Sunday, 6 May 2012

Bheeshma falls. Mahabharata 141

In the next day's व्यूह , pandavas put Shikandi in front. On either side are Bheema and Arjuna. Behind them are the upa-pandavas and Abhimanyu.  Further back are Dhristadhyumna and his warriors and soldiers. Kauravas have as usual, Bheeshma in front, Dussasana and a few other kauravas are on his sides. Drona, Ashwatthama and Bhagadatta at the rear.

The war begins and Bheeshma inflicts a lot of pain on the pandavas with his weapons. Arjuna  encourages Shikandi with, 'I will protect you from those who attack,  face Bheeshma without fear.'   However, Bheeshma is not bothered by Shikandi's arrows, and does not care to counter-attack Shikandi. Dussasana engages Arjuna in a fight to stop him from supporting Shikandi, looses and retreats, but stays on Bheeshma's side. Bheeshma ignores Shikandi and concentrates on attacking Arjuna.

Arjuna withstands the onslaught from Bheeshma, also kills warriors from videha, kalinga and others by using special astras which sears them. Kripa, Shalya, Vikarna and many more retreat unable to face Arjuna. Pandavas then encircle Bheeshma and shoot arrows non-stop. The arrows tear his armour , break his bow and his body is riddled with them. Finally Bheeshma falls with the arrows still sticking to his body.

There is uproar all over. Both the armies, stupefied,  put their weapons down and stand quietly. But Bheeshma is not dead. As it was not a propitious time to depart, to ensure his place in heaven, he waits for 'uttarayana'. Being blessed, he is able to choose the time of his death.

By then it was sunset and the fighting stopped.  Warriors from both the side go to Bheeshma and salute him to show their respect. He is pleased with the gesture and tells them that his head needs a support. Soft pillows are brought and he tells them that it is not what he wants. He says with a smile  that for a वीरशयन (couch of a hero) soft pillows are unsuitable. He looks at Arjuna and asks him, if he knows, to get him a pillow that is right. Arjuna offers prayers and shoots three arrows to support  Bheeshma's head and he is pleased that Arjuna understood him.

Doctors arrive with instruments to remove the arrows that are lodged on his body. Bheeshma declines and tells those attending him to pay the doctors their due. 'I do not need doctors now. I have attained the highest success a khsatriya can hope. Just cremate me with my arrows embedded in me!'

1 comment:

Raghunath said...

Bheeshma is the epitome of the right person caught in the wrong place. However, he doesn't flinch. It was so easy for him to switch sides.