The Three Women In Mahabharata (1 Of 3 )- Sathyavathi

07 Sep

The men play dice and wage wars in Mahabharata , as anywhere else ; but it is the women who wield power and influence. It is the women who take decisions , direct the course of events and decide the fate of men and their generations to follow. The women are the true leaders of the Epic The three women in particular who wielded power in more than one form were Sathyavathi the dusky fragrant fisher girl who became the queen , Pritha the fair maiden who reluctantly became the mother of five sons and Krishnaa , daughter of the fire , Druapadi. The Epic is interwoven with their remarkable sagacity in exercise of their power and leadership. Some say the Epic, in a way , is a study in use and abuse of power.

These women displayed that the truly powerful do not cling to power. They know when and how to wield it ; but , even more importantly, when not to use it.


Satyavathi in her relentless drive to accomplish ; and more importantly, to retain power, manipulated the lives of persons around her. She tried her hardest. Most of her schemes did not turn out well. Towards the end of her life , she was angry , sad and disillusioned . But, what was worse was that her progenies were left to suffer the wrath of her greed . They reaped a bitter harvest.


As Kali, the dusky nubile fisher-girl smelling of fish, was transformed into musk fragrant Satyavathi , she took Hasthinapur by storm. The queen to-be , she insisted her blood alone be heir to the throne of Hasthinapur. With that , she caused the prince Devavrata to turn into Bishma , who then locked himself in the shell of his self-imposed vows;  lost the sensation of being alive; and, distanced himself from life; and  yet he chose to cling on to mere existence. 



Her aged husband died leaving her with two sons. Both her sons later died in their youth without producing an heir to the throne. The elder one died valiantly waging a lone battle; and , the other was too young and consumptive. The younger son too died in his youth of poor health and overindulgence:  sarvāsām eva nārīṇāṃ citta-pramathano ‘bhavat /  tābhyāṃ saha samāḥ sapta viharan pṛthivīpatiḥ (MBh 01,096.056-57 )

He left behind two voluptuous widows in the prime of their youth; “Both were tall, black wavy hair. Fingernails and toe nails painted red, pointed. Hips round and full. Swelling and large breasts – bṛhatī śyāme nīlakuñcita mūrdhaje raktatuṅga nakhopete pīnaśreṇi payodhare  (MB.1.96.54)

The young Vicitravirya, driven by passion, became a victim of his own lust- vicitravīryas taruṇo yakṣmāṇaṃ samapadyata  suhṛdāṃ yatamānānām āptaiḥ saha cikitsakaiḥ  jagāmāstam ivādityaḥ kauravyo yamasādanam (Adi parva, 96.57-58).

The dead prince had produced no heir to the throne. 

Satyavati then tried to entice her stepson Bhishma by offering to release him from his vow of celibacy; and, asked him to marry the widows of his half-brother and produce sons. A piqued Bishma however sternly refused to oblige her “Let doom overtake the world ! Immortality cannot tempt me, nor lordship of the three worlds .. ! I will not break the vow.”

She was unwilling to accept defeat. She did not want it said that it was because of her , the great line of the Bharatas came to an end. Hungry for grandsons, desperate to propagate her lineage , Sathyavathi summoned Vyasa, born to her by Parasara , out of wedlock; and, ordered him to produce sons from his half-brother’s widows through Niyoga *.

[*an accepted ancient  practice, in which a woman (whose husband is either incapable of fatherhood or has died without fathering a child) could request and appoint a man for helping her bear a child , in order to continue the dynasty.]

Vyasa an ascetic , who never lived in the family of his mother’s husband, shocked , refused to obey his mother’s orders. He even counseled his mother that preserving the dynasty by adopting such heinous means was improper (VI.24.46-48).

Satyavati desperately argued that the directives of elders, though apparently improper , ought to be obeyed ; and, such compliance attracted no blame, particularly as it would remove the sorrow of a grieving mother.

It was when Bhishma stepped in and urged Vyasa to obey his mother that he gave in reluctantly; and, agreed to engage in what he described as “this disgusting task” (VI.24.56).

