In the Mahabharata epic, Satyavati was the great grandmother of Dhristarashtra (father of the Kauravas) and Pandu (father of the Pandavas). She played a crucial role that led to the Kurushestra War. Not many know of Satyavati’s lineage. But the maharishis knew that she was born to King Uparichara-Vasu and Adrika, an apsara nymph.

Adrika, cursed by a rishi, lived as a fish in the river Ganga. To break her curse, she had to give birth to two human children. How can a man and a fish give birth to a human child?

Here is one version of how that happened.

King Uparichara-Vasu and his queen, Girika, were frolicking in the river Ganga. Their games led to foreplay and the couple engaged in coitus. About this time, the queen went into her monthly cycle and a fertilized egg escaped into the river stream.

Adrika, the piscine nymph, swallowed the egg. Dusharaj, a fisherman, caught the fish. He cut it open and found two human babies in its stomach. Her curse broken, Adrika regained her divine form and returned to the heavens.

Dusharaj presented the dead fish and the two babies to his sovereign, King Uparichara-Vasu.

“The boy is handsome and vigorous and smells sweet,” said the king. “I shall adopt him as my own.”

The fisherman held up the baby girl. She was a dark-skinned almond-eyed beauty and effused a strong fishy smell. The king said,

“Take the child for your own and raise her as a true father.”

Dusharaj named his adopted daughter, Kali, on account of her complexion. She was also called Satyavati.

When Satyavati came of age, King Shantanu of Kuru-Pradesh married her. The Kauravas and Pandavas were their great grandchildren.

This is an abridged version of the short story. If you like to read the complete short story and many more, all based on the Mahabharata, sign up for Eric’s Newsletter and receive weekly episodes.

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