Bhishma’s love

23 Jan

Bhagavath Gunas and Bhagavatha Gunas are the two means to cleanse one’s heart. It is said in Srimad Bhagavatam that any Sadhana is performed with only one intention which is verily the destruction of the mind – “Sarve Mano Nigraha lakshanantah paro hi yogo manasah samAdhih”. A question may arise that if the mind has to be destroyed then why should it be cleansed and purified?  Destruction of vasanas will lead to the complete subjugation of the mind. Until the mind is purified it cannot be destroyed. The mind is made one-pointed by purification. Only a one-pointed mind can be destroyed. The beauty in the path of Bhakti is that the Sadhana is carried out until the mind is one-pointed and the destruction of the mind happens automatically and the end of the Sadhana is itself destruction. The perfect example is Bheesmacharya. Dharmaputra had a little bit of doubt in his mind and was unable to justify the war. Lord Krishna looked at Dharmaputra and advised him to do a Yagna. Interestingly when Arjuna was also in a state of quandary, the lord gave the Bhagavad Gita and ordained him to fight the battle. In the case of Yudishtira, he is ingrained in dharma and Shastras and goes by the book. To absolve the sins accrued during a war, one has to perform Yagnas to cleanse themselves from the bad sins.  Krishna thus helped Yudhistira to perform three Rajasuya Yagas. Even after performing them, Yudistira was not convinced verily because one has to practice Dharma to experience it. When one goes based on logic and tries to explain it, he will go nowhere. One has to go through the experience of Dharma in order to get the benefit of it and hence Upanishads say – “Dharmam chara”; Do the dharma and don’t analyze and talk about it. When the dharma is done with faith and perseverance, one is bound to reap the fruits. These facts are inexplicable and the pramAnam is only in the shastras.  In one of Sri Swamiji’s kirtan – ‘Muzumadhi nilavu nee chakorai paravai nan .. anbhulla nAyagan nee Asai nAyaki nAn ..’- (Karunai ondre adhAramam kirtan”) The Chakora bird always yearns for the moon and desires to drink from the moon, whereas the Moon never cares for this bird and Sri Swamiji sings — “You are the one who can shower only love whereas all I have is only a liking for you!!. The term ‘Asai’ connotes ‘liking to something’ and this always comes with a clause of expecting something in return. Asai is different from love. The lord always wants to shower his grace without any condition. The grace [karunai] always flows from a higher plane to a lower plane. Ramana Maharishi in one of his works begins with the word ‘Karunai’ and he compares grace to a waterfall – ‘karunai endra endra neer vezchi” since grace is always from a higher to a lower plane.


When one adheres to a dharma as prescribed in the shastras and end with ‘Narayananethi samarpayami”, the lord out of his sheer compassion bestows the fruits of that dharma. 


“yatha pankena pankambhaha surayA va surAkrutham”. [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.52]

King Yudishtira confides in the lord that by performing Rajasuya Yuga one cannot counteract the sin of killing men in battle akin to how a wine-bottle cannot be cleansed with wine.

Hearing this Lord Krishna decided that he himself cannot give a solution, verily because the lord is the king of all Dharmas – “Dharmasya prabhur achuyataha”, who bestows the results of all these dharmas.

In order to instill convinction in Dharamaputra’s dharma, the lord decided to take Yudishtira, the epitome of Dharma-Bheeshmacharya.  

“Anva gachan ratair vipraha vyasa boumya dayasthada”

Sage Veda Vyasa and Sage Dhaumya, who are the revered Gurus of the Pandavas accompany them to have the darshan of Bheesma. Since Lord Krishna is Arjuna’s chauffeur, he drove the chariot and took the Pandavas to Kurukshetra where Bheesma was lying in a bed of arrows.

“Bhagavan api viprarse rathe na sae dhanjayaha”

 Sage Suta also comes to witness this great scene along with other great Rishis verily because, the embodiment of dharma, the knower of Dharmas and the fruit-giver of Dharmas all confluence. There cannot be a better way to understand the nuances of dharma [dharma sukshmam]. Bheesma offered his obeisance to everyone out there.