Vyasa wondered whether such progeny born of out of wedlock “vyabhicharodbhava “ VI.25.28) could ever be a source of happiness for him. How prophetic were his words…!

Vyasa asked his mother that the widows be on a year-long vow and austerity so that they purified themselves of the lust they were tainted with through seven years of over indulgence Satyavathi was in a hurry for a heir ; and, was in no mood to wait. She ordered Vyasa to be done with his task at the earliest.

vyasa satyavati

The helpless Vyasa gave in to his mother’s demands; and said – ‘If I am to give unto my brother children so unseasonably, then let the ladies bear my ugliness. That in itself shall, in their case, be the austerest of penances. If the princess of Kosala can bear my strong odor, my ugly and grim visage, my attire and body, she shall then conceive an excellent child.'(Sambhava Parva; Section CV)

Satyavati then went to her daughter-in-law and seeing her in private spoke to her these words of beneficial and virtuous import, ‘O princess of Kosala, listen to what I say. It is consistent with virtue. The dynasty of the Bharatas hath become extinct from my misfortune. Beholding my affliction and the extinction of his paternal line, the wise Bhishma, impelled also by the desire of perpetuating our race, hath made me a suggestion, which suggestion, however, for its accomplishment is dependent on thee. Accomplish it, O daughter, and restore the lost line of the Bharatas. O thou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendor unto the chief of the celestials. He shall bear the onerous burden of this our hereditary kingdom.’

Thus, Satyavathi, in a way,   tricked and manipulated her widowed daughters-in-law into believing that the young Bhishma would be coming to them.

Thereafter, splendidly decked, and having bathed on the fourth day after the monthly cleansing, the eldest first awaits the appointed father of her future child.

When suddenly Vyasa barged into the bedroom with his flowing red locks, ash covered dark body and fiercely glowing eyes , they were totally unprepared ; and were  aghast and shocked beyond belief . It was in that state one woman closed her eyes in fright ; and, the other went pale in horror.(Section CVI)

The result was that one had a son born blind and manipulative ; the other had a son pale and near-impotent , hankering for sex.

Even then Satyavathi had learned nothing. She wanted healthy grandsons at any cost. Yet, again she talked Ambika into having sex with Vyasa. Ambika , had not overcome her fright of Vyasa , yet. She therefore deceived Satyavathi ; and, this time sent in her maid instead, who without fear and aversion accepted the sage. Their child was the virtuous Vidura, possibly the sole true grandson of Satyavati. She arranged to educate him along with his half-brothers . She assigned Vidura to assist and guide the blind Dritharastra. 

Vidura, too, however, died childless. Satyavathi’s other grandson, Pandu died just as his putative father Vicitravirya, without having been able to father progeny.

After her grandson Pandu’s death, Satyavati realized how in vain were her efforts ; and, meekly obeyed her son Vyasa when he advised her not to be a witness to the suicide of her race. “The green years of the earth are gone. . . . . Do not be a witness to the suicide of your own race.” Vyasa asked her to leave the court and retire to the forest with her daughters-in-law. She accepted Vyasa’s advice and retired gracefully to the forest, unlike the obsessed Bhishma who chose to linger on aimlessly.

Kuru Vamsha tree

To an extent, Satyavati succeeded in using her manipulative power and accomplishing what she desired . But that did not take her far; as she had not learnt when not to use power. She had also not learnt to value reason and intuition.

In her progeny-hungry lifetime, driven mainly by an obsessive desire to retain power, Satyavati saw her husband, her two sons and one grandson die; the eldest grandson born blind; the youngest one not qualified to be king, being base-born, despite being the only fully healthy and virtuous issue. The middle one dared death for sex and succumbed. “Passion overpowered him , it seemed that he wanted to commit suicide, as it were. First he lost his sense, Then, clouded by lust, he sought the loss of his life “. (Adi parva, 01,116.007- 011 )

