6. Devavrata – The Son of Ganga

Sixteen years later, after Ganga had left him, Shantanu was seated in his palace when a messenger informed that some warrior had dared to obstruct the flow of river Ganga near the capital of Hastinapur. This warrior, with his arrows, had created a barrier in the middle of the river and obstructed the flow of its waters. Shantanu was infuriated at this flagrant display of valour that was causing harm to the organisms inside the river as well as forcing the river-form of his beloved wife to be obstructed.

Shantanu immediately reached the river-bank where this nearly impossible feat was taking place. He witnessed that a young lad was practicing his archery skills on Ganga. An angry Shantanu sought clarification for this. The young lad revealed that he was just practicing his skills on the water of Ganga; by no way did he harm any organisms. But Shantanu was too impatient to listen to anything. He raised his bow and challenged the young lad to fight.

Suddenly, the waters of Ganga moved in a whirlpool, taking a human form and appearing in front of Shantanu. It was Ganga, his long-gone wife.

Maharaj, the young lad that you challenge is no enemy. He is your own son. The same son who I took away sixteen years back to return to you. He was just practicing his archery skills that he learnt from sage Parshuram. His name is Devavrata.”

“What? He’s my son? After sixteen years of isolation, today I am seeing my son. What an auspicious day this is!” Shantanu cried in happiness.

6.2 Bheeshm - The Son of Ganga“Yes Maharaj! He’s the same son for whom you broke your oath. Today I am returning him to you as my duty is over. Today, there is no one in Jambudweep (Indian Peninsula) who is more skilled and knowledgeable than Devavrata. He has learnt the scriptures from Sage Vashishta; Sage Brihaspati and Sage Shukracharya are his teachers in political science and Sage Markandeya is his spiritual guru. On my request, Sage Parshuram made an exception to teach martial arts and archery to this Kshatriya son of yours.  I hand over this son to you Maharaj!” said Ganga to Shantanu.

Turning over to her son, Ganga said, “Your father has seen a lot in his life. Make sure he is never sad with you around. You must live your life and direct your dharma towards your father and Hastinapur. It’s time for me to leave now. Whenever you feel like meeting me, just visit my banks. Your mother will always be there to guide you.” Saying this, Ganga disappeared in her own waters.

The void in Shantanu’s life was partly filled with the arrival of his capable son. Even though the love of his life was not there, at least the heir of Hastinapur was. (His new-found love is about to come in the next post though.) The father and son spent years together discussing the intricacies of kingship, politics, strategies, vedas and the history of ancestors and great kings and warriors. In due course, the young prince gained fame among the people of Hastinapur and considering his knowledge, wisdom and power, Shantanu declared Devavrata as his successor.

After seeing its king Shantanu lonely and depressed for years, the people of Hastinapur finally saw a ray of hope in the form of Devavrata – he who will become the new king and expand the boundaries of the kingdom, will begin a new family and fill the palace with new princes and princesses, the symbol of growth and happiness of the kingdom at large.

What one expects does not always come true! At times things take a different turn on their own; at times one turns them at one’s will. The destiny of Hastinapur and Devavrata were about to take a massive turn that would impact the generations. The impact of Vashishta’s curse would take its effect soon. Time, gritting its teeth in fear, was waiting for the day.

1. Tara – The Unchaste Wife

Tara was the wife of Brihaspati, the guru of Devas, who used to mentor them and perform all kinds of yagnas for them. Being the chief consultant of Devas Ltd. was no ordinary thing though. It required extra-ordinarily long hours of working (sometimes even 25 hours a day), chanting of mantras and  developing strategies to combat the Asuras. The work-load always kept Brihaspati busy with his professional life and away from his wife.

We very well know what happens when the professional life is not balanced with personal life. Don’t we? Still, many of us are not able to do that. Brihaspati was no different. His continued indifference towards Tara’s needs and her growing exasperation pushed her to the other side of the line of fidelity, the side where there was Chandra waiting for her with open arms.

Chandra-TaraChandra, the prince of the night that he was, didn’t leave Tara with a reason to complain. Tara left with Chandra leaving Brihaspati alone.

Brihaspati, obviously, did not like what was happening. He went on a strike and refused to performed any services for the Devas unless Chandra Deva returned his wife. Chandra had to surrender and Tara came back to Brihaspati, but pregnant. When questioned about the father of her child, she was initially reluctant to reveal.

Then something happened. Something that in the 21st century can only happen in Krishh 5. The child in the womb asked his mother, “Mother, please tell me who’s my father? I mean my biological father.”

On seeing the unborn child’s inquisitiveness, Devas persisted Tara again to reveal the truth. She admitted that it was Chandra.

Brihaspati was so enraged at this revelation that he cursed the unborn child to be born of neutral gender. Devas were shocked to see Brihaspati’s sudden loss of temper and that his rage was pointed at an innocent unborn child. They declared that the child would always be known as Brihaspati’s son. Culture always considers the husband of the woman as the father of her child.

This child of neutral gender was named Budh.