Bhishma Ashtami: All You Need to Know!

Bhishma Ashtami falls on Ashtami Tithi of Shukla Paksha in Magha month. This year, it is going to be celebrated on February 19, 2021 i.e. Friday. As per Shastras, it is the very day when Bhishma Pitamah, one of the most prominent characters of Mahabharata, renounced his body.

In such a scenario, it is believed that one who worships Bhishma and performs his Tarpan with due rituals and a pious heart, is blessed with a brave and truthful son.  

Let us know who Bhishma Pitamah was and how he was blessed with an option to choose the time of his death.

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Who was Bhishma Pitamah?

Bhishma Pitamah, one of the most famous characters of Mahabharata, was Bal Brahmachari and an ancestor of Kauravas. His father’s name was Raja Shantanu and mother’s was Bhagwati Ganga. He was known as Devavrata at the time of his birth. Due to his devotion to his ancestors, he decided not to marry and remained Brahmachari throughout his life. He was blessed with an option to choose the time of his death. This is the very reason that he did not die despite being hit by several arrows of Arjuna in the battle of Mahabharata and remained laid on the pyre of arrows for 18 days. It is believed that he had an instinct that he would attain salvation (Moksha) if he would renounce his body on Ashtami Tithi of Shukla Paksha in Magha month.   

Bhishma Pitamah chose Magha Shukla Ashtami to renounce his body and by this time, Suryadev started moving back in the North direction or Uttarayana. This day is also celebrated in the form of Bhishma Ashtami and at some places, it is also known as Bhishma Nivaran Tithi.  

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Belief Associated Bhishma Ashtami

This day is considered to be highly significant. In this pretext, one who performs Tarpan of Bhishma Pitamah with grass, sesame and water, becomes free from Pitra Dosha and past sins of life. Also, he/she is blessed with a brave and truthful son.

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Religious Significance of Bhishma Ashtami

Bhishma Pitamah stood with Kauravas in the battle of Mahabharata and supported them whole-heartedly. He had resolved not to fight with Shikhandi and use any weapon against him. Then, Arjuna attacked him standing behind Shikhandi and thus, he got injured and laid on the bed of arrows. After being injured, he didn’t leave his body due to his boon and waited for the auspicious moment i.e the time of Uttarayan. Now, the day of Uttarayan is celebrated in the form of Bhishma Ashtami. As per Hindu beliefs, one who sacrifices his body on this very day, attains salvation (Moksha).     

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Story Pertaining to Bhishma Pitamah

Bhishma Pitamah is considered to be a deity in the form of a human being. He adhered himself to be a true Brahmachari and made his body pious through Yoga Vidhya. His father’s name was Raja Shantanu and mother’s was Bhagwati Ganga. Devi Ganga brought him with her at the behest of her husband and therefore, he was brought up by her and was handed over to his father after the completion of primary education. Then, Raja Shantanu declared him as prince (Yuvraj) of his empire.   

It is said that Maharaja Shantanu was fond of hunting. Once, he reached the banks of the river Ganga while hunting. When he was returning from there, he came across Matsyagandha (Satyawati), the daughter of Haridas Kewat. He was attracted by her beauty and therefore, he went to his father with the proposal of marriage.    

Matsyagandha’s father put forth a condition that the child of Matsyagandha would be the successor of Hastinapur in place of Devavrata. Raja Shantanu got astonished on hearing this and refused to accept his proposal and returned.

However, he was unable to forget her and remained disturbed in her remembrance. One day, Devavrata saw his father upset and asked the reason behind it. Then, Raja Shantanu narrated everything to his son. After this, Devavrata went to Haridas Kewat and took an oath not to marry throughout his life while having Gangajal in his palm and because of this very reason, he was known as Bhishma. On hearing all this, Raja Shantanu got highly pleased that he bestowed his son with the option of dying at his will. After the end of Mahabharata, he breathed his last after 18 days on the pyre of arrows.     

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