.. the monarch, overpowered by passion, forcibly sought the embraces of Madri, as if he wished to put an end to his own life. His reason, thus beguiled by the great Destroyer himself by intoxicating his senses, was itself lost with his life. And the Kuru king Pandu, of virtuous soul, thus succumbed to the inevitable influence of Time, while united in intercourse with his wife – MBh. Adi Parva-Section 125 – Sambhava Parva continued – Translation of  Sri Kesri Mohan Ganguly

kāmaṃ kāmabalāt kṛtaḥ / tata enāṃ balād rājā nijagrāha rahogatām vāryamāṇas tayā devyā visphurantyā yathābalam/ sa tu kāmaparītātmā taṃ śāpaṃ nānvabudhyata  mādrīṃ maithuna dharmeṇa gacchamāno balād iva / jīvitāntāya kauravyo manmathasya vaśaṃgataḥ  śāpajaṃ bhayam utsṛjya jagāmaiva balāt priyām / tasya kāmātmano buddhiḥ sākṣāt kālena mohitā   saṃpramathyendriya grāmaṃ pranaṣṭā saha cetasā / sa tayā saha saṃgamya bhāryayā kurunandana pāṇḍuḥ  paramadharmātmā yuyuje kāladharmaṇā / Book 1; Chapter 116; verses 9-11

Thereafter the question of succession to the throne , with which Satyavathi was so obsessed all her life, took a crooked path; and, it eventually led to internecine bloodbath.

Kimshuka butea-frondosa




Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Mahabharata


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17 responses to “The Three Women In Mahabharata (1 Of 3 )- Sathyavathi

  1. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 4:56 am

    wow! what an analysis! satyavathi tricking ambika and ambalika into believing bhishma was going to father their chilldren – i hadn’t heard of that before. power does corrupt…furtherance of one’s own agenda reigns supreme. the epics have so much to impart; a lifetime wouldn’t suffice perhaps.
    looking forward to the next part.


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:58 am

      dear melody queen,

      thank you for the comment.

      satyavathi tacitly led her daughters in law to believe the bhishma would be coming to them. she was not quite explicit.

      please see the following extract from the mahabharata of krishna-dwaipayana vyasa by kisari mohan ganguli (sambhava parva)

      satyavati then went to her daughter-in- law and seeing her in private spoke to her these words of beneficial and virtuous import, ‘o princess of kosala, listen to what i say. it is consistent with virtue. the dynasty of the bharatas hath become extinct from my misfortune. beholding my affliction and the extinction of his paternal line, the wise bhishma, impelled also by the desire of perpetuating our race, hath made me a suggestion, which suggestion, however, for its accomplishment is dependent on thee. accomplish it, o daughter, and restore the lost line of the bharatas. o thou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendor unto the chief of the celestials. he shall bear the onerous burden of this our hereditary.


      ‘soon after the monthly season of the princess of kosala had been over, satyavati, purifying her daughter-in-law with a bath, led her into the sleeping apartment. there seating her upon a luxurious bed, she addressed her, saying, ‘o princess of kosala, thy husband hath an elder brother who shall this day enter thy womb as thy child. wait for him tonight without dropping off to sleep.’ hearing these words of her mother-in-law, the amiable princess, as she lay on her bed, began to think of bhishma and the other elders of the kuru race.

      i followed this. i think may not be wrong. i can correct it if need be.kindly let me know.

      thanks for the remark.


      • sreenivasaraos

        March 21, 2015 at 5:04 am

        dear melody queen,

        your comment was a fair remark. i am glad you asked. that helped me to cross check; as i was not too sure. i came across similar views expressed by a few others. i was not far off the mark .
        as regards vyasa , until then the d-i-ls were not aware of his position via vis satyavathi , though others were.

        kindly also check the response i posted to r-sharma’s comments.

        thanks for asking.


  2. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:00 am

    dear sreenivasa ,

    well written, when seen thru the prism of sex & power/immortality through progeny

    [definitely ‘vyavaharika satya for most of us common humans..:) ]

    mb does throw light on the fact that women play as crucial (if not more) roles as men. (even their ‘gambles’ are calculated risks !!!)

    waiting for the next ones..

