The Passing Away of Bhismadeva-Bhisma Panchaka - ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry

The Passing Away of Bhismadeva-Bhisma Panchaka

Bhisma-panchaka is five days dedicated to Bhismadev, The son of mother Ganga and his father King Shantanu-Bhismah santanavo birah. He is the Grandfather of Pandavas, descendant of Great king Bharata in Kuru dynasty .The period falls in the last 5 days of the month Kartik,the resounding 5 days of chaturmasya. It is said to commemorate the life of Grandfather Bhismadev, a key figure in the history of India, one who is known as a powerful warrior and commander-in-chief of the royal army who renounced his own claim to the throne of the world and instead remained celibate throughout his life as stated in Mahabharata and the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

After the chronological events that took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, being extremely pleased with  Bhismadev, Lord Krsna granted a special boon to those who worship Lord Hari and engage in devotional service during these five days. What is that special boon?

Lord Krsna agreed to bestow pure devotion to those who earnestly follow certain austerities these last five days of Kartik. As per Gaudiya vaishnava, Bhismadev is very well known as one of the twelve mahajanas—authorities—in the science of Krsna

consciousness. In his youth, he received the benediction that he would only die when he wishes it. He spent his final days giving spiritual and political instructions to King Yudhisthira while lying on a bed of arrows, having been wounded on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. After the Pandavas won the battle, Bhismadeva finally felt peaceful and wanted to leave his body looking into the lotus-like face of Lord Krsna in His transcendental feature as Partha-sarathi. This shows his unflinching faith and devotion to Lord Krsna, which we know is the highest perfection of life.

drstva nipatitam bhumau

divas cyutam ivamaram

pranemuh pandava bhisma

sanugah saha cakrina

Seeing him [Bhisma] lying on the ground, like a demigod fallen from the sky, the Pandava King Yudhisthira, along with his younger brothers and Lord Krsna, bowed down before him. -SB 1.9.4

It is a joyous event since many devotees from various parts of the world come to Sri Mayapur Dham, India, situated very close to the holy bank of river Ganga. The atmosphere is filled with excitement in honoring such an auspicious, devotional vow.  Every year HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj also joins us in Sri Dham Mayapur to give all of us His company. We have gathered an overwhelming response from many devotees participating from several countries and from many states of India..

Most importantly, HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj always emphasises on following these 5 days in the shastric way as it is quoted by Srila Suta Goswami in the Padma Purana, Uttarakhanda, ‘This liberating fast is unknown even to the demigods.’

The Padma Purana says that this pleases Lord Keshava the worshipable Lord for the month of Kartik and he who follows, makes spiritual advancement by doing such vrata and is so powerful that one can even free oneself from one of the greatest sins.

Bhishma Panchaka Fasting Details

26th November 2020

By following these days of Bhishma Panchaka fasting one gets the benefit of all the four chaturmasya fasting if one had been unable to follow the same.

Bhisma Pancaka Fasting:

The fasting starts on 26th November (Thursday) and will continue until the 30th November Rasa Purnima Day (last day of caturmasya, last day of Damodara month). The fasting is broken at sunset (or at moon rise) on Rasa Purnima day. Generally, it is recommended to do full fast on Ekadasi and then the following days fruits and roots fasting. Or one can do all the days with fruits and roots fasting.

Levels of fasting:

Devotees can choose whichever level of fasting as is convenient to them. It should not disturb their normal devotional service(s) and daily sadhana.

Level 1:
One can consume products of the cow (#pancha-#gavya) each for each day.
First day: Cow dung (Gomaya)
Second day: Cow urine (Go-muutra)
Third day: Cow milk (Kshiira)
Fourth day: Cow yoghurt (Dadhi)
Fifth day: All products of the ccow mixed (Pancha-gavya)

Level 2:
If one can’t follow level 1, one can take fruits and roots. Fruits with many seeds should be avoided like guava, pomegranate, papaya, cucumber etc. Boiled potatoes, raw banana and sweet potato can be taken boiled or baked. We can use sea salt for taste. Cashewnuts, raisins, dates can be taken. We shouldn’t take milk and milk products in this level of fasting. Coconut water and grated coconut can be taken.

Level 3:
If one can’t follow level 2, one can take “Havishya.”

