heard this, he felt no inclination to grant such a boon, though the fire of desire sorely burnt him within. The king with his heart afflicted by desire returned to Hastinapura, thinking all the way of the fisherman's daughter. And having returned home, the monarch passed his time in sorrowful meditation.


Satyavati's foster father places a precondition that only the son of Satyavati should be the royal heir of Shantanu. Shantanu cannot grant it because he already installed his son Devavratha on that post.

Bhishma’s Vow:

One day, Devavrata(Shantanu’s son) approaching his afflicted father said, 'All is prosperity with thee; all chiefs obey thee; then how is it that thou grievest thus? Absorbed in thy own thoughts, thou speak not a word to me in reply. Thou goest not out on horse-back now; thou look pale and emaciated, having lost all animation. I wish to know the disease thou suffer from, so that I may endeavour to apply a remedy.'

Thus addressed by his son, Santanu answered, 'Thou sayest truly, O son, that I have become melancholy. I will also tell thee why I am so. O thou of Bharata's line, thou art the only scion of this our large race. Thou art always engaged in sports of arms and achievements of prowess. But, O son, I am always thinking of the instability of human life. If any danger overtake thee, O child of Ganga, the result is that we become sonless. Truly thou alone art to me as a century of sons. I do not, therefore, desire to wed again. I only desire and pray that prosperity may ever attend thee so that our dynasty may be perpetuated. The wise say that he that hath one son hath no son. Sacrifices before fire and the knowledge of the three Vedas yield, it is true, everlasting religious merit, but all these, in point of religious merit, do not, come up to a sixteenth part of the religious merit attainable on the birth of a son. Indeed, in this respect, there is hardly any difference between men and the lower animals. O wise one, I do not entertain a shadow of doubt that one attains to heaven in consequence of his having begotten a son. The Vedas which constitute the root of the Puranas and are regarded as authoritative even by the gods, contain numerous proof of this. O thou of Bharata's race, thou art a hero of excitable temper, who is always engaged in the exercise of arms. It is very probable that thou wilt be slain on the field of battle. If it so happen, what then will be the state of the Bharata dynasty, It is this thought that hath made me so melancholy. I have now told thee fully the causes of my sorrow.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Devavrata who was endued with great intelligence, having ascertained all this from the king, reflected within himself for a while. He then went to the old minister devoted to his father's welfare and asked him about the cause of the king's grief. O bull of Bharata's race, when the prince questioned the minister, the latter told him about the boon that was demanded by the chief of the fishermen in respect of his daughter Gandhavati(Satyavati). Then Devavrata, accompanied by many Kshatriya chiefs of venerable age, personally repaired to the chief of the fishermen and begged of him his daughter on behalf of the king. The chief of the fishermen received him with due adorations, and, O thou of Bharata's race, when the prince took his seat in the court of the chief, the latter addressed him and said, 'O bull among the Bharatas, thou art the first of all wielders of weapons and the only son of Santanu. Thy power is great. But I have something to tell thee. If the bride's father was Indra himself, even then he would have to repent of rejecting such an exceedingly honourable and desirable proposal of marriage.

The great man(King Uparichara/Vasu) of whose seed this celebrated maiden named Satyavati was born, is, indeed, equal to you in virtue. He hath spoken to me on many occasions of the virtues of thy father and told me that, the king alone is worthy of (marrying) Satyavati. Let me tell you that I have even rejected the solicitations of that best of Brahmarshis--the celestial sage Asita--who, too, had often asked for Satyavati's hand in marriage. I have only one word to say on the part of this maiden. In the matter of the proposed marriage there is one great objection founded on the fact of a rival in the person of a co-wife's son. O oppressor of all foes, he hath no security, even if he be an Asura or a Gandharva, who hath a rival in thee. There is this only objection to the proposed marriage, and nothing else. Blest be thou! But this is all I have to say in the matter of the bestowal or otherwise, of Satyavati.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'O thou of Bharata's race, Devavrata, having heard these words, and moved by the desire of benefiting his father thus answered in the hearing of the assembled chiefs, 'O foremost of truthful men, listen to the vow I utter! The man has not been or will not be born, who will have the courage to take such a vow! I shall accomplish all that thou demand! The son that may be born of this maiden shall be our king.'

Thus addressed, the chief of the fishermen, impelled by desire of sovereignty (for his daughter's son), to achieve the almost impossible, then said, 'O thou of virtuous soul, thou art come hither as full agent on behalf of thy father Santanu of immeasurable glory; be thou also the sole manager on my behalf in the matter of the bestowal of this my daughter. But, O amiable one, there is something else to be said, something else to be reflected upon by thee. O suppressor of foes, those that have daughters, from the very nature of their obligations, must say what I say. O thou that art devoted to truth, the promise thou hast given in the presence of these chiefs for the benefit of Satyavati, hath, indeed, been worthy of thee. O thou of mighty arms, I have not the least doubt of its ever being violated by thee. But I have my doubts in respect of the children thou mayst beget.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'O king, the son of Ganga, devoted to truth, having ascertained the scruples of the chief of the fishermen, then said, moved thereto by the desire of benefiting his father, 'Chief of fishermen, thou best of men, listen to what I say in the presence of these assembled kings. Ye kings, I have already relinquished my right to the throne, I shall now settle the matter of my children. O fisherman, from this day I adopt the vow of Brahmacharya (study and meditation in celibacy). If I die sonless, I shall yet attain to regions of perennial bliss in heaven!'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Upon these words of the son of Ganga, the hair on the fisherman's body stood on end from glee, and he replied, 'I bestow my daughter!' Immediately after, the Apsaras and the gods with diverse groups of Rishis began to rain down flowers from the firmament upon the head of Devavrata and exclaimed, 'This one is Bhishma (the terrible).'

Bhishma then, to serve his father, addressed the illustrious damsel and said, 'O mother, ascend this chariot, and let us go unto our house.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having said this, Bhishma helped the beautiful maiden into his chariot. On arriving with her at Hastinapura, he told Santanu everything as it had happened. And the assembled kings, jointly and individually, applauded his extraordinary act and said, 'He is really Bhishma (the terrible)!'

And Santanu also, hearing of the extraordinary achievements of his son, became highly gratified and bestowed upon the high-souled prince the boon of death at will, saying, 'Death shall never come to thee as long as thou desirest to live. Truly death shall approach thee, O sinless one, having first obtained thy command.'"


The chief of fishermen is very happy with the alliance. He and the biological father of Satyavati believe that Shantanu alone is the right choice for Satyavati. Yet, the foster-father places a condition.

Shantanu cannot accept the condition, so he returns to his palace and remains sorrowful. His son asks for the reason for sorrow. Shantanu gives evasive reply. His son, Devavratha, understands that Shantanu is not telling the real reason for his sorrow. He learns the real reason from one of the ministers.

Then, Devavratha goes to the Satyavati's father and requests him to agree to the marriage. Chief of fisherman reiterates his condition. Devavratha agrees to the condition i.e. relenquishes his right to the throne.

Satyavati's father is still not happy. He raises the point that while Devavratha may give up his rights on the throne, but Devavratha's children may not be so generous. Here, the foster-father is looking out for the interests of his daughter. He is being far-sighted also. But, he is being a bit too greedy and also interfering with the Raj-dharma.

Devavratha, then, takes a vow of celibacy(Brahmacharya) and says that he will not have any children. Such terrible vows earn him the title: Bhishma.

Here, there is an interesting point:
Malladi Chandrashekhara Shastri, a great scholar on Mahabharata, says that Bhishma vowed for celibacy. It does not mean, he was not married. And that, at the time of the vow, he was already married. If that is true, then the vow of Bhishma is so much more extra-ordinary.

However, a possible counter to this claim is that there is no mention of any character in Mahabharata as Bhishma's wife(to the best of my knowledge). This ommission is uncharacteristic. Because, in Mahabharata, all characters, their past lifes, other relatives are mentioned and even their names are given. Then, why would an important character like Bhishma's wife will be ignored?

So, perhaps, Bhishma was not married.