    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:06 am

      dear karigar,

      glad to see you after quite a while . thank you for the comment and appreciation.
      i agree . even within a society the values of power ,morality and relations between men and women keep evolving . it is a dynamic growth.

      sir , would you kindly check the response i posted to r sharma’s comments and let me know.
      i value your views.


  3. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:00 am

    dear mr. rao,

    this detailed account of the life of satyavathi is very new to me. i was wondering if satyavathi suggested the idea to her daughters-in-law very soon after they were widowed. that way, it would leave the impression that her sons were “actually” the fathers. i was just wondering,…. wasn’t it scandalous especially in those times to suddenly bear kids when the fathers had been dead too long. being so conservative, the society those days would never have accepted her grandsons to represent the lineage, if their birth was so disgraceful.

    just wanted to know.

    thanks for narrating the story. i will wait for the next part.


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:01 am

      dear r sharma,

      thanks for comments.

      when we use terms as conservative , disgraceful and such others , we impose our own set of perceptions on a society of a bygone era which was guided its own set of values. those values were evolved and accepted by that society in the context of its times and in the context of it’s tits life patterns .( please see rig veda – position of women for more on that; please also see bhishma).ancient does not always translate to conservative .the term itself connotes relative standards

      as regards the situation you mentioned .the society in the early mahabharata period was more open than in the one in present day. but , as the epic stepped into its later generations the views and values were undergoing changes. it was on the way of getting rather rigid.

      for instance , in my next post on kunti i have mentioned that pandu tries to convince his wife kunti to beget sons from a worthy stranger, by stating that it was not uncommon in northern kuru (uttara kuru ).i have not however elaborated that post what those customs were. this was how he was explaining to kunti:

      ““in the past, women were not restricted to the house, dependent on family members; they moved about freely, they enjoyed themselves freely. they slept with any men they liked from the age of puberty; they were unfaithful to their husbands, and yet not held sinful… the greatest rishis have praised this tradition-based custom;… the northern kurus still practise it…the new custom is very recent.” adi parva (122.4-8) prof. p lal’s translation.

      the last remark of pandu referred to the sense of scandal you mentioned . the then society was evolving its own set of values .three generations later , i think the position of women had worsened ; and yudhistira could pledge his wife as wager in game of dice, as if she were a piece of property.

      yet , i think the women of mahabharata exercised greater control than in the later times. for instance draupadi while advising subhadra on the ways of managing the household mentions that the complete account of income and expenditure of her husbands was in her grasp and she alone knew the extent of their wealth; she kept track of what each of the many maids attending on yudhishthira was doing; and she took particular care to discuss with her husbands the decisions they took on various important issues. she even mentions that kunti and herself(draupadi) were consulted on most issues(mh. iii.233. 38, 41).

      it is interesting , how the perceptions and values change in a society over long periods. they are usually born out of interactions between responses and challenges or demands of the times.

      thanks for asking.

      please check the links and keep talking.


  4. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:06 am

    dear sreenivasa rao (garu?),

    enlightening in terms of details. thanks.

    roughly, how old could shantanu have been when he married satyavati, and what was her likely age then? anyway, i suppose there was a big difference in their age. if so, as a lovely woman, nearly of the same age as bhishma, could not satyavati have seen it fit to entice bhishma into marrying herself than entice him to go for her widowed daughters in law?

    yes, women had power. however, could satyavati alone have decided to marry shantanu without her father’s permission? suppose the father had said ‘no’, would she and could she have married the king? in fact, was it not her father who laid down the dynastic conditions, rather than she?

    could it be said that these characters you have covered were aryans? this is just a curious point in my mind. the dark and lowly (but beautiful) satyavati, could she be aryan if she had been dark? there are other dark characters too.

    how close was mahabharata to rig vedic times? were the rig vedic social practices fully reflected in the social practices we find in mb? just being curious.

