Maharaj Shantanu was the emperor of Hastinapur. Goddess Ganga and he were married. Ganga had left Shantanu due to breaking the condition laid at the time of marriage, hence Shantanu was spending his life alone. Once upon a time, Maharaj went into the dense jungle while hunting and after going far he came to the banks of river Yamuna.
After coming to the banks of river Yamuna, Maharaj Shantanu saw a beautiful woman on the banks of the river. Seeing that woman, Maharaj asked her – women who are you, what are you doing here on the banks of this river, who is your father, whose sister or whose woman are you. Hearing these words of King Shantanu, the woman on the river bank said , Maharaj I am the daughter of Nishadraj, on the orders of my father, I am doing work of boatman here, this is the work of our family. I am not woman of anyone and sister of Matsya Raj. My name is Matsyagandha.
Hearing the woman’s words, the king said, “Devi I am King Shantanu of Hastinapur.” The king was fascinated with Matsyagandha and had made up his mind to make her his wife. That is why, he said to that women, I wish to marry you, I assure you that by taking you with me, I will make you the queen of my kingdom. Right now I am living without a woman because my wife Ganga has left me. Hearing the king’s words, Matsyagandha said, “Maharaj, I have no objection to this marriage, but I am not free to take this decision. Please ask my father for my hand. If he agrees, I will definitely marry you.”
On the saying of Matsyagandha, Maharaj Shantanu went to the place where Matsyagandha’s father Nishad Raj used to live, seeing king visit his place Matsyagandha’s father was very pleased and honored him . After getting respect, King Shantanu said, I have come here to ask you something, hope you will not say no. Hearing King Shantanu, Matsyagandha’s father said, “Maharaj those things must be given it if it is worth giving, if you ask me for such an item, I certainly will not tell you no. Then King Shantanu said what was in his mind to the father of Matsyagandha, after listening to the king, the father of Matsyagandha said, It is a matter of great pleasure for me that I entrust my daughter to you, I am ready for this.
Matsyagandha’s father said to Maharaj, I will definitely give you my daughter, but I have a condition that only Matsyagandha’s son should succeed you, with only one such condition, I will give my daughter to you. On hearing Matsyagandha’s father, the king was disappointed, as he had already declared his son Devrath as his successor and from there he returned to his capital. After coming to the capital, the king started feeling very disappointed, he had no interest in any of the activities.
Seeing his father being so disappointed like this, Devrath asked him, father ,please tell me what is causing you trouble, I will solve that problem now. Hesitantly, Shantanu could not express his desire to marry Matsyagandha to his son. Devrath did not get any answer from his father and went to the ministers and said, “Ministers, you should go to my father now and after asking him , tell me about his problem and cause of sorrow and I will try to remove his grief soon.”
After going to the king and asking him all the ministers get to know all about Matsyagandha and they tell all things to Yuvraj Devrath. After this, Devrath goes to Matsyagandha’s father and says to him, “O Kevataraj, if you want that the son of Matsyagandha become the king of Hastinapur later, I promise that I will never become the king of Hastinapur. Then Nishadraj says that you will not become the king, but what will happen if your son takes away the kingdom from the son of Matsyagandha by force. On hearing this, Devrath says, “Today I take the vow by making my mother Ganga as a witness that I will not marry and will practice lifelong celibacy.”
Hearing this vow of Devrath, Matsyagandha’s father marries off his daughter to Shantanu and after hearing this vow of his son Devrath,king Shantanu gives him the name Bhishma.
This is how Shantanu and Satyavati were married.