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There are some basic elements that need to be outlined here. The first is that basic collision of values or the war that sets up the Mahabharata is one in which the Pandavas are pitted against the Kauravas. Both sides are actually cousins that end up being poised against one another because of greed and coveting wealth. The Pandavas fight with the assurance of Lord Krishna on their side, particularly so for the mighty Pandava warrior, Arjuna. The Kauravas fight with material prosperity in this life and the belief that their will can alter the cosmic alliance in going against Lord Krishna. Bhishma is a noble figure from the losing side of the Kauravas. Interestingly enough, Bhishma's genealogy is as the grand- uncle of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Bhishma is an extremely skilled archer warrior who tried to bring peace to both sides, recognizing the fundamental futility in trying to engage in war. He is unsuccessful and in upholding the honor of both his family and his own name, he valiantly fights. His death is a painful one, a moment in which his own honor and strength are secondary to his understanding of the true nature of being, one in which the Lord's power is understood and recognized as the only reality worth living.
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