Story of Bhishma: The prince who stuck to vow till the end
One of the most honored figures of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. He gave up marriage and the throne for his father’s sake. To the people of India, he is the symbol of mature wisdom.
Long ago in Dwapara Yuga, there ruled a famous dynasty of kings of the Lunar Race, that is, the race of Moon. King Shantanu was the most famous amongst them. He ruled a big empire with his capital at Hastinavati. He married Gangadevi (read more on how Bhagiratha brought Ganga to earth); no one in Devaloka (or the World of the Gods) could equal her in beauty. She gave birth to a son called Devavrata. She had to go back, leaving the child in the care of Shantanu; she did not come back to the earth.
So Shantanu took up the entire burden of bringing up the little son with care and affection. He was both father and mother to him. He engaged very learned scholars to teach him the Vedas and the Puranas. Devavrata was taught archery by the greatest archer of the times, Parashurama.
Shantanu himself was a good and just king. Devavrata learned from his father how to rule the kingdom following the ideals of Truth and Justice. Thus Devavrata was well trained in every way to take up the reins of kingship when he came of age.
Devavrata was happy in every way, except for the absence of his mother. His father had taken care to provide him with everything else he needed; there was nothing wanting. Devavrata looked upon Shantanu as a god who comes down to the earth to look after him. Devavrata had all the qualities of a good king. In the course of time, Shantanu enthroned Devavrata as the Yuvaraja, as his worthy successor. Devavrata, like his father, looked after his subjects with love and kindness.
They felt very happy under his kind rule. Shantanu was happy to be relieved of his duties as a king. He now had plenty of leisure and rest.
“Who are you?”
One day Shantanu went out with his men to hunt. At the end of the day, his men camped on the banks of the river Jamuna. While his men rested, Shantanu went all-alone into the heart of the jungle. A cool and fragrant breeze blew from a distance. ‘Ah! What a sweet smell!’ said the delighted king to himself.
But where did it come from?
The king was curious and followed the scent. And another surprise awaited him. King Shantanu saw a very lovely girl. No one even in heaven could have been so lovely. And she was a strange girl in yet another way.
It was her body, which sent forth the sweet smell. It filled the air all around over a distance of a yojana (nine miles). So she was better known as Yojanagandhi, though her parents had named her Satyavati.
The girl’s beauty and the sweet smell thrilled the king. He asked her, “Who are you? Are you a human being or do you come from Devaloka?” The girl replied, “Sir, I do not come from Devaloka.
I am an ordinary human being. I am the daughter of Dasharaja, the fishermen-chieftain. I am called Satyavati and also Yojanagandhi.” Shantanu fell in love with her. He said, “Lovely girl, will you marry me? I am Shantanu, King of Hastinavati. If you marry me you will be a queen, the Queen of my kingdom.”
The girl grew shy at his words. She bent down her head and said, “Your Highness, I have a father.
If he agrees, you can marry me.” And before the king could say a word, she went away.
“I Speak As A Father”
In a day or two, king Shantanu went to Dasharaja. He told him that he wished to marry Satyavati.
Dasharaja was surprised. What was he before the king? Was it possible the king would marry his daughter? What could he say?
Shantanu himself helped him. He gave him assurance. He said, “Tell me whatever you have in your mind. Do not fear just because I am the king. Think of me as a relative.” Dasharaja felt free to speak. He said,
“Great king, you are a good man. I shall gladly give you my daughter. But you have a son who is grown up. He is the Yuvaraja, and is looking after the kingdom.”
King Shantanu said, “But how does that matter?” Dasharaja’s mouth went dry. With great difficulty, he said, “Great king, Satyavati is my daughter. I have to think of her prosperity. What will happen to her son? The Yuvaraja will become the king, will he not?”
Shantanu was taken aback when he heard these words. Dasharaja said, If my daughter’s son can become the king, I will agree. I shall gladly give you my daughter in marriage. Please do not be angry with me. I beg of you, forgive me. I am the father of the girl.”
Shantanu’s mind was divided. He was charmed by the beauty of Satyavati and was very eager to marry her. But, at the same time, he could not harm his beloved son Devavrata of whom he was so proud. So, he thought over Dasharaja’s words for a long time. Then he said firmly, “Dasharaja, I am proud of my son Devavrata. I cannot be his enemy.” So saying, he left the place at once. His heart was with Satyavati.
Shantanu gave up the hunt and returned to Hastinavati. He was worried. So his face grew pale and he fell ill. He spent his time all alone and would speak to no one.
