You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1998

Anec.13&14 of Part I Myths

From: Nutech (
Date: Thu May 07 1998 - 09:29:45 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Given below are Anecdotes 13 and 14 from Part I Myths.
Anbil Ramaswamy
13. The power of Elderly advice (  Parasara )

Parasara was the grandson of the grand sire Vasishta and son of Sakti.
His father, Sakti was killed by demons. To wreak vengeance, Parasara did
a yaga to exterminate the demons. Millions of demons perished. Vasishta
intervened and advised  that killing the demons in retaliation was
equally heinous, that 'two wrongs don't make one right' and asked him to
desist from further damage to the demons. He also explained that Sakti
had to die because of his own Karma and the demons were only  tools in
the hands of fate. 

Respecting the advice of his grandfather (who was also his preceptor),
Parasara called off the yaga.   At that time., Pulastya, the son of
Brahma came on the scene and blessed Parasara saying that though he had
anger and enmity against the demons, he heeded the advice of his Guru
and stopped the yaga. Appreciating  this, he conferred a boon on
Parasara that he would come to know the truth 'as it is' as to who
indeed is the Paramatma and that he would write a Puarana on that
Supreme deity. Vasishta seconded this saying that Pulastya's boon will
soon come true. This is how Vishnu Purana came into being - identifying 
Sri Vishnu as the Supreme Deity.

Pulastya :-    "Purana sahita kartha bhavan vatsa! Bhavishyasi
                     Devata paaramaartyam cha yatavat vedsyate bhavan'"
Vasishta :-   " pulastyena yaduktham the sarvametat bavishyati"


In the olden days, respecting and listening to the well meant advice of
elders was considered the foremost duty of youngsters. It was believed
that this could result in a reward which cannot be measured. The
blessings of Vasishta and Pulastya enabled Parasara to understand the
ultimate truth 'Yataavat' (as it was) which resulted in the birth of
Vishnupurana considered to be the gem among Puranas (Purana ratnam). 

In the modern days, this respect for elders has become totally extinct.
We cannot, however, blame the present day youths for this erosion. The
elders of today both in India and more so in the West have lost touch
with the Scriptures and are as unexposed to standards of rectitude as
the youngsters and have thus forfeited their right to be heard and

If the elders could at least strive to familiarize themselves with the
salutary morals contained in our scriptures and try to live up to them
modern youths will not lose faith in them and will surely endeavor to
follow their example. The scenario unfurled in the Parasara story, if
followed by old and young would certainly elevate both the advisors and
the advised.

14. The power of filial love ( Bhishma)

King Santanu had eight sons through Ganga but due to a commitment to
her, he did not object to her throwing away the first seven children
into  the river,soon on their birth. As he protested when she was about
to throw away the 8th child, she left Santanu. She, however,restored the
boy to him when he had grown up into a youth well versed in the holy
scriptures. The boy was Devavrata.

After Ganga left him Santanu lost all interest in life and gave up all
sensual pleasures but not for long. Four years after, he was accosted by
a beautiful maiden with a divine fragrance. This was Satyavati
a.k.a.Matsyagandhi, a fisherwoman. He fell in love with her and asked
her to marry him. But, the girl's father stipulated a condition that
only the child born to her should inherit the throne. Santanu could not
agree since it was crown prince Devavrata's right to follow him to the

Sad and depressed, Santanu had to reveal his plight to Devavrata.
Devavrata straight went to the fisherman and told him that he was
prepared to renounce his right as heir apparent in favor of Satyavati's
son. The fisherman was shrewd. He questioned what would happen
future,children born of Devavrata claimed their right. On hearing this,
Devavrata raised his arms and swore that he would never marry but
dedicate himself to a life of absolute celibacy and beseeched the
fisherman to give Satyavati in marriage to Santanu. The Gods showered  a
confetti of flowers on him and declared him " Bhishma"- meaning one who
undertakes a terrible vow and fulfills it.

Bhishma lived long honored by all  until the end of the Kurukshetra war.
>From beginning to end, Bhishma, the Pitamaha,(the grand old sire) was
venerated by both Pandavas and Kauravas. He was the preceptor par
excellence but since he was in the employ of Duryodhana,could do no more
than advise him against harboring enmity against the Pandavas. But for
this, he led a virtuous life that won the admiration of the entire
world. At the time of Kurukshetra war, he fought on the side of
On the 10 th day, arrows of Arjuna stuck all over his body in such a way
that there was no intervening space and his body did not touch the
ground due to the arrows sticking out of his body. Lying on the bed of
arrows, he shone brighter than ever before.

The filial love which prompted him to renounce marriage and remain
celibate for the rest of his life secured for him a boon from his father
that he could choose the actual time of his death. He lay on the bed of
arrows till Uttarayana when the Sun turned northwards and then he shed
his tabernacle of flesh.


No one, much less a crown prince would give up his right to marriage and
to the throne as did Bhishma just for facilitating a second marriage for
his father. The magnitude of the sacrifice can be appreciated only by
imagining ourselves in the shoes of Bhishma while he made the terrific
pledge. This brahmacharya coupled with the benign blessings of his
father earned for him a pride of place none else could hope for. It was
this Bhishma who advised all the warriors from his deathbed Dharma
sastras and the Vishnu Sahasranama (1000 names of Lord Vishnu)- a
discourse glorified by the personal audience of Krishna, the very Avatar
of Lord Vishnu. 

The efficacy of filial love is a matter for experience and not for mere
debate like  whether Santanu was right in going in for a second wife
when he had a son of marriageable age. While we may not agree with
Santanu's action, the purpose of the story is to show that any service,
let alone sacrifice, rendered to anyone is self rewarding. More so, in
the case of parents who would bless them even without such service. The
lesson is as valid today as in the days of  Bhishma.