Bhishma Charitra

by Kartik Pandya | 2011 | 48,028 words | ISBN-10: 8171101966

The English translation of the Bhishma Charitra, an important Mahakavya (epic poem) consisting of 20 cantos. This book details the life and legends of Devavrata Bhishma: a major character in the Mahabhara and relative to both the Pandavas and Kauravas. The Bhisma Charitra (Bhismacaritam) was written by Dr. Hari Narayan Dikshit, an important author...

Canto 14 - Description of Bhīṣma’s Bed of Arrows

1. Thereafter, there was a fierce battle between Kauravas and Pāṇḍavas. Duryodhana made Grandsire Bhīṣmapitāmaha the commander-in-chief of his army.

2. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha also showed his brilliant prowesness according to his popularity. Even though old in age, he annihilated the troops of the Pāṇḍava army like a valiant youth.

3. And this side Arjuna, even though made to understand by Lord Kṛṣṇa, could not hold the sense of strong enmity in his mind towards Bhīṣma Pitāmaha. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha also, understanding all this, was always giving his good blessings to Arjuna.

4. In such situation, steady and valiant Lord Kṛṣṇa who has become the charioteer of Arjuna thought of crossing the boat of fate which was staggering in the sea of enemy troops (i.e. Kaurava troops).

5. Even the king Yudhiṣṭhira was very worried by seeing the valour of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha; and he has believed that in the presence of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha in the battle-field, their victory was not possible.

6. After discussing with Lord Kṛṣṇa in this matter, Yudhiṣṭhira, remembering the ‘statement’ of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, as per the rules of battle which were already established, went to meet him during the time of rest (i.e. at night) along with Lord Kṛṣṇa and his younger brother.

7. And having bowed down respectfully, they asked for the means of winning in the battle. Then, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, with a wish of surrendering himself in the hands of death, affectionately spoke to Yudhiṣṭhira thus.

8. O son! Since justice, righteousness, strength, intelligence, valour and patience are with you, I wish you that you only become victorious. There is no doubt in the fact that you all are dear to me.

9. This Śrīkṛṣṇa is Himself Lord; the Lord of the entire Universe; and He always helps everyone. Therefore, you will only become victorious. You should not bother in this matter.

10. By seeing the deceitful nature of Duryodhana, my wish of living life has got finished. Therefore, I, while following the kṣatriyadharma, wish to die by the arrows of Arjuna now in this battle.

11. I have practised penance a lot; and have also acquired a lot of fame; I have also seen happiness and sorrow a lot. With the blessings of my father, the death is under my control. But now, nothing is left to do for me.

12. Therefore, O son! Now I wish to end my body in this battle. There will be no better accomplishment than this, ‘my story ends in front of Lord Kṛṣṇa’.

13. My inner-self is with you people; but the body is with Duryodhana. Therefore, this body being fostered by his grain should be vanished for his motive only. So, that there remains no obligation of him on me.

14. Therefore, O son! Listen to my talk carefully; understand it; and act accordingly. As a result, you achieve your kingdom by killing me also like all your enemies in this battle-field.

15. That Śikhaṇḍī, the son of the king Drupada, was his daughter first. Before this, he was born in the form of a daughter of Kāśīnareśa in his previous birth.

16. That Ambā, the daughter of Kāśīnareśa, is indeed born as Śikhaṇḍī in this birth with a wish of taking revenge from me (assuming me as a cultprit); I know this secret.

17. Therefore, in my opinion Śikhaṇḍī is like a woman due to his history of his previous life. As a result, I do not feel it appropriate to attack on him even though if he attacks on me.

18. This is the reason why I keep my bow down, whenever Śikhaṇḍī comes in front of me for fighting a war; and as long as he is in front of me in the battle-field, till then I stop fighting in the battle-field.

19. At that time, if Arjuna attacks with the sharp arrows on me who has become slow and the valorous, then I shall surely fall from my chariot with a wish to have journey of the highest abode.