Anyway, regardless of that, Bhishma's sacrifice was great. Note that Satyavati, herself, was not the one wanting the throne. She was just being an obedient daughter.
Last edited by johneeG on 24 Apr 2012 11:37, edited 1 time in total.

johneeG
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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby johneeG » 24 Apr 2012 11:33

^^^Contd
Satyavati’s marriage with Shantanu and their sons –Chitrangadha ansd Vichitravirya:

"Vaisampayana said, 'O monarch, after the nuptials were over, king Santanu established his beautiful bride in his household. Soon after was born of Satyavati an intelligent and heroic son of Santanu named Chitrangada. He was endued with great energy and became an eminent man. The lord Santanu of great prowess also begat upon Satyavati another son named Vichitravirya, who became a mighty bowman and who became king after his father. And before that bull among men, viz., Vichitravirya, attained to majority, the wise king Santanu realised the inevitable influence of Time.


It needs to be noticed that Shantanu does not seem to know of Satyavati's past(in regard to Parashara Maharshi).

Chitrangadha’s death:

And after Santanu had ascended to heaven. Bhishma, placing himself under the command of Satyavati, installed that suppressor of foes, viz., Chitrangada, on the throne, who, having soon vanquished by his prowess all monarchs, considered not any man as his equal. And beholding that he could vanquish men, Asuras, and the very gods, his namesake(Chitrangadha), the powerful king of the Gandharvas, approached him for an encounter. Between that Gandharva and that foremost one of the Kurus, who were both very powerful, there occurred on the field of Kurukshetra a fierce combat which lasted full three years on the banks of the Saraswati.

In that terrible encounter characterised by thick showers of weapons and in which the combatants ground each other fiercely, the Gandharva, who had greater prowess or strategic deception, slew the Kuru prince.

Having slain Chitrangada--that first of men and oppressor of foes--the Gandharva ascended to heaven.


Chitrangadha died on the battlefield. He was fighting against a Gandharva named Chitrangadha.

Vichitravirya’s marriage:

When that tiger among men endued with great prowess was slain, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, performed, O king, all his obsequies. He then installed the boy Vichitravirya of mighty arms, still in his minority, on the throne of the Kurus. And Vichitravirya, placing himself under the command of Bhishma, ruled the ancestral kingdom. And he adored Santanu's son Bhishma who was conversant with all the rules of religion and law; so, indeed, Bhishma also protected him that was so obedient to the dictates of duty.'"

"Vaisampayana said, 'O thou of Kuru's race, after Chitrangada was slain, his successor Vichitravirya being a minor, Bhishma ruled the kingdom, placing himself under the command of Satyavati. When he saw that his brother, who was the foremost of intelligent men, attained to majority, Bhishma set his heart upon marrying Vichitravirya. At this time he heard that the three daughters of the king of Kasi, all equal in beauty to the Apsaras themselves, would be married on the same occasion, selecting their husbands at a self-choice ceremony. Then that foremost of car-warriors, that vanquisher of all foes, at the command of his mother, went to the city of Varanasi in a single chariot. There Bhishma, the son of Santanu, saw that innumerable monarchs had come from all directions; and there he also saw those three maidens that would select their own husbands. And when the (assembled) kings were each being mentioned by name, Bhishma chose those maidens (on behalf of his brother). And taking them upon his chariot, Bhishma, that first of smiters in battle, addressed the kings, O monarch, and said in a voice deep as the roar of the clouds, 'The wise have directed that when an accomplished person has been invited, a maiden may be bestowed on him, decked with ornaments and along with many valuable presents. Others again may bestow their daughters by accepting a couple of kine. Some again bestow their daughters by taking a
fixed sum, and some take away maidens by force. Some wed with the consent of the maidens, some by drugging them into consent, and some by going unto the maidens' parents and obtaining their sanction. Some again obtain wives as presents for assisting at sacrifices. Of these, the learned always applaud the eighth form of marriage. Kings, however, speak highly of the Swyamvara (the fifth form as above) and themselves wed according to it. But the sages have said that, that wife is dearly to be prized who is taken away by force, after the slaughter of opponents, from amidst the concourse of princes and kings invited to a self-choice ceremony. Therefore, ye monarchs, I bear away these maidens hence by force. Strive ye, to the best of your might, to vanquish me or to be vanquished. Ye monarchs, I stand here resolved to fight!' Kuru prince, endued with great energy, thus addressing the assembled monarchs and the king of Kasi, took upon his car those maidens. And
having taken them up, he sped his chariot away, challenging the invited kings to a fight.

"The challenged monarchs then all stood up, slapping their arms and biting their nether lips in wrath.

And loud was the din produced, as, in a great hurry, they began to cast off their ornaments and put on their armour. And the motion of their ornaments and armour, O Janamejaya, brilliant as these were, resembled meteoric flashes in the sky. And with brows contracted and eyes red with rage, the monarchs moved in impatience, their armour and ornaments dazzling or waving with their agitated steps. The charioteers soon brought handsome cars with fine horses harnessed thereto. Those splendid warriors then, equipped with all kinds of weapons, rode on those cars, and with uplifted weapons pursued the retreating chief of the Kurus(Bhishma). Then, O Bharata, occurred the terrible encounter between those innumerable monarchs on one side and the Kuru warrior alone on the other. And the assembled monarchs threw at their foe ten thousand arrows at the same time. Bhishma, however speedily checked those numberless(innumerable) arrows before they could come at him by means of a shower of his own arrows as innumerable as the down on the body. Then those kings surrounded him from all sides and rained arrows
on him like masses of clouds showering on the mountain-breast. But Bhishma, arresting with his shafts the course of that arrowy downpour, pierced each of the monarchs with three shafts. The latter, in their turn pierced Bhishma, each with five shafts. But, O king, Bhishma checked those by his prowess and pierced each of the contending kings with two shafts. The combat became so fierce with that dense shower of arrows and other missiles that it looked very much like the encounter between the celestials and the Asuras of old, and men of courage who took no part in it were struck with fear even to look at the scene. Bhishma cut off, with his arrows, on the field of battle, bows, and flagstaffs, and coats of mail, and human heads by hundreds and thousands. And such was his terrible prowess and extraordinary lightness of hand, and such the skill with which he protected himself, that the contending car-warriors, though his enemies, began to applaud him loudly.

Then that foremost of all wielders of weapons having vanquished in battle all those monarchs, pursued his way towards the capital of the Bharatas(Hastinapura), taking those maidens with him.

"It was then, O king, that mighty car-warrior, king Salya of immeasurable prowess, from behind summoned Bhishma, the son of Santanu, to an encounter. And desirous of obtaining the maidens, he came upon Bhishma like a mighty leader of a herd of elephants rushing upon another of his kind, and tearing with his tusks the latter's hips at the sight of a female elephant in heat. And Salya of mighty arms, moved by wrath addressed Bhishma and said, 'Stay, Stay.' Then Bhishma, that tiger among men, that grinder of hostile armies, provoked by these words, flamed up in wrath like a blazing fire. Bow in hand, and brow furrowed into wrinkles, he stayed on his car, in obedience to Kshatriya usage having checked its course in expectation of the enemy. All the monarchs seeing him stop, stood there to become spectators of the coming encounter between him and Salya. The two then began to exhibit their prowess (upon each other) like roaring bulls of great strength at the sight of a cow in rut. Then, that foremost of men, king Salya covered Bhishma, the son of Santanu with hundreds and thousands of swift-winged shafts. And those monarchs seeing Salya thus covering Bhishma at the outset with innumerable shafts, wondered much and uttered shouts of applause. Beholding his lightness of
hand in combat, the crowd of regal spectators became very glad and applauded Salya greatly. That subjugator of hostile towns, Bhishma, then, on hearing those shouts of the Kshatriyas, became very angry and said, 'Stay, Stay'. In wrath, he commanded his charioteer, saying, 'Lead thou my car to where Salya is, so that I may slay him instantly as Garuda slays a serpent.'

