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Fall of Bhishma

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February 9th, 2003, Sunday (Astami) - Bhismastami

 

>From Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva

 

 

At midday a fierce rivalry took place between the Grandsire Bhishma

and the Somakas. That renowned Kaurava warrior consumed the enemy ranks in

thousands. Coming to challenge Bhishma were Drupada, Virata, Dhristadyumna

and Shikhandi. They showered arrows on Bhishma, and there was not a two

finger breadth of space where he wasn't pierced. However, the grandsire was

not affected. He returned those arrows and struck Drupada, Virata and

Dhristadyumna in the same way that they had pierced him. However, he would

not release a single weapon against Shikhandi on account of his having been

a female in his youth. Bhishma blazed with anger and began to destroy the

Pandava ranks. He killed elephants, chariot fighters and horsemen with his

deadly shafts. On hearing the twang of his bow, the Pandava troops were

struck with fear. Not only did his arrows pierce the combatant's armor, but

passed right through them into the ground. In front of him, the grandsire

created a cemetery of dead bodies, broken chariots, fallen horses and

deceased elephants. With broad headed shafts, he smashed chariots to pieces

including the axle and wheels. Severed heads and numerous weapons lay in

front of the Grandsire. His arrows were like meteors scorching the

Kurukshetra plain. The Pandavas, with the greatest effort, could not rally

their army, so frightened by Bhishma's prowess. The grandfather was endowed

with a young man's power, and when he came upon Arjuna, he began to afflict

him with blazing arrows.

 

Witnessing the rout of the Pandava army by Bhishma, Lord Krishna

spoke to Arjuna, "The hour has come which you have longed for. You must kill

Bhishma now, or he will kill you. In the assembly of Kings at Virata's

court, you promised that slay this great warrior. Now is the time to make

those words come true."

 

Arjuna replied, "Which would be better: another twelve years in the

forest or sovereignty with hell at the end? Which of these should I achieve?

Urge the horses on, O Hrishikesha, I will fulfill your desire. I will

overthrow the powerful Grandsire, that invincible warrior."

 

Thus Lord Krishna drove the chariot to the place where Bhishma was

fighting. The Pandava army rallied behind Arjuna and opposed the Grandsire

eager for battle. Seeing Partha coming, Bhishma roared like a lion and

covered Dhananjaya's car with a curtain of arrows. Then Partha shattered

Bhishma's bow, cutting it into fragments. While Bhishma was stringing

another bow, Arjuna cut that one to pieces, and Shantanu's son exclaimed,

"Well done! Well done!" Then Bhishma, taking up another bow, began to

lacerate Arjuna's body. Arjuna, too, released many arrows piercing his

grandfather and drawing his blood. Bhishma then fought with greater prowess

and began to vanquish thousands of Arjuna's supporting troops right before

his very eyes. The Grandsire then covered Arjuna's chariot with hundreds of

arrows so that Arjuna and Krishna could not be seen.

 

It was obvious that Arjuna was not fighting to full capacity, and

that Bhishma was going to emerge victorious. Arrows were filling the sky,

and Arjuna was falling into danger. Seeing the situation, Lord Krishna could

no longer tolerate the possible defeat of Arjuna. Breaking his own promise

not to fight, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended from the

chariot, and picking up the wheel of a broken chariot, He rushed at Bhishma

while his hair and yellow garments flowed in the breeze. Bhishma had

promised that he would kill Arjuna, and to save His devotee, Lord Krishna

would have to fight. This was the vow of Bhishma. Roaring like a lion, the

Lord of the universe, the mighty Lord Krishna assaulted Bhishma. Lord

Krishna resembled a rain cloud passing through the sky decorated with

flashes of lightning. Beholding the lotus eyed Lord rushing towards him,

Bhishma began to release arrows that pierced Lord Krishna's body. The

Supreme Godhead whose body is completely transcendental received those

arrows like a lover receives the affectionate bites of his beloved girl

friend. Bhishma said to the Supreme Lord, "Come, come, O lotus-eyed one. I

offer you my respectful obeisances, O God of gods. O my Lord, destroy me in

this battle so that I may win great fame. O Govinda, You may strike me as

you please for I am Your eternal servant life after life."

 

Descending from his chariot, Arjuna ran after Lord Krishna and

seized him. Stopping Him with great effort, Arjuna pleaded, "O mighty armed

Keshava, You should not break the promise you made in the King's assembly.

