Mahabharata for children
Mahabharata Episode 2
Shantanu was totally gripped by the maiden's beauty, now known as Ganga, and immediately accepted her conditions. They instantly entered into a love marriage (Gandharva vivah) and returned home.
Things went on quite smoothly for sometime and then queen Ganga gave birth to a lovely boy. As soon as king Shantanu heard of this good news, he was overjoyed and rushed to the palace to congratulate the queen. But he was astonished to see that the queen took the newborn into her arms, went to the river, and drowned him. The king was shocked and felt miserable, yet he could not ask the queen about her action. He was bound by his pledge, not to question or interfere with her actions.
Hardly had Shantanu recovered from the shock of the death of his first son at the hands of the queen when she became expectant again. The king felt happy and thought that the queen would not repeat her dreadful action again. But the queen again took the newborn into her arms, and drowned him in the river.
After seeing the ghastly action of the queen, the king was in immense grief again, but his pledge barred him to say anything.
This continued on until queen Ganga bore the eighth son and marched to the river as before. Shantanu lost his patience and as soon as the queen was about to drown the newborn, Shantanu stopped her. "I have lost seven sons like this and am left with no heir. I can no longer stand to see my flesh and blood decimated before my eyes."
Queen Ganga turned around and said, "Oh King, you have violated your pledge. I will not stay with you any longer. However before leaving you, I will open the secret that led to the death of your seven sons. Once it so happened that the saint Vashishtha got offended with eight gods known as Vasus. He cursed them to be born as human beings on the earth and undergo the mental torture of being a human. Hearing this, seven of the Vasus implored the saint to be excused but the eighth one, who was the most mischievous, kept standing rudely."
Vashishtha was appeased and modified his curse, "Seven of you will die and come back to heaven as soon as you are born, but the eighth one will have to live on the earth for a long period and face the tribulations as a human."