The Story of Matsyagandha and Rishi Parashar and the Birth of Krsna Dwaipayana

I love history and mythology and if not a software professional, I would have been a professor of Indian History and Mythology.

So, let me produce one piece of mythology about the birth of a firstborn: a person who was later to write one of the most read and respected epics of our times; actually eternal times.

The story goes back to the time when King Shantanu was the ruler of Hastinapur. Shantanu had married Ganga who later gave birth to a son. But she drowned the child. Shantanu could not ask her the reason, because of his promise, lest she would leave him. One by one, seven sons were born to them, and were drowned by Ganga. When Ganga was about to drown the eighth son, Shantanu, devastated, could not restrain himself and confronted her. Ganga was said that Shantanu had broker her promise and as a consequence she had no option but to leave him. But before leaving Shatanu, Ganga explained her actions— the child’s she had drowned were demi-gods who had been cursed to be born as humans. She had been freeing them from their curse. But now the eight one was to live the curse on Earth. She handed him to Shantanu and went back to the river. The baby boy was named Devavrata, and eventually came to be known as the mighty warrior Bhishma.

Time passed by, Devavrata was a now a handsome prince, but King Shatanu was all alone—a feeling of loneliness and sadness had crept in to him. At such times, Shantanu use to take long walks in the forest besides the Yamuna. In one such walk, a particular fragrance attracted him and he wanted to find the source of such a beautiful aroma. This led him to the riverbed, where he met Satyavati, the daughter of the head fisherman, and immediately was smitten by the love bug. Satyavati, was indeed a very charming and beautiful woman. Satyavati’s father agreed to the marriage on condition that, the son bore of her daughter would be heir to Shantanu’s throne.

King Shantanu was unable to give his word on accession as his eldest son Devavrata was the heir to the throne. However, when Devavrata came to know of this and for the sake of his father, gave his word to the head fisherman that he would renounce all his claims to the throne, in favour of Satyavati’s children. To reassure the skeptical ferryman, further Devavrata also vowed lifelong celibacy to ensure that future generations borne of Satyavati would also not be challenged by his offspring. Thus, that day, he got the name: Bhishma.

Shantanu and Satyavati went on to have two sons, Chitrāngada and Vichitravirya.

But little known fact is that before Satyavati met Shantanu, she already had a son. As a young girl, Satyavati use to wander in the forest and in one such wandering, she came across the great sage Parashar. Parashar, was the grandson of the great hermit Vashista, a first-born. Since Satyavati was the daughter of fisherman, she used to smell of fish. Parashar was particularly disturbed by the foul stench that was emanating from her. Parashar asked Satyavati to ferry her across the Yamuna. As they were crossing the river in her boat, Parashara grew attached to Satyavati, and desired to perform coitus with her. Parashar said to Satya that the child born of them will not be any ordinary child but he will change the course of history, in fact write the sourse of history. But Satyavati was terrified of him and gave an excuse that there were many people present on either sides of the river. So Parasara, with his mystic power, created a dense sheet of mist around the boat. After that, Parashar gave Satyavati two boons: the first one was that Satyavati would henceforth be emanating the finest fragrance from her person.  From that day, Satyavati was also called as Matsyagandha. The second one was that she would get her virginity back and no one will ever doubt her integrityJ. The son born of them was called Krsna Dwaipayana. He was dark-complexioned and hence called by the name Krsna (dark), and also the name Dwaipayana, meaning ‘island-born’. Vyasa was, technically, grandfather to the Kauravas and Pandavas. Their fathers, Dhritarashtra and Pandu, adopted as the sons of Vichitravirya by the royal family, were fathered by him. He had a third son, Vidura, by a serving maid.

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4 thoughts on “The Story of Matsyagandha and Rishi Parashar and the Birth of Krsna Dwaipayana

  1. Matsyagandha means ‘smelling like fish. so, if satyavati was smelling like a flower after being with prashar, her name shd not be matsyagandha but something else.

    1. Matsyagandha turns to yogengandha (renamed) .means smell from yogen a length measurement more then kilometers. Thanks.

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