My Father Must Be Happy
Devavrata saw that his father was always sad.
He, too, was worried. He went to his father. He touched his feet, and Shantanu greeted him with great love.
“Father, you are a just ruler; you have always followed truth and justice. You are a strong king. There is no fear of war as long as you are on the throne. The people are very happy. What sorrow then crushes you? Tell me, I beg of you.”
Shantanu sighed deeply and said, “Devavrata, do not think of it. I have so ruled that the world approves, I have so lived that God approves.” A new thought troubled Devavrata. Had he himself done anything that had made his father unhappy? Like a child he begged his father:
“Father, have I done wrong? Tell me, if I have, I shall correct myself. I shall punish myself and beg forgiveness of you.”
Shantanu was deeply moved. He said, “My son, you are my life. You are a learned man. You will never do wrong. You are brave and strong, but you never harm anyone unjustly. The people love and honor you as they love and honor me.
How can I find fault with you?” Devavrata could not understand his father’s sorrow. He saw Shantanu was hiding something – but what?
Devavrata came away from his father. He sent for his father’s charioteer. From him, he learned all that had happened. ‘My father’s happiness alone is important. I shall sacrifice anything for him’, he said.
Devavrata went to Satyavati’s father.
“This is My Vow”
Dasharaja welcomed Devavrata and treated him with great respect. Then Devavrata said, “Dasharaja, I know everything. I have thought over what has happened. I have taken the decision. My name is Devavrata; that means one who is loyal to God. My father is my God. So, for my father, I shall give up the throne. This is my vow – and I shall be true to it.”
When Dasharaja heard this firm oath he was filled with wonder and joy. But he still had his fears. He said, “you are a great man. You will keep your oath. But your son will fight with my daughter’s son for the throne. What will happen then?” Devavrata burst into laughter.
He set Dasharaja’s mind at rest. “For the sake of my father I have vowed to give up the throne. Now, for my mother – and she, too, is like God to me – I take another oath. Listen to my oath, Mother Earth and the Sun and the Moon are my witnesses; I swear in the name of my parents – I shall never marry. All women are my mothers. This is my firm vow.” Dasharaja gladly agreed to his daughter’s marriage with the king.
King Shantanu was amazed when he heard about his son’s vows. He was full of praise for him. He admired his great sacrifice and said, “My son, what vows you have taken! It is a ‘Bhishma Pratijna’ – a vow of matchless firmness. May you be known as Bhishma hereafter!” And he granted him a boon: “May death come to you only when you wish so! Death will wait upon your wishes.” And so Bhishma became famous all over the world.
The Burdens Of All On His Shoulders
So Satyavati became King Shantanu’s wife.
Bhishma’s joy knew no bounds, for he had made his father happy.
Bhishma went to Satyavati. With folded hands he said,
“Mother, you are like my mother Gangadevi to me. I am yours to command. Pray, do not hesitate. I shall gladly obey your wishes.”
Satyavati was immensely pleased. She said,
“My son, I know you are devoted to Truth.” Satyavati and Shantanu left the kingdom to the care of Bhishma and lived happily. Satyavati gave birth to two sons called Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.
But after some time, Shantanu died. Satyavati was plunged in grief. She entrusted her two sons to the care and protection of Bhishma. He accepted the responsibility as a sacred duty.
Bhishma trained his brothers in learning and statecraft.
Chitrangada came of age. Bhishma went to Satyavati and said, “Mother, Chitrangada has grown enough to be the ruler. If you permit he can be crowned.”
Satyavati answered, “My son, my boys are entirely under your care. Their welfare is in your hands. Make Chitrangada King, if you wish.” So Chitrangada was crowned. When Chitrangada took over the reins of the kingdom, Bhishma said to him, “Brother, you are intelligent and strong. Be good and virtuous like your father.” Chitrangada followed Bhishma’s advice.
He ruled the kingdom justly under the guidance of Bhishma. But he was not destined to rule long.
He once went to fight with enemies and died on the battlefield. Satyavati was miserable. Bhishma was again true to his word; with Satyavati’s consent, he put Vichitravirya on the throne.
Vichitravirya was now of age and was to be married. Bhishma thought that the three daughters of the king of Kashi should marry him. So with Satyavati’s consent, he went to Kashi.
Bhishma the Hero
Kashiraja had three beautiful daughters.
He wished to choose worthy husbands for his daughters after testing the strength and the skill at arms of the young men who came to the Swayamvara.
