After Bhishma’s sacrifice of celibacy, King Shantanu married Satyavati. Satyavati had borne two illustrious sons – Chitrangadha and Vicitravirya. In due course of time, Shantanu had passed away.
Chitrangadha ascended to the throne. All the kings on earth had paid tribute to Satyavati’s eldest son, Citrängadä. His reputation for prowess in battle and unwavering virtue had reached the heavens. It was thus that the mighty king of the Gandharvas, who bore the same name, became envious upon hearing his glories. The jealous Gandharva could not allow another famous and powerful Citrängadä to live. He came to earth and challenged his rival to battle. After years of fighting, the valorous son of Satyavati was slain and the proud Gandharva returned triumphant to the heavens.
Vicitravirya was married to Ambika and Ambalika respectively Then the powerful Vicitravirya ascended the throne, but suddenly died from an illness after only seven years of ruling. Neither he nor his brother left a child.
The earlier son of Shantanu – the son of Ganga – Bhishma took a vow of celibacy. There is no point in trying to persuade him to marry and produce children.
Satyavati was deeply concerned about the future of the great Kuru dynasty. The Kuru had ruled this earth for thousands of years. There was no successor now to continue this great dynasty. She exclaimed – “How can such a calamity befall on this pious Kuru dynasty ? How can destiny be so cruel ? What shall I do now ?” Though overcome by anguish, she thought for a while – “ I can’t do anything now myself. Let me ask Bhishma, though younger in age, he was taught by the demigods and is greatly wise”.
She approached Bhishma and ask for his counsel. He thought for a while and spoke to her – “Oh great mother, please don’t worry, we cannot blame the destiny. Kindly approach the great Vyasadev. He will bless the wives of Vicitravirya with children.”
Satyavati calmed herself and she meditated on Vyasadeva. Immediately Vyasadeva appeared and asked her what she wanted. She explained the situation to the great sage the great calamity. The great sage for the sake of the welfare of the world agreed to help.
The two queens of Vicitravirya were summoned one after another to meet Vyasadeva. Ambika approached the sage. She looked up shyly. She saw a wizened, ugly and filthy ascetic. His matted locks hung about his gaunt face and he stared at her with fierce eyes. His teeth were only slightly less black than his complexion. Around his waist was a soiled loin cloth, his only garment. His hairy body was encrusted with dirt. She disgusted with her first impression of the great sage and closed her eyes forgetful of the great renunciation of the sage. As a result she was blessed with a son who has strength of numerous elephants but blind. In due course of time Ambikä gave birth to a blind child who was named Dhritarashtra.
Then her co-wife Ambalika approached the sage. She was also taken aback by the appearance of the sage. As a result, she was blessed with a child who was pale. She delivered a pale child who was nevertheless effulgent and endowed with many auspicious marks on his body, and who was named Pandu in accord with Vyäsadeva’s words.
Satyavati perturbed with this requested Vyasadev to bless Ambika again. The queen was alarmed at the prospect of meeting again with the terrible-looking rsi. She went to a maidservant who was an intimate friend and asked that she take her place. Giving the servant her own ornaments and adorning her with the finest robes, she had her approach the sage.
Although he knew everything the rsi entered the chamber as before. As soon as she saw the exalted sage the maidservant rose up respectfully. She bowed at his feet and had him sit down comfortably. After gently washing his feet, the girl offered him many kinds of delicious foodstuffs. Vyäsadeva was pleased. He blessed – “O good-natured girl, you shall be a maidservant no longer. Your son from our union will be wise, fortunate and the foremost of all intelligent men upon this earth.”
[Adopted from Mahabharata – By HG Krishna Dharma Prabhu]