Then the Kuru chief fixed the Varuna weapon on his bow-string, and with it afflicted the four steeds of king Salya. And, O tiger among kings, the Kuru chief, then, warding off with his weapons those of his foe, slew Salya's charioteer. Then that first of men, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, fighting for the sake of those damsels, slew with the Aindra weapon the noble steeds of his adversary. He then vanquished that best of monarchs but left him with his life. O bull of Bharata's race, Salya, after his defeat, returned to his kingdom and continued to rule it virtuously. And O conqueror of hostile towns, the other kings also, who had come to witness, the self-choice ceremony returned to their own kingdoms.

"That foremost of smiters, viz., Bhishma, after defeating those monarchs, set out with those damsels, for Hastinapura whence the virtuous Kuru prince Vichitravirya ruled the earth like that best of monarchs, viz., his father Santanu. And, O king, passing through many forests, rivers, hills, and woods abounding with trees, he arrived (at the capital) in no time. Of immeasurable prowess in battle, the son of the oceangoing Ganga, having slain numberless foes in battle without a scratch on his own person, brought the daughters of the king of Kasi unto the Kurus as tenderly if they were his daughters-in-law, or younger sisters, or daughters. And Bhishma of mighty arms, impelled by the desire of benefiting his brother, having by his prowess brought them thus, then offered those maidens possessing every accomplishment unto Vichitravirya. Conversant with the dictates of virtue, the son of Santanu, having achieved such an extraordinary feat according to (kingly) custom, then began to make preparations for his brother's wedding. And when everything about the wedding had been settled by Bhishma in consultation with
Satyavati, the eldest daughter of the king of Kasi(Amba), with a soft smile, told him these words, '

At heart, I had chosen the king of Saubha for my husband. He had, in his heart, accepted me for his wife. This was also approved by my father. At the self-choice ceremony also I would have chosen him as my lord. Thou art conversant with all the dictates of virtue, knowing all this, do as thou like.'

Thus addressed by that maiden in the presence of the Brahmanas, the heroic Bhishma began to reflect as to what should be done. As he was conversant with the rules of virtue, he consulted with the Brahmanas who had mastered the Vedas, and permitted Amba, the eldest daughter of the ruler of Kasi, to do as she liked. But he bestowed with due rites the two other daughters, Ambika and Ambalika on his younger brother Vichitravirya.


Vichitravirya was married to Ambika and Ambalika. Husband loved his wives very much and vice versa.

Vichitravirya’s Death:

And though Vichitravirya was virtuous and abstemious, yet, proud of youth and beauty, he soon became lustful after his marriage. And both Ambika and Ambalika were of tall stature, and of the complexion of molten gold. And their heads were covered with black curly hair, and their finger-nails were high and red; their hips were fat and round, and their breasts full and deep. And endued with every auspicious mark, the amiable young ladies considered themselves to be wedded to a husband who was every way worthy of themselves, and extremely loved and respected Vichitravirya. And Vichitravirya also, endued with the prowess of the celestials and the beauty of the twin Aswins, could steal the heart of any beautiful woman. And the prince passed seven years uninterruptedly in the company of his wives. He was attacked while yet in the prime of youth, with phthisis. Friends and relatives in consultation with one another tried to effect a cure. But in spite of all efforts, the Kuru prince died, setting like the evening sun. The virtuous Bhishma then became plunged into anxiety and grief, and in consultation with Satyavati caused the obsequial rites of the deceased to be performed by learned priests and the several of the Kuru race.'"


Vichitravirya died when he was still young.

This turn of events makes a mockery of the conditions placed by Satyavati's father. All his foresight could not have predicted the future. And all his greed came to naught.

Crisis of extinction of Bharatha dynasty:

"Vaisampayana said, 'The unfortunate Satyavati then became plunged in grief on account of her son. And after performing, with her daughters-in-law, the funeral rites of the deceased, consoled, as best she could, her weeping daughters-in-law and Bhishma, that foremost of all wielders of weapons.

And turning her eyes to religion(dharma), and to the paternal and maternal lines (of the Kurus), she addressed Bhishma and said 'The funeral cake, the achievements, and the perpetuation of the line of the virtuous and celebrated Santanu of Kuru's race, all now depend on thee. As the attainment of heaven is inseparable from good deeds, as long life is inseparable from truth and faith, so is virtue inseparable from thee. O virtuous one, thou art well-acquainted, in detail and in the abstract, with the dictates of virtue, with various Srutis, and with all the branches of the Vedas; know very well that thou art equal unto Sukra(Guru of Asuras) and Angiras(Brihaspati, Guru of Devas) as regards firmness in virtue, knowledge of the particular customs of families(aachara), and readiness of inventions under difficulties. Therefore, O foremost of virtuous men, relying on thee greatly, I shall appoint thee in a certain matter. Hearing me, it behoveth thee to do my bidding. O bull among men, my
son and thy brother, endued with energy and dear unto thee, hath gone childless to heaven while still a boy. These wives of thy brother, the amiable daughters of the ruler of Kasi, possessing beauty and youth, have become desirous of children. Therefore, O thou of mighty arms, at my command, raise offspring on them for the perpetuation of our line. It behoveth thee to guard virtue against loss. Install thyself on the throne and rule the kingdom of the Bharatas. Wed thou duly a wife. Plunge not thy ancestors into hell.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by his mother and friends and relatives, that oppressor of foes, the virtuous Bhishma, gave this reply conformable to the dictates of virtue, 'O mother, what thou say is certainly sanctioned by virtue. But thou knowest what my vow is in the matter of begetting children. Thou knowest also all that transpired in connection with thy dower. O Satyavati, I repeat the pledge I once gave, viz., I would renounce three worlds, the empire of heaven, anything that may be greater than that, but truth I would never renounce. The earth may renounce its scent, water may renounce its moisture, light may renounce its attribute of exhibiting forms, air may renounce its attribute of touch, the sun may renounce his glory, fire, its heat, the moon, his cooling rays, space, its capacity of
generating sound, the slayer of Vritra, his prowess, the god of justice, his impartiality; but I cannot renounce truth.'

Thus addressed by her son endued with wealth of energy, Satyavati said unto Bhishma, 'O thou whose prowess is truth, I know of thy firmness in truth. Thou canst, if so minded, create, by the help of thy energy, three worlds other than those that exist. I know what thy vow was on my account. But considering this emergency, bear thou the burden of the duty that one oweth to his ancestors. O punisher of foes, act in such a way that the lineal link may not be broken and our friends and relatives may not grieve.'

Thus urged by the miserable and weeping Satyavati speaking such words inconsistent with virtue from grief at the loss of her son, Bhishma addressed her again and said, 'O Queen, turn not thy eyes away from virtue. O, destroy us not. Breach of truth by a Kshatriya is never applauded in our treatises on religion. I shall soon tell thee, O Queen, what the established Kshatriya usage is to which recourse may be had to prevent Santanu's line becoming extinct on earth. Hearing me, reflect on what should be done in consultation with learned priests and those that are acquainted with practices allowable in times of emergency and distress, forgetting not at the same time what the ordinary course of social conduct is.'"

"Bhishma, continued, 'Listen, O mother, to me as I indicate the means by which the Bharata line may be perpetuated. Let an accomplished Brahmana be invited by an offer of wealth, and let him raise offspring upon the wives of Vichitravirya.'


Bhishma tells many past precedents when royal dynasties which faced extinction were saved by the above method. When Parashurama killed many royalties, this method was used to revive the dynasties.

In modern day, people choose genetics when thinking of insemination. In olden days, people believed that spiritual merit was most important.

An important point is that this method is prohibited in Kali Yuga according to the scriptures. The reason for prohibition is that people of Kali do not have the requisite self-control and lofty character to understand the method.

Another point of note is that this method was a method that was used only during the times of crisis. Normally, people would not even look at a girl who is already wedded(or loved) by another. This point is seen clearly in the case of Amba(the elder sister of Ambika and Ambalika).

Satyavati wanted Bhishma to ignore the conditions placed by her father and rule the kingdom. Bhishma did not agree to that, so they needed some other way of perpetuating the dynasty.