    satyavati had no education except perhaps in terms of efficient fishing. she must have been too dumb to understand any of the intricacies of the running of the kingdom. so, can anyone talk of her really informed queenly ‘powers’ and duties in terms of running a state/kingdom, after shantanu was gone? apparently she was only plotting marriages and scheming dynastic succession. i would perhaps think this woman to be of no consequence, while compared to the great bhishma. satyavati perhaps deserves to be totally ignored in the scheme of things but for her sexual and dynastic ventures. would anyone agree with me?

    the mb is a fantastic epic of immense proportion with absolutely fanciful stories where imagination is given the widest berth. why should we then try to dissect every little event/incident/word in it, so literally, as if we are studying or examining a protoplasm? should we not see the larger canvas only and draw valid lessons from that, rather than trying to draw a lesson from each word and sentence of the mb? i would like to enjoy the story and not rush into too many lessons, hidden or explicit. after all, many of the stories are far too stretched to admit of belief, i is sheer pleasure to treat them just metaphorically. how many wold agree with me?

    your erudition is great. my questions or statements are not challenges but rather speculative as of a child’s mind.



    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:09 am

      dear shri gopal.

      thank you for the comments.

      i am glad you raised a number of issues.

      it is interesting you remarked about satyavathi “could she be aryan if she had been dark? “ you will find that the course of the epic is determined by the dark five : gandhakali(aka satyavathi), krishna dvaipayana vyasa, vaasudeva krishna, yajnaseni krishnaa, arjuna and kunti. the first three are further linked by the black waters of the yamuna, while satyavati, kunti and draupadi are prototypes of one another. they were all dusky. they were the stronger characters of the epic; while the light skinned ones like pandu , dritarastra were the weaklings.

      krishna often addresses arjuna as arya or aryaputra. they both were aryas ; so were the other three i mentioned earlier. being an arya had nothing to do with the color ones skin. arya was not a race. the term was used in the sense of noble. it was only after the infamous ait (aryan invasion theory) that color came to be associated with arya. the society of that era had its own self-perception and a world view.


      as regards the interval of time lapse between rig veda and mahabharata ,the time gap cannot presently be measured with any accuracy . but there is a certain way of estimating that gap by the references made in either texts to the river sarasvathi. it too is only an indicator.

      lets look at the references to the sarasvathi in mahabharata.

      –sarasvathi was to the north of kurukshetra where the war took place. (3.81.115),

      – -during the mahabharata period the river saraswati was drying up

      – in vana parva, lomasa remarks that the saraswati goes underground at vinasana and remerges at chamshodbheda.( section cxxx) -km ganguly’s translation.

      –in bhishma parva, sanjay the narrator of the war informs dhritarashtra the blind king “as regards the saraswati, in some parts (of her course) she becomes visible and in some parts not so”.( section vi )

      –balarama, krishna’s brother, sent on tour (or detour) during the war and visited a number of holy places. during his tour, balarama visited vinasana, the place where the sarasvati disappears in the desert. he remarked sarasvathi was drying up and at certain places one could wade through it (mbh. 3.80.118; 9.36.1; 3.130.4).

      – mahabharata also states that the sarasvati, after having disappeared in the desert, reappears in some places. (mbh. 3.80.118).

      -mahabharata also states saraswati disappears in the sands at vinasana and not into the sea.

      it is therefore apparent that at the time of mahabharata the sarasvathi was growing weaker but she was still there , flowing rather intermittently..

      rig veda mentions the saraswati a number of times (50?). rig-veda describes how the mighty saraswati supported inland and marine trade and travel. it is likely there was continuous flow of the river say possibly, up to even the little rann. sarasvathi was a mighty river in rig veda period but had gradually grown weaker by the time of mahabharata .

      the westward movement of the indian warrior kings and establishment of their kingdoms of mitanni and others (in regions of the present-day syria ) is estimated to have taken place around 1800 bce.

      a paper produced on the basis of water-table fluctuations and radiocarbon estimates states that for a full 2000 y (between 6000 and 4000 bc), saraswati had flowed as a great river before it was obliterated in a short span of geological time through a combination of destructive natural events. the waning period of vedic civilization around 3700 bc was also the period that disrupted both saraswati and drishadvati.

