Bhishma – भीष्म

भीष्म – bhISma.

Bhishma was named dEvavrata at birth. He was also referred to as gangAputra, the son of gangA. One story goes that he was called Bhishma because of his terrible oath of lifelong celibacy so that his father s’antanu could marry the lady satyavati  that he was in love with. (satyvati was the mother of Veda Vyasa.)

Adi s’ankara gives the following meaning of his name in his commentary on the viSNu sahasranAmam.

The all-knowing dEvavrata who explained the dharmAs of mOkSa etc was himself the fear of external and internal enemies. That is why he is called Bhishma.

bhISma was one of the greatest philosophers, devotees, celibates, experts on dharma and warrior-heroes who never actually sat on the throne of hastinapur, though he bound himself to the protection of that throne throughout his life. He is an incarnated vasu.

 Though he was a Kshatriya, Bhishma was a student of Parasurama, who was generally reluctant to teach kSatriyAs.

Photograph Credit: Satya Sarada Kandula: All Rights Reserved

Photograph Credit: Satya Sarada Kandula: All Rights Reserved


Photographs taken at Lakshman Jhula Mandir in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. The river in the background is Ganga, Bhishma’s mother.

Photograph Credit : Satya Sarada Kandula : All Rights Reserved

Photograph Credit : Satya Sarada Kandula : All Rights Reserved

Posts and Pages that refer to Bhishma on my sites:

Reference : Mahabharata : Bhishma Parva : Bhagavad-Gita Parva : Translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

This incident occurs just after Bhishma falls in the war. (Sadly enough towards the end he was attacked by all together much as Abhimanyu was, at a later date, when the Kaurava army abandoned him and retreated. This was on the tenth day of the war.) Ganga sends him RSis (Rishis, Rushis) in the shape of Swans of the Manasa Lake,

Details : 

Sanjaya said, ” …. there was not in Bhishma’s body space of even two fingers’ breadth that was not pierced with arrows….Pierced all over with arrows, his body touched not the ground. At that moment, O bull of Bharata’s race, a divine nature took possession of that great bowman lying on a bed of arrows. The clouds poured a (cool) shower (over him) and the Earth trembled… He observed that it was still Dakshinayana, the sun had not yet turned northwards…(Uttarayanam had not yet started).

Ascertaining that to be his resolve, Ganga, the daughter of Himavat, sent unto him the great Rishis in swanlike form. Then those Rishis in the forms of swans inhabiting theManasa lake, quickly rose up, and came together, for obtaining a sight of the Kuru grandsire Bhishma, to that spot where that foremost of men was lying on his bed of arrows. Then those Rishis in swanlike forms, coming to Bhishma, beheld that perpetuator of Kuru’s race lying on his bed of arrows. Beholding that high-souled son of Ganga, that chief of the Bharatas, they walked round him, and the Sun being then in the southern solstice, they said, addressing one another, these words, ‘Being a high-souled person, why should Bhishma pass out (of the world) during the southern declension?’ Having said these words, those swans went away, proceeding towards the southern direction. Endued with great intelligence, Bhishma, O Bharata. beholding them, reflected for a moment. And the son of Santanu then said unto them. ‘I will never pass out (of the world) as long as the Sun is in the southern solstice. Even this is my resolve. I will proceed to my own ancient abode when the Sun reacheth the northern solstice. Ye swans, I tell you this truly. Expectant of the northern declension I will hold my life. Since I have the fullest control over the yielding up of my life, I will, therefore, hold life, expectant of death during the northern declension. The boon that was granted to me by my illustrious sire, to the effect that my death would depend on my own wish O, let that boon become true. I will hold my life, since I have control in the matter of laying it down.’ Having said these words to those swans, he continued to lie down on his bed of arrows.

Copyright Notice : Authorship and Photography:  All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

Photograph taken at Lakshman Jhula Mandir in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. The river in the background is Ganga.