Bhishma Niti- 10 ethics of Bhishma Pitamah

bhishma teachings

Bhishma Pitamah was one of the most endeared characters of the mahabharata. Along with warfare, he had also mastered noble ethics and vedas. He thus possessed spectacular intelligence.

Notably called Bhishma, Devavrata was the eight son of King Shantanu and Goddess Ganga.

Moreover, he is also called Gangeya, Shantanav, Bharatshiromani, Kurushrestha, Nadijah and Taalketu.

To know the complete life of Bhishma, click here

In his lasts moments, Pitamah Bhiushma delivered the Bhishma Niti to Yudhishtra.

Bhishma’s first ethic

Bhishma told Yudhistira-

“Oh my dear Yudhistira, accumulation of Punya is essential. But only living beings can accumulate Punya. Never be disappointed with life, son. And.. Never think of commiiting suicide.”

In fact, life is a wonderful opportunity for god-realization. Do not waste it.


Bhishma’s first neeti deals with the importance of human life. We should utilize our human birth to the fullest.

In life, we overcome various situations, some difficult, some easy, some good, some bad.

However, we must act sanely and face them.

Further, Bhishma says- Like seasons, circumstances keep changing. Hence, Nothing is permanent in this ever-changing world. Make full use of life to attain that supreme reality. Do not waste it in pointless sense-gratification.

Bhishma’s second ethic

“Oh eldest son of Kunti, The unending thirst for sense-enjoyment never ends even after reaching old age, that thirst is like an incurable disease. Hence, true wellbeing lies in forsaking such infructuous thirst.”


Meaning- With growing age, the body functions to its maximum.

Ultimately, it begins showing signs of decay.

Our body starts wilting with time

Organs like Hair, teeth, eyes and ears lose their proportion

Likewise, All organs move towards ultimate disarray.

Yet, man’s desires remain youth-like.

His ambitions continue to haunt him.

Particularly, in the vedic times, man’s life was segregated into four stages-

Brahmacharya, Grihastha Vanaprastha and finally sanyas.

However, today, we see corruption everywhere.

This clearly shows unquenched desires.

Besides, the more you try to satisfy your senses, the thirst keeps growing.

Hence, one must intelligently stop pursuing sense-pleasures.

Bhishma’s third ethic

“Oh hero with no enemies, even if the greatest of warriors sides with Adharma, he shall be ultimately defeated. Here, even a negligible entity like an ant can kill an elephant.”



In this case, Shri Rama and his small army of monkeys and bears had defeated the great warrior Ravana, Indrajit, Kumbhakaran and his powerful army since pride had blinded him.

Similarly, the negligible Pandava camp defeated the mighty Kaurava army which possessed eminent warriors such as Bhishma, Dronacharya, Karna Ashwatthama, Kripacharya and Duryodhana.

Bhishma’s fourth ethic

“Oh emperor Yudhishtira, the one who upholds truth, walks towards wellbeing. If you are truthful, dharma is with you. If dharma is with you, then stay assured the lord is with you. Surely, the one who has God has everything.”


Meaning- Bhishma already knew of the Pandava victory due to Krishna’s presence.

Likewise, whoever upholds truth, Paramatma himself becomes his guide.

In this regard even sanjaya clearly stated-

Yatra Yogeshwarah Krishno Yatra partho dhanur Dharah

Tatra Shrir Vijayo Bhutir Dhruva nitir matir mama

Wherever the supreme lord of Yoga, Shri Krishna and the greatest of archers Arjuna and present victory is inevitable. 

Bhishma’s fifth ethic

“Oh Dharmaraj. There are many doors to dharma. Here, Noble souls propagate the path of their choice. Nevertheless, the foundation of all doors in self-restraint.”


Meaning- Like Pitamah Bhishma each one is bound by his duties and responsibilities. Hence we keep procrastinating god-realization for tomorrow.

However, our tomorrow never comes. But death shall certainly come.

Hence, do acts that satisfy your soul. Because nobody knows one’s time of death. Therefore, We should attend to the topmost duty of our life with full sincerity.

Whatever be the situation, we must be composed and find the path towards liberation.

There is not one path to following dharma. In fact, there exist thousands of ways.

Difficult times certainly come. But we should resolutely face them.

This opens the door of dharma. Always hold the hand of truth.

Bhishma’s sixth ethic

“Oh king, the body performs three types of actions. Speech performs 4 types of actions. And the Mind performs three types of actions…Likewise we should completely forsake these 10 types of actions.



Killing others, stealing and association with other women, these are the three sins of the body.

Speaking foul words, speaking harshly, gossiping, and lying, are fours sins of speech

And finally, Envying others’ wealth, enmity towards creation, and disbelieving in the karmic cycle- These are three sins of the mind.

Hence, he should always beware of them.

Man should not perform inauspicious actions from mind, speech and body. Because in the long run, he must pay for his deeds.

Bhishma’s seventh ethic

“Oh descendant of Bharata- “A kingdom is not meant for sense -enjoyment ,Instead it is the hard-ground for a ruler to toil and provide for his subjects. A ruler should never differentiate between his son and subjects. This approach strengthens the reign and enriches the kingdom. When a ruler is partial to his kinsmen, his end is horrific.”


Meaning- A ruler should not misuse his power for personal-welfare.

But use it for his citizens.

For great rulers, their subjects are the topmost. Their duty is to serve them.

A ruler should be unbiased in his transactions.

He should not distinguish based on wealth, possessions, beauty, belief, sect, relation and other qualities.

If a ruler violates these norms, it shall adversely impact society.

Finally it shall bring the downfall of the entire clan.

Bhishma’s eighth ethic

“Oh son of dharma, respect and devotion toward one’s guru results in victory. Only those who respect their guru reach the absolute principle. Those who insult their preceptor never attain moksha. They suffer in hells for millennia”


Meaning- In the word guru, ‘gu’ means darkness, and ‘ru’ means destroyer.

Hence the word ‘guru’ literally means the destroyer of ignorance.

Indeed, Guru is the supreme light who ignites our soul power.

We should always respect our guru and follow his instructions.

Truly Guru shows us the mirror and opens the door to Moksha.

Bhishma’s ninth ethic

Oh eldest amongst the pandavas, Time is most powerful. One moment can change all circumstances. None can withstand destiny. Even the powerful must dissolve with time and become history.”


Meaning- Time is most powerful. Even History is the witness.

Today we neither have Ikshvaku’s race nor Yudhisthira’s.

Even the greatest of empires, crumbled with time.

Your current circumstances shall perish tomorrow.

Today’s social morals shall change tomorrow.

Nothing is permanent in this transitory world.

Indeed, Only the omniscient god is the eternal truth.

Hence, sanely use time to gravitate towards the highest intelligence.

Bhishma’s tenth ethic

“Oh eldest son of Pandu, pride is the great enemy of the human race. It is the sole cause of annihilation. Ultimately, this pride destroys one whole era.”

Meaning- Just like Ravana’s pride initiated the end of Treta yuga, Duryodhana’s pride announced the end of the Dvapara yuga.

Now, in Kali yuga, history shall repeat itself

This mindset-

“Body is my only existence. I want to enjoy. I am defined by my society.”

Such lowly exist in every man in greater or lesser quantities.

However, most humans prefer to keep wallowing in the dark well of ego while some resolute beings boldly go out in search of the truth.

Thanks for reading!