References: Padma Puraana, Brahma-khanda, Chapter 23; Skanda Puraana, Vishnu Khanda, Kaartika Maahaatmya section, Chapter 32; Garuda Puraana, Puurva Khanda, Chapter 123.

Ingredients as mentioned in Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa (13.10-13):
The following are ingredients that can be taken during Bhisma pancaka. Havishya is usually made with rice and mung dal. For those following caturmasa from ekadasi to ekadasi, technically their Kartika masa is over by ekadasi, so they can take mung dal in their havishya. However, most devotees follow caturmasa from purnima to purnima, so mung dal would not be allowed in the havishya for Bhisma Pancaka. No oil is allowed.

* Rice which is unparboiled – raw or polished, unpre-cooked.
* Ghee from cow
* ‘Saindhava’ salt (mineral salt)
* Ripe banana
* Kaala-shaaka
* Wheat
* Barley

These ingredients are also allowed to be taken:
* Fruits (Skanda Puraana, Naagara Khanda says they must be with a small seed or with few seeds only)
* Mango
* Jackfruit
* Labali fruit
* Roots except ‘keaa’ (a type of grass or root)
* Pippalii
* Haritakii
* Naagaranga
* Ikshu-dravya or sugarcane derivatives (other than gur or mollasses)
* Whole milk with cream from a cow.

The following ingredients are normally part of Havishya but have to be
avoided in the month of Kaartika:
* Mung dal
* Til oil
* Beta-shaaka
* Shashtikaa-shaaka
* Radish
* Jeeraa
* Tamarind

One should take bath in Ganges or a holy river every day and should offer tarpana 3 times for Bhismadeva by saying the following mantra:

#Tarpana #mantra:
(Tarpana is when the Brahmin thread is put backwards (if applicable) and water is taken in both hands. The mantra is chanted and then the water is offered with tilting both hands to the right and downwards so that the water flows down the right thumb. This is a way of offering oblations to the forefathers. You do that for Bhisma on Bhisma Pancaka.)

om vaiyaghra padya gotraya
samkrti pravaraya ca
aputraya dadamyetat
salilam bhismavarmane

santanoratmajaya ca
arghyam dadami bhismaya
ajanma brahmacarine

om bhismah santanavo birah
satyavadi jitendriyah
putrapautrocitam kriyam

** If you do not have any holy rivers nearby:
Those who chant “Ganga, Ganga, Ganga” get the benefit of bathing in the holy river which can be done from anywhere. Devotees can bathe in any river, lake or the ocean.

Offerings to the Lord:
Devotees may offer the following flowers to the Deity:

On the first day, one must offer padma (lotus) flowers to the feet of the Lord.
On the second day, one must offer bilva (wood-apple) leaves of the thigh of the Lord.
On the third day, one must offer gandha (scents) to the navel of the Lord.
On the fourth day, one must offer java flower to the shoulders of the Lord.
On the fifth day, one must offer malati flower to the head (siro-desa) of the Lord.

When there is an overlap of days (tithis), then the flowers for the overlap days can be offered on the same day.

** If you do not have the flowers, then mentally offer the specified flower to the specified place of the Lord.

*Reference: Garuda Puraana
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami

Bhisma Panchaka

The last 5 days of the month of Karttika are traditionally known as the Bhishma Panchaka or the Vishnu Panchaka. Grandfather Bhisma fasted for these five days, preparing to give up his life. In the Hari BhaktiVilasa, it is said that if one is capable, one should observe fasting from certain foodstuffs on the Bhishma-panchaka for the pleasure of the Lord. This is optional. “The fast should begin by remembering Bhismadeva on the Ekadasi day and should end on Purnima [the full moon]. The Padma Purana say that one pleases the Lord and makes spiritual advancement by such austerities.

A five-day worship period prescribed for the last 5 days of Kartika (Damodara) Month and it is known as “Bhishma Panchaka”. Lord Krsna becamse very pleased on Shrila Bhishma and He agreed to give His pure love to those fortunate souls who chant, sing, hear, read, worship and fast for these five days of Bhishmadeva.

“The last five days of Kartika month are known as Bhisma Panchaka. Grandfather Bhishma fasted for these five days, preparing to give up his life. However one observes Kartika-vrata, he should intensify it for the last five days. The best way to observe the Kartika-vrata is to abstain from eating grains for the whole month, and to take only milk or water for the last five days. If one eats grains during the month, he should avoid them for the last five days. Also, one should only eat once a day. This is the proper procedure [for strict adherence].”

