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Bhishma - The Cursed Child Of Ganga

Bhishma – The Cursed Child Of Ganga

Mahabharata is remembered for various righteous and noble characters. One of the characters that would always come top in the list of righteousness is Bhishma, also known as Devavrata. Devavrata was born to Ganga and Shantanu. Shantanu had married Ganga and she agreed to marry him on one condition. Shantanu would never question Ganga for her actions.

Ganga gave birth to 7 sons and drowned each of them in the river. Shantanu never questioned these actions but was highly infuriated. When the eighth child was born, Shantanu stopped Ganga and asked her the reason why she is doing so. Ganga was angry that Shantanu broke his promise and she had to break the marriage. Ganga then explained the curse that both had received in the previous birth and how their eight children are born to suffer on Earth. Bhishma was the eighth child. He was saved by Shantanu just to see a life of misery and trouble ahead of him.

After his birth, Ganga took Devavrata to heaven and gave him the best education he could ever receive. He was trained by the mighty Parashurama in the skills of war and martial arts. He was trained by the sages like Shukracharya, Shankaracharya, Brihaspati, Markandeya, and every other renowned sage that was considered the highest in their knowledge taught Bhishma. Indra also bestowed celestial weapons to him. After his training and education was complete, Bhishma had to return to earth and live with his father, leaving his mother in heaven.

Bhishma returned to earth and one day, while he was practising his archery skills and playing with Ganga, Shantanu spotted him. Unaware of the truth, Shantanu asked him how could he stop Ganga with his arrows and what made him give these powers. Bhishma revealed the truth and Ganga also appeared to confirm it. She played her role in making her husband and son meet and then took a heartfelt return to heaven.

Shantanu was extremely pleased and happy to have his son back. His joy seemed no limit and he soon wanted to bestow the kingdom to Bhishma and gave him the throne. His coronation was soon approaching when Bhishma figured out that something worried his father. Shantanu had fallen in love with Satyavati. Bhishma went to Satyavati and asked the reason of his father’s grief. Satyavati told him about the condition she would marry him with. He renounced his kingdom, took the oath of celibacy when he heard the condition and made the couple marry.

He got the name ‘Bhishma’ because of this terrible oath he takes. This oath leads him to reject Ambalika, who is later reborn as Shikhandi to take her revenge. Bhishma always favoured the right and was in support of Pandavas but because of his loyalty towards Hastinapur, he had to fight from the side of Kauravas. Shikhandi managed to injure him and Arjuna killed him with a rain of arrows. He also had a boon that he could die whenever he wanted to and he used that when Shikhandi had injured him. Bhishma requested Arjuna to give him a noble death. Arjuna did so and thus Bhishma met his end after a life full of miseries and troubles.

Click here to read about Shantanu – The Estranged Husband.

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