Bhishma panchaka or Vishnu panchaka are the five days of the last month of Chaturmasya i.e. the four months of austerities to be practised by spiritual seekers. They are the last five days of the auspicious month of Kartik. They are Kartik Shukla Ekadashi, Dwadashi, Trayodashi, Chaturdashi and Purnima.
As per Mahabharata, Bhishma deva observed a strict fast during last five days in order to prepare for his death. As a result of his austerity, Lord Krishna became very pleased with him and blessed him with pure devotional service.
Benefits of Fasting
For the one who is observing chaturmasya vrata for the four months should intensify the austerities or these five days and one must observe fast from grains for the last five days.
Throughout the Mahabharata, one of the most powerful and mysterious characters is Sri Bhishma, whom everyone addressed as Pitamaha i.e. Grandfather since he was expert and well trained in the science of milliatary warfare.
Bhishma pitamaha was earlier known as Devavrata. Bheeshma pitamah took an oath by the virtue of which, he got the title of Bheeshma and later on, pitamaha was appended when he showed his extraordinary skills of warfare.
He is the son of Ganga Devi and Maharaj Shantanu, who in previous life was cursed by Rishi Vashishtha to be born in the mortal world due to his attempt to steal his kamadhenu cow.
He got his name due to the terrible oath of lifelong celibacy which he took for the pleasure of his father. Once Maharaja Shantanu wished to marry a girl, Satyavati but her father had the condition that the sons of his daughter should be the rulers and not his other sons.
When he heard this, maharaj became very morose and then, seeing the long face of his father, he took the terrible oath of lifelong celibacy and serving the ruler on the throne. Being pleased upon him, Maharaj Shantanu blessed him with ichchha mrityu, the capacity to leave body whenever desired.
Bhishma grew up under the expert guidance of many sages like Brihaspati, Markandeya, Shukracharya etc. and learned many things from them.
In Srimad Bhagwatam (6.3.20-21)
A story becomes a great epic only because of its characters and their peculiar traits, which leaves the footprints on the sand of time and stays eternal forever. The portrayal of niche thinking, complexities and determination of attaining fame; better explained through the phrase ‘Everything is fair in love and war’ and yea it was definitely ‘The War’. The great epic, Mahabharata marks the beginning of egocentric, shrewd and all other negative sides of human nature with a tint of humanity.
Though every character justified with their specific roles, yet the hero is only one and probably ‘Arjuna’, the middle one out of the five Pandavas warriors out shined as a true hero. I am not saying that ‘Arjuna’ was a perfect character but in spite of his own complexities or as per the plot of the story, he was usually in a win-win situation.
#A grand celebration was performed at Arjuna’s birth and Lord Indra was gratified by the success stories of his son and called himself a proud father of Arjuna.
#Arjuna was focussed and perspicuous about his goals and he earned his success by working hard. He practised to shoot an arrow in darkness as well as by hearing the minute audible sounds.
#Arjuna remained in the priority wish list of Bheeshma and Dronacharya forever. Both the talented warriors supported him and even opted for inappropriate actions to prove his excellence.
#Karan being an equally capable warrior as Arjuna, could never flourish because of his karmas and favouring the wrong doers i.e. Duryodhan; which indirectly lead Arjuna to excel.
#Arjuna’s feelings for his beloved Draupadi were true but sharing his wife with the other four was not his idea. Yet he abided his mother and accepted the truth.
#In spite of any complex situation, Arjuna bestowed full faith upon his soul mate- Lord Krishna and received his hearty blessings as a devotee and follower.
#At one point, Arjuna had to raise his sword to kill his dear brother Yudhistra, as per his oath. Yet Arjuna could not accept his own deed of disrespecting his brother and paid for his sin.
#The moral code and empathetic attitude of Arjuna, made him receive laurels and blessings from all his relations.
#Till the end, Arjuna had a soft corner towards Karan and respected him as a brave competitor. Only to abide by his master’s wish, Arjuna had to shoot an arrow on Karan.
#In spite of an opportunity of choosing the great army of 10,000 warriors, Arjuna remained firm with his decision of choosing Lord Krishna. The success of Arjuna was sure shot, since he preferred to sit near his master’s feet rather that near his head like Duryodhan.
The enlightening journey of Arjuna in holy Bhagvad Gita is an epitome of his successful and perfect character and proves my above statement judiciously.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja