Shantanu (Sanskrit: शंतनु) is a king of Hastinapura in the great epic of the Mahābhārata. He is a descendant of the Bharata race, of the lunar dynasty and the ancestor of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Rigveda hymn 10.98 mentions Shantanu. He was the youngest son of King Pratipa of Hastinapur and had been born in the latter's old age. The eldest son Devapi suffered from leprosy and abdicated his inheritance to become a hermit. The middle son Bahlika devoted his life to conquer the old Aryan territoties near Balkh and hence, Shantanu become the King of Hastinapur by default.

hantanu and Ganga

Shantanu saw a beautiful woman on the banks of river Ganga and asked her to marry. She agreed but with one condition that Shantanu wouldn't ask anything whatever she does. They married and soon Ganga gave birth. But Ganga drowned the child. Shantanu couldn't ask because of his promise not to ask else she would leave. One by one seven children were drowned but Shantanu couldn't hold his curiosity and asked Ganga, when she was about to drown eighth child. Ganga let eighth child live and he is called Devavrat (later Bhishma).

hantanu and Satyavati

When Shantanu's son Bhishma had grown into a young handsome prince, Shantanu came across Satyavati, a ferryman's daughter, and fell in love with her. The ferryman agreed to the marriage on condition that any child Satyavati bore him would inherit the throne.

King Shantanu was unable to give his word on accession as it would be unfair to Bhishma, the rightful heir to the throne. However, Bhishma came to know of this and in a magnificent gesture of renunciation and sacrifice for the sake of his father, gave his word to the ferryman that he would renounce all claims to the throne, in favour of Satyavati's children. To reassure the sceptical ferryman further, he also vowed life-long celibacy to ensure that future generations borne of Satyavati are also not challenged by his offspring.

Shantanu and Satyavati went on to have two sons, Chitrāngada and Vichitravirya. After Shantanu's death, Satyavati continued to rule the kingdom with her two sons, with help from Bhishma.

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