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Bhishma Pitamaha was considered a very religious and righteous person in Mahabharata. Then why he did not stop Duryodhana? Instead he kept silent in Draupadi's Cheerharan.

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  • Not only Bheeshma but many other court members didn't say anything including Pandavas, Dhritarashtra etc..
    – Mr_Green
    Sep 18 '15 at 6:04
  • @Mr_Green, Vidura and Vikarna did oppose this openly. Bhima loudly disregarded such insult and also expressed to kill Kauravas, but he was stopped by the obedience towards Yudhishtira.
    – iammilind
    Sep 18 '15 at 6:56
  • The whole raja shabha is under influence of Kali that is duryodhana.. except, vidura, drupadi, bhima, arjuna, nakula and shadeva..It was kali inside bhisma said that " im not sure in this case" that is why krishna n his sandhana went vidras home for stay.. even tough bishma and drona asked krishna.. he didnt accept invition of bhisma and drona.. clearly asking what you did you do when drupadi was unrobed..
    – Prasanna R
    Sep 28 '20 at 3:38
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Not that Bhishma did not Say anything, but yes he did not Do anything. He did not Do because of his oath of Seeing his father's image into the King who is the lord of Hastinapur. Had Dhritarashtra instructed him, he would have easily stopped this misdeed. But driven by blind love, Dhritarashtra allowed his son Duryodhana to conduct.
Now first of all let's get into the context of Sabha Parva when the Vastraharan event took place.

In the game of dice, with every move a player will loose whatever is kept on the stack. Yudhishtira after being lost himself in the game, at last put Draupadi on stack and lost it. With that all Paandavas + Draupadi became Slave / Das of Duryodhana.
However, Draupadi denied this concept citing that if Yudhishitra had already become slave/das then he automatically looses the right on her to be put on stack. This was a race condition.

Duryodhana & company were talking about technicality of the game and Draupadi, Vidura & Vikarna were talking about ethics. In other words former were seeing Duryodhana and Yudhishtira as just players and everything else as commodity. While latter were seeing them as brothers and everything else in view of family values.

When she asked this question in the assembly to all seniors,

Bhishma said, 'O blessed one, morality is subtle. I therefore am unable to duly decide this point that thou hast put, beholding that on the one hand one that hath no wealth cannot stake the wealth belonging to others, while on the other hand wives are always under the orders and at the disposal of their lords. Yudhishthira can abandon the whole world full of wealth, but he will never sacrifice morality. The son of Pandu hath said--'I am won.' Therefore, I am unable to decide this matter. Sakuni hath not his equal among men at dice-play. The son of Kunti still voluntarily staked with him. The illustrious Yudhishthira doth not himself regard that Sakuni hath played with him deceitfully. Therefore, I can not decide this point."

I feel whatever he said is quite correct even though it looks diplomatic. Keep ourselves in his shoes and ask to make a decision if the Draupadi was won fairly or not, the same answer will come: "Can't say for sure".

However, the dragging of Draupadi from her room till the assembly and disrobing her was entirely wrong. Because such humiliation is not dharmic even with the slaves or Das. Bhishma kept quite in that due to his oath, but he foresaw the upcoming total destruction and he did express it:

Draupadi said, '... Ye Kauravas, I am the wedded wife of king Yudhishthira the just, hailing from the same dynasty to which the King belonged. Tell me now if I am a serving-maid or otherwise. I will cheerfully accept your answer. This mean wretch, this destroyer of the name of the Kurus, is afflicting me hard. Ye Kauravas, I cannot bear it any longer. Ye kings, I desire ye to answer whether ye regard me as won or unwon. I will accept your verdict whatever it be.'

"Hearing these words, Bhishma answered, I have already said, O blessed one that the course of morality is subtle. Even the illustrious wise in this world fail to understand it always. What in this world a strong man calls morality is regarded as such by others, however otherwise it may really be; but what a weak man calls morality is scarcely regarded as such even if it be the highest morality. From the importance of the issue involved, from its intricacy and subtlety, I am unable to answer with certitude the question thou hast asked. However, it is certain that as all the Kurus have become the slaves of covetousness and folly, the destruction of this our race will happen on no distant date. O blessed one, the family into which thou hast been admitted as a daughter-in-law, is such that those who are born in it, however much they might be afflicted by calamities, never deviate from the paths of virtue and morality. O Princess of Panchala, this conduct of thine also, viz. that though sunk in distress, thou still easiest thy eyes on virtue and morality, is assuredly worthy of thee. These persons, Drona and others, of mature years and conversant with morality, sit heads downwards like men that are dead, with bodies from which life hath departed. It seemeth to me, however, that Yudhishthira is an authority on this question. It behoveth him to declare whether thou art won or not won."

