The story of Bhishma is one of the heroes of the Mahabharata who had great selfdiscipline, high determination and a strong will-power, he was known as ‘Grand Sire’ and highly respected and adored by one and all of his time. He was the eldest son of a great king Shanthanu who ruled Hastinapura, in India, a long time ago. His mother was Ganga a divine lady who had to leave him and his father in the early years, after some years, his father fell in love with a fisherman’s daughter, named Sathyavathi, but her father would not give her in marriage to the king for the fear that Sathyavathi’s son would not ascend the throne of Hasthinapura, as Bhishma, being the eldest son, would be the rightful heir to the throne.

However to make his father happy, Bhishma vowed not only to renounce the throne but also to remain unmarried so that he may not have any children of his own to claim the throne. He then got Sathyavathi married to his father for which the king blessed him that Death will never come to Bhishma until he himself desires it. Bhishma served Sathyavathi as his own mother, looked after her well even after his father’s death and safeguarded all the royal honors due to her and her children.
Sathyavathi had two children and one of them died quite young, Bhishma got the other son married to a princess of a neighboring kingdom, by sheer exhibition of his valor and might, and himself remaining unmarried as he vowed before. After the death of his father, Bhishma had placed his cousin, Sathyavathi’s son on the throne of Hasthinapura as per his vow and served the new king as the Supreme Royal Advisor.
The new king had three sons Pandu, Dhritharashtra and Vidur, but died after ruling for about seven years. Pandu had two wives and five sons collectively known as the Pandavas but he also died early due to some cursed physical ailment. Dhritharashtra was born blind and had 100 sons and one daughter collectively known as Kauravas (or Kurus) through a wife who voluntarily blind-folded herself not to see any light which her husband was unable to see. Vidur was a well knowledged and just person. Under all these circumstances, Bhishma was once again left with a heavy responsibility of looking after the widows, young princes, and the kingdom of Hastinapur.
Bhishma installed Dhritharashtra as the logical interim king of Hastinapur until the eldest son of Pandu, Yudhishtara, would come of age to ascend the throne of Hastinapur and he himself once again worked in the role of Supreme Royal Advisor. However, when the appropriate time had come, Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhrtharashtra would not allow Pandu’s son to ascend the throne of Hastinapura and carved out a separate kingdom of Indraprashtha for the Pandavas to rule. As the Pandavas were flourishing rapidly, Duryodhana became envious and desired to occupy Indraprashta also by defeating Yudhishtara.
He therefore invited Yudhistara for a game of dice and in connivance with a wicked uncle defeated him by foul means. Consequently, the Pandavas had to abandon all the rights on their kingdom and went into an exile for a period of thirteen years. During this period of turmoil there were several episodes when Bhishma had strongly opposed several acts of Duryodhana and his father Dhrtharahtra, but it was all in vain. However he remained loyal to the throne of Hastnapura and continued as its Chief of Armed Forces and strategic advisor, though personally he was very sympathetic to the Pandavas and always admired them and wished them success and prosperity.  

During this period, the king of Mathura, Krishna, who was considered a divine
incarnation became friend and relative of the Pandavas. On several occasions he protected them from their troubles and tribulations. He even acted as an ambassador for peace with the Kauravas but could not succeed. Hence in the end a battle ensued with Krishna leading the forces on the Pandava’s side and Bhishma leading on the Kaurava’s side. It was during this war that Lord Krishna revealed himself as the entire COSMOS and gave to the world the eternal song of Bhagavad-Gita which was the guiding light for all of humanity.

During this war several famous heroes had fallen and at last it was felt that the war could not be won by the Pandavas as long as Bhishma was in command on the other side. So at one time the Pandavas approached the ‘Grand Sire’ and begged him to guide them for victory. Bhishma pointed out that if he were to face anybody born a woman and comes to the battle field, he would lay down his arms. On hearing this, the Pandavas brought Shikandi who obtained knighthood even though born a woman, to fight alongside of Arjuna. When Bhishma laid down his arms, Arjuna wounded him with his arrows. But as per the blessings of his father death did not come to Bhishma until he desired it, so he waited until an auspicious day, and on a bed of arrows, and by the side of a spring of water created by Arjuna, he finally reached the heavenly abode at his own will. This is the story of the Mahabharata in nutshell.

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