BHISHMA’S DEATH (Story from Mahabharata)
Bhishma shines as the most prominent
And powerful figure in Mahabharata.
The son born to Santanu by
A Vasu destined to spend years in the
World of human beings; Vasishta’s
Disciple; Learned in all arts; Warrior who
Was equal to Parasurama; Man of terrible
Vows who sacrificed his own pleasures
To keep father happy; One whose name
Struck fear in the minds of adversaries;
Champion of righteousness; grandsire:
All these mark him out as uniquely great.
His name inspires respect and admiration.
Events leading to the death of Bhishma
Were no less extra ordinary than those
Relating to his birth, which to say the
Least, bordered on the most miraculous.
While carrying out his mission on earth,
He was, indeed, both human and divine.
He had obtained a boon,“Ichcha Mrityu”
Which gave him the power to choose
The time for his death! This also made
Him invincible, as no one could kill him
Unless he chose the time of his death.
On the tenth day of Mahabharata war
Arjuna was assigned the task of killing
Bhishma. Arjuna’s reluctance to engage
His revered guru in serious battle, made
About take on himself the task of killing
That invincible and glorious warrior.
But Arjuna intervened and reminded
In the war.
Promised that he would do everything
Possible to kill Bhishma. A low stratagem
Had, however, to be employed. Sikhandin
(Amba in previous life) had taken a vow
To kill Bhishma as an act of revenge for
The wrong done to her by Bhishma. As
Sikhandin was born a woman, it was not
Chivalrous for Bhishma to fight her. So,
Sikhandin was placed in front of Arjuna,
Who used Sikhandin as a shield. The war
Raged in its full ferocity. Sikhandin shot
Arrows at Bhishma unaware of Bhishma’s
Feelings and without any fear of retaliation,
From his victim. Bhishma was offended
When Sikhandin’s arrows pierced his body.
He however controlled his anger. But when
Arjuna’s arrows wounded him he told the
Kaurava prince, Dushasana “These are the
Shafts of Arjuna; they cannot be sikhandin’s;
Because they tear my flesh as a crab’s young
Ones tear their mother’s body”. Such was
His love for his dear disciple Arjuna. Though
Bhishma fought for the Kauravas reluctantly,
He did his duty by them. (It must have been
A matter for satisfaction to him that he lived
To see that the Pandavas won the war of
Righteousness). Bhishma’s body was now
Pierced all over by arrows so numerous that
When he was grievously wounded and fell
From his chariot, his body did not touch
The earth, but rested on a bed of arrows
Sticking to his body. By this time, the sun
Had crossed the equator to the southern
Hemisphere and he had to wait for an
Auspicious moment of death which would
Not be for another six months when the sun
Returns to the northern hemisphere. Six
Months on a bed of arrows! As his head
Was without support, he asked for a pillow.
Though princes brought some pillows, he
Was not satisfied. Arjuna shot arrows on the
Ground below his head in such a way as
To give a prop befitting the brave warrior.
When he asked for water to drink, Arjuna
Again sent an arrow which pierced earth so
Deep that water came gushing straight to
Bhishma’s lips to quench his thirst! It was
As if Mother Ganga herself came to moisten
Her son’s dry lips. From his bed of arrows,
He appealed to all to stop the war. But it was
Too late and nobody listened to his advice.
Bhishma, as requested by
Valuable advice on Dharma and other matters
Of importance to Yudhishthira and others
Who had gathered round him to pay their
Respects. At last when he gave up life at a
Moment of his own choice, gods from above
Saluted him with folded hands and a gentle
Breeze laden with fragrance blew over the
Around him to pay homage. His mission over,
He finally returned to the abode of the Vasus.
This is one the best portions of Mahabharata that I like. I recently saw this episode in BRchopra's mahabharat in the TV. Absolutely inspiring.
Enduring ideals,without which life loses much of its meaning.
Thanks for visit and comment, which is uplifting!!
Dear Kvakutty. Many thanks for enlighteing the most excruciating episode of Bhishma without this chapter MAHABHARATHA would not be the epic inspiring mankind for millinia as a solid synmobol of courage,conviction,commitment, the three traits hardly combine. Very well presented for educating the great epic the history of makind had. Congratulations.
Thanks for wonderful comment. Yes, the conduct of the heroes in the epics is worthy of emulation in our age of crumbling values.
I liked your narration. The lives of some people are so sweet and every act of Bheeshma was filled with love. WE should take a leaf out of the lives of such humans and lead good lives worthy of remembrance. He was a true vasu, wasn't he/