A fisherman's daughter who possessed uncommon beauty and emanated a divinely sweet fragrance and king Santanu became enamored of her, married her and made her his queen. The wife of Bhishma's father, Shantanu.
Satyavati (Sanskrit: Satyavatī) (also spelled Satyawati), or Setyawati (Indonesian) was the queen of the Kuru king Shantanu of Hastinapur and the great-grandmother of the Pandava and Kaurava princes (principal characters of the Hindu epic Mahabharata). She is also the mother of the seer Vyasa, author of the epic. Her story appears in the Mahabharata, the Harivamsa and the Devi Bhagavata Purana.
Daughter of the Chedi king Vasu (also known as Uparichara Vasu) and a cursed apsara (celestial nymph)-turned-fish Adrika, Satyavati was brought up as a commoner – the adopted daughter of a fisherman-chieftain Dusharaj(who was also a ferryman) on the banks of the river Yamuna. Due to the smell emanating from her body she was known as Matsyagandha ("She who has the smell of fish"), and helped her father in his job as a ferryman.
As a young woman Satyavati met the wandering rishi (sage) Parashara, who fathered her son Vyasa out of wedlock. The sage also gave her a musky fragrance, which earned her names like Yojanagandha ("She whose fragrance is spread for a yojana (8-9 miles)") and Gandhavati ("fragrant one").
Later King Shantanu, captivated by her fragrance and beauty, fell in love with Satyavati. She married Shantanu on condition that their children inherit the throne, denying the birthright of Shantanu's eldest son (and crown prince) Bhishma. Satyavati bore Shantanu two children, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. After Shantanu's death, she and her prince sons with the help of Bhishma ruled the kingdom. Although both her sons died childless, she arranged for her first son Vyasa to father the children of the two widows of Vichitravirya through niyoga. The children (Dhritarashtra and Pandu) became fathers of the Kauravas and Pandavas, respectively. After Pandu's death, Satyavati went to the forest for penance and died there before witnessing the Kurukshetra War.
While Satyavati's presence of mind, far-sightedness and mastery of realpolitik is praised, her unscrupulous means of achieving her goals and her blind ambition are criticized.