Chain reaction of Ganga -King Mahabhisha-Ashta Vasus- King Shantanu

There was a virtuous King Mahabhisha of Ikshvaku Dynasty who pleased Indra with a series of ‘Asvametha’ and ‘Vajapeya’ Sacrifices and attained Indra Loka after his death. Once he had attended the Court of Lord Brahma and along with him was seated Devi Ganga. He was immensely attracted to her and she too reciprocated with her amorous glances. Brahma got disturbed and cursed both of them to take to human lives as husband and wife. Mahabhisha opted to be the son of King Pratipa of Puru Dynasty. At the same time Ashta-Vasus (Eight Vasus) of the Celestial Region headed by Vasu Prithi and their families visited Sage Vasishtha’s ‘Ashram’ and admired ‘Kama Dhenu’ the Sacred Cow whose milk bestowed disease-less longevity and sublime happiness. The wife of one of the Vasus, Dyau was impressed with the Cow and quietly stole it and its calf. Sage Vasishtha found in his ‘Diya Drishti’

(Celestial Vision) that Nandini the Sacred Cow was in the custody of Vasu Dyau and cursed all the Vasus to be turned as human beings. Being highly repentant, the Vasus beseeched Vasishtha to dilute the effect of the curse and out of compassion the Sage agreed to one year’s human life to seven Vasus as their involvement was indirect but Vasu Dyau should have a full life time. The Vasus, who knew about Brahma’s curse to Ganga Devi, approached her to give birth to Seven Vasus of one year’s human life each and one life time’s existence to the last born Vasu. But this was agreed to subject to the condition that her prospective husband should agree to freedom of her action without any reservation and if he did not, she would quit as the husband. Eventually, Ganga waited on the banks of River Ganges and awaited the arrival of King Pradipa of Kuru Dynasty for meditation. The King arrived to perform ‘Surya Namaskaras’ on the river bed and Ganga appeared as a charming woman and sat straightaway on his right lap, indicating thereby that the place was to seat a son / daughter. The damsel identified herself as Ganga Devi and replied that she would await his son’s arrival who was yet to be born. In course of time, King Pradipa got his son, Shantanu, and as he grew as a handsome youth advised him to meet Ganga Devi who would propose but cautioned that he should not ask her questions and agree to whatever she asked. Accordingly, Ganga Devi, the eternal beauty, agreed to wed Shantanu and agreed to her conditions unilaterally. She gave immense happiness to Shantanu, who became the King after his father’s abdication of the throne. After a year, they were blessed with a boy, but she took the baby and submerged him in the flow of Ganga! To his great surprise, Shantanu witnessed the horror of the child’s cruel drowning in the flow but dared not say one word to his wife. This happening was repeated again and again for seven times and as the eight child was born, Shantanu protested and Ganga as per their contract left, but requested that the boy be named as Gangeya.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at