Dharmaraja's final question struck a chord!
'However able and qualified, if one is not lucky one does not get wealthy. On the other hand, if lucky, the incompetent and even a kid will get rich. There are hundreds who in spite of trying hard are denied wealth, whereas there are some who get everything with out working for it. It seems that people who adapt evil ways are rewarded with wealth, while those who mind their own business and do their duty remain poor! Those who are well read in नीतिशास्त् , ethics and morality, do not practice it. The incompetent become ministers! The well read behave stupidly. There are some who do not die even if hundreds of arrows are aimed at them, while another dies, even if a blade of grass touches him. What is the reason for all this?'
I am sure we all have our own answers for these legitimate questions! But here is what Bheeshma says, like it or not! While he blamed karma squarely for the war that destroyed so many, he gives some hope when he suggests action, so that one can hope to change things!
Bheeshma replies, 'If one is not wealthy, one must perform severe penance; there are no crops unless the seeds are sown! It is said that with charity comes enjoyment, taking care of elders gives you awareness, with non-violence, you live longer. Hence you must give to the needy, serve those who follow dharma, only speak of good things, do the right things and practice non-violence. Whether it is a mosquito, an ant or an insect, their nature and thier share of good or bad is predetermined at the time of their birth. You must believe in the benefit of doing good, should not depend on evil ways to achieve your ends. 'Time' will enter your mind and ensure that you will follow dharma and eschew adharma! It is only dharma that will finally bring you victory.
Finally Yudhisthira has no more questions! Bheeshma then asks them to go back and come to him on uttarayana day, when the sun commences to move north.of the equator!
It surprises me that pitamaha Bheeshma worried about the day of his passing. He knew or believed that on uttaranyana day the gates of vaikunta opened and his soul would have the darshan of mahavishnu right away. My thoughts are about others who have no way choosing their time of death. What about them or what if Bheeshma had decided to die the day he was defeated. Would his and other souls would be in a limbo till the gates opened. There are so many speculations and so many questions!
Bheeshma's choice reminds of an incident which unnerved us all. It is about a boy of 12, steeped in our rituals and our beliefs, who for whatever personal reasons, committed suicide. He chose the most auspicious day and time to hang himself. He spoke to all his relatives in India the night before, to his father who was travelling. He wrote a beautiful letter to his parents, bidding them good bye, with a prayer that he would be born to them again. (In their next janma?). The parents gradually recovered and spoke about the signs that they had seen all his life. The boy dreamt of snakes and wanted to see them all the time, the proof that their son was from naga lokha. His time had come as a snake lived for 12 about years. The couple, they were very active socially and dynamic, were consoled by the fact that having chosen the right day and time their son would be back from where he had come from! I honestly found it a little odd that the parents encouraged him to go to his school with his caste marks, an international school in a different country. When I asked them about it, they said that the boy wanted it. There were many confusing statements which we wisely decided not to question! It was not the time.
It was very difficult for me to relate to these beliefs as for me, one day is as auspicious or inauspicious as the next day! The same goes with Rahukala and with fasting, giving up a dinner once a week and so on. It is nothing to do with belief or non-belief. It probably is the way I am made!