I am watching B.R Films' series on "Mahabharat". In Episode 1 of which the union between King Shantanu of Hastinapur with Brahmaputri Ganga has been shown. She goes on to kill the sons born during the marriage and since the king is bound by the oath he took before marriage, he couldn't question her about her action.

The king could've chosen to get married a second time, right?


Santanu did not opt for another marriage because he loved his wife Ganga, so dearly. It was only after her departure, he married Satyavathi. This was what happened.

"Vaisampayana said, 'The maiden then, hearing those soft and sweet words of the smiling monarch, and remembering her promise to the Vasus, addressed the king in reply. Of faultless features, the damsel sending a thrill of pleasure into the heart by every word she uttered, said, 'O king, I shall become thy wife and obey thy commands. But, O monarch, thou must not interfere with me in anything I do, be it agreeable or disagreeable. Nor shall thou ever address me unkindly. As long as thou shalt behave kindly I promise to live with thee. But I shall certainly leave thee the moment thou interferest with me or speakest to me an unkind word.'

The king answered, 'Be it so.' And thereupon the damsel obtaining that excellent monarch, that foremost one of the Bharata race for her husband, became highly pleased. And king Santanu also, obtaining her for his wife, enjoyed to the full the pleasure of her company. And adhering to his promise, he refrained from asking her anything.

And the lord of earth, Santanu, became exceedingly gratified with her conduct, beauty, magnanimity, and attention to his comforts. And the goddess Ganga also, of three courses (celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean) assuming a human form of superior complexion and endued with celestial beauty, lived happily as the wife of Santanu, having as the fruit of her virtuous acts, obtained for her husband, that tiger among kings equal unto Indra himself in splendour.

And she gratified the king by her attractiveness and affection, by her wiles and love, by her music and dance, and became herself gratified. And the monarch was so enraptured with his beautiful wife that months, seasons, and years rolled on without his being conscious of them.

And the king, while thus enjoying himself with his wife, had eight children born unto him who in beauty were like the very celestials themselves. But, O Bharata, those children, one after another, as soon as they were born, were thrown into the river by Ganga who said, 'This is for thy good.' And the children sank to rise no more.

The king, however, could not be pleased with such conduct. But he spoke not a word about it lest his wife should leave him.

Please note the following from the above passages.

  • Santanu, became exceedingly gratified with her conduct, beauty, magnanimity, and attention to his comforts.

  • But he spoke not a word about it lest his wife should leave him.

The above are self-explanatory.

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I'm not sure where the question of "waiting" arises — after all, it's not like Shantanu knew that he would have seven sons with his wife and all of them will be drowned by her. We know that because as the audience to the story we have full knowledge of the past, present and future of Shantanu, but the king doesn't have that luxury.

Here's how I see it:
If I were the king, it is quite conceivable that I too would bite my tongue and not question her actions because of the love I have for her and the oath that she made me take. With each dead child the burden on my heart would increase, and the trust in my wife would chip away bit by bit, until after seven dead children I could no longer hold it in.

So, where does the question of a second marriage arise? The love of Shantanu for his wife is repeatedly emphasised — a cold calculation of marrying another woman just for the sake of an heir would actually be out of character for him.

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    Hi! answering here does not work like this. We can't simply give our opinions in answers. We need to validate our assertions too by quoting some scriptures. Citing other sources is also allowed like--some Acharaya's work or a saint's work. – Rickross Jul 14 at 14:40
  • @Rickross Thanks for letting me know, I'll be deleting this answer in a short while. I don't have any immediate access to the relevant scriptures, etc. and there's already another decent answer anyway. – Brahadeesh Jul 14 at 14:44
  • IMO it is not required for you to delete .. you can keep it.. and if you find an appropriate source some time later, you can update the answer with it then. – Rickross Jul 14 at 15:30

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