Bhishma did not duck the question but he was really stuck between which to choose technicality vs ethics. That's were he made the mistake, because Dharma or morality was more on the ethics side than technicality of the game.

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    Great answer with interesting facts. Before reading this answer I always thought that Bhishma remained neutral at that time. Nov 4 '16 at 8:47
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Bhishma said, 'O blessed one, morality is subtle. I therefore am unable to duly decide this point that thou hast put, beholding that on the one hand one that hath no wealth cannot stake the wealth belonging to others, while on the other hand wives are always under the orders and at the disposal of their lords. Yudhishthira can abandon the whole world full of wealth, but he will never sacrifice morality. The son of Pandu hath said--'I am won.' Therefore, I am unable to decide this matter. Sakuni hath not his equal among men at dice-play. The son of Kunti still voluntarily staked with him. The illustrious Yudhishthira doth not himself regard that Sakuni hath played with him deceitfully. Therefore, I can not decide this point."

Bhishma was not quiet.

Krishna [says][1] addressing Yudhishtira, in Vana Parva of Mahabharata, on how he would have prevented the dice game from happening at all:

Vasudeva said, "O lord of earth, if I had been present at Dwaraka, then, O king, this evil would not have befallen thee! And, O irrepressible one, coming unto the gambling-match, even if uninvited by the son of Ambika (Dhritarashtra), or Duryodhana, or by the other Kauravas, I would have prevented the game from taking place, by showing its many evils, summoning to my aid Bhishma and Drona and Kripa, and Vahlika!

Also, Bhishma said that Yudhisthira should decide as he was the one who staked Draupadi.

Bhishma later said the same thing but also said that the Kuru race to getting destroyed is not far.

Bhishma answered, I have already said, O blessed one that the course of morality is subtle. Even the illustrious wise in this world fail to understand it always. What in this world a strong man calls morality is regarded as such by others, however otherwise it may really be; but what a weak man calls morality is scarcely regarded as such even if it be the highest morality. From the importance of the issue involved, from its intricacy and subtlety, I am unable to answer with certitude the question thou hast asked. However, it is certain that as all the Kurus have become the slaves of covetousness and folly, the destruction of this our race will happen on no distant date.

https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m02/m02068.htm

So it is not that Bhishma was quiet the entire time but Bhishma's answer probably failed to make an impact like that of Vikarna's answer.

This is what Vikarna said.

https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m02/m02067.htm

Vikarna the son of Dhritarashtra said--'Ye kings, answer ye the question that hath been asked by Yajnaseni. If we do not judge a matter referred to us, all of us will assuredly have to go to hell without delay. How is that Bhishma and Dhritarashtra, both of whom are the oldest of the Kurus, as also the high-souled Vidura, do not say anything! The son of Bharadwaja who is the preceptor of us, as also Kripa, is here. Why do not these best of regenerate ones answer the question? Let also those other kings assembled here from all directions answer according to their judgment this question, leaving aside all motives of gain and anger. Ye kings, answer ye the question that hath been asked by this blessed daughter of king Drupada, and declare after reflection on which side each of ye is.' Thus did Vikarna repeatedly appeal to those that were in that assembly. But those kings answered him not one word, good or ill. And Vikarna having repeatedly appealed to all the kings began to rub his hands and sigh like a snake. And at last the prince said--'Ye kings of the earth, ye Kauravas, whether ye answer this question or not, I will say what I regard as just and proper. Ye foremost of men, it hath been said that hunting, drinking, gambling, and too much enjoyment of women, are the four vices of kings. The man, that is addicted to these, liveth forsaking virtue. And people do not regard the acts done by a person who is thus improperly engaged, as of any authority. This son of Pandu, while deeply engaged in one of these vicious acts, urged thereto by deceitful gamblers, made Draupadi a stake. The innocent Draupadi is, besides, the common wife of all the sons of Pandu. And the king, having first lost himself offered her as a stake. And Suvala himself desirous of a stake, indeed prevailed upon the king to stake this Krishna. Reflecting upon all these circumstances, I regard Draupadi as not won."

His answer actually has an impact in the kings present in the assembly despite being a Kaurava and brother of Duryodhana.

"Hearing these words, a loud uproar rose from among those present in that assembly. And they all applauded Vikarna and censured the son of Suvala.

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