Lord Krishna told Yudhishtra that for his doubts to be cleared, he should approach Bhishma who was lying on a bed of arrows. Prameya is what one should know; pramanam is the evidence for what should be known; pramatha is the one who will tell us about what we should know, along with the evidence to substantiate his claim. Lord Krishna chose Bhishma to instruct Yudhishtra. It is the Vedas that tell us about the Supreme One. But the Vedas are difficult to comprehend. That is why we have also been given the Itihasas and the Puranas. There are two Itihasas: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is referred to as the fifth Veda. The Santi Parva is considered the best of the parvas of the Mahabharata. It is the heart of the Mahabharata, and the Vishnu Sahasranama is the beat of this heart. The Vishnu Sahasranama is important not only because it extols the Supreme One but also because it was told by Bhishma, said Kidambi Narayanan, in a discourse.
As Bhishma lay on the arrow bed, Lord Krishna asked him if he was worried about anything. Bhishma replied that no one who had seen Krishna would be worried. The Lord then asked Bhishma to clear Yudhishtra’s doubts. Bhishma humbly submitted that there was nothing he knew that the Lord did not know. Could the Lord then Himself not instruct Yudhishtra? The Lord replied that Bhishma should advise Yudhishtra based on his own experience. Humility in the one who offers instruction is necessary, and Bhishma displayed humility, even when he was asked by the Lord Himself to impart knowledge to Yudhishtra. Had anyone else been in Bhishma’s place, pride would have been foremost in them. But Bhishma was an exception, who was always conscious of the Lord’s greatness.
There is another instance to show Bhishma’s greatness. Krishna was meditating, when Yudhishtra approached Him and asked Him of whom He was thinking. The Lord replied that He was thinking of Bhishma, the best of His devotees, and the one who was always thinking of Him. How great should a person be to have himself described in such glowing terms by the Lord Himself!