Devavrata’s Early Life and Bhishma Pratigya
Devavrata is commonly known as Bhishma. He was the most illustrious man of his times. Devavrata was also known as Bhishma Pitamaha and Gangaputra Bhishma. He is the eighth son of Kuru King Shantanu and Goddess Ganga. He took human form due to a curse. To read curse of Astavasu please read https://animatedwater.com/2020/08/09/ashtavasu-previous-birth-of-bhishma/.
Once King Shantanu met an incredibly beautiful woman on the banks of river Ganga, he proposed her for marriage. That lady was none other than goddess Ganga. Ganga consented to marry King Shantanu but with one condition that the king would never question about her actions after marriage. King in his blind love for Ganga agreed to her condition without thinking about its implication and soon they both were married. It was a perfect marriage. After a year Ganga gave birth to a son, King was extremely jubilant with the arrival of the crown prince, but the happiness did not last long. As soon as Ganga delivered the baby, she took the child and threw the baby into the river Ganga thus drowning the newborn. She then returned to the palace without any remorse. King was taken back by this strange behaviour of Ganga but could not utter a word due to the promise made to Ganga.
As years passed Ganga gave birth to 6 more sons, she did the same as she did for their first son. As soon as the child was born, she would throw the baby into river Ganga, killing the newborn child. King could not stop her due to the fear of losing her. When the eighth child was born, she took the newborn towards river Ganga, This time king could not hold himself, he stopped her from drowning the child to which Ganga agreed, she then explained curse of Brahma given to her and King Mahabhisha (previous birth of Shantanu) and explained the curse of Astavasu by Sage Vasishtha was their eight children who were eight Vasus. Ganga said she would take this newborn child along with her to heaven and train him properly for the King’s throne. Saying these words, Ganga disappeared along with the child leaving behind a broken King.
Ganga ascended to heaven with the child and named him Devavrata. He got training from all eminent sages. Devavrata learnt Shastras from Sage Brihaspati, Shukracharya taught him political science, Markandeya Rishi taught him duties of the Yatis, Vashishta taught him Vedas and Vedangas, Indra gave him celestial weapons and warfare from Parashurama. Devavrata became the most knowledgeable souls on Earth. He became an unparalleled archer, and he even defeated his Guru Parashurama once. Devavrata also had a boon that he would be virtuous, conversant with all the holy scriptures.
Several years passed since Ganga took Devavrata from Shantanu. Ganga took him to different realms and trained him for the King’s throne of Hastinapur. Once, while Shantanu was walking along the bank of river Ganga, he suddenly noticed the river had become shallow. While searching for the cause he came across a handsome boy who had checked the river’s flow using a wall of arrows. However, Shantanu did not recognize him, Just then Goddess Ganga appeared in front of him and introduced Shantanu to his son Devavrata she told Shantanu to take him to Hastinapura. After handing Devavrath to king Shantanu, Ganga disappeared. Shantanu was extremely happy after listening that Devavrath got his education from all the best teachers. Shantanu took the boy along with him to his capital Hastinapura there he made him as the heir-apparent to the throne. Devavrath was learned, skillful, gentle and obedient son. Devavrata had all the quality fit to be the king, he never exhibited passion and angry, he was well-disciplined and never ran away from any of his duties. Soon he became a favourite among his subjects. Devavrath was the rightful person to the throne of Hastinapur but his stars were not in favor of it.
Once Shantanu was walking along the bank of river Yamuna he was drawn from sweet scent coming from an unknown direction while searching for the source of that scent he came across Satyavati from whom the smell of scent was coming. Satyavati was adopted daughter of the Dasraj chief of the fishermen. The fisherman was also ferryman, he used to ferry people from one end to the other end of river Yamuna. Fisherwoman Satyavati used to help her father in operating boats across river Yamuna. King Shantanu found himself in love with Satyavati. Shantanu approached Dasraj with a marriage proposal. The chief of the fishermen who agreed on the condition that the son born to his daughter should become the next king. King Shantanu was unable to meet this condition as it would be unfair to Devavrath, so he came back to Hastinapur with a heavy heart.
Watching his father suffering from terrible pain Devavrath came to know the cause of his father’s morosity, so he went to meet Dasraj asking him to give consent to marry his daughter to his father but, chieftain again repeated his condition. Devavrath vowed that he will renounce all his claim to the throne. At this, Satyavati’s father retorted that even if Devavrath gave up his claim to the throne, Devavrata’s children would still claim the throne, so chieftain wanted to ensure that there is no other claimant to the throne. Devavrata pledged a terrible vow of celibacy (Brahmacarya means non-indulgence in sexual activity) for his entire lifetime. He also vowed he would serve faithfully and see his father’s image in whoever sat on the King’s throne. At this remark, heaven showered flowers on him calling him Bhishma. Bhishma means a person who takes a terrible oath and who fulfills it. Dasraj immediately agreed to the marriage of Satyavati and Shantanu. When Shantanu came to know about Devavrata’s oath, he was shocked at the intensity of his oath and impact of it but gave in to his sons wish and he granted his son the boon of Ichcha Mrityu (control over his death, he could choose the time of his death or he may remain immortal till he desires). Bhishma was always known for Power, Wisdom, Courage, Nobility and Sacrifice.