Saturday, February 26, 2011

The story of Satyavati - I

Though the daughter of a King and a cursed Apsara (celestial dancer), the lady who was the root of the Mahabaratha was brought up as a fisherwoman. She used to ferry people across the Ganga river and catch fish for a living. So much so, she started smelling like a fish and people started calling her Matsyagandha (One who smells like a fish).

As a young woman, when she was ferrying sage Parashara across the river, the sage calculated the stars location and found that they were in very favourable positions and any child conceived at that time would be one with great wisdom. Being the only woman near by, he propositioned Satyavati. The frightened girl gave excuses after excuses but the sage resolved them all and gave her two boons as an additional lure to accept. Fearing the sage's anger, she saw no means but to accept. The boons she gained was that she would always be as sweet smelling as a garden of the sweetest smelling flowers (Gandhakalli) and that she would regain her original self (virgo intacto) after their child was born and so it was. This child was the one who grew up to write the Greatest Epic in the world. Vyasa!

A few years later King Shantanu, Father of Bheeshma, was moping on the shores of Ganges, missing his wife Ganga, when he saw the beauteous and sweet smelling Satyavati. Promptly forgetting his first wife, he set about luring the fisherwoman. But Satyavati's father was a bright man and wanted his grandchildren to rule over the kingdom. This was unacceptable to Shantanu as he already had a grown up and very eligible son.
But he was unable to forget his fisherwoman either and so he returned to his favorite pass time of moping and pining again.

Devavrata, the crown prince meanwhile getting to know of his father's angst, resolved to remain celibate and to always serve the person ascending the throne of Hastinapura, but to never ascend it himself. This was indeed a terrible oath, considering that those were times when celibacy was unheard of and kings had harems full of wives. The Devas very pleased with the oath named him Bheeshma and gave him a host of boons.

Coming back to our story, with the only barrier in his courting of Satyavati , Shantanu happily married her and they were blessed with 2 kids Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.


Friday, February 25, 2011

The best time to say bye to the world

According to the Hindu scriptures, if a person dies in Uttarayana (between Jan 14 to July 14) during the Bheeshma ekadesi then they are said to go directly to heaven. Also, they do not get to have another birth on this earth.

Wondering why I am saying this. Well! Since my g'ma left us on this auspicious day and she like Bheeshma Pithamaha was waiting for such an occasion to pass away, I have been asking around on why this is such a great time.

This is auspicious for two pronged reasons.

1. Shree Vishnu Sahasranama (Lord Vishnu's 1000 names) was brought to light on this day :-

When Krishna did the Geethopadesha, Arjuna could understand it only partly and hence did not treat Krishna as the Guru he was. Disappointed Krishna appointed Bheeshma as the Guru to teach the Pandavas (who were the only ones alive by then) the true meaning of Dharma. Bheeshma in turn taught them the Vishnu Sahasranama which is the embodiment of the Geetha and all the Vedas.

2. Bheeshma died shortly after.

When Devavrata took the oath to never marry or rule the kingdom, the devas and celestial beings were impressed with the young man's courage and devotion and bestowed upon him many great boons and rewards. One such boon was that Devavrata (now renamed Bheeshma) could choose the day he wanted to die. Bheeshma chose to die shortly after explaining the Sahasranama and the Ultimate truth of Dharma to Pandavas.