Bhishma Parva, often known as the book of Bhishma, is the sixth Parva of the Mahabharata. It recounts the events of the first 10 days of the 18-day Kurukshetra War between the Pandava and Kaurava armies. It has around 124 chapters and 4 upaparvas. It also includes a line from The Bhagvad Gita, one of the most well-known passages in Hindu history. The following are summaries of the sub-paragraphs.
Overview of Bhishma Parva in the Mahabharata
(1) Jambukhandavinirmana Parva
This Bhishma Parva subparva, which has ten chapters, is the first one. The narrative resumes where it left off. On the battlefield, the Pandavas and Kauravas confront one other. The two parties meet to discuss the Parva’s rules of engagement and come to an agreement. Veda Vyasa, the grandfather of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas, bestowed the gift of sight on Dhritarashtra, who was blind, so that he might see the devastation caused by the impending battle. Dhritarashtra, however, turned down the gift since he was aware of the enormous suffering that the battle would bring. Rishi Veda Vyasa made one more attempt to persuade Dhritarashtra to put an end to the fighting and establish peace, but Dhritarashtra eventually conceded that his sons showed no sign of obeying him. Vyasa made every effort to help him understand the negative repercussions of war and the suffering it causes. No matter who wins a conflict, both sides will undoubtedly suffer damage. Sanjaya is given the blessing by Vyasa to observe everything in the world and the conflict and to tell King Dhritarashtra about it. Sanjaya begins by detailing the lovely surroundings he is in, including its people, amazing vegetation, and the natural world. Dhritarashtra is very offended by this depiction since his sons are actively choosing conflict and are on the route to obliterating the world’s beauty and serenity.
(2) Bhumi Parva
The Bhishma Parva’s Bhumi Parva is the smallest subparva, with only two chapters. Sanjaya proceeds to describe the cosmos in great detail in these chapters. He describes the mountains, landscapes, and rivers. Here are also descriptions of the four well-known cities of Manga, Masaka, Mandaga, and Maanasa. The fact that Brahmins and Kshatriyas coexisted in these towns gave rise to the concept that individuals with opposing viewpoints could coexist and even succeed. These communities didn’t even have kings since the people lived in peace and followed the rules. Even the moon and the planets at night were described by him. He went on to discuss the Moon’s phases, eclipses, and how it affects Earth’s tides.
(3) Bhagvad Gita Parva
The Bhagvad Gita Parva is the most well-known of the Mahabharata’s Parvas. It continues to be among the most renowned works of Hindu history. It is the core of Hinduism and serves as a symbol for its ideas. Given that it brings happiness to all people, the Bhagvad Gita continues to be the finest section of the whole Mahabharata. The first day of the conflict officially starts, with Bhishma in charge. Over 100,000 war elephants, one crore chariots, one billion horsemen, ten billion archers, and more over one hundred billion troops brandishing swords and shields made up the Kaurava army. When Yudhishthira discovered the vast magnitude of the Kaurava army, he was saddened. Arjuna yet held the opinion that the intentions of each side, rather than the strength of the soldiers, determine which side will win a battle. The legendary exchange between Arjuna and Krishna then started. When Arjuna arrived in the middle of the battlefield, between the two armies, his thoughts was torn in two. This conflict develops as a result of seeing familiar faces on the other team, including family members and friends. He was saddened by the knowledge that he had killed his own relatives, whom he had spent his formative years with, the Kaurava brothers, with whom he had grown up. He questions if the necessity for and justification for war were legitimate. He then said to Krishna that he wasn’t eager for either a win or a kingdom, and he questioned him about whether or not the battle was necessary. Arjuna reasoned that even if he leads his side to victory, the carnage and labour of battle are not worth it. Krishna then dispels his scepticism by providing a variety of responses to his inquiries. Lord Krishna discussed Karma Yoga, often known as selfless deed devotion. The responsibilities of a Karma Yogi were the subject of his whole discourse. A Karma Yogi constantly upholds his dharma, regardless of the situation. He acts without regard for the outcome and is above earthly pleasures. The core of the Bhagvad Gita is contained in these lines that Krishna uttered.
