Bhishma – the Invincible Warrior prepares for his wishful death in Mahabharat

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Bhishma Mahabharat

* Bhishma after Duryodhan’s insult inflicts severe damage to Pandavas army from the 3rd to 8th day of Mahabharat War while not consuming water, food and even without sleep.
* Krishna enlightens Bhishma on the 9th day about Dharm and the importance of decision making in one’s life.
* Bhishma decides to wishfully give up his life to Krishna and then requests Arjun to bring Shikhandini so as to give up weapons and die at her hands.
* Shikhandi (the male form of Shikhandini) to support Arjun in Bhishma’s killing; Bhishma to get his wishful death [Iccha-mrityu, in Sanskrit – Svecchamrityu]

Bhishma saves Duryodhan on the second day of the Mahabharat War by taking Yudhishtir hostage. Duryodhan is annoyed with Bhishma and on other end Bhishma laments the fact that he has taken Yudhishtir hostage and also speaks even his soul is hurt. Pandavas also contemplate that Pitamah should not be be killed since he didn’t kill Yudhishtir after taking hostage. Bhishma informs Drona that war will only reach its conclusion when Yudhishtir is taken hostage. Duryodhan invites all fighter by his announcement and blames Bhishma to be on the side of Pandavas and wants his friend Karna on the battefield.

Bhishma argues that if he was not there then Duryodhan and his brothers would have been dead on the first day. Duryodhan speaks that the respect of Hastinapur was badly hurt by his deeds and also suggests that even Bhishma has brought disrepute to his father King Shantanu’s name. Duryodhan then calls him a a traitor citing that opportunity was there to kill Yudhishtir but Pitamah didn’t do. Bhishma sticks to his point of not allowing karna. Karna steps in since Bhishma was being insulted more and supports that Maha Maheem will never act like a traitor and provides his support. Shakuni and Drona supports Bhishma’s presence on the battlefield as the commander and thereafter Duryodhan decides to give one last opportunity to Bhishma.

Duryodhan Mahabharat

Sooner then, Bhishma vows that until his death he will not leave the battlefield for seven days and will completely destroy the enemies and their morale. Bhishma speaks on honoring the words that he promised to his father and will give up all emotions and kill all his emotions the same night and before entering the battlefield the next day (3rd day). He calls himself to be a heartless animal who is only thirsty of enemies blood. Bhishma’s change in his mind situation is realized by Krishna. Krishna speaks to Draupadi that there is always pain in change, and tries to stop it but change is the rule of nature and also happiness. with change, at the end you will get happiness – success or salvation (mukti).

On the 3rd day of the war, 2 Akshauhini units of the Pandavas are killed at the hands of Bhishma and on 4th day, 4 Akshauhini units were remaining and the Pandavas’ army’s confidence is broken. Dhritrashtra speaks with his assistant Sanjay that victory of his sons is certain and the war might end today. Bhishma speaks the vows are made to express actions and Krishna suggests that Bhishma will not repeat the same Vyuh which his enemy is aware of. Furthermore, Krishna speaks that destruction doesn’t need any battle formations (referring to Bhishma’s agressive attacks). Bhishma confronts Pandavas and gives them an open call of war, and speaks that their army will only get death. At the end of 4th day, Nakul calls Bhishma as Yamraaj, Sahadev thinks of him as the wall of Hastinapur. Krishna speaks that now Bhishma will either die or take Pandavas’ life. Arjun informs his brother and Dhrishtadyumna (Draupadi’s brother and Pandavas’ Commander) that now their only aim is to take Bhishma’s life.

Mahabharat Dhritrashtra Star Plus

Bheem confronts Bhishma but he gets very strong reply and even his army runs away. Pandavas feel that their soldiers morale is getting weaker and reaching to the lowest point. Bhishma speaks to Drona that war will not stop until Yudhishtir is killed, and speaks of killing him on the 6th day. Pandavas have only 3 Akshauhini army units remaining. Bhishma destroys the Pandavas army further and as promised doesn’t leave the battle field and does not consume water, food, and even doesn’t take sleep. Kauravas have 9 Akshauni army units while Pandavas have only 2 Akshauhini units. Sanjay informs the king Dhritrashtra about Bhishma’s power and even without food, water and sleep he is invincible on the battlefield. Dhritrashtra responds that its not a war but a meditation (Tapasya) for Bhishma and hence he could do it and its fruit will be borne by his sons. After seeing Bhishma’s continous ferocious attack on the 8th day, Draupadi is disheartened and speaks with Uttara that Bhishma affection has made him accept Adharm, falsehood, and wrongful strategies, and he is doing a penance for those wrongs by standing in the battlefield and not taking anything.

On the 9th day, Abhimanyu confronts his great grandfather Bhishma, and Arjun saves his son Abhimanyu from Bhishma’s arrow assault. Bhishma speaks on his duty (kartavya) and is forced follow it. Krishna becomes annoyed at at Bhishma and speaks that it is not Dharm. Bhishma doesn’t want Krishna to question about his Dharm and speaks that he is fulfilling the promise he gave his father King Shantanu to serve Hastinapur and its king. Krishna then calls his Dharm as Mitiya (nullified) and Bhishma responds that no one can defeat him. On hearing it, Krishna who is working as the charioteer for Krishna in the war speaks on defeating him at the same moment.

