One day, the King Shantanu was roaming in the forest along the bank of the Yamuna. While roaming in that region, he got a smell a sweet aroma coming from an unknown direction. He followed the odor, and while wandering here and there, he came across a woman of heavenly beauty. Her name was Satyavati, a daughter of a fisherman. He was pierced by the arrows of Angel, and desiring her for his wife, he inquired, who are you, and who is your father? Also, please tell me what you are doing here. Replying to the King she said, my name is Satyavati, and that I am the daughter of the fishermen King. My father has engaged me in the sincere activity of rowing passengers across the river Yamuna. Here in this post I will discuss about marriage of King Shantanu and Satyabati and celibacy of Bhishma.

Bewildered by the beauty and appeal of this girl, the King approached the fisherman and spoke to him of a wished-for marriage. The fisherman replied, my daughter certainly could not find a more suitable husband than you. However, you must fulfill my one desire. I wish that the son born of my daughter be the next king of the world, and no one else can become your successor.

celibacy of Bhisma

Here I found Satyavati’s father was extremely clever and tactful. Though he was the king of fishermen but when he saw the king of Hastinapur arrived to his home to beg hands of his daughter he used his ultimate weapon. He secured the future of his daughter as a responsible father.

celibacy of Bhisma

When that great descendant of Bharata heard the terms for gaining Satyavati, he felt no desire to grant such an approval, and thus he returned to his capital. While riding on his chariot, he continuously thought of the beautiful fisherman’s daughter. With a sorrowful heart, he entered his palace and did not say a word to anyone, not even Devabrata.

Upon seeing his father’s unhappiness, Devabrata approached him inquiring, Please tell me father why you are so unhappy? You have not spoken a word to me, nor have you performed your daily duties. Please reveal the cause of your distress, and I will find a cure for it.

When requested in these words, Maharaja Shantanu replied, my dear son, i’m thinking of the instability of human life. If unexpected death were to overcome you, I would be without a son. You are like a hundred sons to me, and I do not wish to marry again. I only desire that our dynasty be perpetuated. The wise say that he who has one son has no son in the least . It is quite possible that you will be slain on the battle field, and if that happens, what will be the fate of the Bharata dynasty? It is these thoughts that have made me so unhappy.

Devabrata was intelligent and reflected on his father’s words. He felt there was something more than his father had revealed. He then went to the King’s chariot driver and questioned him about the cause of the monarch’s morose mood. The charioteer told Devabrata about the fisherman’s daughter and the approval sought by her father. Understanding the situation, Devabrata, accompanied by some of the family elders, went to the fisherman’s cottage. The chief of the fishermen greeted Devabrata, offering him a seat.

He then informed him in sweet words, I welcome you for you are the pride of the kshatriya race. You are certainly unconquerable, but I have something to tell you. Even if the future husband of my daughter were to be Indra himself, he would have to cry, for the requirements for marrying Satyavati apply to all. Many sages have told me that your father is the only appropriate husband for Satyavati. I have even rejected the requests of the good rishis in the matter of her marriage. The one great obstacle to the present marriage is that you simply are going to be crowned King and not the son born of Satyavati and Shantanu. This is all I have to say in the matter.

Next story I have discussed earlier. How he rejected claim of thrown and vow of lifelong celibacy earned him a new name ‘Bhishma’. Now onwards we also call him Bhishma. Now I want to know in this juncture what was the age of King Shantanu? I mean he was not young. May be an aged person. Now in that situation what would be the age of Bhishma? May be very close to the age of Satyavati. I found maintaining mother and son relationship they became a very good friend. In future we will see the empathy of Satyavati regarding Bhishma is much more than King Shantanu.

When Bhishma brought Satyavati, his mother to his father King Shantanu, he gave him the boon of ‘wish death’ or ‘Icchamrityu’. Shantanu was worried of sudden death of Bhishma, he would be without a son. Can’t he give him this boon before his marriage with Satyavati? Because it would not happen. If it happens then there would be no viability of Mahabharata and its writers.
Nowadays people use ‘I will show you your father’s marriage’ as slang. But in Mahabharata we have seen Bhishma arranged his father’s marriage. When his father old King Shantanu closed the door to meet blond and beautiful lady Satyavati at that time Bhishma can apply his boon of ‘wish death’. But he witnessed that he got two brothers Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.

celibacy of Bhisma

As the two sons grew to maturity, they brought joy to the King and Queen. Soon Maharaja Shantanu found himself growing old, and seeing the influence of inevitable time, he decided to retire to the forest to practice austerities for realizing the kingdom of God. Before moving to the forest, Maharaja Shantanu enthroned Chitrangada as the India’s king under Bhishma’s protection. He then departed to the forest alone to perform penances and austerities.