20. No one can kill me except Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna. No one can kill me when I become alert in the war and hold the bow in my hand.

21. This Arjuna remains soft while fighting a war too with me, it is not proper. He should give up this fault. Kṣatriyadharma is indeed very stern; softness is not considered to be good in it.

22. If any one becomes hindrance in the achievement of a goal, then he should be destroyed. A person, wishing victory, should not be compassionate towards the warrior of an opponent party in the battle-field.

23. This (my) body is perishable; what lamentation should be done after it? And it has become old even in that case. Therefore, it is not proper to lament after it. And I also wish to hold a new form after giving it up. Therefore, O son! You do not bother about me in your mind.

24. Son! The death is waiting for me since last so many days. Therefore, I shall become as happy after my death, as the soul of a human-being becomes happy by putting off old clothes and putting on new clothes.

25. O king! Understand the relation of union between body and soul as perishable only. Therefore, righteous, patient and scholar persons do not get illusionised by seeing its destruction.

26. You are righteous; a strict follower of rules and regulations, a resolute one, a scholar, dear amongst people and well-served by Śrīkṛṣṇa, Bhīmasena and Arjuna. Therefore, do the work which is to be done by giving up worries.

27. This Yogeśvara Lord Śrīkṛṣṇa and this archer Arjuna are with you. And you are also an incarnation of Dharma on this earth. Therefore, O king! Do not worry about your victory.

28. Śrīkṛṣṇa smiled by hearing the preachings of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha; Arjuna was worried. Yudhiṣṭhira was satisfied; and Bhīmasena became sad.

29. Tranquil minded Yudhiṣṭhira, taking the grace of his delighted Grandsire and his permission, returned to their tent along with his brothers silently.

30. Thereafter, on the tenth day of war, in the morning time, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, having worshipped the almighty God and meditating upon his parents, started thinking minutely thus.

31. I condemn myself being under the food of Duryodhana that I am protecting him; and committing sinful deeds by punishing those (Pāṇḍavas) who are not deserving punishment.

32. Wise persons indeed do not protect the unrighteousness nor destroy the righteousness. But I have the grief that by doing both of theses activities, I am calumniating the boon of death at will given by my father.

33. Duryodhana has become accustomed of doing condemned deeds. He is sisnful, mean and family-ruinous. So, a wise person like me should not support him. For this, my death is proper.

34. I, by doing unrighteous deeds, am becoming depraved in the eyes of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And in the eyes of deities sitting in the heaven also, I am going to become a reproached.

35. There is no doubt in the fact that the society of wise persons will also defame me. Therefore, I, being vanished and by giving up gallantry, should protect my popularity. For this, my death is proper only.

36. Therefore, in the battle of today I must die. Now I should not destroy my popularity more. Enough is the payment of food of Duryodhana. Now I should protect my duty by dying myself.

37. The holder of a bow pināka by name, O Lord Śaṅkara! I also pray to you that you bestow upon Arjuna strength and intelligence, so that he can kill me through his arrows in the battle-field today; and so that there will be no rise of sense of compassion towards me in his mind.

38. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, by making such firm resolution in his mind, started smiling. Whose inner-self of a person does not get happy in the world on the removal of unrighteousness? It means that all wise persons become happy only.

39. Thereafter, resolute and the chief of valiants, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, being strongly determined and by bringing his army for fighting his last battle, stood firm in the battle-field on its proper time.

40. The armies of both Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas started making their efforts to achieve their desired goals. At that time, by looking them it was appearing like two cyclones coming from different directions forcefully were trying their best to make their own ways respectively.

41. Now, sometimes marching forward and sometimes backward; and dragging the victory like Lakṣmī (the Goddess of wealth &prosperity) towards themselves, those two armies, making tug of war (with each other), was looking gracious like the two troops of warriors.

42. In the battle-field, being pulled by the warriors of both the parties, therefore moving towards the Kaurava party for a moment and moving towards the Pāṇḍava party in the next moment, was looking like a swing.

