Jai Sriman Narayana !!
According to scriptures Bhishma was born as the eighth child of Goddess Ganga and he was one of the Ashtavasukkal. Once there was a congregation at the Sathyaloka, all the deities and kings were assembled. There was King Mahabhishak from Ikshuvaku dynasty also attended the assembly. At this moment, Goddess Ganga gracefully entered the assembly. While she was entering into the hall a warm breeze was caused her clothes fall off from its place. All the deities were looked down on the Earth as a mark of respect towards Ganga, King Mahabhishk was tempted to immerse at her beauty for a while. Trinities were furious; Lord Brahma cursed King Mahabhishak to be born on Earth and would marry Ganga as he was desired. Due to the course Ganga and King Mahabhishak were born on the Earth.
Bhishma was born as eighth child to Goddess Sri Ganga and King Shanthanu/King Mahabhishak in his previous birth. Once King Shanthanu was walking on the river banks of Ganga, he met an attractive girl elegantly walking on the banks. King Shanthanu was fallen in love with her at first sight. He approached her with a request to marry him. She was readily agreed to marry, but she put forward a condition before the King. She expressed her desired to immerse all the children born to them, if the King raised any opinion about the above would cause their separation. King Shanthanu without giving much thought to the condition of this attractive girl and married her. They happily lived as a married couple.
Ganga gave birth to 7 children and each child was immersed into the river immediately after the birth. She gave birth to 8th child and was about to repeat the same, King Shanthanu raised his opinion due to the profound love for the child. Soon the couple was separated from each other as promised earlier. These eight children born to Ganga and King Shanthanu were famously known as ‘Ashta Vasukkal’.
Prabhasa was one of the Ashta Vassukkal. His wife was happened to see the divine cow Kamadhenu at the hermitage of Sage Vashishta. She had a deep desire to have the custody of the divine cow. She compelled her husband Prabhasa to get hold of it. Prabhasa does not want to disappoint his dearest wife. So he approached the hermitage of Sage Vashishta with his seven brothers and sneaked into the hermitage while Sage Vashishta was gone. He took the custody of the divine cow Kamadhenu and presented before his wife. Her happiness had no bounds. When Sage Vashishta returned to the hermitage realized the missing of the divine cow Kamadhenu and soon the Sage envisioned the happenings in his absence. Sage Vashishta questioned the Ashtavasukkal and they regretfully returned the cow. Sage Vashishta in a fury cursed the seven brothers who were assisted in the absurd process to be born on Earth and will be relieved from the curse. Prabhasa who was forced to follow the disruptive idea of his wife would be born on Earth and would be facing relentless difficulties in whole life.
Thus, Prabhasa was born on Earth as an eighth child of Goddess Ganga. Bhishma was brought by Goddess Ganga after the painful separation from King Shanthanu. Bhishma attained profound knowledge in Veda Sastras and knowledge in Astra Sastra from Parasurama, a Brahmin intellectual. At the age of 36 Bhishma was returned to his father King Shanthanu.
King Shanthanu happened to meet a young and beautiful girl Sathyavathi on the river banks of Ganga. She was the daughter chief of fishermen clan. King was fallen in love at the prettiness of Sathyavathi, he met her father and asked permission to marry her. Unfortunately, there too the King had to agree with the conditions put forward by Sathyavathi. The condition was Bhishma who was a legal heir to the throne should not be crowned as the ruler of King Shanthanu’s Kingdom. King Shanthanu was shocked at the above statement, he desperately left the place. Days were passed; King Shanthanu lived a miserable life. His love for Sathyavathi tortured him like a hell. Bhishma came to know about the pathetic state of his father. He decided to help out his father whatever possible ways. He met the father of Sathyavati and narrated the wretched state of his father. Bhishma also promised that he would not be a hindrance to the marriage of his father, Sathyavati’s son will be the legal heir to the throne and he will be the future ruler of King Shanthanu’s Kingdom. In addition to this, Bhishma revealed that he will remain unmarried all through his life. All the deities showered flowers upon him praising the chastity of Bhishma. Previously Bhishma was known as Gangeya (Son of Ganga), after this incident he prominently known as Bhishma. Soon, King Shanthanu’s marriage was taken place. King Shanthanu and Sathyavati lived a happy married life and they had children.
After King Shanthanu’s demise the Kingdom was ruled by Chitrangada, the elder son of Sathyavati. He was ruled the Kingdom for several years and was killed in a war. Soon, the second son Vichitraveerya attained the throne. As an elder brother Bhishma went in search for a bride for Vichitraveerya, he came to know about the Swayamvara of daughters of King of Kasi (Varanasi). Bhishma kidnapped all three daughters of King of Kasi and brought them before Vichitraveerya. Vichitraveerya married to two daughters, but the elder one Amba decided to marry King Salva. Amba returned to the Kingdom of King Salva and approached him. But King Salva flatly refused to marry Amba, as she was kidnapped by somebodyelse. Amba was heavy heartedly returned to Bhishma and narrated the fault imposed upon her. Bhishma pacified her that she was blameless. This stirring incident created a deepest desire in her to attain Bhishma as her husband. She revealed her yearning to Bhishma, but she was discouraged at the very moment by Bhishma. Amba was not ready to give up her hopes; she continued to nurture her tender desire for Bhishma.
