The story began with King Shantanu of the Kuru Dynasty. Shantanu asked Ganga to marry him. Ganga agreed, on condition that Shantanu would never challenge her actions. Ganga, the river goddess, had a mission: she was supposed to liberate eight souls by giving birth to them and then let them die in water. For the first seven souls, things went according to her wish. However, when she was about to drown Bhishma, the eighth son of her and King Shantanu, the latter forbade her for doing so. Ganga, seeing that Shantanu had broken his promise, went back to heaven with the child, leaving the King behind. Shantanu continued to rule, and that was a golden age. One day Bhishma returned. Shantanu was very happy to have this perfect son. Meanwhile, Shantanu fell for the scent of one Satyavati, a fisherwoman. He asked her to marry her. Satyavati's father accepted the proposal on the condition that her son would inherit the throne. At first Shantanu demurred, because he already had Bhishma. But then Bhishma interceded, by relinquishing his right. Bhishma swore to give up the throne and abjure women. In recognition of his vow, he was given the power to live forever unless he chose to die.