Bhishma entered the court. He had taken a vow not to marry but had come, all the same, to the Swayamvara. So the assembled princes were filled with wonder.
The three princesses, Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika, entered with garlands in their hands.
The courtiers who were with them introduced each prince and sang his praises. And so they came to Bhishma. The princes began to whisper to one another. ‘Bhishma had sworn that he would never marry, hadn’t he? And here he is!
Bhishma’s anger burst like thunder. His eyes were aflame with anger. He roared like a lion and said, “Oh princes, listen. I have vowed never to marry, and I shall never marry. But I have a brother, Vichitravirya, dear to me like my own life.
I came here to win brides for him. He is a virtuous king. He is young, strong, and handsome. But it is beneath his dignity to come here. So I have come on his behalf. I am now taking these princesses to Hastinavati. They will marry Vichitravirya. Let him, who is brave enough among you fight with me and win these princesses.” None of the princes except Salvaraja had the courage to meet Bhishma in combat. He stood up and bellowed, You Bhishma are not the only fighter here. Come, let us fight, and decide who is stronger.
Bhishma defeated not only Salva but also all the other princes who supported him. Salvaraja ran away, and so did the other princes. Kashiraja gladly offered to Bhishma al his three daughters, Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika. But Amba said to Bhishma, “You are a just man. Show me the way. I love Salva and I want to marry him. Tell me what I should do.”
Bhishma was full of kindness. He said I grant you freedom. Marry Salvaraja and be happy. May you prosper!”
“I Shall Never Break My Vow” Amba thanked Bhishma and went to Salva.
Defeat on the battlefield had made him weary of life. When he saw Amba he bent down his head in shame. He said, “Bhishma has defeated me.
You now belong to him.”
Back she went to Bhishma. She fell at his feet and told him what Salvaraja had said; she added,
“You are a kind man. Salvaraja has forsaken me.
My father will not take me back. You alone can help me. Do not disappoint me.”
Bhishma was helpless. He could not break his vow. He felt sorry for Amba. He tried to console her. He said, “You have always thought of Salvaraja as your husband. So he should marry you. I shall ever be a bachelor. You cannot marry Vichitravirya. None of us can change your fate.” Amba was miserable.
She wanted to bring pressure on Bhishma to accept her. She thought of a plan. She approached Parashurama, Bhishma’s Guru. She begged him to save her. Parashurama took pity on the poor girl. He went with her to Bhishma.
Bhishma was very happy to see his Guru. But he was worried when he saw Amba with him. He saw there was trouble in store for him. He bowed to his master and touched his feet. Parashurama explained to Bhishma why he had come.
“My son, you are my dearest disciple. I am sure you will obey me. You captured Amba and so it is right that you should marry her.”
With folded hands, Bhishma said: “My master, I am a bachelor. You know I have taken an oath never to marry. I beg of you, do not ask me to break my oath.”
Parashurama was very angry. His eyes were like fire. In a thundering voice, he said, “Bhishma, do not forget; no one has opposed me and lived.
I am Parashurama who wiped out warriors.”
“My master, I know that very well indeed. But Bhishma, the great warrior, had not been born then. You know this, don’t you?”
Parashurama could not check his anger. Master and disciple fought with bows and arrows.
I shall be disgraced if my master is defeated-so thought Bhishma.
I shall be disgraced if my disciple is defeated-so thought Parashurama.
Parashurama was overjoyed that Bhishma had mastered archery so well. ‘Defeat at the hands of a disciple like Bhishma makes a master proud, he said to himself. Just then one of Bhishma’s arrows struck him, and he fell down unconscious.
Bhishma threw away his bow and arrows.
‘Oh, I have been a traitor to my master, he said to himself and ran towards Parashurama. ‘What a sinner I am! My death takes me!’ So he wept.
Parashurama regained consciousness. He embraced his disciple and praised him with great pride :
“My beloved disciple, my Bhishma, I am not angry that I have been defeated. Defeat at the hands of a disciple like you thrills the master.
No warrior can equal you. You have kept your vow.”
Bhishma bowed to the master. Master blessed him.
But unhappy Amba was not there.
Where had she gone?
The marriage of Vichitravirya was celebrated with great pomp.
Ambika gave birth to a son who was born blind. He was called Dhritarashtra. Ambalika also gave birth to a son who was called Pandu.
