Twelve mahajanas are described in the Srimad Bhagavatam – Bali, Bhisma Pitamah, Lord Brahma, Janaka, Kapiladeva, Narada Muni, Sanat-Kumar, Shiva, Prahlada, Sukadeva Goswami, Svayambhuva Manu, Yamaraj. All of these twelve mahajanas are exalted devotees of the Supreme Lord and authorities on the science of devotion. Bhishma Pitamah, one of these twelve mahajanas, was a selfless soul who remained a lifelong celibate (brahmachari) simply to respect the wish of his father to marry Satyavati. Bhishma Pitamah yielded his claims to the royal throne. Although he was very powerful and core to the survival of the kuru dynasty, he never took any credits or honors for himself. He sided with the Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra although he understood very well that they would lose as Krishna, the Supreme Lord, had sided with the Pandavas. While resting on the deathbed of arrows in Kurukshetra, Bhishma instructed Maharaj Yudhisthira on various subjects concerning dharma. Then, when it was time for Bhishma Pitamah to leave his body, he withdrew his mind from everything else and fixed his wide-open eyes upon Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who stood before him, four-handed, dressed in sparkling yellow garments. Bhishma Pitamah then glorified his eternal master and prayed as follows.
The above words of Bhishma Pitamah help us meditate upon the following prayers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu documented in His Shikshashtakam. We are citing the verses below for the pleasure of the devotees.
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
O, almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate material wealth, nor do I want beautiful women, nor do I desire any followers. All I want, life after life, is unmotivated devotional service unto You.
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krishna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into this horrible ocean of birth and death. Please bestow your mercy and rescue me from this ocean of nescience and place me as a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparaha
I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He roughly handles me by His embrace or breaks my heart by not being visible to me. He is a debauchee, after all, and He is completely free to do anything He wishes, but still, He alone, and no one else, shall be the worshipable Lord of My heart.
Bhishma Pitamah glorifies Lord Krishna
While lying on his deathbed made of arrows, Bhishma Pitamah prayed the following to Lord Krishna before dropping silent and passing away from this world.
#1 Let me now direct my thoughts, emotions, words, and will, which were thus long occupied in various subjects and occupational duties, unto the all-powerful Lord Sri Krishna. Lord Krishna is always self-satisfied, but sometimes, He relishes transcendental pleasure by descending into this material world, although the entire material creation emanates from Him.
#2 Sri Krishna, an intimate friend of Arjuna, has appeared in this world in His transcendental body, which resembles the bluish color of a Tamala tree. His body attracts everyone in the three planetary systems. May His sparkling yellow dress and His lotus face, covered with traces of sandalwood pulp, be the object of my attraction, without me desiring for any fruitive results.
#3 On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the curly waving hair of Lord Krishna became ashy due to the dust raised by the hooves of the horses. His face became adorned with traces of perspiration. All these decorations, enhanced by the wounds dealt by my sharp arrows, were relished by Him. Let me concentrate upon this beautiful form of Sri Krishna.
#4 Obeying the command of His friend Arjuna, Lord Sri Krishna entered the battlefield of Kurukshetra and stood between the soldiers of Pandavas and Kauravas. While standing there He diminished the life spans of the opposite side (Kauravas) by His merciful glance. This was done simply by His glancing at the enemy. Let my mind be fixed upon that Krishna.
#5 Observing the faces of the soldiers and fellow kinsmen before him on the battlefield, Arjuna became confused due to polluted intelligence and expressed his reluctance to fight. Lord Krishna then eradicated his ignorance by delivering transcendental knowledge (of Bhagavad Gita). May the lotus feet of Lord krishna always remain the object of my attraction.
#6 To satisfy my vow, He sacrificed His own promise (of not picking up a weapon in this fight), by getting down from His chariot and picking up a wheel with which He then attacked me with great speed. He seemed just like a lion that was attacking an elephant. He even lost one of His outer garments on the way.
#7 May Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who bestows salvation, be my ultimate goal. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, He charged me, as if enraged because of the wounds dealt by my sharp arrows. His shield was destroyed, and His body was smeared with blood due to the wounds.
#8 At the moment of my death, let me meditate upon Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Let me fix my mind upon the chariot driver of Arjuna who stood with a whip in His right hand and a bridle rope in His left, and who was very careful in giving protection to Arjuna’s chariot. Those who beheld Him on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra have attained their original spiritual forms after death.
#9 Let my mind be fixed upon Lord Sri Krishna, whose fascinating acts and sweet smiles of love attracted the damsels of Vrindavan (the gopis). Turning mad with ecstatic love, these gopis imitated the movements of the Lord (when He disappeared from the rasa dance).
#10 At the Rajasuya-yajna performed by Maharaja Yudhisṭhira, there was a gathering of all the elite men of the world belonging to the royal and learned orders. In that assembly, Lord Krishna was worshiped by all as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This pastime happened in my presence. Let that Lord Krishna be my object of attraction.
#11 Now I can meditate with full absorption upon Lord Sri Krishna, who is now present before me because now I have transcended the delusions of duality regarding His presence in everyone’s heart. He is present everywhere including the hearts of the mental speculators. The sun may be perceived differently, but the sun is always one.
Praying thus, Bhishma Pitamah absorbed his senses, mind, words, and action onto Sri Krishna, the Supreme Lord. He fell silent and soon his breathing stopped.
Image credits :
1. Mahavir Prasad Mishra, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
2. Richard Friederisk, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons