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    Bhishma

    e legend behind Bhishma's birth is as follows once the eight Vasus ("Ashtavasus") visited Vashishta's ashram accompanied by their wives. One of the wives took a fancy to Kamadhenu, Vashishta's wish-bearing cow and asked her husband Prabhasa to steal it from Vashishta. Prabhasa then stole the cow with the help of the others who were all consequently cursed by Vashishta to be born in the world of men. Upon the Vasus appealing to Vashishta's mercy, the seven Vasus who had assisted in stealing Kamadhenu had their curse mitigated such that they would be liberated from their human birth as soon as they were born; however, Prabhasa being protagonist of the theft, was cursed to endure a longer life on the earth. The curse, however is softened to the extent that he would be one of the most illustrious men of his time. It was this Prabhasa who took birth as Devavrata (Bhishma).



    The scene from the Mahabharata of the presentation by Ganga of her son Devavrata (the future Bhisma) to his father, Santanu.

    Bhishma was born as the eighth son of the illustrious King Shantanu and Ganga. As per the Mahabharata, Shantanu saw Ganga on the banks of river Ganga(Ganges) and enamoured of her beauty, asked her to marry him. She agreed but with the condition that Shantanu would never question her, no matter what her actions if he ever broke his promise, she would leave him, never to be a part of his life again. Shantanu readily agreed to this seemingly harmless condition and was thus married to Ganga. Eight children were born to this union, the eighth of which was Bhishma himself. The seven siblings born before him were drowned by their mother Ganga in order to break their curse as they were incarnations of the aforementioned Vasus, who do not like to live the life of Humans. Shantanu silently bore the torture of watching his wife drown his offspring seven times. However, when Ganga was about to drown Bhishma, Shantanu could no longer contain his anguish and burst into protest. Ganga, aware of the eighth child's destiny to live a long life on earth, did not drown the child. However, since Shantanu had broken his promise given to her at marriage, she left Shantanu promising to return the child to him once he is grown up.During his childhood, Devavrata was taught political science and other subjects by Brihaspati and Sukracharya,gurus of the Devas and Asuras respectively; Vedas and religious scriptures by the sageVasishtha; Sage Markandeya was his spiritual guru. On Ganga's persuasion, Devavrata was taught martial arts, military sciences and the use of weapons byParashurama. His banner in battle was a golden palm tree.
    He was known as 'Bhishma Pitamaha' (Pitamaha meaning the grandfather or grandsire) among the Pandavas and the Kauravas.He was a well known person for his knowledge in politics and many other subjects.He was very good archer and he won battle against his Guru Parshurama (unbeatable) and this battle continued for 23 Days.
    [edit]Vow of Bhishma



    Bhishma taking his bhishana pratigya

    Bhishma means He of the terrible oath, referring to his vow of lifelong celibacy. Originally named Devavratha, he became known as Bhishma after he took thebhishana pratigya ('terrible oath') the vow of lifelong celibacy and of service to whoever sat on the throne of his father (the throne of Hastinapur). He took this oath so that his father, Shantanu could marry a fisherwoman Satyavati Satyvati's father had refused to give his daughter's hand to Shantanu on the grounds that his daughter's children would never be rulers as Shantanu already had a son (Devratha). This made Shantanu despondent and upon discovering the reason for his father's despondency,[2] Devavratha sought out the girl's father and promised him that he would never stake a claim to the throne, implying that the child born to Shantanu and Satyavati would become the ruler after Shantanu. At this, Satyavati's father retorted that even if Devavratha gave up his claim to the throne, his (Devavratha's) children would still claim the throne. Devavratha then took the terrible vow of lifelong celibacy, thus sacrificing his 'crown-prince' title and denying himself the pleasures of conjugal love. This gave him immediate recognition among the gods and his father granted him the boon ofSweccha Mrityu (control over his own death he could choose the time of his death, but he was not immortal, which would have been an even severe curse and suffering).
    There was a lot of criticism of King Shantanu from his subjects as to why he removed Bheeshma from the title of the crown prince (kings didn't have the power to remove prince from throne just as Bhishma could not deprive his unborn son from the throne so he decided to never have one)as he was so capable, and if by any chance he did see some fault in him (Bheeshma),what did he see in the prince who is not yet born (Satyavati's son). Hearing this, Bheeshma said it was his decision and his father should not be blamed as Shantanu had never promised anything to Satyavati's father. The clan Guru then asked who would be held responsible if the future crown prince isn't capable enough. Bheeshma then took another vow that he would always see his father's image in whoever sits on the King's throne & will serve him.
    In the process of finding a bride for his half-brother the young king Vichitravirya, Bhishma cleverly abducted princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika of Kashi (Varanasi) from the assemblage of suitors at their swayamvara. Salwa, the ruler of Saubala, and Amba (the eldest princess) were in love. Upon reaching Hastinapura, Amba confided in Bhishma that she wished to wed Salwa. Bhishma then sent her back to Salwa who turned her down as it was humiliating for a man to accept a woman who had been so long in the company of another man (actually he was embarrassed because bhishma had defeated him very badly in the fight, when he had tried to stop bhishma but he stood no chance at all in front of great bhishma). She then naturally approached Bhishma for marriage who refused her, citing his oath. Amba, humiliated and enraged beyond measure, vowed to avenge herself against Bhishma even if it meant being reborn over and over again.

