must certainly become my wife, whoever you may be." Thus said the great King Santanu
to the goddess Ganga who stood before him in human form, intoxica- ting his senses with
her super human love- liness.
The king earnestly offered for her love his
kingdom, his wealth, his all, his very life.
Ganga replied: "O king, I shall become
your wife. But on certain conditions-that neither you nor anyone else should ever ask me
who I am, or whence I come. You must also not stand in the way of whatever I do, good or
bad, nor must you ever be wroth with me on any account whatsoever. You must not say
anything displeasing to me. If you act otherwise, I shall leave you then and there. Do you
The infatuated king vowed his assent, and she
became his wife and lived with him.
The heart of the king was captivated by her
modesty and grace and the steady love she bore him. King Santanu and Ganga lived a life of
perfect happiness, oblivious of the passage of time.
She gave birth to many children; each new-born
babe she took to the Ganges and cast into the river, and then returned to the king with a
Santanu was filled with horror and anguish at
such fiendish conduct, but suffered it all in silence, mindful of the promise be had made.
Often he wondered who she was, wherefrom she had come and why she acted like a murderous
witch; still bound by his word, and his all-mastering love for her, uttered no word of
blame or remonstrance.
Thus she killed seven children. When the eighth
child was born and she was about to throw it into the Ganges, Santanu could not bear it