Amba met Parasurama, Guru of Bhishma who had great influence in the life of Bhishma. She narrated her yearnig to marry Bhishma, also requested Parasurama to help her in this matter. Parasurama assured Amba that everything will happen according to her wish. Soon Parasurama approached Bhishma and described the situation of Amba, but the discussion was become fruitless. Moreover, it resulted in a fierce battle between Parasurama and Bhishma, this battle continued for 23 days, Parasuma could not win over Bhishma and vice versa. Sage Narada intervened, convinced them that it was against Sastra to fight against a Brahmin, only the Kshatriya has the right to enter the battlefield. This was resulted in a sudden halt to the war between Bhishma and Parasurama. Later, Parasurama explained his helplessness to Amba. After listening to Parasurama, she was in a mounted rage affirmed that Bhishma’s death will be in her hands and she killed herself.
Amba was born as a daughter to King Gurupadha. King understood the reason behind the birth of his daughter Shikhandi and worried about the consequences of hostility against the powerful warrior Bhishma. So he decided to send Shikhandi to woodlands. During her stay at woodlands, she collected all the war field tactics of Bhishma. Shikhandi realized that Bhishma would fight only with a true male warrior; he would not fight against female warrior or somebody who is attracted to the same sex. Later, with the help of a celestial Gandharva Shikhandi turned into a male. Thus, Shikhandi remained neither a woman nor a man. He/She came back to her father and assured him that she was capable to fight against Bhishma, her very own purpose of birth was to kill Bhishma.
In the meantime a great war was declared between Pandavas and Kouravas. Unfortuntely, Bhishma was the chief of Kouravas at war field. Bhishma had to face the skilful warrior Arjuna from Pandavas army. Shikhandi who was waiting for an opportunity to attack Bhishma appeared on the scene, challenged him and shot an arrow against Bhishma while his entire concentration was on Arjuna. Bhishma realized that Arjuna was utilizing Shikandi as a opponent against him, so as a strict warrior Bhishma contemptuously plucked out the arrow shot by shikandi from his body. At this point of time, Arjuna continuously poured shot of arrows on Bhishma. As a brilliant warrior Bhishma created a bed of arrows that was shot by Arjuna, he remained on top of it above from the Earth. Bhishma had a boon to depart his life as and when he was desired for it. He was breathing gently till the end of Dakshinayana, he was patiently waited for the Utharayana. Bhishma was thoroughly aware of the Sastra mentioned in the scriptures that death in Utharayana would provide salvation to the soul. Finally, Utharayana also arrived but his soul was reluctant to leave. He was desperately waited for his death. In the meantime, Pancha Pandavas and Lord Krishna were arrived to honor him. Bhishma had no ill feelings towards him, instead he advised 1008 holy verses of Lord Vishnu to Yudhishtira. He lectured about righteousness while he was on the bed of arrows gasping for breath. Bhishma had painful thought about the impediments caused to depart the soul. Maharishi Vedavyasa appeared before Bhishma and answered the queries to him. Maharishi Vedavyasa replied that whoever hurt others by deed or word and not willing to react against the injustice should undergo punishments as per the Sastras. Bhishma realized his mistakes and remembered the series of happenings in the assembly of Duryodhana. Draupadi, wife of Pancha Pavadavas was mercilessly attacked by Dusshasana; she was insulted before the large crowd of relatives and friends. Bhishma who was one amongst the witnesses, he neither raised voice against the injustice towards Draupadi nor provided any kind of help in time of need. Bhishma agonizingly realized that was the reason for the delay in his death.
Bhishma devastatingly enquired Maharishi Vedavyasa to suggest a conspicuous resolution to get rid of the sin. Maharishi Vedavyasa sermonized the quintessential of devout act prescribed in Veda Sastra, realizing one own mistake and be repentant for it would wipe off the sin committed. Thus, Bhishma lamented over his unkindness towards Darupadi and shed tears on that.
Maharishi Vedavyasa narrated the sins of Bhishma, in the assembly of Duryodhana when Draupadi was brutlessly attacked by Dusshasana, she cried her heart out and surrendered to Lord Krishna, she cried out for the help calling out the holy names of Lord. But Bhishma was remained silent like deaf, thus his ears committed sin to listen her cries. Bhishma’s sharp eyes were neglected the cruel act, he was quiet as dumb without raising voice against the injustice, his strong physical structures which were capable to overcome the enemies remained inactive, his strong hands capable to hold the sword and fight against the injustice were motionless , his strong thighs and legs were reluctant to raise from the seat to question against the brutality and last but not the least the wisdom and intelligence he has attained to separate good or bad deeds are liable to undergo punishments. Hence, every part of the body of Bhishma has committed a sin should experience punishments for their mistake. Bhishma with extreme pain and guilt requested Maharishi Vedavyas to burn each and every part of the body with the radiance of Lord Surya.
Instantaneously, Maharishi Veda Vyasa exposed the Arkka Patra ( Yerukku- a special kind of herbal leaf) which has all the powers of the radiance of Lord Surya, he benevolently placed leaves all over the body of Bhishma. Soon Bhishma was elevated to the state of calmness and transformed into the extreme state of meditation. Finally, Bhishma attained salvation at the lotus feet.
Yudhishtira was anxious about the performance of rituals to Bhishma, who was a Naishtika Brahmachari. Maharishi Vedavyasa compassionately advised Yudhishtira that a righteous Naishtika Brahmachari and a true Sanyasin does not require any rituals or homage. Immediately after their death, soul will be departed to a supreme world does not necessitate any rituals after their death.
Maharishi Vedavyasa described, Bhishma was blameless and the whole world would pay homage to his soul on the day of Ratha Sapthami. Whoever takes holy dip on this auspicious day with the herbal leaves/ Arkka Patra on their body would relieve from all the sins committed and also attain meritorious reward for the devout act of performance of homage to the righteous soul of Bhishma.
Jai Sriman Narayana !!