The pedigree of being a demi-god in his previous life and the scion of the foremost dynasty in the Aryavarta should have ensured a smooth life for Prince Devavrata. But, it was not to be. His upbringing by Goddess Ganga herself and training under the best Gurus of his time could not change his destiny in any way. His struggle to keep his dynasty afloat lasted his entire lifetime. Despite repeated counselling from his mother, Vedvyasa and Vidura, among many others, the feeling of having failed in his primary mission of protecting the Kuru dynasty haunted him even on his bed of arrows. Although he was revered and simultaneously feared as Bhishma, he spent his entire life in a struggle to resolve his internal as well as external turmoil.
Like ordinary mortals, it seems that the extensive knowledge of scriptures gained from his guru Maharishi Vasishta did not, in any way, help him in overcoming his miseries. Bhishma would have been known only as a great warrior and someone who resolutely stood by his word, had it not been for the grace of Sri Krishna which brought forth the other facet of his personality of being a Brahmagyani. That enabled him to address all queries of Yudhishthira, lying as he was on the bed of arrows, before his departure from this world.
The authors have to their credit a book titled Karna: the Unsung Hero of the Mahabharata published by Leadstart Publishers in 2015. Bhishma; an Enigma is their second work.
Umesh Chandra Kotru, a specialist in accounts and finance retired in 2010 from the ministry of Poer after a distinguished career spanning decades of professional work in various ministries.
An avid reader of books on philosophy, religion, mythology and fiction and passionate aficionado of sports, Umesh now divides his time between his two pursuits of the mind and body.
He lives in Noida with wife, also retired from Central Government Service. They have a daughter who is a doctor and a son who is an engineer with an MBA, both married Ashutosh Zutshi, like-minded nephew of Umesh Kotru is a technocrate with difference. An electronics and communication engineer, ashutosh is vice president at a Japanese MNC in Delhi.
An inner urge for self-actualisation drives him to find time, mostly during the weekends, to pursue his other interests in music, social work and of course, serious reading,
Ashutosh lives in Noida as well with his wife, who works with the United National . They have two sons who are in School.
'The Mahabharata' is undoubtedly an Epic of monumental stature as well as proportions because of its sheer size and the treasure of knowledge it contains. Description of events covered in this Epic start right from the birth of the entire cosmos followed by evolution of life and culminating in the stories connected with various ruling dynasties of Aryavarta chiefly the Kurus and the Yadavas. For a discerning reader, the text contains wealth of information related to the philosophy of life and holds the keys to liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The complexity of human psychology driving individual behaviour is beautifully covered through various characters described in this Epic. Lessons related to righteous behaviour (Dharma), politics, management, economics, warfare and practically every aspect of life get conveyed both directly and indirectly through the stories and narrations contained in the text. There is something for everyone in this grandest of Indian epics. It has been rightly said that what is not contained in Mahabharata does not exist. Nothing can compare to it so far as its literary value is concerned. All forms of human characters and emotions have been woven into the narrative beautifully. There are stories within stories which are a treat for the imagination of the reader who at times, cannot help getting highly fascinated by the narrative.
After 'Kama the unsung hero of the Mahabharata' in the shape of our first book we again delved deep into this bottomless ocean to portray the character of another hero named Bhishma. Bhishma or Devavrata happens to be one of the most enigmatic and complex characters of Mahabharata. Bhishma is considered to be an incarnation of the chief among the eight demigods known as Vasus or the gods of natural elements. He takes birth as a human because of a curse placed upon the Vasus by Maharishi Vashisrha. While seven of them get liberated immediately after birth as a result of curtailment of his own curse by Maharishi Vasishta, the eighth one who went on to be known as Bhishma had to live as a human for a very long time. His lifespan actually lasted for five generations virtually covering all the major events described in the Epic. In fact, almost entire 'jaya' the core of Mahabharata actually revolves around Bhishma.
His importance can be gauged from the presence of a galaxy of other strong characters around him, like Sri Krishna, Dronacharya, Vidura, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Duryodhana, Kama, Shalya, and Ashwathama among many others. Like Bhishma, one other character that plays a pivotal role besides being the author of the epic happens to be Krishnadvaipayana also known as maharishi Vedvyasa. The role of larger than life lady characters like Saryavati, Kunti, Gandhari and Draupadi, is in no way of any diminished importance. We have tried our best to bring out Bhishma's struggle against his inner as well as outer turmoil. His constant wrestling with what should have been vis-a-vis what actually was has been projected in the book at several places. He was never able to resolve this inner conflict which only added to his projection as an enigma.
Although he ruled as a regent for a long time yet we don't know how he would have fared as an actual King for generations because of his having control over death as a result of his father's boon. Had he actually ascended the throne of Hastinapura his story would have been quite different bur, surely, it would not have been as captivating as it actually turned out to be with innumerable twists and turns. It would not be our of place to record that Bhishma would not be a complete personality in the absence of the philosophical contents of the Shanti and Anushasana parvas (chapters) of Mahabharata. But for Krishna prodding him to discourse a dejected Yudhishthira after the end of the great war resulting in the creation of the two Parvas; Bhishma could not have gained eminent stature of being a Brahmagyani as well. At best he would have been known as a great Kuru warrior who stood firm on his resolve. It was because of the two Paruas known as Shanti and Anushasana which joined the dots in his personality resulting in him being held in high esteem by the masses. He enjoyed the stature of a demi god which is borne out by the fact that all great sages of that time and the Devatas besides Lord Krishna himself became part of the audience all through his discourse with Yudhishthira. Through creation of fictitious situations, while not ignoring the main text completely, we have tried our best to bring our his varied emotions and characteristics, like self-pity, inertia, sacrifices and adherence to his principles among many others. His greatness is further emphasized when he did not try to defend himself even when his mother Ganga, Krishna and Vedvyasa allude to his shortcomings which point to his projection as a mixture of opposites. In short, we have tried to bring our the tall stature of the character of Bhishma despite his seemingly occasional lapses.
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