You said at that time, 'I will not fight.' Alas this great burden rests on

me. I swear I will slay the grandsire. I swear by my weapons, by truth and

by my good deeds. You will behold this mighty warrior thrown down by me with

the greatest ease." Lord Krishna did not reply to the statement of Arjuna,

but in great anger, He mounted the chariot and again guided the horses of

His devotee. Bhishma once more showered arrows upon Arjuna's chariot. Once

again the Grandsire began to slay hundreds and thousands of troops by using

his celestial arrows. No one could even look at him as he released his death

dealing weapons. One could only see thousands of slain horses, elephants,

and men, as well as the sky filled with his arrows. The Pandavas gazed on

Bhishma in wonder and could do nothing to stop him. Thus without a

protector, the Pandava Army broke and fled the battlefield. At this time the

sun set its course on the horizon and with its disappearance, the great

divisions of both sides withdrew to their camps.

 

Witnessing the slaughter of his men, Yudhisthira could not find

peace. The Kauravas, extremely delighted at the turn of events, followed

Bhishma to his tent glorifying his prowess. Meanwhile the Pandavas along

with their generals held consultation to discus the days events. Reflecting

on what had taken place, King Yudhisthira said to Lord Krishna, "Behold the

prowess of the Grandsire, Bhishma, O Vasudeva. He has crushed my troops like

an elephant in a sugar cane field. I think it is possible to defeat Yamaraja

or Indra in battle, but this Bhishma cannot be slain. When this is the case,

I have fallen into an ocean of grief. O Invincible one, I will now retire to

the forest for I have no purpose to fulfill. Witnessing the slaughter of my

troops, I do not desire sovereignty of the universe. O slayer of Madhu, my

brothers are greatly afflicted by our grandfather, and I am afraid that they

might be slain. Please show us Your favor, O Krishna, and tell me what will

benefit us at this time."

 

Smiling with compassion, Lord Krishna, the protector of His

devotees, advised Yudhisthira, "O son of Dharma, You are follower of the

religious principles, and therefore, there is no need to lament. When you

have these invincible heroes for your protectors, why fall into an ocean of

sorrow? Arjuna and Bhima alone are capable of routing the enemy. Both Nakula

and Sahadeva are as capable and qualified as the King of heaven himself.

Even I, O son of Pandu, will fight with this Bhishma and slay him. If

Arjuna, out of weakness, will not kill him, then I will kill him in the very

sight of Dhritarastra's sons. He, who is the enemy of the Pandavas, is also

my enemy. Your brother, Arjuna, is my friend, relative and disciple. I will,

O King, cut off My flesh and give it away for Arjuna's sake. Therefore,

order Me, O King, to fight with Bhishma. Formerly at Upaplavya, Arjuna spoke

up in the King's assembly, promising, 'I will slay Ganga's son.' If provoked

in battle, Arjuna can fulfill that promise, or I can fulfill that promise

for him. Bhishma has fallen under the sway of demons, and the reaction that

will accrue to them will also fall upon him. That is the way

of karma."

 

Hearing Lord Krishna's advice, Yudhisthira said, "It will certainly

be as You say, O Madhava. All these Kauravas taken together cannot bear Your

prowess. I am sure that all my desires will be fulfilled as long as You, My

Lord, are our protector. O Govinda, what is there to say about Bhishma,

although he is a mighty warrior? Before the battle he agreed to to give

counsel to us although he would not fight on our side. Therefore, O slayer

of Madhu, let us approach him and ask him to advise us about this situation.

When we were fatherless and orphans, he raised us with great affection. Thus

we love him much. O to hell with the profession of a kshatriya!"

 

Hearing these words, the descendent of Vrishni, spoke to

Yudhisthira, "O son of Pandu, your counsel is filled with wisdom and very

pleasing to hear. Let us go to Bhishma's tent and ask him how we can obtain

his death. When you question him, he will certainly reply with the truth."

 

Thus the Pandavas followed Lord Krishna to Bhishma's abode and

offered their obeisances unto him. Then the mighty armed Bhishma addressed

them, "Welcome, O descendent of Vrishni, welcome O Dhananjaya. Welcome, King

Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. What can I do to enhance your joy?