43. Meanwhile, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha started the shower of his arrows; as he was wishing to provoke Arjuna. Being scorched by the shower of his arrows, the condition of the groups of soldiers of Pāṇḍavas was like those of goats being perturbed by the heavy rain-fall.

44. Archer Arjuna, seeing his own army being vanished by the shower of arrows of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, being motivated again and again by Lord Kṛṣṇa and understanding own duty as a warrior, came speedily in front of him by keeping Śikhaṇḍī in front of him.

45. Śikhaṇḍī immediately started attacking the body of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha with his arrows; but Bhīṣma Pitāmaha was not pained even little by him. It happened surely that Bhīṣma Pitāmaha stopped on seeing him in front.

46. In that situation, warriors like Duḥśāsana etc. of Kaurava army came in front to protect Bhīṣma Pitāmaha from Arjuna; and they all started wishing to kill Śikhaṇḍī and Arjuna alive.

47. Looking at this sight, the warriors of Pāṇḍava army like Bhīmasena etc. also came there to protect Arjuna. Then there was a fierce battle amongst them for a long.

48. At that time, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha injured the entire Pāṇḍava army through his arrows except Śikhaṇḍī. He pained archer Arjuna also very much who was protecting Śikhaṇḍī by an assault of his arrows together.

49. Then, Arjuna also wounded him by the blow of his arrows on him;and also cut his bow. On the other hand, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha with the desire of passing away by seeing Arjuna who has got angry on him; continued fighting in the war happily.

50. Lord Kṛṣṇa, understanding the mental emotion of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, told to Arjuna displaying his valiance (that), O archer! Bhīṣma like sun wishes to move towards its setting (wishes to set); therefore it is not proper to delay now.

51. By listening to the advice of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna, diverting all his energy, started showering his sharp arrows fluently on every part of the body of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha.

52. Bhīṣma, though being able to execute those arrows of Arjuna, did not execute them with a wish of passing away. As a result, being injured on some vital spots of the body because of those arrows, he fell on the earth.

53. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, by tormenting all the warriors of Pāṇḍava army through his valiance the whole day, it is a matter of grief that, being pierced by the arrows of Arjuna in the evening, as a result being besmeared with the blood, fell on the battle-field in the same way as the sun by tormenting all people through his heat during a day, being joined with his rays in the evening time and being red in form, fell into the western sea.

54. He could not touch the earth, since the arrows were noosed to each and every part of his body. As a result, he laid down on the bed of arrows only. He has won the longevity, therefore when he remembered that the son is presently on the Northern equator, even in that situation he controlled his life-breath from coming out.

55. Hearing the fall of the body of Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, the army of both the parties, giving up the fight, coming there restlessly, being distressed and surrounding him, stood there.

56. At that time, they were, surrounded to him, looking like the stars that have surrounded the moon which has fallen on the earth. The popularity of renowned and recluse persons increases more at the time of their death.

57. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, seeing these warriors standing all the sides, experienced that it is the respect appropriate to a valiant who is going to achieve a heroic end. Then, he, welcoming them patiently, expressed them his wish thus.

58. I shall not give up my life-breath till this sun stays on the Southern equator and therefore, I shall hold this body; and I shall meditate upon the sun god by sleeping on this bed of arrows only.

59. You people make the proper arrangements here only for the protection of my body. Night is going to happen; therefore, O warriors of both the parties! You people also, forgetting enmity, set out for your respective homes.

60. On hearing the statements of the chief amongst warriors Bhīṣma Pitāmaha who has achieved that state, the warriors of both the parties full of faith towards him, made the arrangements of the protection of his body from all the sides with the tears in their eyes.

61. At that time, those warriors of both the parties, forgetting enmity in front of him, making the arrangements of all kinds to protect his body and by bowing him down, immediately set out towards their respective habitants with their minds sad.

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