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By Jit Majumdar

Sometimes transliterated as: Bhisma, BhIsma, Bhishma

  1. terrible; fearsome; awesome; formidable; forbidding
  2. the son of King Śāntanu and Gańgā, the patriarch, guardian and regent of the Kuru family, the uncle of Dhŗtarāşţra and Pāndu, and the grand-uncle of the Kauravas and Pāndavas. He was born as Devavrata but came to be known by this name for the prowess, courage and for taking the formidably difficult and challenging vow of remaining celibate and unmarried for life, and giving up the right to the throne as his father’s successor, for the sake of his father who desperately wanted to marry the fisherman’s daughter Satyavatī, by agreeing to such a condition laid down by the fisherman (M. Bh.); another name for Śiva.