Satyavati was the mother of sage Vyasa, the great sage who is said to have composed the epic Mahabahrata, and the grand-mother of Pandu and Dhritarashtra besides being one of the most important women characters in the epic. Her personality has shaped the epic and altered the course of the narrative. While she is mainly known for making Devavrata become Bhishma and in due course, Bhishma-pitamah (the great patriarch), there is much more to this character, than meets the eye.
The story of Satyavati starts in Adi Parva, Section LXIII, Adivanasavatarana Parva, with her birth which involves a great deal of fantasy and make-belief. This version has made efforts to demystify those elements to make it appear as it might have occurred in the real life. There are a number of reasons for the mystification or the element of fantasy in the original version. One of the chief reasons is to give sanctity to the generations of heroes to come in the epic, later. A future king who has no royal or divine or even semi-divine blood in his veins is prone to be rejected by the masses as well as the listeners of the oral tales. Such fantasy and miracles only lend credence to the claims to royalty and enables the narrative to move seamlessly.
Satyavati in all major works is shown as the daughter of an apsara who was cursed to become a fish. Satyavati is found with her twin brother inside a fish. The author has interpreted this part of the story, like a few more, to make it more believable and most probable for a narrative to sound practical. The study of mythology is to decipher the probable and the plausible from the impossible. If the story is to be believed then it is important to understand the practicality of the situation, even in its given milieu.
Many gaps in the narrative have been filled to make it a continuous tale, however, not much digression has been resorted from the original narrative of sage Vyasa, but nonetheless, it is pertinent to add that this is a work of fiction. All the author has tried to do is to piece the story together to bring out a hidden character from the epic, who has mainly got overshadowed by the likes of Amba, Kunti and Draupadi. While she is not vitriolic or loud and vengeful, Satyavati does show herself to be calm and a woman, who could make amends in life and enable a significant impact on the narrative which changes the course of the generations to come in the epic.
This work has been pieced together based on details available on Satyavati from the epic Mahabharata as well as portions from Harivamsa and Devi Bhagavata Purana, both being later texts. Clearly, the latter texts had taken note of the character of Satyavati and expounded on her role. As mentioned earlier, the narrative follows the original version very closely, however, the author has added fictional portions (like the Epilogue) to bring out her side of the story. This is an effort to give voice to characters that have not had their say in the epic otherwise.
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