Satyavati’s solution to crisis:

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Satyavati, then, smiling softly and in voice broken in bashfulness. Addressed Bhishma saying, 'O Bharata of mighty arms, what thou sayest is true. From my confidence in thee I shall now indicate the means of perpetuating our line. Thou shall not be able to reject it, being conversant, as thou art, with the practices permitted in seasons of distress. In our race, thou art Virtue, and thou art Truth, and thou art, too, our sole refuge. Therefore hearing what I say truly, do what may be proper.

"My father was a virtuous man. For virtue's sake he had kept a (ferry) boat. One day, in the prime of my youth, I went to ply that boat. It so happened that the great and wise Rishi Parasara, that foremost of all virtuous men, came, and betook himself to my boat for crossing the Yamuna. As I was rowing him across the river, the Rishi became excited with desire and began to address me in soft words. The fear of my father was uppermost in my mind. But the terror of the Rishi's curse at last prevailed. And having obtained from him a precious boon, I could not refuse his solicitations. The Rishi by his energy brought me under his complete control, and gratified his desire then and there, having first enveloped the region in a thick fog. Before this there was a revolting fishy odour in my body; but the Rishi dispelled it and gave me my present fragrance. The Rishi also told me that by bringing forth his child in an island of the river, I would still continue (to be) a virgin. And the child of Parasara so born of me in my maidenhood hath become a great Rishi endued with large ascetic powers and known by the name of Dwaipayana (the island-born). That illustrious Rishi having by his ascetic power divided the Vedas into four parts hath come to be called on earth by the name of Vyasa (the divider or arranger), and for his dark colour, Krishna (the dark).

Truthful in speech, free from passion, a mighty ascetic who hath burnt all his sins, he went away with his father immediately after his birth. Appointed by me and thee also, that Rishi of incomparable splendour will certainly beget good children upon the wives of thy brother. He told me when he went away, 'Mother, think of me when thou art in difficulty.' I will now call him up, if thou, O Bhishma of mighty arms so desire. If thou art willing, O Bhishma, I am sure that great ascetic will beget children upon Vichitravirya's field.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Mention being made of the great Rishi, Bhishma with joined palms said, 'That man is truly intelligent who fixes his eyes judiciously on virtue(dharma), profit(Artha), and pleasure(kama), and who after reflecting with patience, acts in such a way that virtue may lead to future virtue, profit to future profit and pleasure to future pleasure. Therefore, that which hath been said by thee and which, besides being beneficial to us, is consistent with virtue, is certainly the best advice and hath my full approval.' And when Bhishma had said this, O thou of Kuru's race, Kali (Satyavati) thought of the Muni Dwaipayana and Dwaipayana who was then engaged in interpreting the Vedas, learning that he was being called up by his mother, came instantly unto her without anybody's knowing it.

Satayavati then duly greeted her son and embraced him with arms, bathing him in her tears, for the daughter of the fisherman wept bitterly at the sight of her son after so long a time. And her first son, the great Vyasa, beholding her weeping, washed her with cool water, and bowing unto her, said, 'I have come, O mother, to fulfill thy wishes. Therefore, O virtuous one, command me without delay. I shall accomplish thy desire.' The family priest of the Bharatas then worshipped the great Rishi duly, and the latter accepted the offerings of worship, uttering the usual mantras. And gratified with the worship he received, he took his seat.

Satyavati, beholding him seated at his ease, after the usual inquiries, addressed him and said, 'O learned one, sons derive their birth both from the father and the mother. They are, therefore, the common property of both parents. There cannot be the least doubt about it that the mother, hath as much power over them as the father. As thou art, indeed, my eldest son according to the ordinance, O Brahmarshi, so is Vichitravirya my youngest son. And as Bhishma is Vichitravirya's brother on the father's side, so art thou his brother on the same mother's side. I do not know what you may think, but this is what, O son, I think. This Bhishma, the son of Santanu, devoted to truth, doth not, for the sake, of truth, entertain the desire of either begetting children or ruling the kingdom. Therefore, from affection for thy brother Vichitravirya, for the perpetuation of our dynasty, for the sake of this Bhishma's request and my command, for kindness to all creatures, for the protection of the people and from the liberality of thy heart, O sinless one, it behoveth thee to do what I say. Thy younger brother hath left two widows like unto the daughters of the celestials themselves, endued with youth and great beauty. For the sake of virtue and religion, they have become desirous of offspring.

Thou art the fittest person to be appointed. Therefore beget upon them children worthy of our race and for the continuance of our line.'

"Vyasa, hearing this, said, 'O Satyavati, thou knowest what virtue is both in respect of this life and the other. O thou of great wisdom, thy affections also are set on virtue. Therefore, at thy command, making virtue my motive, I shall do what thou desirest. Indeed, this practice that is conformable to the true and eternal religion is known to me, I shall give unto my brother children that shall be like unto Mitra and Varuna. Let the ladies then duly observe for one full year the vow I indicate. They shall then be purified. No women shall ever approach me without having observed a rigid vow.'

"Satyavati then said, 'O sinless one, it must be as thou sayest. Take such steps that the ladies may conceive immediately. In a kingdom where there is no king, the people perish from want of protection; sacrifices and other holy acts are suspended; the clouds send no showers; and the gods disappear. How can a kingdom be protected that hath no king? Therefore, see thou that the ladies conceive. Bhishma will watch over the children as long as they are in their mother's wombs.

"Vyasa replied, 'If I am to give unto my brother children so unseasonably, then let the ladies bear my ugliness. That in itself shall, in their case, be the austerest of penances. If the princess of Kosala can bear my strong odour, my ugly and grim visage, my attire and body, she shall then conceive an excellent child.'"

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having spoken thus unto Satyavati, Vyasa of great energy addressed her and said, 'Let the princess of Kosala clad in clean attire and checked with ornaments wait for me in her bedchamber.'

Saying this, the Rishi disappeared, Satyavati then went to her daughter-in-law and seeing her in private spoke to her these words of beneficial and virtuous import, 'O princess of Kosala, listen to what I say. It is consistent with virtue. The dynasty of the Bharatas hath become extinct from my misfortune. Beholding my affliction and the extinction of his paternal line, the wise Bhishma, impelled also by the desire of perpetuating our race, hath made me a suggestion, which suggestion, however, for its accomplishment is dependent on thee. Accomplish it, O daughter, and restore the lost line of the Bharatas. O thou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendour unto the chief of the celestials. He shall bear the onerous burden of this our hereditary kingdom.'

"Satyavati having succeeded with great difficulty in procuring the assent of her virtuous daughter-in-law to her proposal which was not inconsistent with virtue, then fed Brahmanas and Rishis and numberless guests who arrived on die occasion.'"


Satyavati, now, reveals that Vyasa is her son. Then, Satyavati asks Vyasa to bless Ambika and Ambalika with children. Vyasa agrees to the request. Bhishma also agrees to this.

Birth of Dhritarashtra:

"Vaisampayana said, 'Soon after the monthly season of the princess of Kosala had been over, Satyavati, purifying her daughter-in-law with a bath, led her into the sleeping apartment. There seating her upon a luxurious bed, she addressed her, saying, 'O Princess of Kosala, thy husband hath an elder brother who shall this day enter thy womb as thy child. Wait for him tonight without dropping off to sleep.' Hearing these words of her mother-in-law, the amiable princess, as she lay on her bed, began to think of Bhishma and the other elders of the Kuru race. Then the Rishi of truthful speech, who had given his promise in respect of Ambika (the eldest of the princesses) in the first instance, entered her chamber while the lamp
was burning. The princess, seeing his dark visage, his matted locks of copper hue, blazing eyes, his grim beard, closed her eyes in fear. The Rishi, from desire of accomplishing his mother's wishes, however knew her. But the latter, struck with fear, opened not her eyes even once to look at him. And when Vyasa came out, he was met by his mother, who asked him, 'Shall the princess have an accomplished son?' Hearing her, he replied, 'The son of the princess she will bring forth shall be equal in might unto ten thousand elephants. He will be an illustrious royal sage, possessed of great learning and intelligence and energy. The high-souled one shall have in his time a century of sons. But from the fault of his mother he shall be blind 'At these words of her son, Satyavati said, 'O thou of ascetic wealth, how can one that is blind become a monarch worthy of the Kurus? How can one that is blind become the protector of his relatives and family, and the glory of his father's race? It behoveth thee to give another king unto the Kurus.' Saying, 'So be it,' Vyasa went away. And the first princess of Kosala in due time brought forth a blind son.


