Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Yudhisthira and Krishna meet Bheeshma. Mahabharata 181

The next morning Yudhisthira goes to meet Krishna at his abode to ask him whether he had a comfortable night and thanks Krishna again, 'With your help, we won our kingdom and fame!'. Krishna does not reply and is deep in thought. Yudhisthira tells him, 'It is a surprise to see you worried. I hope the three worlds are safe?'

Krishna replies, 'Yudhisthira! I was thinking of Bheeshma, the dying ember, lying on a bed of arrows! Ganga's son, tutored in the vedas as a student of rishi Vashista, well versed in warfare as a favorite student of Parusharama!  A great man who knows the past, present and the future. When he goes, the world will go dark like a night without the moon. Yudhisthira, hence go and meet him when he is still alive and ask him whatever you want to know about राजधर्म (laws relating to kings)!'  Yudhisthira's eyes are filled with tears as he hears this. He requests Krishna to join him and both go to meet Bheema forthwith.

Bheeshma is sleeping on his bed of arrows on the banks of Ogavathi. Both salute him from a distance. Krishna asks with devotion, 'Lord! How are you?  Are your body functions as before? Is your mind clear? Are the arrows hurting you too much?  While even a small pin can give so much pain, it must be excruciatingly painful for you with so many arrows! You can choose the time of your death, thanks to a boon given by your father, but you cannot reduce pain with that. You are  capable of guiding the devatas. There is no one who can match your qualities. At least we have not heard of anyone! You are an expert both in the vedas and the art of archery! In equanimity, self-restraint and affection, there is no one equal to you. You are an authority in the practice of dharma as it is declared in vedas, yoga,
rationale and discrimination, history and tradition, ancient lore, dharma shastra and 
proper behaviour. There is none better than you in clearing doubts on any of these subjects.
 Hence I request you to give a few words of advice to Yudhisthira. Who having killed his relatives,
 is suffering immensely'.

Bheeshma looks at Yudhisthira, who is still unable to face Bheeshma.'Why are you feeling shy?
 While it is dharma for brahmins to study, do penance and to give. In the same way, it is dharma 
for a khsatriya to engage in war. If invited, a khsatriya cannot refuse to fight. If someone is going
 in the wrong path, whether it is a father, a brother or a grandfather, he should be punished. 
It is khsatriya dharma to kill anyone who transgresses dharma out of greed'. Hearing these words 
Yudhisthira comes forward and touches Bheeshma's feet and stands in front of him with folded hands!
 Bheeshma is pleased with this.and he smells Dharmaraja's head in a gesture of affection
 and asks him to sit down.

He then asks Dharmaraja to ask him whatever he wants, with out feeling afraid or shy! 
Yudhisthira speaks, 'Grandfather, people who know dharma say that a kings dharma is the biggest! 
I feel ruling a kingdom is a heavy burden! So please teach me raja dharma. I want to learn this.'

 As Bheeshma was tired he asked them to go home and come the next day. When they arrived 
the next day, Bheema offers salutaions to dharma, Krishna and the brahmins and starts to 
explain dharma. 

Here is a good example of one  speaking with humility. Krishna, acknowledged as a god, practices it
to perfection. Praising one, making him feel good, is an art. It is not flattery here as Bheeshma has all the 
qualities which Krishna speaks of and extolls. But Bheeshma was never the king!

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