Lessons from Bhishmadev

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

When the Pandavas along with Lord Krishna and other sages came to meet Bhishmadev in the battle-field of Kurukshetra, he received and welcomed everyone properly, although he was lying on the death-bed. Important point to remember is that he was not lying in bed of roses - but was lying on bed of arrows. We are so fallen that even when we are in healthy and comfortable position, we fail to welcome people properly. With advancement of so-called technology - nowadays people are so engrossed in TV and computers that they don't even care to make an eye to eye contact to welcome guests. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.9.9, Suta Goswami says,

tān sametān mahā-bhāgān upalabhya vasūttamaḥ
pūjayām āsa dharma-jño deśa-kāla-vibhāgavit

Bhishmadeva, who was the best amongst the eight Vasus, received and welcomed all the great and powerful rshis who were assembled there, for he knew perfectly all the religious principles according to time and place.

In his powerful purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada is teaching us some very practical, important lessons which we must follow in our day to day life when we interact with different souls. He says - "Bhishmadeva was one of the twelve great authorities in preaching this cult of devotional service, and therefore he could receive and welcome all the powerful sages assembled there at his deathbed from all parts of the universe. He was certainly unable at that time to welcome and receive them physically because he was neither at his home nor in a normal healthy condition. But he was quite fit by the activities of his sound mind, and therefore he could utter sweet words with hearty expressions, and all of them were well received. One can perform one's duty by physical work, by mind and by words. And he knew well how to utilize them in the proper place, and therefore there was no difficulty for him to receive them, although physically unfit.

After welcoming everyone Bhishmadev then continues to speak kind and encouraging words to Yudhishtir Maharaj with real feeling of empathy and concern. He goes ahead and recites the Vishnu sahasranama and also advises him about the duties of king etc. Indeed we can see this same kindness and empathy in our dear spirtual master as well.  All these days when we used to hear about Gurudev's travel etc - we hardly realised how much Maharaj was extending himself.  But few weeks back by the mercy of Maharaj and Krishna, when we happen to meet him personally at Rajkot, we could see how much difficulties he is going through. In deed unless we experience the pain ourselves, we will never be in a position to appreciate the magnanimous and empathetic nature of Maharaj. In spite of all the pains he is under-going due to oldage, Maharaj talks to each one us with so much care, concern and empathy - be it over phone or in person.  He patiently enquires about our situation and provides practical instructions to solve our problems in life, based on Bhagavat Gita and Bhagavatam and encourages us to do sincere devotional service. 

Normally if we are sick or having some other difficult situation, we will consider our disease/problem to be the most "biggest" problem in the whole universe and would not even care to think about how others are doing. We would either prefer not to meet people to avoid wasting our energy talking with them or even when people come to meet us - we don't care to check about their situation or well-being, but keep grumbling about our own problem. But great souls like Bhishmadev and Srila Gurudev are showing us how we should behave. They neglect their pains and try to reduce the pains of others by showing them the path of devotional service. 

So the lesson for us is that, irrespective of whatever situation we are in, instead of forcing others to put our shoes - we should try to place ourselves in theirs and in a genuine manner we should utter words of encouragement. We should also make a humble effort to explain to them to take shelter of Supreme Lord and His Names which alone could instil fearlessness in all our minds, in all situations.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das and Sudarshana devi dasi.