Shantanu had a son Devavrat. And Devavrat was the son of Ganga, and he was the most knowledgable. He had Brihaspati as his Guru, Parashuram taught him how to use weapons. And he had the greatest teachers, he lived in Heaven with Ganga for his formative years and had the best education. And he was the most capable to take over the kingdom.
And Ganga, after giving birth to Devavrat, Ganga said, “I’m leaving you now.” And she left Shantanu, her husband. And some years later, when Devavrat was a young man and already appointed the crown prince, Shantanu saw Matsyagandha who was exuding this delectable fragrance and the beauty of eternal youth. And her beauty was so captivating, he fell in love immediately.
So he went to Dasaraj, Matsyagandha’s father and he said, “I’d like to marry your daughter.” And the fisherman said, “That’s wonderful, any girl in the nation would be privileged to marry the king, but I saw in a dream that my grandsons, the sons from Matsyagandha, are going to be the next king.” And Shantanu said, “That’s impossible, I already appointed Devavrat the next king; how can the unborn sons of your daughter become the crown prince when I’ve given away my right to give you that promise?” Then Dasaraj said, “Well, then you can’t marry my daughter, that’s all there is to it.”
Well, Devavrat saw that his father was unhappy and he found out what was the cause of his unhappiness. And Devavrat went to Dasaraj and he said, “Hey fisherman, why won’t you give your daughter to my father?” And the fisherman said, “I’ll give my daughter to your father, I have no hesitation; but I saw in a dream that her sons are suppose to become the king after your father dies, when he passes on his kingdom. And your father said he already gave away the kingdom, he already appointed the crown prince the heir to the throne, he can’t do it again.”
And Devavrat said, “What my father told you was absolutely correct, he appointed me the heir to the throne and he cannot give it to you, but I can. Because my father’s happiness is more important to me than the kingdom, what good is the kingdom to me if my father’s not happy? I give you the promise that the sons of Satyavati, of Matsyagandha, will become the new kings.”
And so Dasaraj gave his blessing and gave his daughter, and Devavrat took his daughter Matsyagandha, back to Shantanu his father. And he said, “Father, I brought you something that will make you happy, and I give you your wife. And now Matsyagandha is my mother, and I have given away my right to the kingdom, her sons will be the king.”
And Shantanu was stricken and he said, “Oh my gosh, such a fearless vow you have taken, such a tremendous vow you’ve undertaken, I’m going to call you Bhishma. He who is free from fear, who knows no fear, who can conquer all fear.” So Devavrat became Bhishma, and Matsyagandha became Satyavati, his mother.
And Dasaraj had said to Bhishma, “You can make that promise for yourself, but you can’t make that promise for your children.” And Bhishma said, “I promise you I won’t have children, and therefore there will be no contenders to the throne.”
And Satyavati had two sons. And they grew up, Vichitravirya and Chitrangadha, both became the heirs apparent to the throne. Chitrangadha was the oldest, and he ascended to the throne, and died. And then Vichitravirya also died, and now there was no heir to the throne.
Satyavati called Bhishma and said, “We need an heir to the throne, I want you to cohabit with the wives of Vichitravirya and give a son to the throne.” And he said, “I’m sorry mother, I’m bound never to have children.” And then Satyavati said, “Well, what will we do, the lineage is about to die out?” Bhishma said, “I’m sorry mother. This is not my problem, I am the defender of the kingdom, I gave up the kingdom for your children. You think about what to do.” And Satyavati said, “There’s nothing else to do, go to the forest and find Veda Vyasa, and tell him to come here.”
And through Veda Vyasa the lineage of kings and the Hastinapur Lunar dynasty continued.