      mahabharata might perhaps have been around 2500 bce. that again is broad estimate.

      please check for details

      please also see reg dating of mahabharata


      the society of the mahabharata was of course a different one from the vedic society. even during the mahabharata times the values and idioms of social conduct were evolving into their next phase . for instance , pandu narrates to kunti about the practices of old days in uttara kuru (please see my response to r sharma).karna taunts madra about the old practices in his part of the world. but certain practices like niyoga of vedic times had not vanished but were not practiced widely either.

      as regards satyavathi , yes she was young and shantanu was rather too old for her. that did not make satyavathi a gullible lass who could easily be taken advantage of. she was far from that. she was shrewd and manipulative and knew her mind. the skillful way she dealt with parashara even while she was a boatwoman is a proof of that. she was a person of some consequences and she directed the life of people around her. what you call as education is one thing and awareness is quite another . how many of our power vendors are educated?. she took decisions and ensured she was obeyed . the great bhishma was never a leader in his life . his “witness” stance which went against the very nature of the kshatriya brought about the destruction of the kingdom which he vowed to protect. his was a power unused.


      yes , mahabharata is a fantastic epic of immense proportion ; but it is not all imagination.. as vyasa said it is a thousand petaled lotus there as many ways of looking at it. it could be enjoyed as a story too. yet, mahabharata is more than simply a story of kings and princes, sages and wise men, demons and gods. as vyasa said it is about dharma ; it is also a study of what motivates a person to act in the way he does. the incidents i discussed were the ones that changed the course of events and had horrific impact on the generations that followed.

      analyzing and understanding of the epic would be of of use if it brings about a change in the mindset of the people.

      thank you for asking . it helped me greatly.


  5. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:13 am

    actually sir, i’d rather call this a tragic story of weak men. bhishma’s father, forgotten his name, couldnt’ control his lust. so he remained a puppet in both hiswives’ hands.

    bhishma you already have described. and yudhishtira whose inability to control his addiction for gambling and inablility to control his ego, caused the war.


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:15 am

      dear bharatborn

      thank you for the comment and recommendation.

      you made a valid point; the weak men consumed by lust brought ruin on them selves. the well known scholar shri pradip bhattacharya summed this up comprehensively.since i cannot do better than what he did , i reproduce his paragraph.

      this is the story of vyasa and his descendants, all corrupted by that single consuming weakness – lust. pandu which touches the core of this tragic flaw – “addiction to lust killed my mother’s husband, though the virtuous shantanu gave him birth. and though truth-speaking vyasa is my father, lust consumes me too“. the seed of lust runs through both sides of the family. it consumes shantanu who marries a fisherwoman in his dotage, depriving his kingdom of its rightful and able heir, devavrata. mahabhisha is reborn as shantanu for having looked lustfully on ganga in brahma’s court when the wind uplifted her dress. vichitravirya, child of his old age, carries the same weakness and dies of sexual over-indulgence. satyavati is a product of uparichara’s lust. vyasa is born of parashara forcing himself on satyavati mid-stream in a boat. satyavati refuses to put her daughters-in-law through the year-long purificatory penance which vyasa advises. they await their brother-in-law bhishma lust-fully and, shocked at the advent of vyasa, the union inevitably produces flawed progeny. the curse, like the erinyes, pursues the entire family. it is the supreme irony of the epic that ultimately the puru lineage and the dynasty satyavati sought to found through vyasa are extinct.

      no wonder vyasa finally cries out in despair at man’s deliberate rejection of salvation and the remorseless working out of the tragic flaw ingrained deep within, driving him to destruction.

      i raise my arms and i shout- but no one listens!
      from dharma come wealth and pleasure:
      why is dharma not practiced?