Even if it is difficult to achieve, I will endeavor with all my soul to

fulfill it."

 

Unto the chief Kuru descendent, Yudhisthira lovingly spoke the

following words, "O worshipable grandfather, you are conversant with all

knowledge. How shall we obtain victory and sovereignty? How also can this

needless destruction of the kshatriya race be stopped? Please answer these

questions, and also tell me how you will meet with death? It is not in our

power to stop your progress. While releasing your arrows, no one is able to

tell when you draw the string, place the arrow and release the arrow. This

all happens in one motion. O bull of the Bharata race, where is the man who

can stand in front of you as you shower your arrows causing great

destruction. Tell me, O Grandsire, how will we vanquish you in battle and

gain sovereignty."

 

Replying to Yudhisthira's inquiry, Ganga's son said, "As long as I

am alive, O son of Pandu, you will not have victory. O possessor of great

wisdom, this is the fact of the matter. After I am slain, you will be

triumphant. If you, therefore, desire victory, then kill me without delay. I

give you permission to do so. You are fortunate to know my position, for if

you had not solicited my advice, then there would have been days of

misfortune ahead. Listen to my words, and act upon what I say. With my large

bow and other weapons, I fight very carefully in battle. No one, not even

the demigods headed by Indra, can defeat me. If, however, I lay aside my

weapons, then you may defeat me. It is known that I will never fight with a

woman or one who was once a woman. The son of Drupada, Shikhandi, was once a

woman in his youth and has since attained manhood. Keep Shikhandi before

Arjuna, and let Arjuna release his arrows and pierce my body. I will not

fight with Shikhandi. At that time I will lay down my weapons, and taking

this opportunity, Arjuna may strike me on all sides and gain victory. Except

for Devaki's divine son, Lord Krishna, or Arjuna, there is no one who can

defeat me. After I am vanquished, you will be able to defeat Dhritarastra's

sons and their allies."

 

After hearing the Grandsire's instructions and offering their

respectful obeisances, the Pandavas went back to their tents. Knowing that

he would have to be the cause of his grandfather's death, Arjuna said to the

Personality of Godhead, "How, O Madhava, will I be able to fight with the

Grandsire who is senior in years, who possesses great wisdom, and is the

oldest member of our dynasty? While sporting in our childhood days, O

Vasudeva, I used to climb up on his lap and smear him with dust. O

Janardana, he is my grandfather worthy of great respect. I use to address

him as father, but he would correct me and say, 'I am the father of your

father.' O how can I kill this worshipful person in combat. Let my army

perish, and let me also perish. I will never kill one who is worthy of my

worship."

 

Lord Krishna replied, "Having vowed to kill Bhishma before, O

Jishnu, how can you refrain from keeping your vow? You will not be

triumphant without slaying Ganga's son. This is predestined by the desires

of the demigods. It cannot happen otherwise. You are to be an instrument in

this great battle, and you should not consider yourself the cause. Such were

my instructions before the battle. Do not hesitate. Follow the advice given

by the Grandsire and obtain victory."

 

"O Krishna," Arjuna said, "I will do as you say. It is true that

destiny's course cannot be changed. Therefore, keeping Shikhandi before me,

I will slay Bhishma, the greatest warrior that lives. I will check the other

maharathis with my weapons, and myself and Shikhandi will cause the

Grandsire to fall from his chariot." Having settled the affair with

Bhishma's permission, the Pandavas along with Lord Krishna, retired for the

night with contemplative hearts.

 

 

Thus Ends the Ninth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Ninth Day of

the Great Battle; The Invincible Bhishma.

 

 

 

Bhishma Parva

 

Chapter ten

 

The Tenth Day of Hostilities;

The Fall of the Grandsire Bhishma

 

 

Dhritarastra inquired: O Sanjaya, on the tenth day of the famed

battle, how did Shikhandi challenge Ganga's son? The great Bhishma had

received a benediction from his father that he would die only when he

desired. Therefore, how would it be possible for Shikhandi or even Arjuna to

take the life of that great soul? Please tell me in detail, O Suta, how the

grandsire advanced against the Pandava army.

