LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF BHISMADEV - ISKCON Kolkata

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF BHISMADEV

Mahabharata was like a greatest instrument of parting valuable knowledge by Lord Sri  Krishna. If anybody studies Mahabharata very scrutinizingly then one may notice that by arranging great personalities in such a manner that they act according to every phase of life which one may go through whether it be the lessons taught directly to Arjuna by Lord Sri Krishna  as Bhagwat Gita in the battlefield or it be the death of the great personalities like Karna,Dronacharya etc due to their wrong decisions and also due to the fruit of their previous bad karma. Similarly today on the eve of Bhismasthami let us understand what lessons were taught to the common mass by the example of Bhismadev, a great warrior and even a greater celibate. 

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BHISMADEV is a character in mahabharata who is well known for his sacrifice as well as his all right decisions(seems to be) but at the wrong time. Yes he was also the one who, due to his wrong decisions brought the great war of Mahabharata into the scene. It is well described in the shastras that sacrifices that are done for the good cause within the rules and regulations of scriptural injunction is accepted but at the same time if it is done in a wrong manner it may also invite trouble for the person performing the sacrifice and this lesson is directly shown by setting the great warrior Bhismadev as the example of all such faulty sacrifices. 

As we all know that due to the lusty desire of Bhismadev’s father(Santanu), Bhismadev had to sacrifice his youth and take a vow never to marry as his father had fallen in love with the daughter(Satyavati) of a fisherman who was only ready to give her daughter in the hands of santanu if Bhismadev sacrifice his throne(for the sons of Satyavati)  and also take a vow that he will never marry so that he doesn’t begout any children who in return may not come to overtake his left throne, though this was a very crucial sacrifice done by him but we must not forget the fact that the sacrifice made was against the vedic rules and hence a great blunder also So after this sacrifice, the fisherman’s daughter, Satyavati accompanied Bhismadev. She was brought to the palace by Bhishmadev. And then she was offered to Santanu and he was very pleased. And then when he knew about Bhismadev’s sacrifice, he was feeling the pain. But it was too late. Everything was completely over. And Santanu was satisfied anyway.Then Santanu had two sons. Vicitravirya and Citrangad. Citrangad was very good fighter. So he was invited to fight by the demigods and he was killed eventually. 

So only Vicitravirya was left, he was to be married, when he was of the age. But he was not very clever, not very strong. So Bhishmadev had to arrange his marriage. The king of Kashi, had the practice for generations giving the daughter to Kuru dynasty. But at that time, he was going against it. So Bhismadev was upset. So he thought that how can Kashi raja’s daughters go to somebody else. Kashiraja had arranged for the marriage competition, swayamvara. And when Bhismadev went there, he brought all the three daughters, Amba, Ambika, Ambalika. So in this also Bhismadev committed a mistake.

When Bhismadev got all the three daughters of Kashiraja after fighting with the other kings, he brought them home and offered them to Vicitravirya. And then Amba, the first daughter said, “Before you took us, I had already decided to marry king of Salva.” Bhismadev had fought violently with all the kings. Everyone was killed, but Salva was left alive. So she says that, “Now you do whatever you like.” Bhismadev said, “Why did you not tell me before? I would have left you go.” And then Bhismadev said, “Now I am allowing you to go.” When she went to the king, the king said, “I won’t accept you, because you are won by Bhismadev. So it was the rule of kshatriyas, that whoever wins the fight, she has to marry him. Again there was trouble for Bhishma. She came back to Bhismadev. She said, “You are ruining my life. You have to marry me.” But Bhismadev could not do that because his oath was like that. So he said, “I can’t marry.” She waited and waited for 6 to 7 years and eventually Bhismadev told her that he cannot marry her and that she has to manage her own life. She couldn’t do that. 

She was upset and when she was upset, she started tapasya and she performed great austerities in the forest and she could not understand why Bhismadev should deny her. When it was clear that Bhismadev was not going to marry her, she wanted to take revenge. With that revengeful idea, she started doing different penances. She tried to please the son of Lord Shiva, then Shiva Himself and she got the benediction. Lord Shiva was able to give her a nice benediction, “You will be able to kill Bhismadev yourself in the next birth. That time first you will be born as a daughter and later you will become a man and you will be named as Shikhandi. Then you will be able to kill Bhismadev.” So his death was created by his own activities. Here we can easily observe how Bhismadev is inviting his death with all his faulty decisions and hence here is a great learning for all of us that whatever we do, we act we must do it by proper understanding and also we must contemplate on the outcomes of our deed otherwise we would also invite such kind of deadly reactions and unnecessary problems in our life.Then next two daughters were again married to Vicitravirya. Ambika and Ambalika were married to Vicitravirya. In the end Vicitravirya suffered from serious diseases and because of that he died young. So fate was playing a cruel game. He died without any children. Now how to continue the Kuru dynasty? It has come to a halt again. So again Satyavati requested Bhismadev that he should help in this condition. Bhismadev did not agree. Somehow or the other Vyasadev was invited. He was the son of Parasara through Satyavati, (before she was married to Maharaj Santanu) came to her help. This is how Kuru dynasty continued. 

Ultimately when Bhismadev was in the death-bed, we have his instructions and last wishes. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.9.24, he very nicely describes the appearance of Krishna in front of Him and he begs Him that I should remember you always till I die. This is perfection. Bhagavad Gita also says,

yam yam vaapi smaran bhaavam 

 tyajaty ante kalevaram

Tam tam evaiti kaunteya 

 sadaa tad bhaava bhaavitah

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain me (Lord Sri Krishna ) without fail.”

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