  6. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:17 am

    dear srinivasa garu,

    i’m enjoying the discussions here. i think by and large i agree with your responses.

    regarding the change of culture, you’re right, many commentaries on mb have mentioned that it was/is a chronicle of an epoch making change in society (dwapar to kali yuga…??) the values of society were changing in a big way, many for the better, some for worse. even during the gita, sri krishna tells arjuna, that ‘what i’m telling you is not new, i’m just telling ancient wisdom so that future generations may benefit’ [what a “prophetic” statement!]

    regds position of women, the common position of modern (well, ok, western:) scholarship on “mythology” & history” is that there was a “goddess worship” oriented ancient world which was completely reshaped (with much violence) into the patriarchal world that has existed in recent history.

    of course their data is based on euro & abrahamic cultures, but they extendi their ideas to “world history” [ but natural for them to have the conceit that anything they conclude has to be global in application!]. i agree some of this is applicable to indian culture also, but we’ve always had some correctives in our dharmic sense to not lose balance; proof being india is one of the few major cultures left that gives valid (and equal) status to “goddess” and “god”. this dharmic sensibility os our most powerful corrective against ill treatement of women based on brute force. a pity today’s society leadership is oblivious to this, for the most part…..

    of course, your comments on the “aryan” question was right on the mark (arya as noble is all that was meant in our itihaasas, etc…), i tend to think (based on solid, but mostly circumstatnial evidence) that the fascination for “fair” or light skin is a product of the fact that the past 1000 ys of indian (& other) history has been dominated by people with light skin. human nature does the rest, associating (somewhat blindly) closeness to power with skin colour, and overly glamourizing ‘fair & lovely’…

    our history prior to 1000 yrs is pretty much oblivious to this ‘fair & lovely’ myth; and the future is also going to again overturn this!

    i plan to write something on mb & cultural change soon, your writings are inspiring me to stop procrastinating!

    best rgds.


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:17 am

      dear shri karigar,

      thank you for the comments . i am glad you found the discussion interesting.

      please also take a look at kunti and draupadi where a few other issues concerning women come up.

      i look forward to your post.


  7. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Sreenivsasarao Sir,

    I never thought about Satyavati much though her name comes in Mahabharat prominently in the beginning. In the stories I read(most are Kannada ebridged, even in Rajaji’s bharata) main characters among females are Droupadi, next Kunti.

    This is nothing less than Sonia or Maneka Gandhi’s and also their M I L Indira’s life stories. All are very ambitious and scheming. Marrying a foreigner or outside clan or cast also was no taboo for Royals or nobles at all time ! Arjuna married women of all kinds from all over the country. If we look at the lineage also there is no continuity, so called Kuru vamsha is mixture of all blood of various men.

    Satyavati’s character is very strong and dominent, but not admirable where as Droupadi and Kunti are very strong and admirable women, true Kashatriya women (brave,bold and far sighted) !

    Thanks for this thought provoking blog.


    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:20 am

      Dear Shylaja, I appreciate your patience. Yes; Satyavathi was ambitious and manipulative. Most of her schemes that started well, somehow ended bitterly. And, that rancor lasted for generations. Perhaps, she did not know when to stop; or, she just could not.

      The clones and shades of Satyavathi rule the roost in our political arena, sadly. The people of the country may have to reap a harvest.

      How did you find Draupadi?


  8. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 5:20 am

    great analysis.

    By the way what happened to Kunti after the war? did she follow her sons to the Himalayas?

    Bijaya Ghosh

    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 5:22 am

      Dear Bijaya Ghosh, Thank you Maa.

      Regarding the last days of Kunti, I think, I mentioned in the post on her ‘Kunti’:

      After the war she decided to retreat into the forest along with the blind king Dritharastra, his blindfolded queen Gandhari and Vidura. When Bhima, in anguish cried out: ‘why she urged them to fight and wade through the rivers of blood and guts of their relatives, if she had to go away leaving them behind after everything was done’, Kunti consoles Bhima, the strongest of her sons , by saying that she inspired them to fight not because she desired for a kingdom or for a palace but because she desired an honourable life for her sons and that they should not live forever in shame as slaves.

      Kunti dies in forest-fire along with king Dritharastra and Gandhari.

      She had the wisdom to recede from active scene when it was prudent to do so .When her mission was accomplished, she had the detachment and strength of mind to renounce the fruits of her efforts and to walk away into forest and into fire…



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