Bhishma: The great grandsire of Mahabharata

story of bhishma

Bhishma Pitamah was an ideal son, a great student and an elevated devotee as well.

His parents were emperor Shantanu and Ganga Devi.

By Maharishi Vashishta’s curse, a Vasu named Dyu appeared on on earth as ‘Bhishma’.

Bhishma’s past life

A vasu named Dyu visited sage Vashishta’s hermitage.

His wife coveted the sage’s miraculous cow Nandini.

However the sage refused to grant his consent.

For her, Dyu stole the cow in the sage’s absence accompanied by the 7 vasus.

Hence, Vashita cursed them to suffer as humans.

Moved by their plight, he limited their stay on earth. However Dyu suffered for a longer duration.

Yet, he maintained a glorious name.

Story of Bhishma’s birth

Once King spotted the river Ganga and was enamored by her.

Immediately he proposed to her. However she said “You must not question me for my actions.

Else I shall desert you for good”

The king willingly agreed. Thus the marriage commenced..

Ganga floated her 7 sons in her waters at their very birth.

Shantanu, bound by his oath, watched the scene passively with tearful eyes.

Finally the king mustered courage and reprimanded her-

“Why do you kill my sons.

I won’t let you drown my eighth son”

Immediately Ganga informed him-

“These eight sons were Vasus cursed by Maharishi Vashistha.

Hence they appeared on the material plane.

However, I promised to redeem them.”

So saying she returned with her son for his higher education.

Shantanu marries Satyavati.

Bhishma’s childhood name was Deva Vrata.

Once his father was smitten by the beauty of Satyavati, the adopted daughter of the chief fisherman.

Hence, in order to marry her, he sought her father’s consent.

However, Dashraj (Satyavati’s father) had his conditions-

“You can marry my daughter only if her son rules Hastinapura.”

He at once returned, since he couldn’t deny Devavrata of his rights.

However, in his intense attachment for the lady, he remained gloomy.

Bhishma takes a terrible vow (Bhishma Pratigya)

Shantanu’s concerned son Devavrata, knowing the cause approached Dashraj.

He then took a terrible oath which continues to thrill us till date.

He said- Your daughter’s son shall rule. This is my promise”

However on further instigation, he vowed-

“I shall forever remain a celibate.”

Thereafter, the celestials showered flowers on him.

Thus, he earned the name Bhishma- or the terrible oath taker.

Bhishma, being utterly capable, forsook his birthright just for his father’s pleasure.

Such devotion to parents is hard to see.

Salutations to the great soul, Bhishma.

Bhishma’s entire life speaks of selflessness and dutifulness.

He never sought anything for his own self-gratification.

Being an exalted personality, he lived for a higher purpose.

Such exalted beings are never to come again.

Blessed is the land of Bharat to have borne such an epitome of sacrifice.

His father being pleased bestowed upon him the boon of wishful death.

The future kings of Hastinapura

Satyvati bore two sons- Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.

After Shantanu’s death, Chitrangada ascended the throne.

However he died battling with the gandharvas.

Young Vichitravirya then overtook the throne guided by Bhishma Pitamah.

Bhishma abducts the Kashi princesses

When Vichitravirya reached marriageable age, Bhishma forcefully abducted the three princesses of Kashi and proved his skillship.

However, since the king’s eldest daughter Amba loved Shalva, he sent her back.

Amba approaches Parshurama

Yet, Shalva refused to accept her.

Indeed, Amba blamed Bheeshma for her humiliation and sought Sage Parshurama’s help.

Parshurama fights with Bhishma

Lord Parshurama ordered Bhishma-

“You had abducted Amba. Hence, marry her.

Otherwise be ready to fight me.

Accordingly, Parshurama fiercely battled with Bhishma for 21 long days.

Finally at the behest of the rishis, Parshurama halted the war.

Hence, Bhishma stood true to his vow.

Such was his steadfastness.

Even in conducive times, he stood true to his words.

Bhishma- the great grandsire

Bhishma knew the accord of the scriptures.

Hence, he deeply felt for the Pandavas.

He made numerous attempts to unite Duryodhana with the Pandavas.

But all in vain.

Finally, the Mahabharata war took a toll over the entire kuru dynasty.

Bhishma becomes the Kaurava commander

During the Mahabharata war, Bhishma earned the fame of formerly leading the Kaurava army.

Lord Krishna attacks Bhishma Pitamah

The lord played a sweet pastime to prove Bhishma’s devotion.

Indeed, Bhishma shared a unique bond with Lord Krishna. 

During the war, Lord Krishna had vowed to be a passive participant.

However the grandsire jokingly vowed to falsify his words.

Once, Bhishma wounded Arjuna with his arrows.

Thereafter, Lord Krishna ran to attack Bhishma holding a chariot wheel in his hands.

Bhishma’s devotion was so great that the lord falsified his own words for his devotee.

Besides, Bhishma Pitamah glorifies Lord Krishna’s beautiful appearance in his final prayers.

Bhishma’s final moments

For 10 whole days Bhisma fought fiercely.

Bhishma was invincible.

It was nearly impossible to defeat him in war.

Hence, the grandsire himself suggested the plot of his defeat.

He told Arjuna-

“Use Shikhandi as your shield and fire arrows at me”

With reluctance Arjuna, glued Bhishma to a bed of arrows.

Later, to quench Bhishma’s thirst, he invoked goddess Ganga, his celestial mother.

Thus, the seer heartily drank her soothing waters.

The undefeatable warrior then lay on a bed of arrows.

Thereafter he patiently waited until all the assembled guests departed.

His loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur is praiseworthy.

Being qualified himself, he served the ruler.

Finally, Bhishma rendered his priceless teachings to King Yudhistira.

Interestingly, Bhishma recited the Vishnu Sahasranam in the battlefield and proved his superior devotion.

Bhishma Pitamah’s extraordinary bravery is incomparable.

His devotion was so great that the lord falsified his own words.

At the northern movement of the sun, the great soul Bhishma left his mortal body capturing Shri Krishna’s sweet memories.

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