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King Shantanu was a famous king of Hastinapur. He was married to Gangadevi, who gave birth to a son, Devavrat. On account of her past life's karma, she went to Heaven leaving Devavrat in his father's care. He was taught the Vedas, and the Puranas, and also archery, by the greatest archer of the time, Parshuram. Devavrat learned from his father how to rule the kingdom following the ideals of truth and justice. Devavrat was trained in every way to take up the throne. King Shantanu in due time enthroned Devavrat as the Crown Prince. Devavrat looked after his subjects with love and kindness.

One day, King Shantanu went out on a hunting expedition and saw a very charming young girl. She was the daughter of a fisherman named Dashraj. Her name was Satyavati. He asked her hand in marriage, but she replied telling him to ask her father for her hand. When he sent messengers to her father asking for her hand in marriage, the shrewd old fisherman would not relent. He asked, “Shantanu is not young any more. Who would care for my daughter, were he to die?”

King Shantanu decided to go in person and tried to persuade him with promises of riches and rewards, but the fisherman was  adamant. “Nothing less than the throne for my daughter Satyavati and her descendants is acceptable,” he said stubbornly. Dashraj was keeping the future interest of his daughter in mind. Shantanu thought that he couldn't harm his beloved son Devavrat's future of whom he was so proud, yet he longed to marry Satyavati. He couldn't bear this dilemma and this caused the king to be sick. He spent all his time alone, he wouldn't speak to any one.

Devavrat saw that his father was always sad. He inquired of his father and got no answer. Devavrat went to inquire the reason from the charioteer who disclosed everything. In order to keep his father happy, Devavrat went to see Satyavati's father Dashraj and promised that for his father's sake he would give up the throne. “This is my vow and I shall be true to it,” he said assuring Dashraj who was still worried. He said, “You will keep your oath alright, but your son will fight my daughter's son for the throne. What will happen then?” But Devavrat immediately set Dishrag's fear at ease, saying, “I take another oath, I swear in the name of my parents, I shall never marry. This is my firm vow.” Upon hearing this, Dashraj gladly agreed to his daughter's marriage with the king.

As young Devavrat, took this pledge, the heavens opened and the gods cried out “Bhishma!”, as they showered flowers upon him to honor his selfless resolve. Ever since then, Devavrat was known as Bhishma or the one who makes and keeps a great vow. When Devavrat took his new mother Satyavati to his father, King Shantanu was amazed when he heard about his son's vows. He was full of praise for him. His father granted him a boon, “Death will not come to you unless you give your explicit permission to it, and Death will wait upon you with folded hands.” Satyavati married King Shantanu and bore him two sons, Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya. After King Shantanu died, they ruled the kingdom.

Bhishma (Devavrat) kept up with his promises until the end of his life. He lived for 4 generations. He protected the kingdom of Hastinapur and its kings from all odds but never ever desired for a throne, though he deserved it. Later, in the Mahabharata war, just to keep up the promise, he had to support evil Duryodhana as he was the prince of Hastinapur kingdom. Being wounded by Arjuna during the Mahabharata war, Bhishma desired to embrace death on the day of Makar-Sankranti.


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