Stories about Bhishma Pitamah

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.

Bhishma and Parshurama
Bhishma and Parshurama

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

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 Krishna 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.

Show 36 Comments


  1. Gopikrishna

    So Bhimsa left his mortal body after 58 days after the 10th day of the battle. So going by the solar calender, if the battle of Mahabharat started in December, he might left mortal body sometime in Feb month.
    The battle of mahabharat started on the Shukla Dwadasi, 12th day of the waxing moon of Margashirsha month,so on krishna panchami, 5th day of the wanning mooon of Margashirsha month, bhimsa was layed down on the bed of arrow. So from this day 58 days i.e on Magh Shuddha Astami.
    It should be a quite long time to stay with arrows piecred through the body.

  2. I have read in wekepidiea that he did not picked a weapon against pandavas as he loved them very much than KRISHNA thought of the idea of bed of arrows. Pitamaha was just guide of the qorries on Yutisthris side.

  3. There is another story about the five arrows in which draupadi asked bhism for those five arrowd during the war.

  4. Karna vs Arjuna

    just see this narrative from original veda vyasa MB- from oriwhere Lord Krishna became angry at Arjuna for not fighting his Grandfather Bhishma with full potential.
    This is clear when even after Gitaopdesh,Arjuna was very reluctant to fight his Grandfather-Bhishma!As a result Lord Krishna himself came on the verge of breaking his vow of not participating in the kurushetra battle after Krishna saw Bhishma slaying the entire Pandava host single handedly & Arjuna was still reluctant to fight Bhishma..As a result Vasudeva took his Sudarshana chakra & was about about to slay Bhishma when Arjuna begged in the lapse of Krishna not to break his vow & he promised Keshava that now he will fight with his full potential!


    "Meanwhile, jumping down from his car, Partha, himself of massive and long arms, quickly ran on foot after that chief of Yadu's race possessed of massive and long arms, and seized him by his two hands. That first of all gods devoted in self, Krishna, was excited with rage. And therefore, though thus seized, Vishnu forcibly dragged Jishnu after him, like a tempest bearing away a single tree. The high-souled Partha, however, seizing them with great force his legs as he was proceeding at a quick pace towards Bhishma, succeeded, O king, in stopping him with difficulty at the tenth step. And when Krishna stopped, decked as he was with a beautiful garland of gold, cheerfully bowed down to him and said, 'Quell this wrath of thine. Thou art the refuge of the Pandavas, O Kesava. I swear, O Kesava, by my sons and uterine brothers that I will not withdraw from the acts to which I have pledged myself. O younger brother of Indra, at thy command I will certainly annihilate the Kurus.' Hearing that promise and oath of his, Janardana became gratified"

    Now its very clear Arjuna was under intense pressure from Krishna to fight the Kurushetra battle & even after Gitaopdesh,Arjuna wasnt convinced much!

  5. Aakash Choudhary

    tune MB padhi hai kya….there were 10 warriors who r far more better than arjuna….but unfortunately all were in wrong side……last mein jab 18 days ka yudhh karke arjuna rath se utarta hai….srikrishna aur hanuman utterte hai to…rath mein blast hota hai…..kyoki because of srikrishna and hanumana protection and help arjuna was defeating big big heroes…either by potential or wrong ways……first read MB than write….bhishma was the strongest warrior of that time after srikrishna who was himself the supreme god….he can kill all pandavas but was bounded by his vow which he had given to draupadi accidentally……

    • Averee

      If Krishna had not given the vow to Draupadi then also he would not kill the Pandavs because they were on the correct side (Dharma) but the Kauravs on the wrong side (Adharma) Mahamahim Bheesmh loved Pandavs very much he would not be able to kill the Pandavs and if he did so he would regret for it later.

  6. In reality bheeshma took a vow that he will not kill any of the five pandava brothers…and there were so many warriors having better potential than arjuna like Bheeshma Karna Eklavya Babrarika Babhruvahana

  7. Bharat

    Have old is Bhisma when mahabharata war happened?

    • Ashish Chourasia

      Bhism. Age is. 350 year

  8. Rajan Sangotra

    I love Bheeshma he was a great fighter

  9. This may be the origin of the idea that Vishnu is Supreme Deity.

    Understanding that bhishma has a bizillion arrows in him, there is a better than good chance that poor bhishma may have misspoken.

    Shiva says bhishma was in no pain, but had a lot on his mind. There is a certain amount of discomfort in a situation such as bhishma was in at 446 years old.

    This mistaken ideal has in fact caused much strife between Vishnu and Shiva. I know those two go at it like a couple lion cubs.

    In order to set the record straight, after I inquired to Shiva about why this is, and he commanded Vishnu to relate to me the truth.

    When I inquired to Vishnu about who was Supreme Deity. He made it clear, that in fact Lord Shiva was the "Dude".

    Be it known that Shiva is the King that all other Kings bow before.

    Shiva has reigned Supreme, since Brahmin retired to Emeritus status, at the end of the dweparayug.

    Shiva has reigned since that time.

    He wishes us all to know that he loves us, each and everyone, no matter what.

  10. Both e equal the one u call shiva is vishnu and one u call vishnu is shiva..understand and then speak

  11. Sumanth

    BarbaReeka is bheema’s grandson, babruvahana is Arjuna and uloopi’s son, ekalavya is karna’s brother in law.

  12. Neel Jayaram

    One of more lesser known stories about Mahabharata is the Cameo of Hanuman in it and the vital role he plays in ensuring victory for the Pandavas.

    Hanuman is considered to be the brother of Bheema as they have the same father,Vayu. Hence the first appearance in Mahabharata is when he encounters Bheema during Pandava’s exile.

