Seven unknown facts from Mahabharata about Bhishma Pitamah

Shri Krishna challenging Bhishma in the war of Kurukshetra

Seven untold and unknown facts about Bhishma Pitamah from Mahabharata

 

Bhishma, or Devvrata will be known in the history as one of the great warriors who adorned this earth. The story of his birth was and his death were strange, but even stranger were his deeds on this planet. We all know that he has taken couple of difficult vows, but there are few other stories which are equally mesmerizing. Read on.

The vow which made Devvrata Bhishma
The vow which made Devvrata Bhishma – even devtas (gods) showered flowers on him

The garland of ever fresh lotuses

This is the story of Amba and Bhishma. It is a well known fact that Amba was discarded by her lover and Bhishma. She did severe penance to exact her revenge on Bhishma. Following this, Lord Subramanya appeared and given her a garland of lotuses which were fresh forever. This was also said that whosoever wears the garland, would be the enemy of Bhishma. Getting her desired blessing, she sought the help of the present warriors, but such was the clout of Bhishma, nobody dared to accept the garland.

Bhishma abducting Amba for Vichitravirya
Bhishma abducting Amba for Vichitravirya

Frustrated, she hanged the garland at the gates of King Drupad and left.  Later on, she dived in a pyre of fire and given her life. In her next life, she was born as a girl to Drupad and playfully wore the garland and later became the reason of Bhishma’s demise.

The stalemate between Bhishma and Parshurama – teacher and disciple

After leaving garland of Lotus, Amba reached to Parshurama and requested him to teach Bhishma a lesson. Parshurama, who also was the teacher of Bhishma, decided to fight him in order to have justice for Amba. The fight ensued for a long time and nobody could be beaten. Reason, Parshurama was akhand chiranjeevi, means one who could not die and Bhishma had a boon from his father, Shantanu, that he would be able to choose the time of his death.

The sixteen year old who held a river

Bhishma was the child of Ganga and Shantanu. There is a story of how Ganga drowned her seven sons, and Bhishma was eighth. This was because of a curse from sage Vasistha. Ganga took her eighth child away with her. After 16 years, a youth was found stopping the water flow of Ganga with a wall of arrows. When Shantanu came to know, he himself went to see that. He found a young man doing this, then he got ready to have a fight with him, the then Gangaa came, introduced him as his son and handed over him to Shantanu. Shantanu brought him home. His Guru were Parashuraam Jee and Brihaspati Jee like teachers.

Bhishma chose his date of death and waited for 58 days

Grandsire Bhishma’s body was pierced all over by arrows which served as his bed. He noticed that the sun was in Dakshinayana and hence it was not the best time to embrace death. Hence he waited 58 days for Uttarayana while lying on the bed of arrows. Bhishma Pitamaha had attained a boon from his father Shantanu that death would befall him only when he desired it.

Bhishma teaches Pandavas from the death bed

On the bed of arrows, after the war of Mahabharata was over, Pandavas reached over to Bhishma. Yudhisthira asks some questions which essentially ask how the welfare of mankind can be achieved.  Bhishma answers by stating that mankind will be free from all sorrows by chanting the [quote]”Vishnusahasranama“[/quote], which are the thousand names of the all-pervading Supreme being Vishnu, who is the master of all the worlds, the supreme light, the essence of the universe and who is Brahman. All matter animate and inanimate reside in him, and he in turn resides within all matter. This is available in anushashana parva of Mahabharata.

Bhishma teaching Pandavas from deathbed - Sharshayya
Bhishma teaching Pandavas from deathbed – Sharshayya

 

Books

An excellent book by none other than Anant Pai from Amar Chitra Katha. Third one is dedicated to the battle of Kurukshetra.

Bhishma was known as Prabhasa in earlier birth as a vasu

Vasus went for a holiday with their wives to a mountain tract where stood the hermitage of Vasishtha. One of them saw Vasishtha’s cow, Nandini, grazing there. Its divinely beautiful form attracted him and he pointed it out to the ladies. They were all loud in praise of the graceful animal, and one of them requested her husband to secure it for her. The vasu, Prabhasa explained that this cow is of no use, but on her insistence, he has given in. When Vasistha knew about, he cursed vasus to be born into the world of men. When the Vasus came to know of the curse, they asked forgiveness. Vasistha softened the curse on other brothers, but not on the one who took the cow away. This boy later became the eighth child of Ganga and Shantanu, Devvrata. He later known as Bhishma, who even caused the Lord to break his promise.

Bhishma made lord Vishnu to break his vow

Perhaps the grandest of his feats, was the occasion in the war of kurukshetra, when Shri Krishna decided to fight the grandsire. This happened after Bhishma created havoc in pandava’s army with his skills. Lord Krishna decided before the war that he will not pickup any weapon. On other hand Bhishma promised Duryodhana that he will fight like a lion and will kill Arjuna. There was an  intense battle  between Arjuna and Bhisma and Arjun being powerful still was no match for Bhishma.  Bhishma shot arrow which cut Arjuna armour and his gandiva bow. Arjuna was helpless before the wrath of the old, but powerful warrior. As Bhishma was about to kill Arjuna with his arrow Lord Krishna could not tolerate his devotee’s plight and he immediately threw down the chariot rein and jumped off the chariot onto the battle field and lifted a chariot wheel and charged Bhishma. Arjuna tried to stop Lord krishna but Lord says that in order to protect my devotee I must break my own promise.

Bhishma stories