Parashara was a great rishi. He was classified as a Maharshi. He was the father of Ved Vyas and grandson of Vashishta. He wrote many different ancient texts and scriptures, including the Parashara Samhita and the Brihat Parashara Hora Shashtra (fundamental book for Vedic astrology).
- Father: Shakti
- Mother: Adrishyanti
- Wife: Satyavati Matsyagandha
- Son: Ved Vyas (Krishna dvaipayana)
Early Life and Destroying the Rakshasas
The eldest son of Vashishta, Shakti, married Adrishyanti and they had a son named Parashara. Parashara’s father Shakti died when Parasara was born. He was on a journey on a narrow path when he encountered King Kalmashapada. Vishwamitra took their opportunity and turned Kalmashapada into a human-eating Rakshasa. The Rakshasa devoured Shakti and Vashishta’s other 99 sons. (More details of story here)
Parashara was raised by his grandfather Vashishta and Adrishyanti. Vashishta taught him the scriptures and other spiritual knowledge. Parashara thought that Vashishta was his father. When his mother heard him calling Vashishta ‘father’, she told him that Vashishta was his grandfather and told him the story of his father died.
“What, killed by a Rakshasa. I will pray to Lord Shiva and destroy all the Rakshasas to avenge my father!” Parashara declared in rage.
Parashara rishi prayed to Lord Shiva. After vigorous penance, Lord Shiva gave him many powers. With these powers, Parashara got to talk to his dead father. Parashara then commenced a sacrifice to destroy all the Rakshasas. Because of the rites, hundreds were reduced ash. When he had almost destroyed every single one of them, Vashishta and Pulastya rishi stopped him.
“Killing the Rakshasas will do no good. You have destroyed enough of them. Anger and revenge are horrible things and they can consume man. It is good to have mercy,” Vashishta explained.
Parashara agreed and stopped the sacrifice.
Meeting Satyavati and Birth of Ved Vyas
Once, while Parashara rishi was travelling, he slept the night at a little house on the banks of Yamuna. The house was of Dusharaj, the fisherman chieftain of the region. At dawn, Dusharaj told his daughter Satyavati to ferry Parashara across the river to his next destination. Since Satyavati was fisherman, she smelled of fish. While on the ferry, Parashara asked her where the stench of fish was coming from. He then realized that it was coming from Satyavati. He gave her the epithet ‘Matsyagandha’, meaning ‘one with the smell of fish’.
As they continued across the river, Parashara grew attracted and attached to her. “I wish to have sexual intercourse with you, Satyavati,” Parashara requested.
“There are many people on the banks of the river,” Satyavati replied.
So, Parashara created a dense sheet of mist around the boat. There was an island on the middle of the Yamuna. They got off over there are had sexual intercourse. Parashara then gave Satyavati a boon that she may have her lost virginity back. He also gave her the boon that she will always emit a sweet fragrance. Parashara then bathed in the river and left to continue on his travels. That same day, a boy was born to Satyavati as a result of the sexual intercourse she had with Parashara. She named the boy Krishna dvaipayana. Krishna dvaipayana immediately grew up and promised Satyavati that he would come to her aid whenever she wanted. He then left to do penance. Krishna dvaipayana would soon come to be known as Ved Vyas, the compiler of the Vedas and Puranas and author of the Mahabharata. Satyavati then went back to her father and never met Parashara again. She later married King Shantanu.