Dhritarashtra married Gandhari who gave birth to one hundred sons and a daughter. These sons were called as the Kauravas; the eldest of them was Duryodhana; next to him was Dusshasana. They were by nature very jealous and cruel.
Pandu married Kunti and Madri. Kunti gave birth to three sons –Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna; Madri gave birth to two sons – Nakula and Sahadeva. These were called the Pancha Pandavas.
Dhritarashtra was the elder brother but he was born blind. So Bhishma put Pandu on the throne. But Pandu did not live long and so Dhritarashtra came to the throne. The Pandavas grew up under his care.
Bhishma took loving interest both in the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He got them trained in archery by the famous Acharyas, Drona and Kripa. Arjuna became the favorite pupil of Drona.
Bhima and Duryodhana were equally skilled in wielding the mace. But Bhima was physically stronger. This made Duryodhana jealous of Bhima and Arjuna. There was yet another reason, which inflamed his jealousy.
Duryodhana attended the Swayamvara of Draupadi. He failed in his attempt to win her. But Arjuna hit the target in the contest of archery and won the hand of Draupadi. So Duryodhana came to hate Draupadi, too. And the very name of Bhima was like poison to him.
Bhishma observed with pain the serious bickering between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
He wanted to keep them apart so that there might be no serious clashes. He built a second capital for the Pandavas at Indraprastha and bestowed on Yudhishthira half the kingdom so that the Pandavas might live there in peace.
Duryodhana and his brothers ruled at Hastinavati, the old capital.
Yudhishthira became very popular. He also performed the Rajasuya sacrifice on a grand scale with the help of Krishna. This made Duryodhana bitterly jealous of the Pandavas.
He wanted to destroy them by fair or foul means.
He sought the advice of his uncle Shakuni who felt that it was not easy to defeat the Pandavas in open combat. Yudhishthira was very fond of dice. Shakuni advised Duryodhana to invite Yudhishthira to a game of dice and defeat him.
Yudhishthira lost at dice again and again. He lost all that was staked; he lost his riches, lost his empire, lost his brothers, lost himself and, finally, lost his wife.
Duryodhana roared with joy. He tried to put Draupadi to shame in the open assembly. Bhima roared like a lion. He vowed to kill both Duryodhana and Dusshasana and all the Kauravas if they did not give up their evil designs.
Bhishma, Drona, Dhritarashtra, and Gandhari now advised Duryodhana to release the Pandavas in his own interest. Duryodhana did so most unwillingly. The Pandavas went back to Indraprastha and lived in peace for some time.
But Duryodhana’s jealousy was burning like wildfire within him. He pressed his father to permit him to invite Yudhishthira again to a game of dice.
As ill-luck would have it, Yudhishthira lost the game again. According to the terms of the game the Pandavas had to give up their kingdom to Duryodhana. They had to live in the forest for twelve years. After this period they had to live for one more year without being traced by anyone.
If they were discovered in the thirteenth year they had to live again in the forest for another twelve years and spend a year in hiding.
The Pandavas were honest and truthful. They had faith in God. Krishna was their help. Many were the troubles they had to face, but Lord Krishna was their savior. And so they completed thirteen years of exile.
But Duryodhana did not give them back their kingdom. The Pandavas conferred with Sri Krishna and with their friends. They decided to approach Duryodhana with an appeal to give them back their kingdom. If he did not heed their words, they decided to fight. Sri Krishna offered to go as their representative.
Shri Krishna in Duryodhana’s Court
Krishna entered Duryodhana’s court. Duryodhana had invited elders like Bhishma, Drona, Parashurama, and Kripacharya. Of course, his trusted supporters, Shakuni, Karna, and Dusshasana were there.
Krishna gave Duryodhana sane advice. He said,
“Listen, Kauraveshwara. Now my words may fall on your ears like molten lead. But later you will value them. Give back their kingdom to the Pandavas. They are after all your cousins.
For the sake of Truth they have suffered in life.
Make them your friends and live happily. A war means death and horrible suffering to millions.
It will ruin all.”
Duryodhana drew his hand over his burly mustache again and again. He laughed jarringly. Haughtily he said,
“Krishna, you are after all a cowherd boy. The Pandavas are homeless beggars. You are naturally friends. Listen, listen to every word I say. I shall not give the Pandavas enough land to stick a pin in. We do not want an agreement. Let them fight as they boast and take their kingdom.”
Bhishma was the grandfather of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was a very old man. He had tried hard to check their mutual hatred. He said,
“Duryodhana, listen, listen to Shri Krishna; give back their kingdom to the Pandavas. A war will do no good to you or the people.”
Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, and Parashurama all gave Duryodhana the same advice. But he was deaf to their words. So war became inevitable.
Bhishma to Lead the Kauravas
The Pandava army reached Kurukshetra.
The news reached Duryodhana. At once he called together his advisers. Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, Shakuni, Dusshasana – they were all there. And Duryodhana sought their advice.
Dronacharya offered sound advice:
“Duryodhana, the Pandavas are mighty heroes. And they have a huge army. And, most important of all, they enjoy God’s grace. Shri Krishna himself is with them. They are dear to him as life. We have Bhishmacharya to shield us. He is elder to all of us. Make him the Commander-in-Chief.”
Duryodhana bowed to his advice and made Bhishma the commander of his army. And very proudly he declared, “Our army is bigger than that of the Pandavas, and Bhishma is its commander. Now it will not be afraid of even Lord Parameshwara. Now Pandavas have to go back to the forest; who on their side can equal him?” Karna was enraged when he heard these words. He said,
“My Lord, you have gone mad. Bhishma may be able to teach Dharma. But his skin is hanging loose. He has lost his teeth. His mustache is white. His head is shaking, his shoulders droop and his back is bent. Won’t the world laugh at us if he is our commander? If you want poor Bhishma to be killed, why throw him to the enemies? The mere twang of my bow will be enough.”
Drona rose in anger and shouted at Karna:
“Karna, put an end to your raving. Do not blabber just because of your young blood. Do you imagine you are the equal of Bhishmacharya? He is the patriarch of the Kuru dynasty. He is elder to all of us.”
Bhishma stood up. He spoke with great majesty and took an oath: “If I fail to make ten thousand heads roll before sunset every day, I am not Bhishma. If I do not force Sri Krishna to take up Sudarshana, his mighty wheel, I am not Bhishma.
If I do not beat back the chariot of Arjuna, with Lord Hanuman in the flag, I am not Bhishma.
What does it matter if Karna barks?” The people assembled cried, “Victory to Bhishmacharya!” But Karna withdrew saying that he would not fight as long as Bhishma was alive.
Bhishma Keeps His Vow.
Bhishma’s forces numbered eleven Akshouhini.
(One Akshouhini comprises 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 horses and 1,09 ,350-foot soldiers.) They clashed with the army of the Pandavas at Kurukshetra. Before the battle began, Yudhishthira bowed to Bhishma and received his blessings. Krishna himself was Arjuna’s charioteer.
The fierce war began. On two days Bhishma took a toll of ten thousand Pandava soldiers before the evening. On the third day, Arjuna himself faced Bhishma and rained arrows on him.
“Oh, you learned archery from Lord Parameshwara, didn’t you?” said Bhishma and showered arrows on him. But it was very difficult to even Bhishma to withstand Arjuna’s attack. Bhishma thought that Arjuna’s success was only due to the presence of Sri Krishna. He had to separate him from Krishna.
Bhishma took an arrow presented to him by Parashurama and aimed it at Sri Krishna’s forehead. It struck Sri Krishna deep in the forehead.
When Sri Krishna pulled it out blood gushed in fountains and his whole body was drenched in blood. Sri Krishna becomes wild like Rudra when he sets out to destroy the world. He jumped from the chariot holding the Sudarshana Chakra in his hand and crying, “I shall kill Bhishma!”
He had vowed not to touch his Chakra, but the oath was now forgotten. Bhishma was not in the least disturbed, but on the other hand, he was filled with joy. In fact, his own wish had been fulfilled; for, he had vowed that he would make Sri Krishna take up his Chakra.
Bhishma jumped down from his chariot and threw down his bow and arrows. He praised Sri Krishna.
With folded hands, he said, “Lord, I am a child before you; should you look for my shortcomings? I am your devotee; should you be angry with me? I shall be happy if you kill me, for then I shall go to heaven. Come, my Lord.” Sri Krishna was pleased with his devotion.
He withdrew his Chakra and returned to the chariot of Arjuna. Thus Bhishma’s vows had all been fulfilled.
Bhishma on a Bed of Arrows
So the war raged for nine days. Bhishma played havoc in the ranks of the Pandavas. They suffered heavily and lost all hopes of success.
Yudhishthira was utterly desperate and took the advice of Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna said that the only way to succeed was to seek the guidance of Bhishma himself.
