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Why Was Bhishma Silent When Pandavas Were Denied Their Rights?

Bhishma's silence during the denial of rights to the Pandavas is a complex matter deeply rooted in the dynamics of power, duty, and the structure of the Kuru court. Bhishma, a central figure in the Mahabharata, was bound by his oath of loyalty to the throne of Hastinapura, which was held by King Dhritarashtra, the father of the Kauravas. This oath of allegiance compelled Bhishma to serve the king faithfully, even if his actions contradicted dharma, or righteousness.

In the Mahabharata, Bhishma indeed acknowledges the perversion of dharma at the hands of those in power. He recognizes that in many cases, dharma is defined by the rich and powerful to suit their own interests, often at the expense of justice and fairness. Despite his awareness of the injustices being perpetrated, Bhishma finds himself in a difficult position. His duty to the throne and his oath prevent him from openly opposing the decisions of the king, even when they are clearly unjust.

Moreover, the protocol of the royal court further ties Bhishma's hands. In the hierarchical structure of the court, advice is typically offered only when solicited by the king. Dhritarashtra, however, often did not seek counsel from his elders, which left Bhishma and others like Vidura, Kripa, and Dronacharya in a precarious position. Their silence stemmed not from a lack of understanding of dharma, but from the constraints imposed by their roles and the protocols of the court.

Had Dhritarashtra sought their counsel, it is likely that Bhishma and the other elders would have vehemently condemned the adharmic actions of Duryodhana and advocated for the rights of the Pandavas. However, their voices remained unheard due to the king's reluctance to seek advice and their own obligations to adhere to the established norms of the court.

In essence, Bhishma's silence during the denial of the Pandavas' rights underscores the complexity of moral decision-making in the face of conflicting duties and obligations. It serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges individuals face when navigating the murky waters of power, loyalty, and righteousness.