A Summary of the Bhishma Parva

Pitamaha Bhishma on a bed of arrows, with Sri Krishna, Sage Narada, and the Pandavas around him

Note: Bhishma Parva, which is the 6th parva of the Mahabharata, consists of 5884 shlokas (verses) divided into 117 sections. This parva marks the beginning of the great war of Kurukshetra where Bhishma was the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army. The first ten days of the war until the Bhishma was injured and had to lay down his arms are described in this parva.

The Bhishma parva begins with the great sage, Ved Vyasa, granting celestial vision to Sanjaya. This boon allowed him to see manifest as well as unmanifest worlds. It also gave him clear access to people’s thougths.

In the Bhumi sub-parva, of the Bhishma Parva, Sanjaya described various nations of the world to the blind King Dhritharashtra. He also described several planets, the sun, eclipses, and so on.

Also described in this parva is how Yudhishthira and his army initially became depressed when they saw the massive Kaurava army of elevel akshauhinis.

This parva also contains the famous incident of Arjuna laying down his arms and Sri Krishna expounding the great philosophy of life, death, and the soul. This philosophy was published in the world as The Bhagwad Gita.

In the Bhishma Parva, Pitamaha Bhishma routed his opponents, causing great losses to the Pandava army. When Sri Krishna saw Bhishma’s relentless attack, he broke his vow and fearlessly ran toward Bhishma’s chariot, with only a whip in his hand, to slay the latter.

A quarrel between Arjuna and Yudhishthira is also seen in this parva. Following the quarrel, Arjuna readied himself to strike Yudhishthira but was stopped by Sri Krishna, who brought him to his senses with sharp words.

The Bhishma parva ends with Bhishma falling from his chariot, pierced in the entire body by Arjuna’s arrows that had been shot, by the foremost of archers, from behind Shikhandin.

The final scene of this parva is Bhishma laying on the battlefield on a bed of arrows.

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Credit: Image By Ramanarayanadatta astri, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21174842