 

Sanjaya said: O King, the grandsire Bhishma has always acted as your

father, friend and counselor. For your fault, you will now hear about the

fall of this great soldier. When the hour of sunrise came, the Pandavas and

the Kauravas arranged their divisions in battle formation. The Pandavas

placed Shikhandi at their head, protected by Arjuna and Bhima. Behind them

were the five sons of Draupadi and Abhimanyu. The other maharathis that were

supporting them were Satyaki, Chekitana, Dhristadyumna, Virata, Drupada, the

five Kaikeya brothers, Dhrishtaketu, and Uttamaujas.

 

The Kauravas, placing Bhishma in their forefront, prepared for

battle. Behind Bhishma were Dhritarastra's sons and supporting them were

Drona, Ashvatthama, Bhagadatta, Kripa, Kritavarman, the mighty Sudakshina,

the King of the Kambhojas, Jayatsena, the ruler of Magadha, Shakuni and

Brihadvala. Behind them were millions upon millions of soldiers eager for

battle.

 

The two armies rushed at each other, and the clash of weapons and

armor was uproarious. Shikhandi assaulted the grandsire and released three

arrows that pierced Bhishma's chest. Grandfather Bhishma did not return any

weapon, but destroyed Shikhandi's supporting troops like a forest fire

consuming trees. Bhishma refused to fight with Shikhandi. Despite the fact

that Shikhandi deluged Bhishma with arrows, the Grandsire would not fight

with the son of Drupada. He addressed Shikhandi, "Whether you chose to

strike me first or not, I will never fight with you. You are a woman by

birth, and I can never challenge one who has changed his sex."

 

"I know that you can decimate the kshatriya race," Shikhandi

replied, "and that you have even defeated the mighty Parashurama. Despite

this fact, I will fight with you and slay you. Whether you chose to strike

me or not, you will not escape with your life. O Bhishma, prepare yourself

for the next world."

 

Ignoring Shikhandi, Bhishma began to rout the Somakas and the

Shrinjayas. Fighting with all his energy, he killed ten thousands elephants,

and ten thousand horsemen as well. On this final day the Grandsire killed a

full two hundred thousand foot soldiers. Even though this slaughter was

going on, the Pandavas did not waver in battle. They came forward with

upraised weapons desiring to kill Bhishma.

 

Beholding Bhishma's prowess, Arjuna ordered Shikhandi, "Fight with

Bhishma! Do not feel the slightest fear for your life. Providence has

ordained his fall." Following Arjuna's command, Shikhandi, followed by

Dhristadyumna and Abhimanyu, rushed at the Grandsire releasing their

powerful weapons.

 

At this time Drona was also engaged in battle with the Pandava

forces. Drona began to perceive omens indicating a great Kaurava loss. That

mighty warrior spoke to his son, "On this day, my son, the mighty Partha

will try his best to conquer the Grandsire. Today, my arrows are not coming

from their quiver of their own accord. My bow seems to yawn, and my strength

is leaving my body. My weapons are unwilling to answer my call. Animals and

birds are uttering fearful and terrible cries. My heart is cheerless, and

the sun seems to have lost its radiance. The four quarters are ablaze, and

vultures are flying overhead. The bodies of kings, belonging to the Kaurava

army, seem pale though decorated with golden ornaments. In all directions

the sound of the Panchajanya and the twang of the Gandiva can be heard.

Without doubt, Arjuna is trying to engage only the Grandsire avoiding the

other maharathis. He seeks to kill Bhishma by keeping Shikhandi in front of

him. Alas, what will be our fate?" Thus contemplating the future, Drona

again battled with the Pandava warriors.

 

On this day Bhishma was causing a slaughter of the Somakas and the

Shrinjayas. Arjuna, too, was taking away the lives of hundreds and thousands

of chariot fighters, horsemen and infantry. So great was the bloodbath on

both sides that it was hard to tell which side would become victorious.

Bhishma was scorching the Pandava army, and after ten days, he gave up all

desire to protect his life. Wishing his own death would come, he thought, "I

will no longer engage in the merciless act of slaughtering large numbers of

warriors."

 

Upon seeing Yudhisthira near him, he advised him, "O Yudhisthira,

listen to my words and carry out my request. I have spent so many days

killing large divisions of soldiers. O Bharata, I no longer desire to

protect this body. If you wish to fulfill my desire, then kill me as I stand

on my chariot. Place Shikhandi and Partha in the forefront of your army, and

cause my ascendence to the heavenly planets."

