Bhishma is one of the respectable figures in the Indian epic, Mahabharata. Originally Devavratha, he was the son of King Santanu and goddess Ganga. He took a great vow to remain a bachelor to facilitate his father's marriage to Satyavati, and kept his word until death. In return for his sacrifice, a boon was granted to him by his father that death will come to him only when he wishes. Kauravas and Pandavas, the grand children of his brother Vichithravirya, were brought up by Bhishma.

At the time of the great Kurukshetra war, Bhishma favored Kauravas though his mind was with the Pandavas. On the third day of the war, Arjuna, one among the pandavas, showered arrows on him. Bhishma’s fall shocked everyone at the battlefield. He lay on a bed of arrows. When Bhishma asked for a pillow, Arjuna himself shot three arrows to support his head. To quench his thirst, his mother Gangadevi came from heaven with nectar-like water. He lay on the bed of arrows for 56 days for the auspicious moment of the northward motion of the sun (utharayana) to give up his life and ascend to the heavens.

Updated on 7th June, 2005


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