Bhishma Ashtami 2023: A Day Dedicated to An Epic Character of Mahabharat

Bhishma Ashtami is the Hindu festival dedicated to the great warrior of Mahabharta Bhishma Pithama. Bhishma Ashtami is observed by Hindus as part of their respect for the legendary Bhishma. It is believed that Bhishma departed from this earth on this chosen day. Thus, to celebrate this occasion, many Hindus observe fast on Ashtami of Shukla Paksha of Magha month known as Bhishma Ashtami. This time, the fast will be kept on Saturday, Jan 28.

By observing this fast, the child becomes beautiful and virtuous. It has been told in the scriptures that on this day grandfather Bhishma had given up his life on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti when the sun start moving Northward. That is why on this day many people perform tarpan for Bhishma Pitamah with Kush, sesame seeds, and water. Moreover, by offering prayers to Bhishma, the son of Ganga, all the sins of a person are destroyed by offering prayers to Bhishma, the son of Ganga. Along with this, the day is also considered sublime for the prevention of Pitra Dosh.

Date, Time & Auspicious Tithi of Bhishma Ashtami 2023

EventDate, Timings and Muhurat
Bhishma Ashtami 2023 DateSaturday, Jan 28, 2023
Bhishma Ashtami Tithi Begins28 Jan, 2023 at 08:43 AM
Bhishma Ashtami Tithi Ends29 Jan, 2023 at 09:05 AM

How Bhishma Ashtami Is Celebrated?

Bhishma Ashtami is commemorated in a variety of ways around the country. In commemoration of Bhishma Pitamah, huge celebrations are held in all ISKCON temples as well as Lord Vishnu temples. On this day, followers in the Bengal states do unique rites and puja.

Bhishma Ashtami Significance

Bhishma Ashtami is a day of fasting to honour Gangaputra Bhishma, the leading light of the epic Mahabharata. Bhishma Ashtami is celebrated on the Ashtami of the Shukla Paksha of the Magha month. On this day, people offer tarpan to their ancestors, along with sesame seeds and water, and do fasting to get rid of all their past sins. As per the scripture, it is believed that by fasting on this day, one is blessed with dutiful children, such as Bhishma Pitamah.

Moreover, one also gets aid from the effects of Pitra Dosha. This is something that is also stated in the Mahabharata. “Shuklashtamyan tu maghasya dadyad bhishmay yo jalam, samvatsarkrit papam tatkshnadeva nashyati, samvatsarkrit papam tatkshnadeva nashyati”.

Also Read: Shattila Ekadashi 2023

Story of Bhishma Ashtami

Bhishma Ashtami is a festival mentioned in mythology. According to the mythology, Bhishma was the ninth son of King Shantanu of Bharatvansh and Goddess Ganga. At the time of his birth, his parents named him Devavrata. Maharishi became an invincible warrior because of the training and knowledge he gained from the scripture. Impressed by the skills and knowledge, king Santanu has declared him as the heir of the Kingdom.

In the meantime, King Shantanu had gone hunting on a rainy Sunday. Satyavati, who was steering a boat in the Yamuna, greeted him there. Infatuated by her beauty, King Shantanu approached her father and asked for her hand in marriage. Smitten by her beauty, King Shantanu sought her father’s permission to ask for her hand. But, Satyavati’s father insisted that the successor of the Kingdom must be the child conceived from the womb of his daughter, rather than Bhishma, the son of Ganga. King Shantanu denied it, but when Bhishma found out about it, Bhishma surrendered his kingdom for the sake of his father and vowed not to marry for the rest of his life. His name was changed to Bhishma from Devvrat as a result of this, and because of this vow, he was called Bhishma Pratigya.

Upon witnessing Bhishna’s fatherly affections, King Shantanu expressed his gratitude by granting his grandfather the boon of death. Bhishma obtained deep respect for his father. As the guardian of Hastinapur, during the Mahabharata war, he stood against Pandavas and participated in the battle to the fullest. However, Bhishma Pitamah had made the decision to not enter into combat with Shikhandi or to attack her. As a result, Arjuna, who was standing behind Shikhandi, bombarded him with the arrow, causing him to be crippled and dropped. Arjuna, the Pandava son, built a bed of arrows at the behest of his father, Bhishma.

Following the conclusion of the Mahabharata battle, he chose to end his life on the Ashtami of Shukla Paksha in the month of Magha. Therefore, according to religious belief, a person who dies on the day of Uttarayan is said to have attained salvation. And it is through the observance of this fast that father Bhishma is able to produce offspring.

Rituals of Bhishma Ashtami

  • On the eve of Bhishma Ashtami, worshippers undertake Ekadashi Shradh, which is a purification ritual. It is thought that this Shradh can only be performed by individuals who do not have a father in their lives. The tarpan of Bhishma, on the other hand, is observed in numerous areas, and everyone follows it.
  • The festival of Bhishma Ashtami Tarpanam is observed on this day, when worshippers offer tarpan on the banks of sacred rivers. This tarpan is done in the name of Bhishma Pitamah and the ancestors of the devotees in order to bring about the salvation of their souls.
  • On this auspicious day, taking a bath in sacred rivers is an important practice. Offering Sesame seeds and boiling rice into the holy river by devotees are considered to be important rituals.
  • Devotees observe a Bhishma Ashtami fast on this day to pay homage to Bhishma Pitamah, where they take Sankalp (Vrat), perform Arghyam (Holy Ceremony), and chant the Bhishma Ashtami Mantra “Evasunamavataraya Shantoratmajay Ch”. Moreover, Arghya should be given by Dami Bhishmay Bal Brahmachari.

Benefits of Bhishma Ashtami Puja

  1. Believers claim that worshipping and fasting on Bhishma Ashtami bestows the blessing of having honest and obedient offspring on the devotees’ families.
  2. In preparation for Bhishma Ashtami, devotees undergo a variety of rituals, including fasting, tarpan, and worship, in order to purify themselves of their past and present misdeeds. You will also receive the blessings of good fortune as a result of this.
  3. This fast also aids in the relief of those suffering from Pitra Dosh.

Teachings of Bhishma Pitamah

While waiting for the sun to start moving to the northern hemisphere, Bhishma taught Yudhishthir some essential lessons. The following are some of his notable lessons:

  1. If you want to achieve peace, learn to let go of anger and forgive others.
  2. All activities and work should be completed because unfinished work is a sign of negativity.
  3. Don’t get too connected to things or people.
  4. Dharma should be the first priority.
  5. Be hard working, protect everyone, and show compassion.

Conclusion

Traditionally, the Bhishma Ashtami is celebrated on the Ashtami day of Shukla Paksha, in the month of Magha. Bhishma, Ganga’s son, devoted his life to the holy earth. Thus, just as fasting is necessary on this day, tarpan is also performed with sesame water for the peace of Bhishma Pitamah’s soul.