Mahabharat - Episode 03 - The Vow (Bhishma Pratigya)2021-12-08
Back to the story after a very uneventful episode, this is a turning point in the story of Devvrat and Shantanu, and on a larger scale the kingdom of Hastinapur. We saw Ganga tell Shantanu why she did what she did (infanticide), which was merciful in a way. Shantanu waits for about 16 years for his son to get his training and come back, prepped to be heir in the democratic kingdom of Hastinapur.
“Ye meri akhand-pratigya hai.”
We saw Devvrat destroy a whole army with his divine arrows in the last episode. Now we see him bring back the prince of Shalva as a war prisoner. As the king decides how to punish his prisoner, Devvrat shows us a hint of the legend that he is going to become. Rather than make him an enemy, Devvrat suggests not only forgiving the prince of Shalva, but sending him home with respect.
It might seem like an idiotic thing for a king and his prince to do, but this story is set in a different time. A time when friendship was stronger than familial bonds. A time when vows had more value than one’s life. A time when people had honor.
This incident leads to the king announcing Devvrat as heir to the throne. A seat which moves many gears in the wheel of this story.
Devvrat is not a kid anymore, he has turned into a fine young man. This is the first time we get to see Mukesh Khanna in his iconic role as Devvrat/Bhishma.
Shantanu will never learn. Women near rivers are no good for him. It’s like we are seeing history repeat itself. Shantanu falling in love, starting creepily at Satyavati, who also kinda gives him hints? I don’t know, but after a few trips to and from the two banks of the river, they both seem to be in love.
Again, Shantanu has some poetic lines when it comes to women he falls in love with. I am planning to make a seperate post about it at some point.
Shantanu goes to her father Dashraj to ask her hand in marriage. After some back to back lines shrouded in vague definitions with her father, Shantanu asks for her hand. Her father reveals that in reality, he knew that Shantanu would come because her kundli predicted her rule over a kingdom. Other than that, Dashraj had one more condition. Satyavati’s children should rule the kingdom. Yes, the democratic kingdom of Hastinapur, instead of the heir to the throne.
From what we know about Shantanu so far, we know he will go to any lengths to get what he wants but this time he does the opposite. He denies Dashraj’s request and angrily leaves, saying that the king of Hastinapur cannot take one’s right and give it to another. This makes him look like the good guy to us, right? Shantanu is not a bad person, he is just a weak one. He goes back to camp that they set up when they came hunting.
The fragile will of Shantanu leads to one of the biggest events in Mahabharat. Shantanu stays sad for a couple of days, not moving the camp. He goes near the bank and looks longingly at Satyavati, not able to have what he so much desires. This goes on for a few days. After repeatedly asking his father why he was in such a gloom, and failing to know the answer, Devvrat calls the Saarthi (Driver) of the king. Armed with the knowledge of the reason for the woes of his lovelorn father, Devvrat leaves that instant to meet Dashraj. After confrontation, he learns about the condition that his father was subjected to.
We see a spark in Devvrat’s eyes light up. A king does not have the right to declare the heir to the throne, when he already has done it. Shantanu does not have the right to declare Satyavati’s children to be kings, since he already had crowned Devvrat as heir to his kingdom. But this is Devvrat we are talking about. The learned, wise Devvrat. The more mature than his teenage-boy-in-a-man’s-body father Devvrat. The Devvrat, who is willing to sacrifice worldly pleasures, who is willing to sacrifice everything that might matter to him, just to see his kingdom flourish Devvrat. Shantanu cannot give a promise because it is not his to give. Devvrat can. Devvrat promises Dashraj that Satyavati’s children will be kings. Problem solved. Or is it?
Dashraj pulls out another ace. At this point it might seem like Dashraj might have just planned out this whole thing sitting under his thatched roof. Dashraj questions the fact that the same way Shantanu has no right to give away the throne promised to Devvrat, Devvrat himself also doesn’t have the right to give away his throne that might belong to his children. Devvrat who can barely contain his anger now, solves this issue as well.
He takes a Bhishma Pratigya(terrible vow). A vow of celibacy.
Imagine that. A son taking a vow of celibacy just so his dad could get married to a fisherwoman he met a few days ago. Although indirectly, this happened so that Shantanu could stay happy and in turn, the kingdom of Hastinapur could flourish. I truly believe that if Bhishma was given rule over the kingdom, the whole story might have been a happier one.
I blame Shantanu for this, and although I know that these things play a larger part in the things to come and they were bound to happen somehow, Shantanu was an idiot. He will pay the price for his weak will, but that is for the next episode.
“Tat aa gaya.”
“Mera tat to abhi tak nahi aaya.”
“Lagta hai aap Raja Bhakt hai, Rajya Bhakt nahi.”
To be continued