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Satyavati - The Fisherwoman Turned Queen

Satyavati – The Fisherwoman Turned Queen

Satyavati is known as Kali, Matsyagandha, Daseyi etc. Born to the King Vasu of Chedi and a cursed Apsara, she was abandoned by the king and given to Dasharaj– a commoner who was the chief of the fisher community. She always smelled like fish due to the curse of the Apsara. She lived in the coastal region with her father and was involved in fishing and rowing boats.

One day, Rishi Parashara came to her hut in the coastal region. He talked to her father and indicated a wish to cross the river to go to the opposite coast. Dasharaj made sure that Kali would go with her and make him reach his destination. She happily agreed. Soon, she realized that Rishi was attracted to her and wanted to have her. He used his powers to create an island where they landed and made love. The rishi blessed her with a fragrant smell that would replace the stink and he also said that he would come for the son that she would give birth to and give him the best knowledge. Kali returned to the hut and soon gave birth to a son who was taken by the Rishi’s students to him. The son grows up to become Vyasa, also known as Ved Vyasa who is the father of the three Scions of Shantanu and the writer of Mahabharata.

A few years went by and Satyavati became the chief of the fisher community. One day, King Shantanu was roaming in the coastal area and got smitten by her. He asked her to make him cross the river and she obliged. He made advances to her but she refused. The king stepped back and would come every day to meet her and convince her. Kali was convinced to give in to his desires but she asked that she would become the queen of Hastinapur and would be given all the powers and status of the queen. He agreed and then he decided that he would meet Dashraj before taking her to the Hastinapur and marrying her.

He came the next day and met Dasharaj. Dasharaj agreed to the marriage but on the condition that he would make sure that Satyavati would be the queen and her heirs would be the kings. Dasharaj was okay if Shantanu wanted Devavrat (Bhishma) to marry her and make her the queen but this condition should be fulfilled. It also meant that Bhishma would have to give up the throne for her. A perplexed Shantanu went back to his palace and lived in sadness for a few days until Bhishma took him to figure out the cause of his sadness and went with the charioteer to Kali’s hut.

Bhishma heard the condition of Dashraj and took the vow of celibacy. He would never marry anyone and would never have any children to give Kali what he wanted. He took her to Hastinapur where she was married to Shantanu and was hated for a long time by the crowd for depriving the prince. She would go ahead and give birth to future heirs – Chitrangad and Vichitravirya.

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