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    Legend has it that at her maternal grandfather's suggestion Amba sought refuge with Parasurama who ordered Bhishma to marry Amba. Bhishma politely refused saying that he was ready to give up his life at the command of his teacher but not the promise that he had made. Upon the refusal, Parasurama called him for a fight at Kurukshetra. At the battlegrounds, while Bhishma was on a chariot, Parasurama was on foot. Bhishma requested Parasurama to also take a chariot and armor so that Bhishma would not have an unfair advantage. Parasurama blessed Bhishma with the power of divine vision and asked him to look again. When Bhishma looked at his guru with the divine eyesight, he saw the Earth as Parasurama's chariot, the four Vedas as the horses, the Upanishades as the reins, Vayu (wind) as the Charioteer and the Vedic goddesses Gayatri, Savitri & Saraswati as the armor. Bhishma got down from the chariot and sought the blessings of Parasurama to protect his dharma, along with the permission to battle against his teacher. Parasurama was pleased and said to Bhishma that if he had not behaved in this manner, Parasurama would have cursed him, for it is the duty of warriors who fight against elders to not abandon the traditions of humility and respect for elders. Parasurama blessed him and advised him to protect his dharma of brahmacharya as Parasurama himself must fight to fulfil his dharma of fighting to uphold his word as given to Amba. They fought for 23 days without conclusion Parasurama was chiranjeevi (immortal) and Bhishma had a boon that let him choose the time of his death. Two versions exist about how their battle came to an end.
    As per one, On the 22nd night, Bhishma prayed to his ancestors to help him end the battle. His ancestors gave him a weapon named Pashupatrasta which he k on his previous birth as Prabhasa (One of Ashta Vasus) but forgot in his present birth as Bhishma. This weapon was not known to Parasurama. They told him that it would put Parasurama to sleep in the battlefield. A person who sleeps in the battlefield is considered to be dead as per Vedas. However the weapon was never used as Devas warned him from the sky that "If He uses this weapon it would be a great insult towards his Guru". Parshurama felt really proud of Bhishma but said "He will not walk away from the battlefield, either Bhishma has to kill him or he can withdraw". Bhishma humbly walked out from the war and saying that" He was never interested to fight his Guru, he did it only because his Guru asked him to do so".
    But Amba, now her predicament unchanged, did severe penance to please Lord Shiva (as he is most easily pleased and could give anything to anyone). Lord Shiva assured her that she would be born as a man in her next birth (and still she would recall her past) and will be instrumental in Bhishma's death, thus satisfying her vow.

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    Skills, talents, and achievements==
    Bhishma was not only a good warrior, but also highly skilled in political science. He tried his best to bring reconciliation between Pandavas and Kauravas to prevent the war.
    Even in the Kurukshetra war while he was the general he tried his best to keep the war low key by minimising confrontation between the two camps. Even as he fell he tried to use the opportunity to persuade both camps to put an end to the war.
    After the war, while on his deathbed he gave deep and meaningful instructions to Yudhishthira on statesmanship and the duties of a king.
    Bhishma was well versed with tactical formations of the military in those days and only Drona, Krishna, Karna, & Arjuna could be compared to the vast knowledge that Bhishma possessed. A few formations mentioned in the epic [[Mahabharata]] are listed.
    * [[Krauncha Vyuha]]: the crane-shaped formation of an army; forces are distributed to form spanning wing-sides, with a formidable, penetrating center depicting the crow's head and break.
    * [[Padmavyuha|Padma Vyuha]] or the '''Chakra Vyuha''': a winding, ever-rotating circular formation; considered impenetrable during the Mahabharata age by all warriors except Arjuna, Bhisma, Karna, Drona, Krishna, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu, had learnt how to break into the formation (in the womb of Subhadra) but not how to break out of it and is trapped inside in the Mahabharata war.
    * [[Sarpa Vyuha]]: winding snake formation.
    * [[Makara Vyuha]]: Crocodile Formation
    * [[Sakata Vyuha]]: Cart Formation
    * [[Shukar Vyuha]]: Pig Formation

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