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Bhishma Asthami Day – 25 January 2018

Bhishma Asthami Day – 25 January 2018

Bhishma Asthami is one of the prominent Hindu events. It is observed once in a year. In 2018, it falls on the 25th of January. ‘Bhishma’ character is from the famous Hindu epic Mahabharat. Bhishma was known for his chivalry, valor, warrior, courage, bravery, skilled fighting, archer etc. Bhishma Asthami marks the time of the last breath of Bhishma. The Hindi-Sanskrit word ‘Bhishma’ itself means strong and fierce. ‘Asthami’ means a day or time in dedication to particular person/s, thing or aspect. Ashtami is also a female name in India. ‘Asht’ami signifies the number 8. Therefore it is the 8th day after full/new moon. E. g. ‘Panch’ami is 5, ‘Sapt’ami is 7, ‘Sast’ami is 6 and so forth. These are basically Sanskrit numerical. Bhishma Asthami day is determined per the Hindu calendar – the 8th day of the Hindu calendar month of Magha at Shukla Paksha (waxing-rising moon, considered auspicious- pure); Bhishma Asthami per the Gregorian calendar falls around January end- February every year.

Bhishma was the grandfather of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Pandavas and the Kauravas were the 2 groups who fought and struggled amongst themselves for sovereignty, control, power. Bhishma, also known as GangaPutra, was blessed with long life wish. He had several births. Bhishma was the son of Goddess Ganga. Ganga (Ganges) is one of the prominent rivers in India, ~2,500kms long and flows through Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal. The word ‘Putra’ (of GangaPutra) means son. Bhishma lived his life in the state of celibacy. 

Devotees observe the event to free themselves of the sins and for the attainment of future Moksha. Moksha means liberation from rebirth. In the myth that after death the soul travels from one form (body) to another. The good rebirth is determined by the past life Karmas, deeds, conducts, activities. E.g., if a native performs good deeds-Karmas, duties etc in one life, then s/he is likely to get a good rebirth. This is also explained in the Hindu holy book – Bhagwat Gita. Planets become favorable for the good souls. A few devotees perform fasting (vrat) on this occasion. Many visit the Vishnu temples. Lord Vishnu is believed to have taught Bhishma, empowering him with wisdom and chivalrous-unbeatable warrior qualities.

In the Mahabharat epic (war), Bhishma Pitamah was struck down by Arjuna. (Pitamah means paternal grandfather). Bhishma actually didn’t fall on the ground. He was airborne due the numerous arrows that had pierced through his body and rested on the Earth-ground. The arrows had pierced through and through Bhishma. Since Bhishma’s head part of the body was hanging, he asked Arjuna to rest a pillow under his head. So Arjuna rested arrows below. This was liked by Bhishma. Then Bhishma asked for water to quench his thirst. Then Arjuna hit arrow on the ground and water came flowing out – the Ganga (Goddess Ganga). Battle of Kurukshetra is also famous for the ancient Mahabharat epic.

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Date Published : 25 Jan 2018
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