Ed’s History Challenge. Bhishma Pitamah


So here I am, back with some mythology. After this, I will leave the Kurukshetra region, and maybe go to the beginning of Krishna’s life.

This picture, and I have converted this using Nik’s analog filter, was taken at a temple to honour the place where an ancient warrior – Bhishma Pitamah died. He died during the battle between the Kaurave brothers and the Pandava brothers, at the climax of the Mahabharatha. He fought on the side of the Kauravas, and died when he was pierced by arrows from the bow of Arjuna, the archer, the third brother of the Pandavas.

As he lay on the arrows, his body suspended on them, his head hung down, and he asked for a pillow. Arjuna shot three arrows into the ground, and these formed his pillow. When he asked for water, Arjuna shot another arrow into the ground, and water from the Ganges / Yamuna gushed up and went into his mouth. He died at the time he said he would.

The word, “Bhishma” means terrible, or fierce, in Sanskrit. He was known to be one of the greatest warriors of the age, and was a man who was fierce in his vows. He took the oath of celibacy.

Pitamah means Grandfather, and he was known as the Great Grandsire. The mythology around him is complex. He was forced to fight against the Pandava brothers, and it is only when he forced Krishna to take up a weapon in the battle, and advise Arjuna for the right strategy, could he be vanquished.

I won’t go into all the complexity of the mythology around Bhishma Pitamah, but I will say that he was very much a part of my childhood. Much urban youth in India, sadly, has discovered the PS4 , but forgotten some of the legends of the path.

There is a well, a ‘kund’, at the temple. People throw coins, and empty packets of Lays potato chips into this well. This is how we remember one of the great mythological characters in India.


  1. Fantastic image as always Rajiv. And some damn fine history/Mythology too. Bhishma reminds me of the legendary Irish hero CuChulainn, the more I am exposed to your countries wonderful history, the more similarities I see between our two cultures, even though they are so different today. I remember reading an article where ancient gaelic was said to have closely resembled ancient Sanskrit?

    Thanks so much for introducing me to a world I knew nothing about 🙂

  2. Hi Rajiv. Thanks for sharing the mythology of Bhishma Pitamah. I had never heard this story before. How sad that people desecrate the temple well and choose to be bored or disinterested. They are missing so much by not paying attention.

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