It seems according to the Hinduism, there are 4 ways of producing child:
a) Thought
b) Union of eye-sight.
c) touch
d) union of sexual organs.

Earthly creatures reproduce through union of sexual organs. However, the divine beings can produce progeny through thought, union of eye-sight, and touch also.

Rishis and Maharshis also acquire this power through their Tapas. So, Vyasa Maharshi may have blessed Ambika with a son through any of those means. The same is also true of Pandavas' birth.

One example of this phenomenon is found in Lalitha Sahasranama and Lalithopakhyanam. There, Lalitha Devi looks into the eyes of Kameshwara(Lord Shiva). As a result, Lord Ganesha is born.

Also, a son cannot be blind just because mother closed her eyes(if it is a normal sexual activity).

Birth of Pandu:
"Soon after Satyavati, O chastiser of foes, summoned Vyasa, after having secured the assent of her daughter-in-law. Vyasa came according to his promise, and approached, as before, the second wife of his brother. And Ambalika beholding the Rishi, became pale with fear And, O Bharata, beholding her so afflicted and pale with fear, Vyasa addressed her and said, 'Because thou hast been pale with fear at the sight of my grim visage, therefore, thy child shall be pale in complexion. O thou of handsome face, the name also thy child shall bear will be Pandu (the pale).' 'Saying this, the illustrious and best of Rishis came out of her chamber. And as he came out, he was met by his mother who asked him about the would-be-child. The Rishi told her that the child would be of pale complexion and known by the name of Pandu. Satyavati again begged of the Rishi another child, and the Rishi told her in reply, 'So be it.'

Ambalika, then, when her time came, brought forth a son of pale complexion. Blazing with beauty the child was endued with all auspicious marks. Indeed, it was this child who afterwards became the father of those mighty archers, the Pandavas.


Birth of Vidhura:

"Some time after, when the oldest of Vichitravirya's widows again had her monthly season, she was solicited by Satyavati to approach Vyasa once again. Possessed of beauty like a daughter of a celestial, the princess refused to do her mother-in-law's bidding, remembering the grim visage and strong odour of the Rishi. She, however, sent unto him, a maid of hers, endued with the beauty of an Apsara and decked with her own ornaments. And when the Vyasa arrived, the maid rose up and saluted him. And she waited upon him respectfully and took her seat near him when asked. And, O king, the great Rishi of rigid vows, was well-pleased with her, and when he rose to go away, he addressed her and said, 'Amiable one, thou shalt no longer be a slave. Thy child also shall be greatly fortunate and virtuous, and the foremost of all intelligent men on earth!' And, O king, the son thus begotten upon her by Krishna-Dwaipayana was afterwards known by the name of Vidura.

He was thus the brother of Dhritarashtra and the illustrious Pandu. And Vidura was free from desire and passion and was conversant with the rules of government, and was the god of justice born on earth under the curse of the illustrious Rishi Mandavya.

And Krishna-Dwaipayana, when he met his mother as before, informed her as to how he had been deceived by the seniormost of the princesses and how he had begotten a son upon a Sudra woman. And having spoken thus unto his mother the Rishi disappeared from her sight.

"Thus were born, in the field of Vichitravirya, even of Dwaipayana those sons of the splendour of celestial children, those propagators of the Kuru race.'"


Vidura’s Past life:

"Janamejaya said, 'What did the god of justice do for which he was cursed? And who was the Brahmana ascetic from whose curse the god had to be born in the Sudra caste?'

"Vaisampayana said, 'There was a Brahmana known by the name of Mandavya. He was conversant with all duties and was devoted to religion, truth and asceticism. The great ascetic used to sit at the entrance of his hermitage at the foot of a tree, with his arms upraised in the observance of the vow of silence. And as he sat there for years together, one day there came into his asylum a number of robbers laden with spoil. And, O bull in Bharata's race, those robbers were then being pursued by a superior body as guardians of the peace. The thieves, on entering that asylum, hid their booty there, and in fear concealed themselves thereabout before the guards came. But scarcely had they thus concealed themselves when the constables in pursuit came to the spot. The latter, observing the Rishi sitting under the tree, questioned him, O king, saying, 'O best of Brahmanas, which way have the thieves taken? Point it out to us so that we may follow it without loss of time.'

Thus questioned by the guardians of peace the ascetic, O king, said not a word, good or otherwise, in reply. The officers of the king, however, on searching that asylum soon discovered the thieves concealed thereabout together with the plunder. Upon this, their suspicion fell upon the Muni, and accordingly they seized him with the thieves and brought him before the king. The king sentenced him to be executed along with his supposed associates. And the officers, acting in ignorance, carried out the sentence by impaling the celebrated Rishi. And having impaled him, they went to the king with the booty they had recovered. But the virtuous Rishi, though impaled and kept without food, remained in that state for a long time without dying. And the Rishi by his ascetic power not only preserved his life but summoned other Rishi to the scene. And they came there in the night in the forms of birds, and beholding him engaged in ascetic meditation though fixed on that stake, became plunged into grief. And telling that best of Brahmanas who they were, they asked him saying, 'O Brahmana, we desire to know what hath been thy sin for which thou hast thus been made to suffer the tortures of impalement!'"

"Vaisampayana said, 'Thus asked, the tiger among Munis then answered those Rishis of ascetic wealth, 'Whom shall I blame for this? In fact, none else (than my own self) hath offended against me!'

After this, O monarch, the officers of justice, seeing him alive, informed the king of it. The latter hearing what they said, consulted with his advisers, and came to the place and began to pacify the Rishi. fixed on the stake. And the king said, 'O thou best of Rishis, I have offended against thee in ignorance. I beseech thee to pardon me for the same. It behoveth thee not to be angry with me.' Thus addressed by the king, the Muni was pacified. And beholding him free from wrath, the king took him up with the stake and endeavoured to extract it from his body. But not succeeding therein, he cut it off at the point just outside the body.

The Muni, with a portion of the stake within his body, walked about, and in that state practised the austerest of penances and conquered numberless regions unattainable by others. And for the circumstances of a part of the stake being within his body, he came to be known in the three worlds by the name of Ani-Mandavya (Mandavya with the stake within). And one day that Brahamana acquainted with the highest truth of religion went unto the abode of the god of justice. And beholding the god there seated on his throne, the Rishi reproached him and said, 'What, pray, is that sinful act committed by me unconsciously, for which I am bearing this punishment? O, tell me soon, and behold the power of my
asceticism.'

"The god of justice, thus questioned, replied, 'O thou of ascetic wealth, a little insect was once pierced by thee on a blade of grass. Thou bearest now the consequence of the act. O Rishi, as a gift, however small, multiplieth in respect of its religious merits, so a sinful act multiplieth in respect of the woe it bringeth in its train.' On hearing this, Ani-Mandavya asked, 'O tell me truly when this act was committed by me. Told in reply by the god of justice that he had committed it, when a child, the Rishi said, 'That shall not be a sin which may be done by a child up to the twelfth year of his age from birth. The scriptures shall not recognise it as sinful. The punishment thou hast inflicted on me for such a venial offence hath been disproportionate in severity. The killing of a Brahmana involves a sin that is heavier than the killing of any other living being. Thou shall, therefore, O god of justice, have to be born among men even in the Sudra order. And from this day I establish this limit in respect of the consequence of acts that an act shall not be sinful when committed by one below the age of fourteen. But when committed by one above that age, it shall be regarded as sin.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Cursed for this fault by that illustrious Rishi, the god of justice had his birth as Vidura in the Sudra order. And Vidura was well-versed in the doctrines of morality and also politics and worldly profit. And he was entirely free from covetousness and wrath. Possessed of great foresight and undisturbed tranquillity of mind, Vidura was ever devoted to the welfare of the Kurus.'"


In due course of time, Pandu was coronated as the King. Dhritarashtra was the eldest and therefore he would have been the King if he were not blind. His blindness made him ineligible for the Kingship. So, Pandu was made the King. This remained a thorn in the heart of Dhritarashtra who coveted the throne.

Pandu was an obedient brother. He was a great monarch. He defeated and conquered many Kingdoms and extended the empire. He was respectful to all his elders including Satyavati. Vidhura was his minister.

Then, Pandu married Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra married Gandhari.

Once upon a time, Pandu went on hunting expedition and spent a lot of time in the forests enjoying his time with his wives and hunting animals. In course of this time, he earned a fatal curse. As a result, he died.

Before his death, Kunti became the mother of 3 children: Yuddhishtira, Bhima and Arjuna, while Madhri had 2 sons: Nakula and Sahadeva.

Madhri also sat at the funeral pyre of Pandu and immolated herself. So, Kunti brought up all the 5 children.

Satyavati ascends to Heaven:

"When the Sraddha(of Pandu) had been celebrated in the manner mentioned above, the venerable Vyasa, seeing all the subjects sunk in grief, said one day to his mother Satyavati, 'Mother, our days of happiness have gone by and days of calamity have succeeded. Sin beginneth to increase day by day. The world hath got old. The empire of the Kauravas will no longer endure because of wrong and oppression. Go thou then into the forest, and devote thyself to contemplation through Yoga. Henceforth society will be filled with deceit and wrong. Good work will cease. Do not witness the annihilation of thy race, in thy old age.'

"Acquiescing in the words of Vyasa, Satyavati entered the inner apartments and addressed her daughter-in-law, saying, 'O Ambika, I hear that in consequence of the deeds of your grandsons, this Bharata dynasty and its subjects will perish. If thou permit, I would go to the forest with Kausalya, so grieved at the loss of her son.' O king, saying this the queen, taking the permission of Bhishma also, went to the forest. And arriving there with her two daughters-in-law, she became engaged in profound contemplation, and in good time leaving her body ascended to heaven.'


It seems that Satyavati was a great personality who faced many challenges in her long life but kept steadfast to dharma. The fact that she was chosen as the mother of Vyasa Bhagavan underscores the lofty state of Satyavati.

shiv
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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby shiv » 30 Apr 2012 18:22

Could someone explain this translation of Guru Nanak's verse to me?
Guru Nanak's verse (Mitti Mussalmam ki pede pai kumhar) "The Ashes of the Musalman (Muslim) fall into the potter's clot, it is moulded into pots and bricks, and they cry out as they burn".

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 30 Apr 2012 22:28

shiv wrote:Could someone explain this translation of Guru Nanak's verse to me?
Guru Nanak's verse (Mitti Mussalmam ki pede pai kumhar) "The Ashes of the Musalman (Muslim) fall into the potter's clot, it is moulded into pots and bricks, and they cry out as they burn".

It is using the word 'Musalman' for a character that is corrupt, and so the corrupt will undergo the fate of mud in a potter's wheel, to have its form annihilated and then reshaped into new forms.

This is a controversial verse from GurBani that Aurangzeb protested against. He summoned Guru Har Rai ji's son Ram Rai to the Delhi durbar to give an explanation. In order to placate Aurangzeb's ire, Ram Rai changed the verse, substituting 'be-imaan' (faithless, corrupt) for the word 'Musalman'. For this, Aurangzeb gave Ram Rai a jagir in Dehradun (I think), whereas Guru Har Rai ji debarred Ram Rai from Guruship and conferred that honour on his younger son Guru Har Kishan ji.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby ramana » 01 May 2012 03:00

Athirathram 2012 to be conducted in Bhadrachalam:

Atirathram 2012 in Bhadrachalam

Bhadrachalam to host “Athirathram”

The stage is almost set for the world's oldest surviving, 4000-year-old, fascinating Vedic ritual, “Athirathram-2012”, for the first time in Andhra Pradesh from April 21 to May 2 at Etpaka near Bhadrachalam. Athirathram refers to “building up of the fireplace and performed overnight”.

According to Kerala Namboodiri Brahmins, who have kept this alive, it is considered to be one of the most complex rituals.

Vedic rituals have come down in two broad types: The Grhya and the Srauta.

The former is concerned with rites of an individual, such as the Upanayana or marriage. The latter is solemn and exalted, showcasing in oral tradition the great learning of the Sruti literature, comprising, in other words, the three Vedas: Rig, Yajur and Sama and their ancillary texts.

The Grhya system is still in existence almost all over India, whereas, the Srauta type has survived in only a few isolated pockets of Brahmin groups. In Valmiki Ramayana’s Balakanda, there is a reference to Athirathram in 14th Sarga (Chapter) said to have been performed by King Dasaratha.

The Namboodiri Brahmins of Kerala have been keeping alive traditions of the Srauta rituals. Agni to the Namboodiris, lasting 12 days, is a great spectacle and display of learning.


The ritual is the basic feature of the civilization and religions of India. Ritual activity is essentially physical and is, therefore, primarily related to the body unlike thinking and believing, which are mainly connected with the mind.

Athirathram ritual emerged around the 10th century BC, and was practiced until the 6th century BC. In post-Vedic times, there were various revivals of the practice, under the Gupta and Chola Empire. By the 11th century, the ritual was kept alive only by the Namboodiri Brahmins of Kerala.


There is interesting information in both “Brahma Vaivartha Purana” and Telugu Literary Volumes published by Madras Government, that, Namboodiri Brahmins migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Kerala. After Satavahanas, the most popular emperors were Kadambas.

Mayoora Sharma, one of the kings of that dynasty, ruled Kerala for some time. He took some Andhra Brahmin families from his native Coastal Andhra forming part of Konaseema in East Godavari district to Kerala; they came to be known as Namboodiris. Adi Shankara too belongs to the Namboodiri sect of Brahmins.

Long considered extinct, the ceremonies require several months of preparation and rehearsals. This performance was in a way revived by the Indologist Dr. Frits Staal of the University of California who died recently and by Robert Gardner, with support from several international agencies. Frits Staal was responsible for organizing and recording the ritual.

Seventeen priests are required for performing the ‘Agni’ lasting 12 days. The first day begins with the Yajamana and his priests entering the ritual enclosure carrying three sacred fires in pots. The main ritual vessel is prepared from clay. A symbolic animal sacrifice would be performed for Vayu. After selection of five chief priests, fire is produced by friction.

This is followed by tying a turban around the head of Yajamana. He is protected by a golden breastplate, given a staff and closes his fists and deprived of speaking (except for recitations), from bathing, etc. The Yajamana picks up the main ritual vessel filled with fire, and takes three steps with it.

On the second day, another ritual pot, also made of clay, is prepared.

A sacrificial pole is made on the third day. On the fourth day, among others, the Indra God is invited to attend the ritual. From the fifth to the seventh day, layers of the altar are laid on each day. On the eighth day the fifth layer is laid. On the ninth day, the implements used in the process are put down on the new altar in the shape of a man. The ceremonies from the 10th day up to the dawn of the 12th continue throughout; on the 12th day the Yajamana and his wife take “Avabhratha bath”.

The Yajamana installs three fires at his home after returning. He performs morning and evening Agnihothra for the rest of his life. The major offerings to the sacrificial fire are Somarasa, the juice of Somalatha, an herbal plant, plus dozens of other herbs.

Each day, the rituals vary. Vedic scholar Brahmasree Naduvam Narayanan Somayaji would be primarily responsible for the Athirathram-2012 and will be the “Yajamana” along with his wife Savitri Pathanadi.

Two other Ghanapathis and Vedic scholars, Brahmasree Krishnan Namboodiri and Brahmasree Kadaloor Sri Das Namboodiri, would occupy central positions in the ritual realm of the Rig-Veda and Yajurveda. Both, as well as the Yajamana, have already been initiated into the holy penance required for the Athiarhram-2012 for the last six months.


