What is Bhishma Ashtami?
Bhishma Ashtami takes place at the time of Uttarayan which is the time when the Sun starts with its northward movement which is also the holy half of the year. Bhishma Ashtami is regarded as one of the most auspicious and fortunate days which signifies the death of Bhishma Pitamah. It was a day that was chosen by Bhishma himself to leave his body. Even after getting defeated on the battlefield, he remained on the bed of arrows waiting to relieve his body on the fortunate day of Uttarayan.
What Are The Other Names of Bhishma?
The original name of Bhishma was Devavrata which was given at the time of his birth. The other popular names of Bhishma were Bhishma Pitamah, Ganga Putra Bhishma, Shantanava and Gauranga.
What is The Significance of Bhishma Ashtami?
Bhishma Ashtami is considered as a very fortunate day which is highly favorable for performing auspicious activities. It is a vital day for eliminating the Pitru dosha by performing the necessary rituals. Even the childless couple keeps a strict fast and performs Bhishma Ashtami puja to get blessed with a son. The devotees believe that if they get the divine blessings of Bhishma Pitamah on this particular day then they are likely to have a male child who possesses good character and high obedience.
What Are The Rituals of Bhishma Ashtami?
- On the eve of Bhishma Ashtami, the devotees perform Ekodishta Shraddha. As per the Hindu scriptures and mythology, it is believed that people who do not have their fathers alive can only perform this Shraddha. But in some communities and religion, such condition is not followed and the ritual is followed by anyone irrespective of the fact that their father is alive or dead.
- On this particular day, the devotees practice tarpan on the banks of holy rivers which is called as Bhishma Ashtami Tarpanam. The ritual is done in the name of Bhishma Pitamah and the ancestors of the observer for the peace of their souls.
- A holy bath is another important ritual which is performed by the devotees on this day. Taking a dip in the sacred rivers is considered highly auspicious. Observers are required to offer sesame seeds and boiled rice in the sacred river.
- The devotees also observe a fast of Bhishma Ashtami in order to pay tribute to Bhishma Pitamah where they also take a Sankalp (vow), perform Arghyam (holy ceremony) and recite Bhishma Ashtami Mantra.
How Bhishma Ashtami is Celebrated?
The celebrations of Bhishma Ashtami takes place in various regions of the nation. In all the ISKCON temples as well as in the temples of Lord Vishnu, grand festivity takes place in the honor of Bhishma Pitamah. In the states of Bengal, the devotees perform special rituals and puja on this occasion.
What are The Benefits of Performing Bhishma Ashtami Puja and Vrat?
- According to the legends, it is believed that by performing the Bhishma Ashtami Puja and observing a fast on this particular day, the devotees are blessed with honest and obedient children.
- By performing the various rituals including fast, tarpan and puja on the eve of Bhishma Ashtami, the devotees get rid of their past and present sins and blessed with good fortune.
- It also helps people in getting relieved from Pitru Dosha.
What Are The Teachings of Bhishma Pitamah?
During the time when Bhishma was waiting to let the sun start its journey to the northern hemisphere, he gave some important and significant lessons to Yudhishthir. Some of his great teachings include the following:
- Learn to get free from anger and forgive people to attain peace
- All tasks and work should be complete as the incomplete work denotes negativity
- Avoid getting attached to things and people
- Dharma should always come first.
- Work hard, protect all and be compassionate
What is the Bhishma Ashtami Vrat Story?
Bhishma was the eighth son of Goddess Ganga and King Shantanu whose original name was Devavrata which was given at the time of his birth. To make his father happy and for his sake, Devavrata pursued celibacy for life-long. Devavrata was primarily nurtured by Maa Ganga and was later sent to Maharishi Parshuram for attaining Shastra Vidhya. He acquired great fighting skills and learnings under the guidance of Shukracharya and became invincible.
After completing his education, Goddess Ganga brought Devavrata to his father, King Shantanu and then he was declared as the Prince of Hastinapur. During this time, King Shantanu fell in love with a woman named Satyavati and wanted to marry her. But Satyavati’s father agreed to the alliance on one condition that the offsprings of King Shantanu and Satyavati will be the one ruling the kingdom of Hastinapur in future.
Seeing the situation, Devavrata for the sake of his father gave away his kingship and took a vow to remain a bachelor throughout his life. Because of such resolution and sacrifice, Devavrata was revered by the name Bhishma. And his pledge was called as Bhishma Pratigya.
Seeing all this, King Shantanu was very much pleased with Bhishma and thus he bestowed him with a boon of Iccha Mrityu (to die only when he himself wished to die). During his lifetime, Bhishma gained huge respect and recognition as Bhishma Pitamaha.
In the battle of Mahabharata, he stood along with Kauravas and supported them all through. Bhishma Pitamah had taken a pledge to not fight with Shikhandi and not wield any sort of weapon against him. King Arjuna attacked Bhishma by standing behind Shikhandi and therefore Bhishma got injured and fell down on the bed of arrows.
As per the Hindu beliefs, it is believed that the one who leave his body on the auspicious day of Uttarayan attain Moksha (salvation) thus, he waited for a number of days on the bed of arrows and finally left his body on the day of Uttarayan which is now celebrated as Bhishma Ashtami.
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