 

Understanding Bhishma's intention, Yudhisthira ordered the Shrinjaya

army headed by Dhristadyumna to attack Bhishma. Arjuna also, following

Shikhandi, began to release his deadly arrows at the grandsire. Within a

short time the Grandsire killed fourteen thousand chariot fighters.

Shikhandi then released fourteen broad headed arrows that struck Bhishma in

the chest. The son of Ganga, however, only looked at Shikhandi with wrath.

 

Arjuna ordered Shikhandi, "Rush quickly and slay the grandsire! Do

not hesitate. Challenge him immediately!" Following those instructions, the

son of Drupada released his deadly weapons for slaying the foremost Kuru

warrior.

 

Coming up to protect the Grandsire was Duryodhana. He ordered all

the great warriors with their combatants to kill Arjuna. Seeing them coming,

Arjuna called upon his celestial weapons and caused a great carnage. His

celestial weapons released hundreds of thousands of arrows severing the

heads, arms, and legs of the oncoming enemy. Angered by the prowess of his

grandson, Bhishma, invoking a celestial weapon, rushed at Arjuna in the

sight of all bowmen. However, seeing Shikhandi in the forefront, the

grandsire withdrew the blazing weapon.

 

Bhishma then fixed his attention on slaying the Somakas and the

Shrinjayas. He single handedly killed ten thousand elephants and seven great

rathas amongst the Panchalas and the Matsyas. He then sent to Yamaraja's

abode ten thousand horsemen and five thousand foot soldiers. Having thinned

the ranks of the Pandava army, Bhishma then killed Satanika, the brother of

Virata. Whoever followed Partha, was sent by Bhishma to the other world.

Bhishma was achieving the most glorious feats on this tenth day of the

Kurukshetra war. No one could stand before the Grandsire as he released his

weapons. The King of the Panchalas, Drupada, Dhristadyumna, Nakula and

Sahadeva, Virata, Abhimanyu, Satyaki, the sons of Draupadi, Ghatotkacha,

Bhima, and Kuntibhoja were sinking in the ocean of the Grandsire. Coming to

save them was Arjuna. He encouraged them and in their presence, he killed

all of Bhishma's supporting soldiers. Then all together the great adhirathas

and the maharathis of the Pandava army attacked Bhishma hoping to kill him.

Keeping Shikhandi in front of them, they pierced Bhishma with hundreds of

Arrows. Arjuna managed to cut Bhishma's bow, and with this act the Kauravas

became enraged. They all attacked Arjuna using their celestial weapons and

showering upon him thousands of arrows. Shikhandi continued piercing

Bhishma, but the Grandsire ignored him and penetrated through the enemy

ranks. Arjuna attacked Ganga's son and tore his bow to pieces. Bhishma took

up another weapon, but that was also shattered by Arjuna's arrows. Partha

managed to cut all the bows taken up by Bhishma. Bhishma was furious and

took up a dart, and with all his might hurled it at Arjuna. Arjuna, however,

tore it to pieces as it came toward him. Seeing his dart cut off, Bhishma

reflected, "With a single bow, I could kill the Pandavas, if Vishnu had not

been their protector. For two reasons, I will not fight with them. One is

that they are protected by Lord Krishna, and the other is that Shikhandi

stands in front of them. I cannot be killed on the battlefield. Such was the

benediction given by my father Shantanu. He said that I would die only when

I wanted too. Now I think that that time has come."

 

Reflecting like this, the demigods and rishis confirmed his

meditation by saying, "Your departure from this world is close at hand, O

King. Withdraw your heart from battle." With these words, a fragrant and

auspicious breeze filled with water particles began to blow in all

directions. In the heavens Bhishma heard the sounds of conchshell, drums and

bugles. Showers of flowers then began to fall from the sky upon the Bhishma.

All this was only seen by Bhishma who now thought of attaining the kingdom

of God.

 

Meanwhile, the great warriors attacked Bhishma with greater

boldness. Arjuna struck Bhishma in every part of his body, but Ganga's son

did not waver the slightest. He returned those arrows and began once again

to afflict the enemy ranks. Shikhandi and Arjuna maneuvered their chariots

near the Grandsire. Arjuna once again cut his bow from his hand and also cut

his banner from the chariot. Shantanu's son then picked up another bow, but

that was also cut to pieces. Repeatedly Arjuna cut all Bhishma's bows, and

thus Bhishma no longer desired to fight with Arjuna. Arjuna began to pierce

the Grandsire with hundreds of arrows as he stood on his chariot. Seeing

Duhshasana near him, Bhishma said, "Just see, the great bowman Arjuna is

piercing me with thousands of arrows. I cannot be subjugated by the heavenly

gods and asuras combined, what to speak of ordinary warriors of this world.

