Thursday, November 3, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 3 - Story of Bhishma

We will continue from the story of Shantanu's eighth child (Read the story here) and continue from there.

King Shantanu was left alone as Ganga took her eighth child. Seven years later, Shantanu witnessed a young lad practicing archery by the riverside. A strong feeling attracted him towards the boy. At that moment, Ganga appeared before the king and told him, " Here is your son Devavrat; He is not an ordinary person. He will earn fame as a great man. Look after him well". She then returned to her abode.
Shantanu was immensely happy. Hugging the child His heart swelled with love and affection. He took the boy to the palace and reared him will. Devavrat grew up to be a brave and courageous boy. Shantanu had appointed a master for him. Devavrat thirsted for knowledge and excelled himself in all fields of education. As a true Kshatriya (worrier), he also perfected warfare and was hailed as the mightiest of all. Truthful and honest, he gained the respect of one and all. At the opportune time, Shantanu crowned Devavrat as the heir prince.
In the meanwhile, Shantanu had gone on a hunt and near the river saw an extremely beautiful girl. She was the daughter of Dasaraja, a fisherman. Shantanu fell in love with her and sent a messenger to her father asking her hand in marriage.
" I am prepared to have my daughter wed to the king" said Dasaraja, "But I have a condition" he added, " I want my daughter to be the queen and the child born to her as the future king. If your king doesn't agree to this, ask him to forger about marrying my daughter.
Shantanu was worried. He found this impossible to live without Satyawati, the Dasaraja daughter. But how could he marry her? For he had already crowned Devavrat as the heir to this throne. There were none to equal Devavrat for the throne. So, Shantanu decided not to accept the condition laid down by Dasaraja. But he felt very depressed abort losing Satyawati. He lost interest in the affairs of the kingdom. Even hunting and music or dance did not interest him. Only Satyawati's immense beauty haunted him.
Devavrat knew his father's state of mind. So he met Dasaraja and pleaded with him to get Satyawati married to the king. Dasaraja was adamant. " Are you prepared to give up throne for the sake of your father's happiness?" He asked.
Devavrat did not hesitate. "If it can bring happiness to my father, I do not want the throne. I am prepared to give it up. "I swear", he said. But Dasaraja was not convinced. He asked Devavrat.
"O! Devavrat, it is easy for you to say that you do not want the throne. But you will get married and have children. Later on, your children will also have children. And if they claim their right over the throne, what will be the fate of Satyavati's children?"
Devavrat agreed with Dasaraja's thinking. He felt that it was a fair question. He thought for a while and said "Respected sir, have no doubts this. I here by swear that I will be a bachelor throughout my life. I will never get married."
This decision by young Devavrat to lead his father's happiness drew appreciation from all the Suras. This vow came to be known as 'Bhishma's Vow'. Devavrat was henceforth called as Bhishma.
Devavrat returned to the palace and performed the marriage of the Satyawati to his father. In the presence of hundreds of citizens, he again proclaimed that he was giving up his rights to the throne. Highly pleased with his son's sacrifice, Shantanu embraced Bhishma and blessed him as 'Icchha Mrityoo'. "Let not death near you as long as you want it" he wished.
Bhishma has lived through the ages as a great son of India.

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