Chitrangad might be a great warrior but as per my opinion he was not humble enough. When Chitrangada became King, he soon challenged and eliminated all opponents on the planet earth. Definitely, all the earthly kings considered that there was no kshatriya like to him. Ultimately died after the fierce war with the Gandharva king which took place at Kurukshetra for 3 years.

After the death of his step brother, Bhishma executed the last funeral rites and then enthroned Vichitravirya as the world’s emperor, although he was only a small boy. Until Vichitravirya matured in age, Bhishma reigned the kingdom. Maharaja Bhishma took care of Vichitravirya like a father, arranging for the education and military training of the future king.

Here I can conclude that it seems King Vichitravirya has a strong dependency on Bhishma. Bhishma also had strong affection on his young brother. Bhishma had a strong bonding with Vichitravirya and less with Chitrangada. In this juncture if Bhishma wants he could become the ruler of Hastinapur. But he was so judicious to his promises that before taking any decision he used to take Satyavati’s consent. Satyavati had also strong confidence on him.

When Maharaja Bhishma saw that Vichitravirya was of grownup age, he thought of obtaining a queen for him. At this time he heard that in the kingdom of Kashi three daughters were being offered in marriage. These princesses had blissful beauty, and it was known that they were to select their own husbands.

Bhishma went alone in his chariot to the city of Varanasi, and there he saw innumerable monarches who had gathered hoping to wed one of the princesses. The names of those beautiful girls were Amba, Ambika and Ambalika. While the daughters of the King were being introduced to the assembled heroic princes, Bhishma stood up in the gathering and commanded, ‘The wise have declared that when a qualified person has been invited to a svayamvara, a maiden may be bestowed upon him. There are eight kinds of marriage ceremonies, but the wise highly applaud that a princess taken by force in the presence of competitors is the foremost svayamvara. Therefore, strive to your best ability to defeat me or be defeated’.
Ref: https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/mahabharata/d/doc118369.html
But my question why he abducted three beautiful girls?
It was kind a revenge game by both. Hastinapura wasn’t invited for the Swayamvara of Amba ,Ambika & Ambalika by Kashya (king of Kashi). Because Shantanu rejected the offer of marriage between sister of king of Kashi and Bhishma before. So for king of Kashi it had been insult & he didn’t invited Hastinapura , for taking his revenge. On the opposite hand Bhishma felt that this non invitation is great insult of his kingdom. So he also wanted to take the revenge. And he went to Kashi to abduct the princesses.
Ref: https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/users/5620/swiftpushkar
But my finding is that Bhishma was wise person. That time war was the only solution of each small problem. If he sent Vichitravirya instead of him and if something happened with Vichitravirya then the whole dynasty should be in a problem.
After challenging the accumulated kings and princes, Bhishma put the three princesses on his chariot and advanced to leave the Kashi kingdom. The kshatriya princes then stood up and, in great rage, challenged Bhishma to a fight. They put on their armor and pursued him in great haste.

Attacking Ganga’s son with full force, they poured a thick flood of arrows upon him. Maharaja Bhishma, however, invalidated those arrows with his own, and then pierced each prince with three shafts .The princes in turn pierced Bhishma with many arrows, and then released javelins and darts hoping to encompass his death. The battle was fought with such intense fury that even those who were courageous became struck with fear.

Keeping his bow drawn in a constant circle, Bhishma severed arrows, bows, flagstaffs, coats of armor and human heads by the hundreds. The son of Ganga defeated the supporting armies that opposed him, and those who were heroes applauded the prowess of such a great warrior. When Shantanu’s son had crushed all opponents, he progressed to the Kuru kingdom, taking with him the three wonderful princesses.

While Bhishma was proceeding toward Hastinapura, King Salwa, whose prowess was famed, suddenly appeared from behind. He challenged Bhishma, Wait! Wait! Bhishma flamed up in anger and turned to meet the challenge of the oncoming monarch. All the princes, who had been crushed, assembled to see the battle between those two bulls among men. King Salwa first covered Bhishma with many golden arrows.

All the assembled princes applauded Salwa’s prowess, but Bhishma was furious and told his charioteer, Take me closer to Salwa’s chariot, so I may kill him. The Kuru chief then fixed the varuna weapon to his bow, and releasing it put Salwa’s horses into confusion. This weapon caused a tidal wave to appear. Showing his supremacy with the bow, Bhishma released a flaming arrow which killed Salwa’s charioteer.

The powerful son of Shantanu then released the aindra weapon which killed Salwa’s horses. (This weapon is similar to a modern day machine gun, but is more powerful and more accurate, as per epic.) As the battle continued, Bhishma shattered all the weapons of Salwa, but left him with his life. After defeating all opponents, Bhishma proceeded to Hastinapura and offered the beautiful princesses to his younger brother.

Also read Bhishma-The Tragic Character of Mahabharata- Part II

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