These arrows that are piercing my body are not Shikhandi's but Arjuna's.

Only he can cause me the pain I am presently feeling. These arrows are

released with the power of the thunderbolt. They are like virulent poison,

and they are entering deep into my body. Besides the wielder of the Gandiva

bow, there is no one that can cause me this much pain."

 

Saying this much, Bhishma picked up a dart and hurled it at Arjuna.

Partha, however, cut that weapon to pieces. Then Shantanu's son picked up a

sword and shield to fight with Arjuna, but the son of Kunti shattered the

sword and shield before the Grandsire could descend from his chariot. This

feat was wonderful on the field of battle.

 

Then King Yudhisthira ordered his army, "All rush at Ganga's son! Do

not be afraid!" With these words, the Pandava army assaulted Bhishma with

their upraised weapons. Releasing hundreds of arrows, Arjuna pierced Bhishma

in every part of his body. Indeed, there was not a two fingered breadth of

space where there was not an arrow. Mangled in this way, the aged grandsire

of the Kuru dynasty fell from his chariot to the ground. Great sounds of

lamentation were heard from the Kaurava divisions. When the grandsire fell

from his chariot, the hearts of the Kauravas fell with him. It was as if one

of the heavenly gods had fallen. He fell down from his chariot with his head

facing the eastern direction. Knowing the sun was in an inauspicious course,

he did not allow his soul to leave his body. Because his mortal frame was

pierced with many arrows, he did not touch the ground. At that time, Bhishma

looked divine. The clouds poured a cool shower, and the earth trembled.

Seeing her son fallen from his chariot, Ganga sent rishis in swan-like form.

Circumambulating him, they requested him not to leave his body until the sun

had entered its northern course. He then spoke to them, "I will never pass

from this world while the sun is in its southern route. I will proceed from

this world when the sun changes to its northern passage." The celestial

swans then again entered the heavens and informed Ganga of her son's

decision.

 

When the great grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the foremost warrior,

had fallen from his chariot, both armies ceased fighting. The Pandavas and

the Shrinjayas uttered loud roars like bulls. The Kurus were overcome with

grief. Duryodhana and Kripa sighed and wept tears of anguish. Duhshasana

went to the division where Drona was fighting and informed him of the

Bhishma's fall. Hearing the dreadful news, Drona fell from his chariot

momentarily senseless. Upon regaining consciousness, he forbade his troops

to fight with the Pandavas. Laying aside their armor, both the Pandavas and

the Kurus came to Bhishma's side. They offered their obeisances to the

Grandsire and stood with joined palms. He then spoke to them, "Welcome all

you great heroes. I am joyous to see your sight before leaving this world."

Bhishma's head had not been pierced with arrows and was hanging down. He

requested the warriors present to fetch him a pillow. Quickly they brought

him pillows of the finest silk. However, Bhishma said, "O Kings, this is not

a hero's pillow." He then requested Arjuna, "O Dhananjaya, I am in need of a

pillow. Please give me a pillow as you think fit."

 

Stringing his bow tearfully, Arjuna filled the ground under

Bhishma's head with many arrows. Laying his head upon that pillow fit for a

warrior, Bhishma said, "You have given me a pillow and a bed that is worthy

of a kshatriya. This is the way one should sleep on the battlefield. I will

sleep on this bed until the sun takes it's northern course."

 

Duryodhana, thinking to save Bhishma's life, brought many physicians

to heal his grandfather's wounds, but Bhishma sent them all away, desiring

death only. With the greatest respect, all the Pandavas and the Kauravas

paid their respect to the eldest member of the Kuru family. They stationed

guards to protect him from Rakshasas and carnivorous animals. Then They

circumambulated him and returned to their tents.

 

When the night had passed away, the Pandavas and the Kurus came

again to resting place of Grandfather Bhishma. Many people from Hastinapura

had come to pay their last respects to the dying Bhishma. They were

sprinkling flowers and sandalwood powder upon his body, and some were

blowing on trumpets and some were blowing conchshells.

