venerdì 17 giugno 2011

Shantanu, Ganga and the death of their seven children

Ganga and Shantanu
Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, was hunting in the forest. Chasing a prey, he found himself on the banks of the Ganges and noticed right away was not alone. Appeared before him was indeed a mysterious girl, beautiful, smooth-skinned, black and deep eyes, her hair loose over her shoulders. Shantanu fell in love instantly, and without knowing anything about her, asked for her hand.
The girl accepted the offer of the powerful king, but on one condition: "Will never do any questions, will never hinders me, nor questions or criticize any of my behavior."
The king seemed a light the condition, he accepted and married the woman with a beautiful ceremony in Hastinapura.
The couple was happy and this happiness increased when the king heard that the queen, who to remember the place where the lovers had met was called Ganga, was pregnant. But the happiness did not last long because the mother, not just given birth to the heir to the throne, led him on the banks of the Ganges and she threw him. The king was shocked, but he said nothing to his wife, recalling that he had accepted the condition. Just now he understood the weight of the promise.
The queen became pregnant six times too and six times she led her own child on the banks of the Ganges and threw hin. And the king did not say or ask anything.
But when the queen became pregnant for the eighth time and gave birth to a beautiful baby, the king went on the banks of the Ganges before the wife and when the queen came stopped her with the baby. "Why kill your children - he said – why do you act so terrible?"
The queen smiled, "You broke your oath, that means you really need this son, behold your son is safe, but I’ll go away, so the curses have been fulfilled."
The king asked explanations and the queen provided them to him. She was really the goddess Ganga, but in a previous life when even mortals and gods lived together, Shantanu, who was the king's body Mahabhishek, at the court of Indra fell in love with Ganga. A mortal, even king, could not join a goddess and therefore the gods cursed the lovers by requiring both to be reborn as mortals. In their new form they could have been love. And so it was done. The second and most terrible curse was about the sons of Ganga, all but one were killed when they were newborn.
In fact, the eight sons of Shantanu and Ganga were nothing more than the reincarnation of the eight Vasu brothers who, in a previous life, to please their wives had stolen the cow Nandini (also know as Kamadhuk or Kamadhenu - Bhagavad Gita 10.28) that belonged to the sage Vasishtha. When the sage returned to his ashram and realized what had happened, he cursed  the eight Vasu sentencing them to be reborn as mortals. The brothers went back to wise man suffered and returned Nandini and asked forgiveness, but a curse when it was launched cannot be revoked. Vasishta, however, mitigated his curse by agreeing that the penalty for seven brothers was short, that would last the duration of a pregnancy, when born, they would have been able to regain their freedom. For the eighth of his brother instead, the one who actually had stolen the cow, the punishment would last a lifetime.
This is why Ganga had killed the first seven children, to free them from the curse, while the eighth was left alive and lived a glorious life. Devavrata was called (in sanskrit “Devoted to the Gods”) , but later took the name of Bhishma, the wisest and heroic character in the Mahabharata.

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