“This five day fast is difficult for those people who are not serious in Bhakti. If someone observes this fast, he is considered to have observed all other fasts, because it is greatly meritorious and frees one from great sins. Therefore, everyone should make a great endeavor to fast on these last five days of Bhismadeva.

“The fast should begin by remembering Bhismadeva on the Ekadasi day and should end on Purnima [the full moon]. One should eat only vegetables or fruits and should worship Lord GaurangaKrsna. If he needs to eat, he should do so only in the evening. A woman can also observe this fast by the suggestion of a twice-born, and if a widow observes this fast, she can also attain liberation and happiness.”

“Srila Suta Goswami says in the Padma Purana, Uttarakhanda, ‘This liberating fast is unknown even to the demigods. If one listens to what I have said and fasts on these five days, even if he had sex his sister, daughter, mother, etc. he becomes free from that sin. Even if someone attentively listens to this narration, he also achieves happiness. I tell you the truth again and again that one should keep this fast secretively, and continue performing it unceasingly – such a person surely achieves liberation.”

“In the month of Kartika, which is very dear to Sri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage. Anybody who offers a the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartika, O brahmana, becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as killing a brahmana, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari.” (Brahma khanda ).

Kartika vratinam vipra yathokta karinam naram

Yama dutah palayante simham drstva yatha gajah

Srestham visnu vipra tat tulya na satam makhah

Krtva fratum urje svargyam vaikuntham kartika vrati

(Padma Purana)

“Suta Goswami says, “If anyone fasts and observes the Kartika-vrata according to the rules and regulations, the Yamadutas, the messengers of Yamaraja, run away from him, just as an elephant runs away by seeing a lion. This dear fast [vrata] of Lord Visnu is even better than performing one hundred great sacrifices that would take him to heaven because the person who observes the Kartika-vrata goes to the spiritual world.”

Sulabha mathura bhumau praty abdam kartikas tatha

Tathapi samsarantiha nara mudha bhavambudhau

Yani sarvani tirthani nada nadyah saransi ca

Kartika nivasanty atra mathure sarva mandale

(Padma Purana)

“Although one can easily reach Mathura [Vraja Mandala] on this earth, and although Kartika month is easily observable, and although in the month of Kartika all of the places of pilgrimage, oceans, rivers, and lakes come to the Mathura area, still, those human beings who are foolish and suffering in the ocean of material existence do not take advantage of it.” [Note: Navadvipa Mandala and Kshetra Mandala Puri are non-different from Vraja Mandala and thus great Acharyas like Shri Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada have perfomed their Kartik Vrata in Puri and Navadvipa Dhaam.]

It is advised that it is better to carefully follow the scriptural injunctions to advance in spiritual life than to be lazy and think that it is not necessary.

Vaisnavo na sa mantavyah samprapte kartike mune

Yo na yacchati mudhatma dipam kesva sadmani

“O sage, that foolish person who does not offer a lamp in Lord Keshava’s temple during Kartika is not considered a Vaisnava.”

The conclusion is, as Lord Brahma tells Narada in the Skanda Purna: ‘O son Narada, the month of Kartika is very dear to Lord Keshava. If anyone acts meritoriously in this month just to please Lord Visnu, he receives unlimited results.

Relections on Bhishma Panchaka – Ekadasi Period and Fasting etc. The last 5 days of the month of Kaarttika are traditionally known as the Bhishma Panchaka or the Vishnu Panchaka. In the Hari BhaktiVilasa, it is said that if one is capable, one should observe fasting from certain foodstuffs on the Bhishma-panchaka for the pleasure of the Lord. This is optional. The Padma Purana say that one pleases the Lord and makes spiritual advancement by such austerities.

.. The strictest way of doing this fast is to take only the five products of the cow (pancha gavya) on each of the five days(!). . or fast by restricting the eating like during ekadasis: no grains and beans. only fruits and roots.

Bhishma Panchaka Fasting

The fasting started today on Ekadashi and will continues until the the Rasa Poornima day. (Some years year its a 4 day period) The fasting is broken at moon rise on Purnima day. It is recommended to do full fast on Ekadasi and then the following four days fruits and roots fasting Or five day fruits and roots fasting.

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