Brahmasree Hari Haranatha Sarma (62) who has performed 16 Somayagas along with his son, also a Vedic Pundit Raja Sekhara Sarma, after witnessing the Panjal Athirathram-2011 and impressed by the whole process, decided to perform it in Andhra Pradesh through his organization “the Samatha Lok Seva Samithi”.

This would be their 17th yagnam. A Steering Committee with P. V. R. K. Prasad, former Executive Officer, TTD, as Chairman and persons from different walks of life like former Prasarabharati Chairman KS Sharma, former TTD Executive Officers P. Krishnayya and MVS Prasad, DG Prisons Dr CN Gopinath Reddy, senior IAS Officer CVSK Sharma, former MD AP Forest Development Corporation, BJP Leader NVSS Prabhakara Rao, former DGP Roddam Prabhakara Rao, Members of Parliament Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, Vundavalli Arun Kumar and Balaram Naik, etc, has been formed to organize the Athirathram-2012. Help and assistance from the State Government, TTD, Singareni Collieries, ITC Bhadrachalam, and public sector undertakings is being sought.

Athirathram is planned in Bhadrachalam from April 21, 2012, to May 2, 2012. The Adhvaryam of the Yajurveda in the ritual and the heaviest load will be borne by the Kapra family; the Hautram of the Rig-Veda is led by the Naras family and the Audgatram of the Samaveda in the ritual by Tottam.

Bhadrachalam is getting ready to host Athirathram. Preparations began on the 60 acres of land donated by Sree Sitaramachandra Swami Temple Trust Board Chairman Kuricheti Panduranga Rao. The Yajurveda and Samaveda practices that precede Athirathram have already begun. Traditional craftsmen are busy making clay and wooden utensils for the ritual. The choice of the venue is also in accordance with geographic and vaastu principles.

Can anyone confirm that ritual would be conducted precisely in accordance with the Vedas? "Spotting of a solitary eagle flying in the sky above the Yagnashala and a heavy downpour are indications that the gods are pleased with the ritual," says a Namboodiri who believes in the Athirathram. In 1975 and in 2011, for instance, it happened!

Scientific research has proved the impact of Vedic chanting and Yaga on agriculture and its implications on micro organisms.

Athirathram is held for universal harmony, peace and spiritual enlightenment. This ritual is attributed to the impact on the thinking of individuals who participate in the Yaagam and those who reside in that Rajya (State) bestowing positive thoughts, bringing about harmony amongst people, while contributing to their overall prosperity and well-being.

Professor Staal said that “temples, cathedrals, and skyscrapers were built and fell into decay, languages and religions have come and gone, and innumerable wars were fought, the Vedas and their ritual continued to be transmitted by word of mouth, from teacher to pupil, and from father to son. What a triumph of human spirit over the limitations of matter and the physical body!”

The writer is Chief Coordinator, Athirathram-2012 Steering Committee.





The link has some pictures also.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby shiv » 01 May 2012 06:44

Carl wrote:
Guru Nanak's verse (Mitti Mussalmam ki pede pai kumhar) "The Ashes of the Musalman (Muslim) fall into the potter's clot, it is moulded into pots and bricks, and they cry out as they burn".

It is using the word 'Musalman' for a character that is corrupt, and so the corrupt will undergo the fate of mud in a potter's wheel, to have its form annihilated and then reshaped into new forms.

This is a controversial verse from GurBani that Aurangzeb protested against. He summoned Guru Har Rai ji's son Ram Rai to the Delhi durbar to give an explanation. In order to placate Aurangzeb's ire, Ram Rai changed the verse, substituting 'be-imaan' (faithless, corrupt) for the word 'Musalman'. For this, Aurangzeb gave Ram Rai a jagir in Dehradun (I think), whereas Guru Har Rai ji debarred Ram Rai from Guruship and conferred that honour on his younger son Guru Har Kishan ji.


Thanks Carl. The story associated with that line is better known than the meaning of the line. I have heard a different interpretation where Guru Nanak did not say mussalman when he meant beimaan. He said mussalmaan as an example of the fact that any body buried turns into dirt (mud/clay) which is then reborn as something else via a potter. I think this was a reference to statements about fates of bodies (and souls) and whether they should be buried or cremated and that it makes little difference either way to the soul. It would appear to me that Guru Nanak would have meant something much more profound - given his philosophy rather than a crass mussalmaan==beimaan even if it became perfectly true as it did in the time of Aurangzeb. Guru Nanak lived just before Akbar when the so called Mugahl empire was relatively young and could probably see the deterioration in Hindu society and the assault from a faulty Islamic doctrine that made him realize the true path to divinity.

I can understand why people on the ground equated mussalman with beimaan but I suspect that Ram Rai scored a self goal by changing the meaning. It's not just a buried beimaan's mitti that is reborn in a potters wheel, but anyone and everyone who is buried can be reborn that way. Aurangzeb was stupid enough to be pleased by the substitution and surely unable to understand the true implication of Nanak's words which is why the murderous paranoid ba$tard asked for an explanation.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 08:35

^^^ Shiv ji, that's quite possible. From the point of view of Indic philosophy your explanation fits to a T. The body returns to dust while the subtle mind moves on to inhabit a new body, while the soul is separate. However, this idea does not fit in the context of Islamic philosophy. In Islam, various mufassireen (commentators) have made the point that the *souls* of non-Moslems are simply annihilated. And they do not accept the concept of transmigration of the soul, or if they do, they have a different spin on metempsychosis.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby shiv » 01 May 2012 09:07

Carl wrote:^^^ Shiv ji, that's quite possible. From the point of view of Indic philosophy your explanation fits to a T. The body returns to dust while the subtle mind moves on to inhabit a new body, while the soul is separate. However, this idea does not fit in the context of Islamic philosophy. In Islam, various mufassireen (commentators) have made the point that the *souls* of non-Moslems are simply annihilated. And they do not accept the concept of transmigration of the soul, or if they do, they have a different spin on metempsychosis.


I think that is precisely why Guru Nanak used the word Mussalmaan. Not as beimaan but to demolish the misconception that burial makes a difference. He was just pointing out (perhaps subtly) that the dirt that carries a Mussalmaan's body could be shaped into a Hindu idol or even a brick in a piss-pot.

The more I read about Guru Nanak and the gurus that followed (which I am doing as I try and parse the history of Punjab in the Shitistan thread) the more I am inspired by their greatness.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 10:42

shiv wrote:The more I read about Guru Nanak and the gurus that followed (which I am doing as I try and parse the history of Punjab in the Shitistan thread) the more I am inspired by their greatness.

You can say that again. They saved Vedic civilization in north India, and possibly the whole of India. They also left us a memetic method that demands to be studied a lot more deeply to develop extensions in present time. At least 8% to 10% of India needs to be Sikh-ized, taken from all states.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby shiv » 01 May 2012 14:21

Carl wrote:
shiv wrote:The more I read about Guru Nanak and the gurus that followed (which I am doing as I try and parse the history of Punjab in the Shitistan thread) the more I am inspired by their greatness.

You can say that again. They saved Vedic civilization in north India, and possibly the whole of India. They also left us a memetic method that demands to be studied a lot more deeply to develop extensions in present time. At least 8% to 10% of India needs to be Sikh-ized, taken from all states.


+1 to that. Absolutely.

What is not realized is that Sikhs tend to get noted for their appearance. But the distinctive appearance, the beard, hair covered by a turban, the kada etc belie the fact that up until the time Guru Gobind Sngh initiated the Khalsa that all Sikhs are recognized by today, it was only the philosophy that set Sikhs apart, not appearance. And once the Khalsa came into existence, their valor and capacity to fight to the last drop of blood was what actually sealed the western border of India.

