Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 08 May 2010 06:39 and updated at 04 Jun 2010 18:07

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Death of Santanu


The 4th episode of Mahabharata describes how Devavrata defends his pledge. Devavrata brings Satyavati to Hastinapura accepting her as his mother and wife of Santanu. Santanu blesses his son to have the ability to choose the time of his death. The decision to give the throne to Satyavati's sons was not acceptable to people. Bhishma defends his father and clarifies that the decision to sacrifice throne and the right to beget children was his own and king Santanu had no role in it. Two sons named Chitrangada and Vichitravirya was born to Santanu and Satyavati. However Santanu was pained by the consequences of his action which deprived his son Bhishma, the right to be the next king as well as the right to beget children. King Shantanu dies in grief thinking about his son Devavrata.

References in Mahabharata Wiki


Research and Analysis

Much of the action in this episode is not referenced in Ganguli's version of Mahabharata. The entire incidents in this episode have only a few verses in chapter 100 and 101 of the first book of Mahabharata. However we can see in the episode, the trauma of Santanu and Satyavati visualized dramatically. Some of the scenes in the episode like Bhishma's conversation on the banks of Ganga, with the river who is mythologically attributed as his mother needs some mention. The people of Gangeya tribe definitely had great reverence for the river Ganga, considering this river as their mother from which they derive all nourishments and sustenance. Though the tribe of Gangeyas vanished by merging into the Kuru tribe, this reverence to Ganga as a mother became a strong theme and spread across the Indian sub-continent. Earlier it was the river Saraswati that received such reverence from the civilization that sprang from this mighty ocean-going river. Much of the exodus that left river Saraswati which dried up due to natural causes was received by river Ganga. River Saraswati, the nourisher of the great civilization that generated the Vedas (Veda:-knowledge), was deified as the goddess Saraswati, rightfully becoming the goddess of knowledge and learning. As these people settled on the banks of Ganga, then onwards river Ganga became the new mother of the civilization. Thus river Ganga became the divine mother and a goddess.

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