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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bheeshmaashtami - 2013


Dear Members:


Bheeshmaashtami - in Honour of the Grandsire of the Kuru dynasty falls on February 17/ 18, 2013 this year. Those living in U.S., Canada, and other countries of the American continents, those living in African continent, U.K., and Scandinavian countries must observe Bheeshmaashtami on February 17, 2013.

Those living in Middle east countries, India, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji Islands must observe this on February 18, 2013 (note: some panchangs in India consider February 18, 2013 as a-thithi - meaning that though the thithi operates it is not fit for shraardha; BUT, this taboo does not apply to observance of Bheeshmaashtami and due to the fact the Ashtami operates for a major part of the aparaana kaalam on February 18, 2013 only, it is best to observe Bheeshmaashtami vratam only on February 18, 2013 in India, in my opinion.  You may use individual discretion in taking a final decision on this observance based on the facts given here!).

Bheeshmaachaarya was known for his steadfastness to dharma, his devotion to his kingdom, and his willing sublimation of his desires to satisfy the wish of his father. He took a vow of Nithya Brahmachaaryathvam (never even considering carnal pleasures of any sort) as that was demanded by the Fisherman-chieftain whose daughter his father desired in marriage. This vow gave him the name "Bheeshma" (Meaning - The terrible; maintaining strict celibacy is really difficult for a person with great valour, strength, and heroic qualities - especially when he is engaged in the activities of a kingdom as a Prince).
This steadfastness earned him the boon of "Iccha Mriyu" (ability to shed life as desired). He waited for long period till Uttaraayana set in and left his mortal coils on the thithi of ashtami after Ratha Saptami. [I have just given a condensed version of the original event; you may read about that in detail in Mahabharatam - of course most of you must be already aware of this legend!].
In fact, the popular Vishnu Sahasranaamam that is a Wish fulfilling Tree for all us in this Kali age first came from his mouth (as he was lying in the bed of arrows in pain!).

(Image courtesy: ISCKON DESIRE TREE - Design by Shri. Umesh Modak)
As he was a strict celibate and without any family tree, and in honour of his great qualities and attachment to dharma, it has been ordained that every eligible male (even those who have parent alive!) are required to offer oblations with water in Honour of that Great Soul - who combined the rare qualities of valour and discipline, obedience and courage, affection and celibacy......rare opposites to be found in the same person.
You can chant the simple mantra: "Om Bheeshmaaya Dharma vrataaya nitya BrahmachaarinE Gangaa Putraaya idam arghyam idam arghaym idam arghyam - Om Bheeshmam tarpayaamii"
(offer it thrice).
Please note that this is one of the mandatory observances for all males subscribing to sanataana dharmaa.
May we all inherit his great qualities and become living examples of virtue and self-control just as he was.
Blessed be.
Pandit R. DAKSHINAMOORTHI.


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