Gangaputra Bhishma or Devavrata, the sagacious of sacrifice was an institution of morals and ethics in him. However, in spite of his countless dignified traits, he is often accused of causing harm to few women, mainly through his unconditional devotion to his oath and by his blind and slavish commitment to getting the heir for the Hastinapur throne.
So, did the Oath of Gangaputra Bhishma Ruin the Life of 4 Women? Let’s check out –
All for the sake of Father
Devavrata’s promise to Satyawati’s father (King Shantanu’s lover and later wife) – that only Satyawati’s son will become the next king was a spontaneous emotional reaction. And to keep this promise, Bhishma was compelled to do many things which weren’t so right, both morally and otherwise. The abduction of the three Kanshi (now Varanasi) princesses from the Swayamvar for Vichitravirya, his half-brother is one such questionable deed. By this act, he not only stained the life of Amba, the eldest of the three princesses who was in love with King Salva but also his own nobility.
If you remember, Vichtravirya straight away rejected Amba due to her love for someone else (Salva). And when Amba went to her lover Salva, he too didn’t accept her since she was won in the swayamvar by Bhishma. The distressed princess who could go nowhere then appealed to Bhishma to accept and marry her. However, Bhishma refused as he had taken the selfless path of remaining ‘Brahmachari’ till death.
After failing to get any justice, she eventually immolated herself. This was the first and most dangerous after-effect of his unconditional vow.
When Bhishma’s Oath Over Ruled the Kshatriya Laws
Amongst ‘Kshatriyas’ it was a common ritual to win a princess in the Swayamvar and once done, the prince/king was supposed to marry the princess. However, unlike the norms, Bhishma wasn’t contesting the princesses for himself but for his half-brothers. It definitely, seems that he let the Kshatriya laws go for a toss all in the quest for giving Hastinapur an heir. Well, he should have instead set his brothers to find a match for themselves. Besides, being a ‘Brahmachari,’ do you think it was ethical to venture into a ‘Swyamvara’ and get the ladies forcefully for his brothers?
During this infamous abduction, the mighty Bhishma had defeated several kings. Still, Salva challenged him, by putting his life at a risk. Everybody knew it is not possible to defeat Bhishma, the invincible warrior. Salva had tender feelings for Amba and she too loved him. It was only an injustice on part of Bhishma to powerfully separate the two lovers.
Later at the time of the ‘Rajsuya yagya, Sishupal strongly condemns Bhishma for this action..
Yet another mistake of Gangaputra Bhishma for Hastinapur’s Heir
Not that Amba’s curse was less, Bhishma again tried to put his hands in the fire, this time for Dhitrashtra, the next heir of the Hastinapur dynasty. He chose Gandhari, the princess of the Gandhar King for the next King who was blind. He went to Gandhar with an army. Bhishma, again risked the life of a woman in his obsession to get a princess to the next contender for the throne so that Dhitrashtra could tie the knot and ascend the throne as early as possible. Shakuni more than anybody else actually hated Bhishma. The reason being, he thought the marriage proposal (of Dhritrashtra, a blind prince) brought by him for his sister was a huge insult to Gandhar. For those who might not know Satyavati’s elder son and Vichtravirya‘s brother Chitrangada was killed by Gandhar king.
Gangaputra Bhishma in Mahabharata no wonder was a great son, quite selfless when it came to himself. However, his vow towards the Hastinapur’s throne did make him commit several wrong acts including bringing havoc in the life of the above four mentioned women – What do you think?