Krishna vows to kill Bhishma if he doesn’t give up his weapons. Bhishma is undeterred and holds a bow against Krishna. Krishna prepares to kill Bhishma with just a chariot wheel and suggests he doesn’t need a weapon. Krishna freezes the war, and Bhishma sees that setting. Krishna then goes on to say that because of his permission Bhishma is alive and participating in the war. Bhishma learns about Krishna’s divine nature and sees him as God. He asks Krishna about his mistake. Krishna replies to Bhishma that he has ignorance and moreover never thought on the development of the people. Bhishma speaks on his sacrifices such – being Brahmachari (celibacy – not to marry voluntarily) and even didn’t wish to be a king.

Krishna speaks that Bhishma if followed his vow as Dharm then why the need to have this Maha Yudh. He speaks that Dharm is the name of life, and change is only the notion of life. Krishna speaks that work means decisions and refers that Bhishma has given up his work and asks him when he took decisions ? Furthermore, Krishna speaks that though Bhishma had power but he didn’t took decisions and only stick to his vows. He asks an important question – Did he knew the future when he took those vows ? Krishna speaks to Bhishma that situations changed but he never adapted and broke his promises. He goes on to say that vows that benefit people are useful but which are harmful to people should be broken. The only option left now is that Bhishma has to give up his weapons and accept death. Bhishma thanks Krishna for sharing the knowledge and wished he got it earlier so he would have not committed Adharm and is happy to die at the hands of Krishna and submits himself while sitting on his knees.

Krishna Hastinapur Assembly

Krishna defreezes the battlefield and goes to kill Bhishma with the chariot wheel but Arjun runs towards Krishna and begs and makes sincere requests to not kill Bhishma since such action will bring disrepute to Krishna’s name. Krishna listens to Arjun’s heed and stops his action of killing Bhishma. Bhishma speaks on his wish to die at the hands of Shikhandini who has vowed to kill him. He wants to wait for her at the battlefield, and once she appears in front of him he will give up his weapons. Now, Bhishma informs Krishna that he made a decision to not kill Pandavas’ soldiers from there on but as vowed will protect his own soldiers.

Sooner then, Bhishma requests Arjun to bring Shikhandini on the battlefield and at her end Shikhandini is doing tapasya (meditation) while standing on the fire and wants to take Bhishma’s life in her current birth otherwise vows to take her own life by burning herself. She couldn’t complete the medidation and blames Yaksharaj and goes to burn herself in fire. However, it turns out that she survives since Yaksharaj appears and gives her a boon to become a man for one day so as to fulfill her promise to kill Bhishma before the sunset the next day (on 10th day). Soon after, Shikandini who became Shikhandi (man) comes to meet Pandavas and Krishna reveals her face. Shikhandi who is now a man speaks that after killing Bhishma she will leave the society but the world will get its Dharm before tomorrow’s sunset.

Mahabharat Star Plus Shikhandi Shika Singh

Thus, Shikhandi who has Devi Amba’s soul will be the reason of Bhishma’s death. Shakuni learns that Shikhandi will come to the battlefield the next day from his spies, and wants Duryodhan to stop Bhishma in appearing at the battlefield next day. Shakuni who is a strategist for Kauravas is aware of the fact that Shikhandi (who is actually Shikhandini) got a boon of a male for only one day so if Bhishma is not at the battlefield then she can’t do anything. Duryodhan goes to Bhishma who is standing at the battlefield and orders him to not serve next day and cites about Shikhandi plan to kill him. He further adds that it is Bhishma’s dharm to follow him. Bhishma responds that he waited for so many generations for Devi Amba and now prepares to give up his weapons since she is going to appear before sunset.

Moreover, Bhishma speaks on holding on his decision and reminds Duryodhan that when he decided to not go to the battlefield, he has called it Adharm. Pandavas’ are in grieve since Bhishma is going to be killed next day and Yudhishtir speaks on Bhishma’s life which has so many sacrifices and Bheem even thinks that their peace will vanish from tomorrow. Draupadi’s father Drupad and Pandavas’ commander Dhrishtadyumna thinks strategically it is good if Bhishma is dead since past 9 days they were trying to attack and kill him. Draupadi speaks on heart wrenching moments and seeks on the way forward of solace from Krishna. Krishna responds that only Bhishma can give answers. On the 10th day before the start of the war, Bhishma speaks with Draupadi and Pandavas and apologizes to them for inflicting insult on her and not standing up for her respect. He wants to punish himself for that crime by his death.

Pandavas Mahabharat

Additional Info:
* An Akshauhini (Sanskrit: अक्षौहिणी), ancient battle formation that consisted of 21,870 chariots (Sanskrit ratha); 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry units. Read more on its Wikipedia page.

* Before the start of Mahabharat War: Pandavas have 7 Akshauhini units while Kauravas have 11 Akshauhini (due to deceit by Duryodhan; Ashwattama (Drona’s son) and Dushayasan, Shalya who is Pandavas’ maternal uncle has shifted loyalty and Akshauhini units to Kauravas).

* Shikhandini/Shikhandi is played by actor Shikha Singh. Incidentally, Shikha played the role of Amba in Colors’ show Na Aana Is Des Laado. Shikha is currently playing the role of Alia, Abhi’s sister in Zee TV’s KumKum Bhagya.


One response to “Bhishma – the Invincible Warrior prepares for his wishful death in Mahabharat”

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    There is perceptibly a bunch to know about this. I feel you made various nice points in features also.

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