Toastmasters Speech 2: Organize Your Speech

My Toastmaster CC2 Speech.

Bhishma’s Teachings for the Modern World.

Mahabharata is perhaps one of the greatest epics of all time, an epic in which every character is present to serve a purpose, to provide teachings of life. Among the myriad of players in the great epic, one characters stand out prominently towering over the rest.  Bhishma or aptly called as Bhishmacharya. The scion who renounced his right to the kingdom to fulfill his father’s wishes, a great archer and a scholar, who had the combined wisdom of balance, purity, devotion, serenity and chivalry. My motive here is to explain the qualities of Bhishma that we can emulate in this trying modern world.  Let me start by giving some glimpses into the life of Bhishma.

Sacrifice

Born as Devavrata, to Goddess Ganga and King Shantanu, he was the legal heir to the throne of Kuru dynasty. Devavrata had to part ways with his mother soon after he was born. . He was brought up and trained by many eminent sages. Devavrata learnt archery from none other than lord Parasurama. He had all the qualities and abilities to become an excellent king. But that was not to be. King Shantanu who had fallen in love with a fisher woman named Satyavathi, wanted to marry her. But Satyavathi and her father had a condition that Satyavathi children should have the access to the throne to which Shantanu could not agree. Shantanu fell into deep depression. Understanding his father’s predicament, Devavrata met Satyavathi and her father and to get the consent for the marriage he took a vow that he will never have the throne and will remain a celibate lifelong. He also promised that his entire life will be dedicated to serve the throne of Kuru dynasty. For the sacrifice which Devavrata had given, he was named Bhishma (he who took terrible oath) by his father King Shantanu.

The first quality that Bhishma teaches us is ‘Sacrifice to our loved ones’. But in this modern world how often we do sacrifice for our parents. Forget about sacrifice, we sometime even don’t find time to find to talk to them.

Commitment

On the other side Bhishma had to pay heavily for the vow. Despite being a great warrior and possessing all the qualities of a great king, Bhishma was reduced to playing the role of an administrator and advisor without any actual powers. He had to lead a life full of loneliness, frustration and sadness. But on no occasion did Bhishma swerve away from the oath that would have helped him having life of eternal happiness. This shows his commitment to truth and values.  We all take oath in on the other form but if faced with even a small disturbance we happily break them off, that too without any regrets.  A big challenge faced by companies today is how they adhere to their corporate values while finding appropriate means to achieve desired ends. We have seen big conglomerates falling down due to bribery, inside trading, scams, etc. Bhishma’s life teaches us to focus on the need to have principles and values as guiding posts so that context and situations do not derail us.

Devotion

There is another side of Bhishma which is less known. His loyalty to the crown never came into conflict with his loyalty to God. With his devotion, goodness and sacrifice, he was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Krishna. In the battle of Mahabharata Krishna broke his own vow to suffice the vow of his beloved devotee Bhishma. In the modern times we pray to god only when we are in trouble. We forget god in good times. Bhishma teaches that no matter what is the state of mind we always need to devote our time to God.

Bhishma wasn’t without his flaws after all he was human. His biggest concussion was that he had to witness silently all inhumanities including the insult of Draupadi. Notwithstanding the negatives, overall, the impression Bhishma proffers is one of man of great dignity, forbearance, courage, integrity, justice, and above all, selfless service for a chosen cause. There is much that the present and future generations of leaders can emulate in their respective spheres of activity and influence from the glorious life of Bhishma.

 

 

Bhishma — The Illustrious man of Mahabharata

1.9bhishma

Bhishma, born as Devavrata, was the eighth son of Ganga and King Shantanu and was the legal heir to the throne of Kuru dynasty. Ganga left Shantanu after the birth of Devavrata. King Shantanu eventually fell in love with a fisher woman named Satyavathi and wished to marry her. When King Shantanu approached Satyavathi’s father for her hand , he denied claiming that when Devavrata takes the throne Satyavathi and the children born to her will end up as slaves of Devavrata. Shantanu could not agree to this conditions and fell into deep sorrow.

Understanding his father’s predicament, Devavrata met Satyavathi and her father and to get the consent for the marriage he took a vow that he will never have the throne and will remain a Brahamachari ( will follow celibacy) life long. He also promised that his entire life will be dedicated to serve the throne of Kuru dynasty. Seeing that his daughter and her offspring will have the right to the throne Satyavathi’s father agreed for the marriage . For the sacrifice which Devavrata had given, he was named Bhishma ( he who took terrible oath) by Shantanu. Shantanu also blessed him with another wish that Bhishma can choose the manner and time of death and cannot be killed otherwise.

Although Bhishma stuck to his promises, Satyvathi started facing trouble in various forms. Her both sons , Chitranganda and Vichithraveerya, died at very young age. Vichithraveerya who was the heir to throne died without having any children with his wifes Ambika and Ambalika. Satyavathi had to persuade Bhishma from whom she had literally snatched the throne to have children with the widowed wifes . But retorted to her that he was stubborn to keep his vows. She had to then take the help of Saint Vedavyasa to get her grandsons to take the Kuru dynasty forward.

More troubles were in line for Satyavathi as her eldest grandson Dritharashtra was born blind and the younger grandson Pandu had to be crowned as the King. Pandu also died due to his own mistakes which led to Dritharashtra taking over as the King. This only paved for the great battle of Mahabharatha between the sons of Pandu ( Pandavas) and sons of Dritharashtra ( Kauravas) for the throne in which both sides lost heavily.

Even though Satyavathi and her father managed to get the throne safe for her neither she or her children were able to enjoy it. Mahabharata clearly gives the message that any achievement through wrong and materialistic means is short lived and it becomes the very reason for your downfall.The throne itself was the reason for the great battle and both sides lost their beloved sons, brothers ,Gurus and relatives.

Bhishma’s biggest concussion was that he had to witness the destruction of his own family and in the Mahabharata battle he had to lead the wrong side and could only bless the righteous side. Finally on the tenth day of the battle Bhishma fell to the arrows of Arjuna and was lied on the bed of arrows in the battle field of Kurukshethra. Bhishma advised Yudhushtira Vishnusahasra nama (Thousand names of Lord Vishnu) from his death bed.

By strictly following his vows and with his ardent devotion towards Lord Krishna , Bhishma remains one of the illustrious personality of the epic Mahabharata.