Bibhatsa Rasa – The effect of Vyasa on Ambika and Ambalika


Image courtesy : Devdutt Pattanaik
Image courtesy : Devdutt Pattanaik

Read this post about an introduction to the Rasas.

Read this post for the shringara rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Ganga and her love

Read this post for the hasya rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Draupadi and her laughter

Read this post for the raudra rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Amba and her anger

Read this post for the karunya  rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Chitrasena and Duryodhana

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Read this earlier post of mine [Link to post] to understand how Bhishma intervened in the swayamvara of Amba, Ambika and Ambalika and rode away with all three princesses with the intention of getting them married to Vichitravirya.

On learning that Amba was already in love with King Salva, Vichitravirya married Amba and Ambika. However, shortly after his marriage he succumbed to tuberculosis and died before he could beget any heirs with either of his wives.

Dismayed by the fact that Vichitravirya had died without an heir to the throne, Satyavati asked Bhishma to beget the next generation of Kurus through Vichitravirya’s wives, to which he declined citing his vow of remaining celibate for life. As a last option Satyavati instructed Bhishma to summon her son, Veda Vyasa who was born from her union with Sage Parashara.

When Vyasa came to Hastinapura, his mother Satyavati ordered him to go to the beds of Ambika and Ambalika and beget heirs to the Kaurava throne. Now Vyasa had been born with a dark complexion and years of penance and asceticism had taken its toll on his facial features as well which had become extremely rough and dark over the years.

As a result, when Vyasa went to Ambika’s bed, she closed her eyes partly due to Vyasa’s severe countenance and partly due to her own shyness. When Vyasa figured this out, he went and told Satyavati that Ambika’s child would be born blind as she closed her eyes when he went to her bed. The son that was thus born was then called Dhritarashtra.

As a result of this, Satyavati warned Ambalika to remain calm when Vyasa visited her. But despite this warning, Ambalika’s face went completely pale at the sight of Vyasa and thus, the son born of their union, Pandu, would suffer from anemia and would therefore be unable to rule the kingdom.

Thus, the bibhatsa rasa (disgust and aversion) makes an appearance in the Mahabharata in the form of Ambika and Ambalika’s reaction to Veda Vyasa’s face and his overall appearance which resulted in Dhritarashtra being born blind and Pandu being born anemic.

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25 thoughts on “Bibhatsa Rasa – The effect of Vyasa on Ambika and Ambalika

  1. This epic has everything that’s happening in today’s world. A dutybound son, forced infidelity and what not. Honestly, after whatever stories I have heard so far, I blame it all on Satyavati’s unrealistic and undeserving desires.

    • @Rekha, correct me if I am wrong, but I can clearly see the effects of you watching the new Mahabharata serial on TV which makes you extremely critical of the character of Satyavati and blaming her for all the things that went wrong for the Hastinapur royal family at the start of the epic. Am I right? 🙂

  2. Agree with Rekha….and that’s why possibly the story of mahabharata starts with Satyavati’s tale of ambition and desires.

    This one is a tale my mom used to tell me as well, as a cahild…I am re-learning all the lessons again. Thanks Jairam.

      • yes, the serial is not true to details.. it is showing it as a daily soap..but it appeals people for its effects, animation and graphics is amazing..looks like a dream like sequence…. B.R.Chopra’s Mahabharata was the best… loved by almost three generations of audience… though i like reading rather than watching…

      • @Pratikshya, if you like reading about mythology, then my blog is the place for your regular dose of mythological tales 🙂

  3. I’m loving this series!!
    You have made me all nostalgic.. we used to spend many a summer evenings with my grandfather listening to these brilliant tales from the Mahabharatha 🙂

    • @pixie, am so glad when a lot of readers come back with this comment 🙂 although it is not my intention to take you back to your childhood, the fact that these posts immediately take you back to your childhood memories and that too the best ones with grandparents and parents narrating these stories to you, it warms my heart a lot 🙂

  4. I like the crisp way you are presenting these rasas Jairam.
    I don’t know much about Satyavati’s intentions, only that it had to happen so it did. BTW if Vichitravirya technically didn’t have kids then what is the connection of Vidura?

    • @Bhagyashree, while Ambika and Ambalika gave birth to Dhritarashtra and Pandu, one of their maidens gave birth to Vidura, and since all three were children born of Veda Vyasa, they were all brothers. Vidura remained a trusted advisor of Dhritarashtra till the very end. Read more of Vidura at this post.

    • @ashreyamom, I guess it helps to have a good memory for such mythology related trivia then 😀 am glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

    • @Richa, most of these are courtesy an extensive and voracious reading habit from a young age, although truth be told I have all but stopped reading nowadays due to paucity of time between blogging, parenting and working to earn a living 😀

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