Sikhs have a reputation for ferocity, which is good and bad. The reputation makes them wanted as allies and feared as foes, but it hides the fact that they are a sensitive and gentle people behind that fierce demeanor and ebullient language. Just like anyone else. To me, pisko wise it indicates that Guru Gobind Singh had instinctive knowledge of human psychology far beyond that shown by the average leader of any group, and knew that the appearance and pride in one's appearance are as important as all one's internal philosophy-shilosophy etc. You take an average SDRE Indian who has no pride in himself or his kind - he has to learn the way pride was inculcated out of truth and dharma among Sikhs. Sorry. OT for this thread.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 19:44

shiv wrote:You take an average SDRE Indian who has no pride in himself or his kind - he has to learn the way pride was inculcated out of truth and dharma among Sikhs.

True. It took 10 Gurus (many of whom physically lead battles and some of whom were martyred) to bring the Sikh out of the dhoti quiver. They took implementing Vedic civilization far beyond the comfortable yoga shoga, philosophical pravachan and moral high ground. I think the Macauliffe distortion in Sikhi needs to be removed, and then large scale prachaar needs to resume nationwide.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Sushupti » 01 May 2012 20:04

^^^ read about the history of "Akhadas" in North India. Tradition of armed Sanyasin pre-dates Guru Nanak.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 20:15

^^ Of course it pre-dates. But Sikhism systematized and organized that tradition and put it to actual use, and integrated it with a full social system that was able to play frontfoot and expand.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby sanjeevpunj » 01 May 2012 21:28

Sikh method of worship is direct, it does not get entangled in rituals.Guru Nanak and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were contemporaries, who had the same purpose in mind, but one took on the task of awakening the ritual oriented hindus, while the other took on the task of developing a martial race. A combination of these will make a great country someday.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 21:35

sanjeevpunj ji, right on. I think the two you mentioned cater to different vectors in the varna schema.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Yogi_G » 01 May 2012 21:38

sanjeevpunj wrote:Sikh method of worship is direct, it does not get entangled in rituals.Guru Nanak and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were contemporaries, who had the same purpose in mind, but one took on the task of awakening the ritual oriented hindus, while the other took on the task of developing a martial race. A combination of these will make a great country someday.


Not wanting to take away credit from the Sikhs (whom I consider Hindus), it is often said that the Sikhs were a martial group created to defend Hinduism. Well, the Marathas predated the Sikhs and had reached Attock and knocking on the doors of Afghanistan. The vaccum created by the third battle of Panipat partly contributed to the rise of the Sikhs.

That a pure Hindu state like the Marathas could defend and reclaim the territory of Bharat and make Muslim kings like the Mughals and the Nizams pay tribute is proof enough that Hindus can defend themselves and in their day have defeated the best generals of the day right from Abyssinians to Uzbeks to Portugese.

I am proud of Sikh history but when I hear that the Sikhs became a role model to the spineless Hindu, sorry I cannot accept that. THe facts do not support that.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 21:58

Yogi_G wrote:I am proud of Sikh history but when I hear that the Sikhs became a role model to the spineless Hindu, sorry I cannot accept that. THe facts do not support that.

Who said that? Sikhs are Hindus in every way. But the mission of the Sikh Gurus was more comprehensive than the Marathas. We are not just talking about "martial" qualities. The Maratha ideology and sense of purpose was shallower.

Sikhism was not just about overthrowing a regime, it was about -

1. binding Indic society,
2. criticizing the spiritual rot within,
3. openly criticizing the oppressive and aggressive idealogy of the other,
4. advocating a firm response to atrocities,
5. and still maintaining a loving, open armed stance to rejoin Indic society,
6. with bold and innovative attempts at synthesis,
7. setting a comprehensive example of individual and communal practice that encompassed meditation, social activism, solidarity and other such sterling values. Courage and camaraderie.

The fact is that the Sikh Gurus' focus was on moral regeneration, first and last. They focused on the individual aspiration for spiritual freedom. Their attention to fighting political oppression was only a side effect of that central focus. The fact is that they epitomized non-violent good faith to the extent of martyring themselves more than once due to the skullduggery of the opponent, whose reputation has been blackened for posterity.

So the central focus of Sikhism was always on moral regeneration, and they set a sterling example of not allowing political grouses to hijack that natural human aspiration for spiritual freedom. They did this comprehensively, unlike Gandhi, who also tried to keep the focus on moral regeneration, but failed to appreciate the time and place for using violence to counter systematic violence. Gandhi's half-baked mission had to be supplemented by militant nationalists and Hindu nationalists. But Sikhism set an example of how all the rains can be held and directed coherently by the expert hand of a Master.

There is little comparison between their example and that of the Marathas, whose contribution is not being belittled at all.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Atri » 01 May 2012 22:45

Sikhism OR "Guru Mat" (opinion of gurus) is a Moksha Maarga. Maratha movement was a dharmaarthik movement. There is a fundamental difference in two.

I know of many "Marathi" sardars and Kannadiga and Mallu Sardars. They are not Punjabis who settled in these places sometime in past. They are "Marathi" and "Kannadiga" ethnically. Gurumat needs to be delinked from being restricted to "Punjab" only. I know it is originally not but has become so in the process and partition facilitated that confinement.

The teachings of Samartha Ramdas, for example, are in perfect coherence with teachings of Sikh gurus. In fact many verses of saint Namdev from MH (12th century predecessor of 17th century bhakti saints of MH) are given place in Guru granth saaheb. So there need not be any conflict here.

The fight back of dharma started in Punjab a little too late IMO. MH was fortunate in that matter. Hence there was no need to find a new "moksha marga" to facilitate this rise in MH.

Similarly history of Ranjit Singh is not a "Sikh" history. It is a history of a dharmik king who happened to be a "Sikh". Just as history of Marathas is not a history of "Smaarta" school of Moksha. Almost all Brahmanas Kshatriyas Vaishya and Shudras of KG basin belong to "Smaarta" school of Adi Shankara. At least most of them who rose up as "marathas" against mughals were Smaarta. One cannot pass this history as "Smartism". Nor did they ask others to take up this Marga.

In fact interestingly it is smartism which helped them to be not restricted by their preferred deity. One can look it up on google. It was most "liberal" school of "moksha" available to Indics in post Adi Sankara times which allowed them to be liberal as well as politically and religiously determined against the Islamic onslaught. In many ways it still is. But it is now trapped in rituals. It is also redefining itself in modern times getting rid of outdated rituals. It needs new rituals which will be "Kaala-Susangata".

All this strict "monotheistc" picture which khalistanis try to paint of Guru Mat needs to be systematically removed from Sikh narrative. Thereafter Gurumat can evolve as a next "Smaarta" school of modern age. Out of everybody, it hurts me most when Sikhs say they aren't Hindus.

To sum up, one can compare Ranjit Singh's empire with Marathas. OR Smaarta school with Sikh school. One cannot compare Guru Mat with Maratha federation.

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Re: Discussion on Indian Epics, Texts, Treatises & Kathas

Postby Agnimitra » 01 May 2012 23:16

Atri ji,

That was a better way of putting it. But IMHO even in dharmaarthic terms, Sikhism played a more activist reform role than the Marathas. Sikhism was willing to modify and reset different broken or jammed iterations in society. It was willing to harvest memes and was capable of forging a new gotra of sorts, or at least a new identity. I don't think Marathas came anywhere close to that level of ability.

That ability of the Sikh Gurus and their genuine disciples came precisely because they operated from the commanding heights of moksha-adhikaara. Development of dharmaarthic services must be grandfathered in by moksha-marga in order to deliver real justice by expansion. Otherwise ability is not gained or generated, it only changes hands. To use a Pauranik metaphor - if the bee's wings get entangled in the honey of the hive, it cannot even take flight. But if it has the ability to fly and hover, then it can collect the booty from various flowers and bring it back home to synthesize.

On the other GDF thread I was scanning the discussion of the RSS-BJP bottlenecks. The part about Savarkar's rationalism scaring other Hindu nationalists of his time is telling. They were so entangled in "dharmic" injunctions, that Savarkar's rationalization of the dharma-arthik importance of the cow (rather than a superstitious holiness) scared them. Even at an intellectual level they could hardly move. What level of ability can be expected?


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