Bhishma (Sanskrit: भीष्‍म, IAST: Bhīṣma, lit

 ’terrible’), also known as Pitamaha, Gangaputra and Devavrata

He was the supreme commander of the Kaurava forces during the Kurukshetra War mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata

He was the one who witnessed the Mahābhārata completely from the beginning since the reign of king Shantanu of Kuru kingdom

Bhisma was the elder brother of grandfather of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas and statesman of Kuru Kingdom

He was born as the elder son of the illustrious King Shantanu and Ganga

He was related to both the Pandavas and the Kauravas through his half-brother, Vichitravirya

Originally named Devavrata, he was made the heir-apparent of the kingdom

However, he ceded his rights for his father’s happiness and took the vow of lifelong celibacy

He took the extreme step of vowing to be celibate at a young age, because of this massive decision, he came to be known as Bhishma and was blessed to live as long as he wanted

He played a major role in the political affairs of the Kuru kingdom and participated in the Kurukshetra War from the side of Kauravas

On the tenth day of the war, the Pandava prince Arjuna, with the help of Shikhandi, pierced Bhishma with numerous arrows and paralysed him on a bed of arrows

After spending fifty-one nights on the arrow bed, Bhishma left his body on the Uttarayana (winter solstice)

Before his death, he handed down the Vishnu Sahasranama to the emperor Yudhishtira

Bhishma has a large significance in the Hindu culture

Each year his death anniversary is celebrated as Bhishma Ashtami, which falls on the eighth lunar day of the Shukla (light) half of Magha (January–February) month