His Story

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bhisma's Wisdom

Generations in India have adored the epic figure, Bhisma, of the Mahabharata for his mighty deeds as well as his glorious qualities.Though renouncing the fulfillment of earthly love, he is renowned for his steady adhering to all the noble principles of life.
Bhisma's terrible vow of celibacy won him the name, which striked terror in the hearts of the enemies of Hastinapur. True to his vow, and as a warrior and upholder of the Kshatriya Dharma - he is as hard as ice. But he is also a sage, much known for his wisdom and upheld in great esteem by the Pandavas. As the most glorious and longest living mortal of his time, Bhisma is respected by everyone. However, it was tragic that Bhisma's vow of defending the prevailing King of Hastinapur forced him to fight against his own grandsons, the Pandavas, whom he had held in his hands as babies and showered love and affection. The intensity and ferocity with which Bhisma fought was only blunted and stopped by another of his vow: not fighting against women. In the end, Arjuna had to use this vow to stop his beloved grand sire's ferocious fight.
This particular dialogue between Bhisma and Yudhisthira begins, at the end of 18 day long Mahabharata war, with Bhisma laying on a bed of arrows. Krishna asks Bhisma to share all his timeless wisdom with Yudhisthira, to which he readily agreed. In the epic, this section is one of the voluminous one, with Bhisma teachings convering every expanse of human life. Here, it is presented in condensed form. Credit to Graham Bond.

 Bowing to his beloved Grand Sire, Yudhisthira began
"Please tell me, O son of Ganga, all that which you wish me to know
Honor us with the rich wisdom of all your long years, before you depart.
Can I question you on matters close to my heart?"
Bhisma nodded.

On Attaining the Highest Good
Yudhisthira began " Oh Grand sire, how can one attain the highest good?"
Bhisma replied, "One who practices universal compassion, and
Who controls lust, anger, greed attains to the highest success,
And the highest good of the human life."

The one who regards all creatures as part of his own self,
And practicses the divine virtue of universal compassion,
Leaving aside the vindictive rod of chastisement,
And subjugates his anger, will succeed to attain happiness.

On the Best Friendship
"O Sire", Yudhisthira asked, "Please tell me who is truly one's friend"
Bhisma replied,"One is born alone, O King, and one dies alone
One crosses alone through the difficulties provided to us to learn by.
No-one can really share the joy or misery destiny brings forth to us.

After one dies, one's body is abandoned by relatives and friends.
Only righteousness remains to comfort the soul.
So it is Plain that only righteousness is the only friend.
And that righteousness should be sought by all.

Between the righteous, friendship springs up, even though they
only exchange seven words or walk seven steps.
But friendship with the unrighteous is like sleeping with a snake.
One is inflicted with the poison of unrighteousness goes to hell.

On the Transmigration of the Soul
King Yudhisthira asked, "Is the Soul destroyed by death?",
Bhisma replied,"The moon, on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight,
cannot be seen, however can you say that it has been destroyed?
The conscious soul is eternal, experiencing time and space.

When liberated from the body, it cannot be seen.
But like waxing moon, it obtains a new body and manifests once again.
Governed by the consequences of the many actions it has performed,
it takes up a body suitable to reap the fruits of those actions.

On seeing the Self
Yudhisthira replied, "So how can one obtain the eye to see the soul"
Bhishma answered, "If the soul is freed from the anxieties of desire,worry and fear
Then the soul can be seen through the eyes of understanding awakened by grace.
Like an image in a reflecting in a still pond, the Self reveals to himself to oneself.

Only a snake can see the legs that carry another snake,
One with a inner vision can see the energy of the subtle worlds.
True happiness comes in the contemplation of the spiritual realm,
And the Self reveals himself to the unperturbed soul of unwavering intent.

Blessed are those who cultivate a still mind and restrain their senses,
Through grace and practice, one obtains the eye which can see the inner Self.
Bhisma then paused, and then turned within to savour the experience he had just described,
And Yudhisthira watched in amazement.

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