“tam samEthan mahabhagAn upalabhya vasOthama”
“pojayamAsa dharamagnayO desha kAla vibhA gavaith”
 “Krishnam cha that prabhA yagna aAsinam jagadhishwaram”
“hridistam poojayamasam mAyayopAthavikraham” [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.9.10-11]

 Bheeshma, is verily the knower of all dharmas [poojayamasa dharmagnya], has to inturn offer his obeisance to everyone who has come to meet him. But due to the constraints of place, time [desha kala vibhagavaith], he cannot prostrate to everyone. Our dharmas have clearly mentioned when, where and how one should prostrate.   So Bheesma offered his prostrations with his hand while for some he showed his respect through his eyes and to Lord Krishna, he offered his respects through his mind [manas]. The window to one’s heart is verily the eyes and Bheesma’s eyes were completely inundated with tears.  He then looks at Lord Krishna and requests him to wipe the tears from his eyes and Krishna carried out his devotee’s request. Bheesma’s eyes then spotted the Pandavas and only after Krishna wiped out the tears from his eyes, which were the “tears of Maya”,Bheesma  perceived the Pandavas as great Bhagavatas instead of looking at them as his own grand-children.

“abhyachakshAn ragadacihi  andhi bhOteshu shakshusha”

pAṇḍu puthrAn upAsInAn prashraya prema sangatAn
abhyAchaṣṭAnurAgAsrair andhIbhUtena chakṣuṣA [srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.11]

Bheema then looked at the Pandavas through his true eyes bereft of the Maya that was covering his eyes.  He then cried looking at their plight. Oh Pandavas, “Despite being the incarnation of Dharmas, You endured (underwent) so much pain. You have always stood by dharma and had so much respect for the Brahmanas and in spite of Lord Krishna being on your side, you all have undergone so much pain”.  The pain you have undergone is due to fate [kala] which verily controls everyone and that it is irresistible and verily controlling everyone.

sarvam kAla kṛutam manyE bhavatam cha yad apriyam
sapAlo yad vase lOkO vAyor iva ghanAvaliḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.14]

Inspite of being blessed with power, knowledge, valor (parakrama) and adhering to dharma the Pandavas had to endure suffering, which was verily due to time [kala].

yatra dharma sutho rAjA  gadhA pAṇir vṛukOdaraḥ
kṛiṣhṇO strI gAṇḍivam chApam suhṛt kṛiṣhṇAs tatho vipat [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.15]

Bheesma, beholding the Pandavas as Maha Bhagavatas, says” Don’t think that the controller of time is somewhere in the sky. He is verily standing in front of you”.  He further added that he was verily the charioteer [sArathim], the one who introduced himself as a younger-cousin [mAtuleyam] to Dharmaputra, as a friend [mitram] to Arjuna, the secretary, well-wisher [sauhrudAd] and messenger[dhUtam] to the Pandavas.

 yam manyase mAtuleyam priyam mitram suhṛttamam
akaroḥ sacivam dhUtam sauhṛdAd atha sArathim [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.20]

 Even though Lord Krishna held all these portfolios, none of them are true. The precept that is true about him is that he is present in everyone’s heart. He is verily the true in-dweller of everyone. He is omnipotent and omniscient but he is perceived as a friend, well-wisher and charioteer due to one’s ignorance.

 sarvAtmanaḥ sama dṛushO hy advayasyAnahankṛuteḥ
that kṛutam mati vaiṣhamyam niravAdyasya na kvacith [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.21]

 All along Bheesma empathized with the Pandavas and then he started to focus on his own self and began to whisper the below mentioned sloka glorifying the lord’s compassion [anukampA] to his unflinching devotees, since Lord Krishna came and stood before him in Kurukshetra when he is about to end his life.  Bheesma’s stuthi is very secretive like Vrithrasura.

tathApy ekAnta bhakteṣu pasya bhUpAnukampitam
yan mesUms tyajataḥ sAkṣhAt kṛiṣhṇo darshanam Agataḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.22]

 bhaktyAveshya mano Yasmin vAchA yan nAma kIrtayan
tyajan kalevaram yogI muchyate kAma karmabhiḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.23]

 The lord came running for the sake of Bheesma and his eyes were flooded with tears beholding the lord in front of him. The tears were not an artifact of Maya but due to sheer love for the lord (Prema) which Bheesma didn’t want to wipe off. With his eyes loaded with tears of Prema he was able to perceive the lord clearly.  Lord Krishna bestowed Bheesma alone with his beautiful four-handed and legs [Chathurbhuja] form with Shanka, Padma, Gadha and Lochana in his arms, with a pleasing face akin to the rising sun that was bound in the northward direction.  This form of the lord was only visible to Bheesma since he perceived the lord with tears of Prema.

sa deva devO bhagavAn pratIkṣatAm kalevaram yAvad idam hinomy aham
prasanna hAsAruṇa locanollasan mukhAmbujo dhyAna pathas chatur bhujaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.24]

 Bheeshma beholding Lord Krishna in this beautiful Chaturbhuja form embarked to expound on Dharma.

