The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said,--The will under which the ruler of Chedi summoneth thee to fight though thou art of strength that knoweth no deterioration, is scarcely his own intention. Assuredly, this is the purpose of Krishna himself, the lord of the universe. O Bhima, what king is there on earth that would dare abuse me thus, as this wretch of his race, already possessed by Death, hath done to-day? This mighty-armed one is, without doubt, a portion of Hari's energy. And surely, the Lord desireth to take back unto himself that energy of his own. In consequence of this, O tiger of the Kuru race, this tiger-like king of Chedi, so wicked of heart, roareth in such a way caring little for us all."
"Vaisampayana continued,--"Hearing these words of Bhishma, the king of Chedi could bear no more, He then replied in rage unto Bhishma in these words.--
'Let our foes, O Bhishma, be endued with that prowess which this Kesava hath, whom thou like a professional chanter of hymns praisest, rising repeatedly from thy seat. If thy mind, O Bhishma, delighteth so in praising others, then praise thou these kings, leaving off Krishna. Praise thou this excellent of kings, Darada, the ruler of Valhika, who rent this earth as soon as he was born. Praise thou, O Bhishma, this Karna, the ruler of the territories of Anga and Vanga, who is equal in strength unto him of a thousand eyes, who draweth a large bow, who endued with mighty arms owneth celestial ear-rings of heavenly make with which he was born and this coat of mail possessing the splendour of the rising sun, who vanquished in a wrestling encounter the invincible Jarasandha equal unto Vasava himself, and who tore and mangled that monarch. O Bhishma, praise Drona and Aswatthaman, who both father and son, are mighty warriors, worthy of praise, and the best of Brahmanas, and either of whom, O Bhishma, if enraged could annihilate this earth with its mobile and immobile creatures, as I believe. I do not behold, O Bhishma, the king that is equal in battle unto Drona or Aswatthaman. Why wishest thou not to praise them? Passing over Duryyodhana, that mighty-armed king of kings, who is unequalled in whole earth girt with her seas and king Jayadratha accomplished in weapons and endued with great prowess, and Druma the preceptor of the Kimpurushas and celebrated over the world for prowess, and Saradwata's son, old Kripa, the preceptor of the Bharata princes and endued with great energy, why dost thou praise Kesava? Passing over that foremost of bowmen--that excellent of kings, Rukmin of great energy, why praisest thou Kesava? Passing over Bhishmaka of abundant energy, and king Dantavakra, and Bhagadatta known for his innumerable sacrificial stakes, and Jayatsena the king of the Magadha, and Virata and Drupada, and Sakuni and Vrihadvala, and Vinda and Anuvinda of Avant Pandya, Sweta Uttama Sankhya of great prosperity, the proud Vrishasena, the powerful Ekalavya, and the great charioteer Kalinga of abundant energy, why dost thou praise Kesava? And, O Bhishma, if thy mind is always inclined to sing the praises of others, why dost thou not praise Salya and other rulers of the earth? O king, what can be done by me when (it seemeth) thou hast not heard anything before from virtuous old men giving lessons in morality? Hast thou never heard, O Bhishma, that reproach and glorification, both of self and others, are not practices of those that are respectable? There is no one that approveth thy conduct, O Bhishma, in unceasingly praising with devotion, from ignorance alone, Kesava so unworthy of praise. How dost thou, from thy wish alone, establish the whole universe in the servitor and cowherd of Bhoja (Kansa)? Perhaps, O Bharata, this thy inclination is not conformable to thy true nature, like to what may be
in the bird Bhulinga, as hath already been said by me. There is a bird called Bhulinga living on the other side of the Himavat. O Bhishma, that bird ever uttereth words of adverse import. Never do anything rash,--this is what she always sayeth, but never understandeth that she herself always acteth very rashly. Possessed of little intelligence that bird picketh from the lion's mouth the pieces of flesh sticking between the teeth, and at a time when the lion is employed in eating. Assuredly, O Bhishma, that bird liveth at the pleasure of the lion. O sinful wretch, thou always speakest like that bird. And assuredly, O Bhishma, thou art alive at the pleasure only of these kings. Employed in acts contrary to the opinions of all, there is none else like thee!"
"Vaisampayana continued,--Hearing these harsh words of the ruler of Chedi, Bhishma, O king, said in the hearing of the king of Chedi,--'Truly am I alive at the pleasure of these rulers of earth. But I do regard these kings as not equal to even a straw.' As soon as these words were spoken by Bhishma, the kings became inflamed with wrath. And the down of some amongst them stood erect and some began to reprove Bhishma. And hearing those words of Bhishma, some amongst them, that were wielders of large bows exclaimed, 'This wretched Bhishma, though old, is exceedingly boastful. He deserveth not our pardon. Therefore, ye kings, incensed with rage as this Bhishma is, it is well that this wretch were slain like an animal, or, mustering together, let us burn him in a fire of grass or straw.' Hearing these words of the monarchs, Bhishma the grand-sire of the Kurus, endued with great intelligence, addressing those lords of earth, said,--'I do not see the end of our speeches, for words may be answered with words. Therefore, ye lords of earth, listen ye all unto what I say. Whether I be slain like an animal or burnt in a fire of grass and straw, thus do I distinctly place my foot on the heads of ye all. Here is Govinda, that knoweth no deterioration. Him have we worshipped. Let him who wisheth for speedy death, summon to battle Madhava of dark hue and the wielder of the discus and the mace; and falling enter into and mingle with the body of this god!"
Next: Section XLIV