    Hanuman meets Bheema
    Bheema meets Hanuman the first time when he set out to search for the Saugandhika flower as requested by Draupadi. During his search, he sees a large monkey resting in his path. Frustrated on seeing this, Bheema asks the monkey to move. The monkey responds by saying, he is too old and if he wants him out of the way, move my tail to progress further.

    Bheema tried moving the tail several times but failed. He soon realizes that the monkey is no ordinary monkey and seeks his pardon. In response, Hanuman reveals his true form and blesses Bheema.

    Hanuman on Arjuna’s chariot
    Hanuman met Arjuna in the form of a normal monekey in the famous town of Rameshwaram. Arjuna on seeing the Ram Sethu bridge questioned why Ram resorted to an army of monkeys to build the bridge, and in adidtion to that he also stated he could build a bridge stronger with his arrows. Hearing this, Hanuman challenged Arjuna to built a bridge strong enough to withstand a person and if he failed, he has to sacrifice his life by jumping into fire.

    Once he finished building the bridge, Hanuman stepped on it and the structure crumbled. As Arjuna was on the verge of taking his own life, Lord Krishna appeared and reasembled the bridge with this touch. He challenged Hanuman to stand on it, but this
    time the bridge withstood the might of Hanuman. Hanuman revealed his true form and promised he will help Arjuna during the war by perching himself onto a flag on top of the chariot.

    On the last day of thewar, Krishna requested Arjuna to step down from the chariot before thanking Hanuman for his help. Once Hanuman got off the chariot, it burst into flames. Krishna explained to Arjuna that the chariot would have been destroyed by all the celestial weapons long before, if it was not Hanuman.

  13. Brother there is no vishnu no shiva and no brahma…there is only one god..we call it as parabrahamam..the one from which we all veda vishnu is been praised as"santakaram bugankasayanam patmanabham suresham
    Viswadharam gaganasadirsham mega varnam …
    That mean he is the blue like the sky…large like the universe his sudarshana chakram is the solar system..his snake denotes the solar system as a base and he lay above them..there is only 2 coiled structure(natural)in the world one is the solar system the orbit of plantes revolving around sun and next is only snake denotes it..our god is this universe..he dont have any shape any form any sound…he is nothing but everything….he cannot be seen with our eyes but he is everywhere..we cannot hear his voice but everything we hear is his voice..we cannot think about his form but he make us think everything…he who has no beggining and he who has no ends…he was there yestrday he is there now and he wil be there tomorrow plz dont argue in his name…he is supreme..he has no names …..but everyname is his own…so dont just argue on mere english alphabets..claiming vishnu is supreme shiva is supreme…

    • ramanuja

      manah chakshur adih viyuktah svayam yoo
      manah chakshur adhir manah chakshuradhih
      manah chakshur adhir agamyah svarupah
      sa nityopalabdhi svarupoham atma

      Totally without mind, eyes and other sense organs, which is self effluent
      which is the mind of mind and the eye of the eyes
      which cannot be reached by the mind or the eyes
      that ever present Self am I

      samasteShu vastuShvanusyUtamekaM
      samastAni vastUni yanna spR^ishanti .
      viyadvatsadA shuddhamachChasvarUpaM
      sa nityopalabdhisvarUpo.ahamAtmA ..

      The one(self), which pervades each and every object of the world, (yet) nothing can touch it.
      Like space,(which s ) always pure ( and of) immaculate nature, am of the nature of that ever-existing Atman.

      Hastamalka stotram

      Appreciate your interest towards true knowledge

  14. Well that happened after this incident happened mentioned Abouve…lord krishna freezeed the time and gave brahmgyan to bhishm about his mistake and after that bhisma took a vow that he won't harm any pandava or their army…he will only defend his army

  15. Well that happened after this incident happened mentioned Abouve…lord krishna freezeed the time and gave brahmgyan to bhishm about his mistake and after that bhisma took a vow that he won't harm any pandava or their army…he will only defend his army

  16. Well that happened after this incident happened mentioned Abouve…lord krishna freezeed the time and gave brahmgyan to bhishm about his mistake and after that bhisma took a vow that he won't harm any pandava or their army…he will only defend his army

  17. thanks a lot lekshmi…. i like ur reply agnist these silly arguement..i want to be ur friend..if u like so…

  18. According to my acquired knowledge, After the Mahabharatha war stopped, though Arjuna requested Lord Krishna to get down first from the Chariot, Lord Krishna trefused and told Arjuna o get down first and then He got down from the Chariot. Arjuna could not understand the secret of it. Arjuna got down from the Chariot and then Lord Krishna got down. The very next second the whole chariot got broken into pieces (because of dreadful arrows that were aimed on Arjuna during the war was remained in the chariot itself) which was earlier controlled because of Lord Krishna’s presence in the Chariot. Here we have to remember the Lord’s statement: “THAT MY DEVOTEE NEVER PERISHES”.
    Sivananda Muthuraman(Sr Sadhak-Divine Life)

  19. mangal bhattad

    mahabharat ke war ke doran arrow se kisne ghar banaya tha.pls replay my email id,

  20. Munish

    Excellent article followed by some very interesting arguments.. All of you are fantastic.. Can you tell your source of this knowledge to help me to understand more on these topics

  21. Anonymous

    You said bheeshm cut gandiva but it is wrong gandiv is so powerful and it can’t be cut moreover at the end of dwapar yuga arjun return gandiva to varun dev so how is it possible to return if gandiva was cut as per you and yes tell me if gandiva was cut then how arjun killed bheeshm and all others

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