After performing this uncommon exploit, Bhishma arranged the wedding ceremony for Vichitravirya. At that time the eldest daughter of the Kashi King, whose name was Amba, approached Bhishma appealing to him, ‘at heart I had chosen King Salwa as my husband. He had in his heart chosen me for his wife. This was also approved by my father. At the svayamvara (marriage ceremony) in Kashi I would have garlanded him and accepted him as my lord if you had not forcibly taken me away. You are aware of moral principles, so please decide whether I am free to go’. Bhishma thought for some time, and after consulting with qualified brahmanas, he decided that Kashi prince Amba could return to the kingdom of Kashi and marry the lord of her heart.
The other two princesses, Ambika and Ambalika, who were as beautiful as the heavenly residents, accepted Vichitravirya as their husband and considered them very fortunate. They considered him a worthy husband, and loved and respected him in every way. Vichitravirya was gifted with the ability of the devas and could steal away the heart of any woman. Thus King Vichitravirya was duly married to the princesses of Kashi, and he passed seven years happily in their company. However, while he was still in his youth, he was attacked by tuberculosis, and although everyone tried to affect a cure, the Kuru prince died, setting like the evening sun. Bhishma grieved the death of his younger brother, and finally performed the last funeral rites.
After receiving consent from Maharaja Bhishma, Princess Amba left the town of Hastinapura, and traveled to the province where King Salwa ruled. She was granted an interview and bowing before him she pleaded, ‘I have come to take shelter of your mighty arms, O brave King. Please accept me as your queen. King Salwa laughed to hear Amba’s request and informed her, I no longer desire you for my queen, for you have been touched by another. It is Bhishma only who can marry you’.
Amba was hurt by King Salwa’s rejection. She pleaded again, ‘O lord of the earth, it is not as you say. Bhishma took me away by force. I did not go with him willingly. I am attached to you, and I beg you to accept me’. Although she repeatedly begged King Salwa, he would not accept her and ordered her to leave his kingdom. Thus Amba left the kingdom of Salwa, lamenting her destiny.
Here my question why Amba took too much time to tell Bhisma about Salwa? Is it her mistake or she had other intention? The writers of Mahabharata remained silent here.
Amba decided to inhabit the forest and practice austerities and penances for the rest of her life. In her wanderings, she came upon the ashrama of some great rishis, and she informed them of her plight. It so happened that among those great sages was her maternal grandfather, Hotravahana. The royal sage felt despondent for what had befallen her and told her that on the following day, Parashurama, the martial teacher of Bhishma, would come to the ashrama. He was sure Parashurama would influence Bhishma to simply accept her hand in marriage.
The next day Parashurama received the ashrama and Amba associated with him the events of her abduction by Bhishma and her rejection by King Salwa. She requested the great sage to kill Bhishma. Parashurama felt pitying the girl and gave her hope by saying, O daughter of Kashi, I will be able to not take up weapons except to guard people who follow the Vedas. Tell me, therefore, what I can do for you. Both Bhishma and Salwa are obedient to me. Do not lament. I will fulfill your desire.
Parashurama, the annihilator of the ksatriyas, then visited Hastinapura, and told Bhisma that, at my command take her yourself and marry her consistent with Vedic rites. Maharaja Bhishma replied, I could not bestow this maiden upon my brother because of her desire to accept Salwa as her lord. As for myself, I have taken a vow of everlasting celibacy, and I will not break that vow under any circumstances. Upon hearing the disobedient words of his disciple, Parashurama was outraged and rolling his eyes in anger, he said, if you are doing not follow my commands, then I shall kill you this very day, along with your counsellors!
However, this instruction is not according to religious principles, and therefore, I will fight with you. I would never slay my preceptor in battle. Because you are acting sinful, I will fight with you. Bhishma and Parashurama then made their thanks to Kurukshetra. Maharaja Bhishma was stationed on a chariot drawn by white horses. Parashurama had created by his mystic power a gorgeous chariot drawn by horses that would travel at the speed of the mind. The fighting began however, it was seen that neither was the victor. The duel went on for twenty three days.
When dawn appeared the next day, Maharaja Bhishma joyfully equipped himself for battle. After a though fight Parashurama’s father, Jamadagni and grandfather, Richika, then appeared before Parashurama ordering, O son, nevermore engage in battle with Bhishma or the other kshatriya. Heroism and courage in battle are the qualities of a warrior, and study of the Vedas and the practice of strictness are the wealth of the brahmanas. Previously you took up weapons to guard the brahmanas, but this is often not the case now. Let this battle with Bhishma be your last.
Now the question arises in my mind though having the confidence of Amba, Salwa rejected her. Amba took the vows to kill Bhisma. But Bhisma taken the path of a kashtriya. Here people like me can raise the issue that Amba was equally and secretly in love with Bhishma,otherwise she would never have had taken a birth only for his death. Bhishma also accepted his death with a smiling face from Shikhandi without any hesitation. He gave up his life for the sake of the happiness of his love.