Bhishmaji Realizes Sri Krishna’s Essential Being and His Various Manifestations as Narayana, Vasudeva, Rama and Hari
„I can renounce the three worlds, I can forego the kingdom of heaven or anything that may be greater than the both, but I can never renounce Truth.‟
(The Mahabharata: Adi Parva – 103.15)
Bhishma was the legitimate son of King Shantanu and Goddess Ganga. Grandsire Bhishma was erudite, a man of firm resolve, knower of Dharma, true to his word, scholar, able politician, generous, extraordinary warrior, and had control over his senses but above all a single-minded devotee of the Lord. Though a politician, he was truthful as well. What a paradoxical synthesis of contradictory qualities! Truthful and that too a politician! Politicians say that one cannot do without resorting to falsehood. But can one do without truthfulness? Grandsire Bhishma had recognized Lord Krishna as the living God.
In his Rājasuya fire sacrifice, Yudhishthira had asked Bhishma as to who should be propitiated first. Then Bhishma‟s clear cut answer was, “By dint of strength, valour, brilliance and all other parameters Sri Krishna deserves to be propitiated first.”Upon culmination of the battle of Mahabharata, Yudhishthira was grieving for the dead kins. In an inquisitive frame of mind, he accompanied by his brothers and Lord Krishna, approached Grandsire Bhishma. The Pandavas reverentially and with utmost respect paid their obeisance to Bhishma.
If a person has moral rectitude, practices abstinence
and is religious, then his affection to kith and kin wears
thin. Those who do not practice abstinence are drawn
towards family and fail to accomplish the true goal of
God-realization. This is not to say that one should
neglect one‟s family. Rather you should consider the whole world to be your extended
family and act with equanimity. Bhishma had this sense of equanimity and as such he could fathom the real nature of Lord Krishna.
The grandsire explained about Lord Krishna to Yudhishthira and others, “Sri Krishna is God incarnate. He is the Primal Cause of all, the Supreme person Lord Narayana, Who deluding the world with His power of illusion (Māyā) moves incognito among the descendents of Yadu. O Yudhishthira! Lord Shiva, the divine sage Narada and the
venerable Lord Kapila alone know His secret most prowess. He whom you regard as your maternal cousin, a dear friend and the best well-wisher and out of love employed as a counsellor, an emissary and a charioteer without any hesitation, is Lord Narayana
Himself. In spite of Krishna‟s being equal to all, Oh protector of the earth! Look at His compassion on his staunch devotees that Krishna Himself has appeared before me, when I am giving up life.”
Subsequently, Bhishma with his scholarly knowledge earned by virtue of his practice of brahmacharya, experience, knowledge and devotion, duly elaborated on the rules (duties) regarding charities, kingship, laws pertaining to the path of liberation, duties of women and those pertaining to the Bhagawata religion to the assemblage, thereby
bringing peace to the grief-stricken and agitated heart of Yudhishthira.