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Bhagavad Gita

Bhishma: Personification of Social Commitment


DATE: Day 5: Aug 26th 2011


See, Mahabharata is a book where the personification of each quality appears as one character. Please understand, in your life, so many different experiences you go through, so many different parts you carry in your brain.... you see one part of your brain is knowledge, one part of your brain is compassion, one part of your brain is violence, one part of your brain is cunningness, one part of your brain is speed with discrimination, one part of your brain is speed without discrimination, one part of your brain is the pure silence. If all these parts are awakened, you are full bloomed, then you are Krishna.

Understand when the each part of your brain is actualized to its complete potentiality, it is self actualization. If all the parts, all the non mechanical parts of your brain is actualized to its full potentiality, it is called self realization. So each part, non mechanical part of your brain, actualized in full form, becomes one character in Mahabharata.

Giving, giving is one dimension - non mechanical part of your brain. When that has actualized its full potentiality, when it has reached its peak expression that character is Karna.

Cunningness - that is also part of your brain, non mechanical part of your brain. When that reaches its full actualization that is Shakuni.

Knowledge, the education when that reaches its full actualization - Drona.

So each character is a actualization of certain non mechanical part of your brain. Bhishma is the actualization of respecting social conditioning, social norms, adjusting your life as per the social requirements. This is also one part of your brain. Constantly all your ambitions, all your desires, all your goals, all your ideals, all your ideas are edited, altered, organized as per the society’s expectation about you. Society gives certain requirement list to you. You tend to alter all your ideas, ideals, goals as per those requirements. Sometimes when you are not ready to alter, when it is too much, you rebel. You become a revolutionary.

Here Bhishma is the personification of ability to alter your personal ideals and ideas, ambitions to the requirement of society. I am not saying it is right. Please understand I am not saying it is right and I am not saying it is wrong. This is also one dimension of your non mechanical parts of the brain. In your brain there is a non mechanical part which goes on altering, changing, correcting, editing your ideas and ideals as per the requirement of the external society. People who are benefited by your adjusting, by your alteration, by your acceptance, they call you as a tyagi. But I am not saying it is 100% right. Bhishma is embodiment of social conditioning. He has become such a character, he does not even have a pain when he alters his requirements as per the need of the society, when he alters his necessity as per the need to the society.

I should introduce Bhishma to all of you. He is really an enchanting character. For some people he can be unimaginable hero, for some people he can be just a person who has given up everything. I can say except achieving the enlightenment, he has all the auspicious things. Instead of taking that jump from social conditioning to enlightenment; at the last moments of life, he took the jump in the last moments, in the death bed. If he has taken that jump little early, I can say he would have been one more Krishna; a second perfect expression in Mahabharata; maybe he sacrificed even his enlightenment to maintain a unique character representing social conditioning.

He represents social conditioning; whatever is expected from you socially - dedication to parents, dedication to the country, dedication to the king, dedication till the end to all the rules and regulations of the war even while the opposite, the enemies, are breaking all the rules and regulations. First time Krishna is breaking the rule, commitment he made he will not take up a weapon and fight; he has picked up a wheel, chariot wheel and trying to kill Bhishma. Bhishma says Oh God! If you want to kill me, come on I am here. He drops all the weapons and he says you are a charioteer as on now in your position. A Charioteer is not supposed to take up a weapon and fight especially when the owner is alive and active. But if a charioteer wants to fight, I am ready. I am ready to accept and even in the end nobody was able to defeat him; nobody was able to defeat him.

He made a vow he will not fight with transgenders; he will fight only with men. So very cunningly, sorry to use the word, but that is the right word; very cunningly Krishna brings Shikhandi to the front, war front. When Bhishma sees Shikhandi he knows if he does not fight with Shikhandi, he stops sending the arrows, he will be killed. Arjuna is hiding behind Shikhandi and sending the arrows. All the arrows attacking Bhishma are from Arjuna; because in those days in each arrow the name of the person will be engraved. So each arrow touches him, Bhishma sees it is Arjuna’s arrows. Means Shikhandi is only in the front, Arjuna is hiding. But he did not even bother. I have taken a vow I will not fight with transgenders. I will fight only with men and he stands by the vow even while dying.

I can tell you, such a personification of vratha – will! Whatever society teaches you as good, if you collect all those qualities, Bhishma is the embodiment of all those qualities. Nobody else can be such a perfect expression of social conditioning. Only from the angle of enlightenment I should say Bhishma is little late. Other than that, from any angle if you look at him, he is personification of perfection. Just because he missed that one point, I am not able to say he is personification of perfection in everything. Except that one point I can say he is equalent to Krishna in everything.