 

When the Pandavas and the Kauravas had surrounded Bhishma, the son

of Ganga asked for some water. The Kings immediately brought many pitchers

of water to quench his thirst. He refused them all and called for Arjuna. He

said, "My body, covered with arrows, burns and my mouth is dry. You are an

exalted bowman and are able to give me water in a befitting way."

Understanding his grandfather's mind, Arjuna picked up his Gandiva bow and

placed upon it the parjanya weapon. He then pierced the earth causing a

stream of water to quench his grandfather's thirst. Bhishma then addressed

Arjuna again, "O mighty armed Arjuna, this feat in not so wonderful. With

Lord Krishna as your ally, there is nothing in this world that you will not

achieve. Narada has told me that you are none other than Nara, the ancient

rishi of old, and that Krishna is Narayana, the Supreme Personality of

Godhead. You are the greatest bowman that has graced the earth and you are

unequaled among men. I have tried repeatedly to convince Duryodhana of this

fact, but he would not listen. Now, like a fool, he will lay on the

Kurukshetra plain overcome by Bhima's mace."

 

Hearing these prophetic words, Duryodhana's heart saddened. Looking

in his direction, Bhishma advised him, "Listen, O King, abandon your anger.

You have seen how Arjuna has pierced the earth with his celestial weapon.

There is none other who can perform such an act. Indeed, all the celestial

arms are known to Arjuna as well as to Lord Krishna. There is no one else

who possesses them. This Arjuna is superhuman and cannot be conquered. While

the remnants of your brothers have not yet been killed, why don't you make

peace with the Pandavas? As long as Krishna has not cast his wrathful glance

upon your army, make peace. I speak this wisdom for your good. Give

Yudhisthira his city of Indraprastha, and let all these monarchs return to

their kingdoms. If you do not listen to my advice, then you will have to

lament your fate." Speaking these words out of affection for Duryodhana,

Bhishma fell silent. Duryodhana could not accept his grandfather's counsel

because of his wicked heart. Thus he was like a dying man refusing to take

medicine.

 

After the Kauravas and the Pandavas had returned to their tents,

Karna came to the Grandsire as he lay mortally wounded. He approached

Bhishma and offered his obeisances. With a faltering voice and tears falling

from his eyes, he said, "O chief of the Kurus, I am Radha's son, who you

have always looked upon with anger."

 

Hearing Karna's voice, Bhishma opened his his eyes and seeing the

place deserted of men, he embraced Karna with one of his arms. He then said

with great affection, "If you had not humbly come to me, things would have

not gone well with you. Do you realize that you are Kunti's son and not

Radha's? I have heard about this from Narada as well as Krishna Dvaipayana

Vyasa. Without doubt it is true. Honestly, I bear no hatred toward you. It

was only for cooling your envy of the Pandavas that I spoke to you in such a

way. Without any reason you have spoken ill of the Pandavas. Due to bad

association with Duryodhana, you have become like him. Indeed, you are equal

to Arjuna and Krishna in bowmanship. There is no doubt about this. Whatever

anger I have had against you is gone. The heroic sons of Pandu are your

brothers. Therefore, unite with them and let these hostilities end."

 

"What you have told me is true," Karna replied. "I am Kunti's son,

but I have been raised by a suta. I was abandoned by Kunti to die. For so

long I have enjoyed Duryodhana's wealth with my relatives. I dare not

falsify it now. As Krishna is dear to the Pandavas, so Duryodhana is dear to

me. I know well that Arjuna and Krishna are undefeatable in battle, but

still it is my duty to try to kill Arjuna on behalf of my friend Duryodhana.

Please give me your permission to fight. Please also forgive any offense

which I may have committed against you out of foolishness."

 

"If you are not able to cast off this anger," Bhishma said, "then I

give you permission to fight. Through Arjuna you will attain the regions of

heaven. I have tried to make peace, but I have not succeeded. All good

fortune to you. Go and fight." Having said this much, the Grandsire became

silent. Karna then offered his obeisances to Bhishma and circumambulated

him. He then proceeded to Duryodhana's tent.

 

 

Thus Ends the Tenth Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Tenth Day of

Hostilities; The Fall of the Grandsire Bhishma.

 

Thus Ends the Bhishma Parva to the Summary Study of the Mahabharata.

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