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7-The Importance of Food

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7-The Importance of Food
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Bheeshm was the son of Raajaa Shaantanu of Hastinaapur and Gangaa. In fact he was incarnation of the eighth Vasu who was cursed by Vashishth Jee for stealing his Kaamdhenu cow to please his wife who in turn wanted to give her to her friend. Although all the eight Vasu were cursed to take birth on Prithvi, but since this eighth Vasu actually stole the cow, he was not pardoned. So the other seven Vasu did take birth on Prithvi but left the world as soon as they were born, but since he had to stay on Prithvi, he was saved by breaking the vow Raajaa Shaantanu took to marry Gangaa. Gangaa promised all the Vasu to give birth on Prithvi and then give Mukti to them. Gangaa took this eighth child with her and got him educated him by many well-know Rishi, like Brihaspati, Parashuraam etc.

Bheeshm was a great Gyaanee, a man of wisdom, and also a man of great renunciation (Mahaa Tyaagee). Shree Raam obeyed his father's words only for 14 years but Bheeshm stuck to his father's words for the rest of his entire life. By his great determination and strict observance of his vows, he got his name Bheeshm. Such a great hero he was. He was wounded by Arjun's arrows and as a result, fell down in the battlefield on the 10 day of the Kurukshetra war. Due to his own grave determination, even at the critical period of the fag end of his life, he was lying on a bed of arrows. After the war when the Paandav brothers and Draupadee approached the grandsire Bheeshm to pay their homage, he began explaining to them all aspects of Dharm (Righteousness) from his bed of arrows.

After hearing him for a while, Draupadee burst into laughter. All the Paandav brothers were very much upset by her unaccountable levity and conceding it as an affront to the respectable Bheeshm, they frowned upon her with angry looks. Understanding their distress, Bheeshm calmed them down with his soft words and told them that Draupadee, being an exemplary woman in every respect, must be having a valid reason for her laughter. She replied, "Revered Grandsire! These lessons of Dharm which you should have taught to the evil minded and wicked Kaurav, you are now teaching to my noble and virtuous husbands. This appears to me both ironical and futile, hence, I could not refrain from laughing, although I knew it would seem impolite."

Bheeshm then explained that he had been serving the Kaurav and living on their bounty. He said - "As a result of consuming the food received from such ignoble and vicious persons, my blood became polluted and all the pure thoughts in me were thereby suppressed. Now that Arjun's arrows have drained away all my impure blood from my body, the Dharm that was deep inside me is gushing forth and is inducing me to communicate it to your husbands". From this episode, students must realize the crucial role food plays in determining one's thoughts, words and actions.

Bheeshm adored Krishn even when He was rushing towards him with His Sudarshan Chakra. His sense of Sharanaagati (Total surrender to Divinity) did not desert him at the point of death at the hands of the very person whom he revered as God. "Kill me or save me, I shall not falter in my loyalty", he said. The noble heroic warrior Bheeshm waited for 56 days on the bed of arrows in the battle field so that he could give up his life in Uttaraayan.

When you crave for the thought of the Lord and the company of the Godly, then you are in  Uttaraayan. Bheeshm too was in that mood. He prayed, "Asato maa Sadgamaya" (from this transient world of decay, lead me to the everlasting world of bliss) "Tamaso maa Jyotirgamaya" (give me the effulgence of Thy Grace and illumine my soul with truth), "Mrityormaa Amritam Gamaya" (save me from the torture of birth and death, destroy the cravings of the mind which produce the seeds of birth). That prayer and that yearning of Bheeshm gave him the vision of Krishn when he passed away. That was the real Uttaraayan for him.

Whatever the trouble, however great the travail, persist and win the same by means of Smaran, (remembrance). Remember Bheeshm! Though prostrate on a bed of arrows he bore the pain patiently, awaiting the dawn of the auspicious moment; he never called out to God in his agony, asking Him to put an end to his sufferings. "I shall bear everything, whatever the pain, however long the agony. I shall be silent until the moment comes. Take me when it dawns" he said, for Bheeshm was the chief among the saints Bhakt (saints and devotees).

Bheeshm, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Kaurav forces in the Mahaabhaarat war for 10 long days, was 126 years old at that time. He lived a pure celibate life, making a great sacrifice for the sake of his father.

Bheeshm took a vow of life-long celibacy to enable his father to marry the woman whom he desired, whose father insisted that the son born to her should be the heir to the throne. Bheeshm not only renounced his title to the throne but also took the vow of celibacy to ensure that he would leave no progeny to claim the right. After he fell in the battle he lay on a bed of arrows for 56 days for the auspicious moment of the northward motion of the Sun to give up his life. He had such will power that he could bear any amount of personal suffering. He spent his last days imparting the highest wisdom to the Paandav.


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Created by Sushma Gupta On 03/09/02
Modified on 10/05/13