Yudhistira cleared his throat and requested Bheesma to expound on various Dharma, who was very glad to enlighten him with knowledge on Dharma.  This marks the beginning of Shantiparva where he began to talk about various Dharma- Dhana, Moksha,Sri and Bhagavath Dharmas and also expounded on the two divisions [lakshanas] of Vedas.

puruṣha sva bhAva vihitAn yathA varṇam yathAshramam
vairagya rAgopAdhibhyAm AmnAthoubhaya lakṣaṇAn [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.26]

 After delineating on the various Dharma, he bestowed Yudhistira with the greatest of the greatest Dharmas – ‘Sri Vishnu Sahasarnama”. The lord witnessed the whole scene and Bheesma looks at Yudhistira signaling the advent of Uttarayanam. For Bheesma, Uttarayanam is verily the auspicious time when Lord Krishna takes Bheesma unto him.

dharmam pravadatas tasya sa kAlaḥ pratyupasthitaḥ
yO yoginas chanda mṛuthyor vAnchitas uTttarAyaṇaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.29]

 Sage Suta mentioned that Bheesmacharya being a great Yogiswara to the world and generally they wait for Uttarayana to shed their mortal coil. After having said this, he immediately para-phrased his statement that it was only for Yogishwaras.

tadopasamhṛutya giraḥ sahasraṇIr vimukta sangam mana Adi pUruṣhe
kṛiṣhṇe lasat pIta paṭe chatur bhuje puraḥ sthite amilita dṛig vyadhArayat [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.30]

 vishuddhayA dhAraṇayA hatAshubha tad IkṣayaivAsu gatA yudha sramaḥ
nivṛitta sarvendriya vṛitti vibhramas tuṣhṭAva janyam visṛujan janArdanam [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.31]

Yogis transcend into Yoga Samadhi in a particular form (AsanA) in meditative state and shed their mortal coil. Bheesma couldn’t get into any particular form since he was in a bed of arrows. He specifically kept his eyes open, started to meditate and enjoyed every bit of Lord Krishna’s four-handed form, who was standing very close to him. He calmed down his senses and started to sing praise on Lord Krishna and said – ‘Iti’-thus.

 iti matir upakalpitA vitṛiṣhṇA bhagavati sAtvata pungave vibhUmni
sva sukham upagate kvachid vihartum prakṛitim upeyuṣi yad bhava pravAhaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.32]

The term ‘Iti’ is generally used as a concluding word. If we ponder why Bheesma used it as the first word, it is a wrap up of his entire life. It is verily the time to look back and offer everything in one’s life to the holy feet of Lord Krishna. He disclosed that everytime he had a wish, he turned it as affection and offered it to Lord Krishna [upakalpitA vitṛiṣhṇA].  Whenever one encountered a desire [trhishnA], Bheesma advises the desire to be turned towards Lord Krishna [Krishna trishnA] and by doing this, one’s mind is bound to become pure. The pure and pristine mind can then be given to the Lord in a divine marriage. The first sloka of Bheesma stuti marks that divine marriage. A true Brahmachari is one who controls his senses and offers them to Lord Krishna. The next seven slokas is Sapthapathi and the remaining slokas refer to Bheesma’s divine darshan of Dhruva star. The Sapthapathi slokas are meant for Arjuna(Sakha).

Bheesma offers his mind, heart and bhakti to Lord Krishna thus making his life complete. By chanting the divine names of Lord Krishna, by reveling in the divine stories and kirtans of Lord Krishna will transform all the worldly-desires (trishnA) to Krishna trishnA. The first sloka of Bheesma Stuthi is the essence of the entire stuti akin to the first sloka of Vishnu Sahasarnamam.

The satsang concluded after reminisicing Bheesma’s Krishna bhakti.


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