The story of Satyavati

Satyavati is the great-grandmother of the Pandava and Kaurava princes, principal characters of the Mahabharata, one of the principal texts in Hindu mythology. She is nevertheless a commoner, daughter to a ferryman or fisherman. She is also known as Matsyagandha (one who has the smell of fish).

As a young woman, she met the wandering rishi Parashara, by whom she had a son, Vyasa. His birth took place in secret on an island in the river Yamuna. This island in the shallow river Yamuna exists even today, and is enigmatic to say the least. At this point, the east-flowing river actually flows towards the west, giving the locale it's local name --- Pachmani( Paschim being West). This situation has existed for thousands of years, over a vast plain where there is no reason for the Yamuna to flow a tortuous path, rather than straight ahead. No hills or mountains cause the exreme meandering of the flow, and even the times of great floods have failed to alter the path of the river in this area. This strip of land surrounded by water on all sides is ideally located from safety point of view and is known as Manchodri in local parlance. Later, King Santanu of Hastinapura saw her and asked her to marry him. She agreed on condition that their children would inherit the throne. Their children were Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. After Santanu's death, she with her princely sons ruled the kingdom. Although both these sons died childless, she arranged for her first son Vyasa to father the children of the two wives of Vichitravirya (Ambika and Ambalika).