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How Devavrata Became Bhishma in the Mahabharata?

Bhishma Pitamaha is the great grandfather of Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata. He was born as Devavrata and later he came to be known as Bhishma – the one who takes the most terrible vow.

King Shantanu, the father of Devavrata, had fallen in love with Satyavati, a fisherwoman.

Satyavati had a precondition to accepting King Shantanu’s proposal. She wanted only her children to inherit the throne of Hastinapur.

Shantanu was not ready to accept this condition, as he did not want to be unfair to his first son Devavrata.

King Shantanu remained unhappy and his mental state reflected in the affairs of the state.

On learning the cause of his father’s unhappiness, Devavrata met Satyavati and promised her that he will renounce his claim to the throne.

Satyavati was impressed with this decision. But her father had doubts regarding Devavrata’s children making claim to the throne.

Devavrata then took a terrible vow – he promised not to marry, not to have any kind of physical relationship with any woman and not to father a child.

Impressed by the sacrifice and renunciation, Devas showered him with flowers and named him Bhishma – the one who takes the most terrible vow.

From that day onwards, nobody ever used the name Devavrata. He was known as Ganga Putr Bhishm and in due course of time, he became Bhishma Pitamaha the backbone of the Kuru dynasty.

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Did you know?

In the Mahabharat, Bhishma was the son of Shantanu and Ganga. Birth of Bhishma and his suffering on earth is due to a curse in his previous birth.
Drona became the Acharya, or Teacher, of Pandavas and Kauravas after he showed his expertise with bow and arrow. Legend has it that Bhishma, the grandsire of Hastinapura, was in search of an efficient Guru to teach Pandavas and Kauravas the art of weaponry.