Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bhishma...The grand old man of Mahabharat

As I mentioned many times in my posts, Mahabharat is very interesting story for me and I love all of its characters because I can relate with then very easily at various stages of my own life. Bhishma is one of the powerful and very important characters of this epic, I think he is the one who is present there for most of the time. His physical presence is the longest in epic and he is considered as grand old man of family. But for me his life looks like a big tragedy, full of contradictions and useless sacrifices. He did great sacrifices for his father, step brothers, grand kids and his family in general but most of them created many problems for him and his family, even though his intentions behind all his actions were noble and honest most of them created tough situations and complicated his life even more.

Bhishma was son of Ganga and Shantanu, Ganga took unique promise from Shantanu before marring him that he won't oppose any of her actions even if he find them totally wrong or unethical and the day he will question her she will leave him. She drowned their first seven kids into the river and Shantanu didn't say anything, but he couldn't stop himself at the time when Ganga was about to drown eighth one and tried to stop her. He saved the kid and that was Bhishma or Devavrat but lost his wife, Ganga left Shantanu with that kid. He returned back to his father as a well trained young boy expert in martial arts, weapons and politics. Devavrat's life takes unique turn when his father falls in love with a fisher-women (Satyavati) and desperately wanted to marry her. That women's father didn't agree for marriage and to solve this problem (that is to get his father marry) Devavrat stepped in. Major concern of Satyavati's father was that his grand kids (Satyavati's son) won't get to become a king because Devavrat was the eldest son of Shantanu. To satisfy him Devavrat forfeited his claim to the throne but Satyavati's father was concerned that Devavrat's kids might fight with his grand sons for kingdom and to clear this doubt Devavrat took a vow of lifelong celibacy. To reward him for this great sacrifice his father gave him the boon of 'swechha mrityu' (that is control over his own death, he can choose time of his death). From here his all problems begin, he vowed not to have his own family but vowed to take care of his father's family and this kept him engaged throughout his life, his father died, his brothers died but he remained there..to fulfill his vows, he became slave of his own vows because of them many problems were created in his life and he suffered a lot.

Bishma's life was filled with many twist and turns, he didn't get married himself but have to bring brides for his step brothers and their kids in that process even got cursed by Amba which ultimately became reason for his death. He tried his best to stop Kurukshetra war, he didn't give up his attempts to stop the war even after war started. For the first ten days of war almost nothing special happened as long as Bhishma was commander-in-chief of kuru army, he thought that Duryodhan will realize his mistake and will stop the war but his all attempts failed and war continued against his wish. He had to watch destruction of his own family and kingdom in front of his own eyes. He couldn't stop Draupadi's insult inspite of being eldest member of family. Many of his decisions which he thought were in the best interest of his family (most of which he took hastily or in rage of emotions) like his vow of celibacy caused troubles for him and his future generations.

From the beginning Bhishma's life was marred by troubles and uncertainties, his mother wanted to kill him immediately after his birth but his father saved his life and since then his life was a roller coaster ride. For me Bhishma's life  and character is unique example of a person who with all his talent and capabilities failed to create any positive impact. He didn't even die without pain, he was on a bed of arrows for number of days before his death, one can imagine how painful experience that would have been, so even the boon of swechha mrityu proved to be a curse for him. What he achieved by taking his vows and by fulfilling them is also a big question. He is a unique person who even with all the powers and talent felt helpless in most of the situations, but one of the good quality in him was he never gave up. It's not easy to carry on with our duties and efforts when every time our actions backfire on us and result in something else than what we expected. Bhishma's all actions and sacrifices didn't produce the desired result but still he didn't loose hope. We all feel something like this at some point in our lives and his character teaches us never to give up, he never gave up his duties and tasks no matter what difficulties he faced. I think we all can learn this lesson from him.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

4 comments:

  1. Indeed the whole Mahabharat is great..only thing such great Heroes fought against the Dharma..

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    1. I agree that Mahabharata is one of the greatest stories ever written, it covers almost every aspect of human life. The defination of dharma and adharma changes according to person to person and situation to situation, people who fought for Duryodhan were thinking that its their duty (or dharma) to fight for him, support him...and I think thats the beauty of Mahabharat that it doesn't give clear black and white picture and shows us that there is lot of grey area in our life where its very difficult to decide what is good and what is bad.

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  2. there is another one who fought against adharma, and accepted death. that one should be all the more great, the greatest!

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    1. please share more information about the character you are talking about..thanks

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