Verse 11

11. Duryodhana instructs his own army to protect Bhisma alone. Bhisma was the role model for both the Pandavas and the Kauravas not just because of his valour and strength but because of his sacrificial nature. He gave up the kingdom for which they were fighting and chose to be a loyal citizen of the state. He was fighting on the side of the Kauravas in spite of knowing full well that the Pandavas were right because as a soldier his duty was to fight for the state. He knew that with Krsna on their side the Pandavas would win. He was thus giving up his life. Bhisma had also sacrificed his happiness by taking a vow of celibacy to make way for his father Santanu to marry Satyavati. Duryodhana wanted to capitalize on Bhisma’s greatness, charisma and unselfishness to motivate his own forces.

The Kauravas had no higher ideal. Duryodhana was driven only by selfishness and greed which could not inspire his forces. The Pandavas had the higher purpose of fighting for righteousness. Besides, the fact that Krsna was on their side was highly inspiring.

Bhisma was true to the ksatriya dharma which forbade fighting a woman. Shikhandi was born a girl who later changed gender to become a man. Bhisma still considered him a woman. He was therefore vulnerable on that count. In the end, he did not fight him in the battle and died at his hands.


Verse 12

12. The seniormost Kuru, the majestic Bhisma, was highly respected for his seniority and experience. He was more valiant than many younger warriors. Strength comes not just from physical prowess but, more importantly, from unselfishness and inner purification. Bhisma saw that Duryodhana’s morale was sagging and blew his conch to cheer him up.

Duryodhana was depressed. Depression is the result of extreme selfishness. Negative forces need a positive force to rally around. A stalwart does not need help. A selfish person is dependent on good people for motivation.

It is, therefore, beneficial to be unselfish. People do not understand this as it gives immediate pleasure to be selfish. In the end it goes against you and you suffer. Remember the law – “Grab you lose, give you gain”.