Significance of Bhishma Ashtami
Bhishma was the son of Kuru king Shantanu and Goddess Ganga. Shantanu had granted a boon to Bhishma that he could choose his own death. He had taken a vow of celibacy and dedicated his entire life to his kingdom.
Bhishma Ashtami is dedicated to Bhishma, a warrior, who died in the Kurukshetra war. Bhishma, also known as 'Ganga Putra’ or 'Bhishma Pitamaha' died on Uttarayana, i.e. on the day when Lord Surya started moving towards north, after completion of Dakshiyana. As per the Hindu calendar, his death anniversary is commemorated as Bhishma Ashtami, which falls on Ashtami of Shukla Paksha in the month of Magha. It is believed that a person who dies during Uttarayana goes straight to heaven.
Bhishma Ashtami date and time
Bhishma Ashtami on Saturday, January 28, 2023
Madhyahna Time - 11:44 AM to 01:59 PM
Duration - 02 Hours 15 Mins
Ashtami Tithi Begins - 08:43 AM on Januaryy 28, 2023
Ashtami Tithi Ends - 09:05 AM on January 29, 2023
Bhishma Ashtami puja, rituals and mantra
- Ekodishta Shraddha and tarpan is observed to honour Bhishma. Devotees whose fathers are no more can perform this ritual.
- A holy bath known as Bhisma Ashtami snan is taken. People take a holy dip in the Ganga river and make offerings of rice and sesame seeds.
- Tarpan rituals are performed on the river banks to bring peace to Bhishma Pitamah's soul.
- Devotees observe a fast during the day, perform ‘Arghyam’ and chant Bhishma Ashtami mantra.
On the day of Bhishma Ashtami, “Vasunaamavtaraya Shantanoraatmajanaya ch argyam dadami Bhishmaya Aa Balabrahmacharine mantra is chanted. Devotees offer sesame, flowers, ganga water and kusha to seek blessings.
This is the first sub-parva of Bhishma Parva. The Parva begins with an encounter of the Pandavas and the Kauravas agreeing to the rules of the war. Since Dhritarashtra was blind, Veda Vyasa granted Dhritarashtra the boon of eyesight. So that he could witness the destruction of the the world. However, Dhritarashtra remained futile. Later, Sanjaya, son of charioteer Gavalgana, an advisor from the ancient Mahabharata war, wwas also asked to described the world in the Parvas which finds mention in the Bhumi Parva.
The sixth Parva of Mahabharata is known as Bhishma Parva. It is a narrative of the first 10 days events of the 18-day-long Kurukshetra battle fought between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
The Bhumi Parva is the shortest sub-parva of the Bhishma Parva. Through this Parva, Sanjaya describes the rivers, landscapes and the mountains. The narration also includes the popular cities of Manga, Masaka, Mandaga and Maanasa. The Brahmins and the Kshatriyas lived harmoniously in these cities, thus proving to the world that the subjects could live and prosper together without being reigned by the kings. Sanjaya also described the waxing and waning of the Moon and it effects on the sea tides.
Bhagavad Gita Parva
The Bhagavad Gita Parva is the most famous Parva in the Mahabharata. It is the best part of the entire Mahabharata since it bestows welfare to all of mankind.As stated in the Parva, the first day of the war commences under the leadership of Bhishma. Yudhishthira was concerned after learning about the magnanimous size of the Kaurava army. However, Arjuna was convinced that victory in a war does not depend on the size of the army, but on the motive of the war.
Arjuna was conflicted when he saw his family members and friends on the other side of the army. Since he was assigned the responsibility of killing his own cousins, with whom he had shared a beautiful childhood. He wondered if the cause and the need for war was justified. He approached Lord Krishna to resolve his dilemma. Lord Krishna talked about Karma Yoga,i.e selfless devotion to dharma. He preached to Arjuna that a Karma Yogi always follows his dharma under all circumstances without concerning oneself with the results. These words of wisdom spoken by Lord Krishna is the very basis of the Bhagavad Gita.
Just before the historic war began, Yudhishthira got off his chariot, took off his armour, walked up to the Kauravas, and bowed his head in front of them. Bhishma was stunned by the respect given by the brothers, on both the ends, and they wished them success. The other generals were overwhelmed and their eyes were filled with tears and a deep sense of respect for the Pandavas.
Bhishmayadha Parva is the last Parva which spans across 82 chapters. The Bhishmayadha Parva provides an intricate account of the first ten days of the 18–day long battle. The first day of the war caused massive destruction. Bhishma was engaged in a long battle with Arjuna’s son,Abhimanyu, However, it resulted in a draw. On the first day of the battle, King Shalya, the ruler of Madra kingdom who was on the side of the Kauravas, killed Uttara. Sweta,t he son of King Virata and Queen Sudeshna of Matsya kingdom killed innumerable Kauravas. Sweta was killed by Bhishma at the end of the first day. When the second day of the war began, Bhishma was engaged in a furious battle with Arjuna, which ended in a draw. Bhishma slayed the Kalinga king on the second day of the war. By the 9th day, 100 million warriors were killed. Bhishma attempted getting killed at the hands of Krishna, since he knew that dying at the hands of Lord Krishna would secure him a place in heaven.
At the end of the 9th day, the Pandavas failed to figure out a way to overpower Bhishma. So, the Pandavas approached Bhishma to plan a stategy against him. Bhishma insisted that the only way to stop him was to place him in front of Shikhandi, the daughter of Drupada, the king of the Panchalas. Bhishma had taken a vow that he would never strike at a woman and he accepted defeat on the battlefield.
Benefits of Bhishma Ashtami vrat
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- Blesses the person with good progene.
- The puja, tila tarpan and vrat absolves the individual from all sins.
- Bhishma was a Brahmachari. Therefore, doing tarpan invokes the blessings of God.
- Bhishma Ashtami vrat and tarpan frees a person from pitru dosha.
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