Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Mahabharata (book 1.XCVII)

Santanu was the perfect son for a king. He was so much a born leader, warrior, diplomat, administrator and judiciary, that Pratipa made him king as soon as he was an adult. Pratipa and the Queen then retired to the woods to live out their lives practicing asceticism.

When Ganga heard that Santanu was now king, she decided it was time to collect on his father’s promise. But before she could leave, the eight Vasus appeared at her door looking dejected.

"What’s wrong?" she asked.

Prithu answered, "Brahma has commanded us to take birth on earth so that we may learn a lesson about stealing. It was Dyu actually, but the rest of us did help, and it was only a cow; more of a prank really. Anyway, we also heard that you were planning to go to earth to get married, so. . . "

Not making the connection, Ganga asked, "So?"

"Would you please be our mother?"

Ganga smiled broadly, "I would love to! Eight excellent sons such as yourselves would certainly make my husband very happy."

The Vasus looked at each other, something else was still troubling them, "Actually, we would like for you to drown us in the river after birth, so we can escape having to live a full life on earth."

"Oh. . . I don’t know about that. I doubt my husband would agree to something like that."

"Please don’t tell him then."

"But certainly he will demand an explanation, as well as try and stop me after the first one of you is drowned?"

"We understand that there are a lot of things that can go wrong, all we ask is that you try. . . Please. . . " They all looked at her with pleading eyes, drooping mouths and their hands clasped as if they were praying.

She sighed, "Fine. I’ll do what I can." They all leapt for joy and each one excitedly kissed their mother-to-be on the cheek and went happily on their way. Ganga just shook her head What have I gotten myself into!

It was late afternoon and Santanu was about to head back to the palace after a day of deer hunting, when the sun’s sparkle on the river Ganges held his attention and soothed his senses. His mouth dropped open in shock when a woman of blazing beauty began to rise from the water.

The shock was due to the story his father had told him about his future wife arriving in such a fashion. He had never believed his father’s story, but still entertained himself by fantasizing about it through his adolescence. Now that it was actually happening, it sent a shiver up his spine.

As his father had said, her beauty would be beyond imagination and it was. His gaze trapezed from eyes to toes, from lips to hips, in continued shock and disbelief. He rubbed his eyes and looked again; now slowly sipping in her beauty from the contours of her face to the slenderness of her waist.

His head began to swim with visions of lovemaking, as his arousal began to rage within. Ganga, seeing how enamoured he was by her, was very pleased. As she approached, he spoke first, "O maiden of heavenly beauty, please tell me you are here to be my wife."

"It is so, but under the condition that you never interfere with anything I do or speak to me harshly. The moment you interfere or are unkind, I will leave you."

Santanu gave her condition only a moments thought Interfere? Unkind? He didn't even think to ask why she requires such a condition, and worse, he didn’t even realize the threat she was making and answered "So be it." as sexual fantasies engulfed his mind.

Even Ganga was surprised her condition was accepted so easily, but then realized the time for lovemaking in the flesh was finally here. Their eyes locked as that single thought penetrated both of their souls. They rushed into each others arms, embracing and kissing passionately, making love on the river bank right then and there. A glorious royal wedding followed a week later, with celebrations throughout the kingdom.

All day and all night, day after day, Ganga was ready to please him, and he became addicted to it. There were sexual undertones to everything she did. From the way she walked and talked, to the way she liked to touch him and have him touch her; secretly in public, openly in private. But what he loved most was her dancing.

She instructed the court musicians in the creation of the most sensual music, and she would then dance to it. The flexibility of her body and the seductive grace of her movements ravaged his senses. He savoured it all, like a drug he couldn't live without.

Santanu lay awake in bed reminiscing about their past year together. It was early morning and Ganga and their one day old son were asleep in bed next to him. She had been breastfeeding all night.

During the pregnancy she couldn’t please him how he had become accustomed to, but it was worth the sacrifice to now have a son he thought. With servants to help with the caring of the baby and her only duty being the breastfeeding, he was wondering how long it would be before she could lavish her attention on him again.

She awoke, and saw he was also awake. Smiling, she kissed him and said, "Wait here. I’ll be right back." She then picked up their sleeping son and was gone. Returning a few minutes later, empty handed, she jumped into bed and made love to him. He was in heaven.

As the day progressed, he soon realized his son was nowhere to be found. He asked the servants if anyone knew what had happened, and no one did. Ganga acted as if she had never had a son, and now he became afraid. What is going on!

He was about to ask her when he remembered the condition she had given him. The threat that she would leave him if he ever said anything unkind, and he became even more afraid, for he couldn't risk losing her at any cost. He convinced himself there must be a reasonable explanation and stayed quiet. . . trying to forget.

When their second son was born, he had the servants working in shifts to watch her every move. When she left again with the baby in the early morning, he later found out that she had drowned the baby in the river. His stomach churned, and he fought to control his nausea; quivering with fear his thoughts lost all coherency.

After a few days, his nerves steadied and he decided to make a trip into the woods to see the sage his father consulted regularly for advice. When he arrived at the spot he remembered, the sage was still there thankfully. He bowed down and touched the old man’s feet in respect as is customary.

The sage stroked Santanu's head lovingly, "What is it my child? What is troubling you?"

"My wife. . . she. . . murdered our son."

"I see."

"What am I to do?"

"Did you ask her why?"


"Why not."

"I’m afraid she will leave me if I do."

"I see," said the sage as he closed his eyes and pointed his face skyward. After a couple minutes he spoke, "She is fulfilling a promise she made in heaven. You must choose between her and a son. I can say no more."

"Why? Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this?"

"All I can say is that you must choose, you cannot have both."

Santanu made his way back to the palace, repeating the same thoughts over and over I cannot lose her! I will sacrifice a hundred sons for her! She is all that matters! I will sacrifice my kingdom, my life, everything for her! I will not lose her!


1. The Vasus: Adi Parva, Section XCVI, p. 207.

2. Santanu's proposal: Adi Parva, Section XCVII, p. 209.

3. Santanu's sons: Adi Parva, Section XCVIII, p. 210.

No comments:

Post a Comment