In these last moments before the conflict began, Yudhishthira was also profoundly sorrowful. Yudhishthira dismounted from his chariot just before the legendary battle began, removed his armour, approached the Kauravas’ side, and bent his head in front of them. Even the other four brothers joined him in front of the Kauravas army after witnessing his display of humility. When they see the Kaurava brothers, they bow before Bhishma, Drona, and Kripa to obtain permission to engage in mortal combat with them. They served as their tutors when the Pandava brothers were growing up, therefore they held them in high regard. Bhishma was astounded by the brothers’ regard for him and wished them success. Long before the conflict ever began, the other generals were astounded by this sight and their eyes were welled up with tears of respect for the Pandava brothers. Yudhishthira and the Pandava brothers reunited at their sides after this incident. The Great War then formally began when the war’s trumpet was blasted.
(4) Bhishma Vadha Parva
With over 82 chapters, this is the Bhishma Parva’s longest and last Parva. The first 10 days of the 18-day long conflict are covered in detail, along with its events and complexities. There was a great deal of devastation on the first day of the fight. The Sun was hidden by the sand and the soaring arrows. There was a great deal of commotion made by the arrows that were fired by both sides and the clashing of the two sides’ war weapons. Bhishma and Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu fought for a considerable amount of time. It ended in a draw, though. Salya killed Uttara on the first day of combat. However, during their protracted battle, Uttara disabled Salya’s chariot. Many Kauravas troops were slaughtered by Sweta, a warrior in the Pandavas’ army.
Near the end of the first day, Bhishma murdered him. By the conclusion of the first day of the war, a large number of men from both sides had perished. When the second day of the combat started, Bhishma and Arjuna got into a fierce fight that likewise ended in a draw.
On the second day of the battle, Bhima killed the Kalinga King. The second day was a significant victory for the Pandava army. On this day, the Nishadas ruler was also slain while fighting for the Kauravas. Thousands of men from both sides of the forces lost their lives and significant damage was wrought on the second day as well. There was a great deal of carnage on the third and fourth days of the battle as many Pandava and Kuru warriors were slaughtered. On the fourth day of the battle, Bhima shocked Duryodhana by killing 8 of the 100 Kaurava brothers. The description of the conflict up to day ten is contained in this parva. Nearly 100 million warriors had been slain by the ninth day. Bhishma had also made attempts to be slain by Krishna since he was aware that going to paradise if he died at Krishna’s hands. Arjuna prevented that from happening because he wanted to violate Krishna’s promise not to participate in the war.
After the ninth day of fighting, the Pandavas were unable to come up with a strategy to take down Bhishma. The Pandava brothers then went up to him unarmed and asked him how to get the better of him. It was against his dharma as a warrior, according to Bhishma, to give up, thus he had to fight bravely. As he was bound by a pledge to never engage in combat with Shikhandi, Bhishma proposed that the only way to stop him was to position Shikhandi in front of him. Drupada, the Panchalas’ ruler, had a daughter named Shikhandi. On the tenth day, the Pandavas used this tactic, and Bhishma was prevented from attacking since he could see Shikhandi in front of him. Bhishma’s body had been penetrated by hundreds of arrows, causing mortal injuries. Everyone from both sides of the conflict halted and paid respect to the great and one of the most seasoned warriors present in the battlefield as he lay on a bed of arrows. Bhishma was immediately taken back to the camp by medical personnel in an effort to treat him.
You can read other chapters from the table below. Click on the respective link to understand about the summary of that book/section of Mahabharata.
Mahabharat All Chapters Summary Guide
|1) Adi Parva||10) Sauptika Parva|
|2) Sabha Parva||11) Stri Parva|
|3) Vana Parva||12) Shanti Parva|
|4) Virata Parva||13) Anushasana Parva|
|5) Udhyoga Parva||14) Ashvamedha Parva|
|6) Bhishma Parva||15) Ashramavasika Parva|
|7) Drona Parva||16) Mausala Parva|
|8) Karna Parva||17) Mahaprasthanika Parva|
|9) Shalya Parva||18) Swaraga Arohana Parva|