That night Krishna took Yudhishthira to Bhishma secretly. Yudhishthira fell at the feet of Bhishma. He said,
“Grandfather, we are your grandchildren. We cannot overcome you not even the gods can do it. We cannot count how many men we have lost. I beg of you, grant us victory.”
Krishna added his voice to Yudhishthira’s prayers. He said,
“Sir, both the Kauravas and the Pandavas are your grandchildren. You brought up the Pandavas. They are just and virtuous. They kept their promise. But Duryodhana did not give them back their kingdom. So it is your duty to protect them.”
Bhishma knew very well that Sri Krishna was partial to the Pandavas. The Kauravas were wicked men, they were unjust, and Krishna would surely slay them. It was true that Bhishma was with the Kauravas, but it was only his body and not his heart that was with them. He had lived in Duryodhana’s court. So it was his duty to fight for him. But the Pandavas had been just and virtuous, and so his heart was with them. It was right that he should help them. So he said,
“My son, Duryodhana was doomed when he brushed aside Krishna’s advice; your victory was assured. Place Shikhandi before me and I shall throw down my bow and arrows. I shall not fight.” Bhishma knew that Shikhandi was none other than Amba whom he had refused to marry.
She wanted vengeance. She meditated on Lord Shiva; she wanted a boon that she would kill Bhishma. Lord Shiva granted her the boon; she was born again to kill Bhishma. Bhishma refused to consider Shikhandi as a man and would not fight with him.
The battle of the tenth day raged in greater fierceness. Bhishma was a terror to the enemies.
Arjuna faced him and a terrible fight followed.
As the fight progressed, Shikhandi appeared before Bhishma ready with weapons to fight with him. At once Bhishma threw down his bow and arrows. Arjuna’s arrows had already weakened him.
He fell to the ground. But his body did not touch the ground.
Arjuna’s arrows had formed a bed for him.
Bhishma thanked Arjuna for having given him a hero’s bed of piercing arrows. He said I want a pillow! Give me a pillow of arrows!” Arjuna raised the old warrior’s head and shot arrows piercing the ground. Bhishma’s head rested on them.
By then Duryodhana, Karna, Kripa and other leaders of the Kaurava army raced to the spot where Bhishma lay. Yudhishthira, Bhima, and others too stood near him. Bhishma was thirsty and asked for water. Duryodhana asked his men to bring water. Bhishma smiled even in his pain and said to him, “My son, the water I seek is not the water you offer.”
He then looked at Arjuna. Arjuna understood his mind. He sent an arrow which pierced deep into the ‘ground; crystal-clear waters shot up in fountains and fell straight into the open mouth of Bhishma. The stream of water welling up from the ground was none other than Mother Ganga coming in the steam form to quench the thirst of her beloved son Bhishma. He felt the living presence of his mother and even while lying on the bed of arrows felt that he was resting on the lap of his mother.
Bhishma turned towards Duryodhana and said,
“My son, give up your obstinacy. Make peace with Yudhishthira. Live happily with the Pandavas as brothers.”
Bhishma, you remember, could die at will. So he waited for Uttarayana Punyakala. The belief is that on the day of Uttarayana Punyakala the doors of Vaikuntha, where Lord Vishnu dwells, will be thrown open and the soul leaving the earth will see the Lord.
Duryodhana did not listen to Bhishma’s advice.
In the meanwhile, as the old sage lay on his bed of arrows the war went on. Drona, Dusshasana, and Karna all died. And Duryodhana himself met with death, his thigh broken by Bhima’s mace.
Yudhishthira was crowned. He went with Sri Krishna to pay his respects to Bhishma and seek his blessings. Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and Draupadi were all there. They touched his feet and he blessed them. His last words of advice to Yudhishthira were:
“Protect Dharma. Punish the wicked. Do not give up Truth. Give up egoism. Rule in the interests of the subjects. May you all prosper!” Bhishma gazed upon Krishna in great joy.
He said, “Where there is Lord Krishna there is Dharma (right conduct, read more about Dharma here) and where there is Dharma there is victory. I bow to you, my Master.
You are the Lord of all the worlds. I am tired of this life. Dharma has triumphed and I am happy.
So now I leave the earth. Uttarayana arrived. Bhishma’s soul winged its way to Lord Vishnu’s feet.
Sage Vyasa has composed the Mahabharata in Sanskrit. He has drawn there a clear picture of the sublime character of Bhishma.
Let us all read the Bharata and follow in the footsteps of Bhishmacharya.