The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'When I had formed this resolution, O king, a din of tumultuous voices arose in the sky. And it said,--O son of Kuru's race, do not let off the Praswapa weapon!--Notwithstanding this, I still aimed that weapon at Bhrigu's descendant. When I had aimed it, Narada addressed me, saying, 'Yonder, O Kauravya, stay the gods in the sky! Even they are forbidding thee today! Do not aim the Praswapa weapon! Rama is an ascetic possessed of Brahma merit, and he is, again, thy preceptor! Never, Kauravya, humiliate him.' While Narada was telling me this, I beheld those eight utterers of Brahma stationed in the sky. Smilingly, O king, they said unto me slowly,--O chief of the Bharatas, do even what Narada sayeth. Even that, O best of Bharata's race, is highly beneficial to the world!' I then withdrew that great weapon called Praswapa and invoked according to the ordinance the weapon called Brahma in the combat. Beholding the Praswapa weapon withdrawn, O lion among kings, Rama was in great huff, and suddenly exclaimed, 'Wretch that I am, I am vanquished, O Bhishma!' Then Jamadagni's son behold before him his venerable father and his father's fathers. They stood surrounding him there, and addressed him in these words of consolation, 'O sire, never display such 'rashness again, the rashness, viz., of engaging in battle with Bhishma, or especially with any Kshatriya, O descendant of Bhrigu's race, to fight is the duty of a
[paragraph continues] Kshatriya! Study (of the Vedas) and practice of vows are the highest wealth of Brahmanas! For some reason, before 'this, thou hadst been ordered by us to take up weapons. Thou hadst then perpetrated that terrible and unbecoming feat. Let this battle with Bhishma be thy very last, for enough of it thou hadst already. O thou of mighty arms, leave the combat. Blessed be thou, let this be the very last instance of thy taking up the bow! O invincible one, throw thy bow aside, and practice ascetic austerities, O thou of Bhrigu's race! Behold, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, is forbidden by all the gods! They are endeavouring to pacify him, repeatedly saying,--Desist from this battle! Do not light with Rama who is thy preceptor. It is not proper for thee, O perpetuator of Kuru's race, to vanquish Rama in battle! O son of Ganga, show this Brahmana every honour on the field of battle! As regards thee, we are thy superiors and therefore forbid thee! Bhishma is one of the foremost of Vasus! O son, it is fortunate, that thou art still alive! Santanu's son by Ganga--a celebrated Vasu as he is,--how can he be defeated by thee? Desist, therefore, O Bhargava! That foremost of the Pandavas, Arjuna, the mighty son of Indra, hath been ordained by the Self-create to be the slayer of Bhishma!'
"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by his own ancestors, Rama answered them, saying, 'I cannot give up the combat. Even this is the solemn vow I have made. Before this, I never left the field, giving up battle! Ye grandsires, if you please, cause Ganga's son to desist from the fight! As regards myself, I can, by no means, desist from the combat!' Hearing these words of his, O king, those ascetics with Richika at their head, coming to me with Narada in their company, told me, 'O sire, desist from battle! Honour that foremost of Brahmanas!' For the sake of Kshatriya morality, I replied unto them, saying. Even this is the vow I have taken in this world, viz., that I would never desist from battle turning my back, or suffer my back to be wounded with arrows! I cannot, from temptation or distress, or fear, or for the sake of wealth, abandon my eternal duty! Even this is my fixed resolution! Then all those ascetics with Narada at their head, O king, and my mother Bhagirathi, occupied the field of battle (before me). I, however, stayed quietly with arrows and bow as before, resolved to fight. They then once more turned towards Rama and addressed him, saying. 'The hearts of Brahmanas are made of butter. Be pacified, therefore, O son of Bhrigu's race! O Rama, O Rama, desist from this battle, O best of Brahmanas! Bhishma is incapable of being slain by thee, as indeed, thou, O Bhargava, art incapable of being slain by him!' Saying these words while they stood obstructing the field, the Pitris caused that descendant of Bhrigu's race to place aside his weapons. Just at this time I once more beheld those eight utterers of Brahma, blazing with effulgence and resembling bright stars risen on the firmament. Stationed for battle as I was, they said these words unto me with great affection, 'O thou of mighty arms, go unto Rama who is thy preceptor! Do what
is beneficial to all the worlds. Beholding then that Rama had desisted owing to the words of his well-wishers, I also, for the good of the worlds, accepted the words of my well-wishers. Though mangled exceedingly, I still approached Rama and worshipped him. The great ascetic Rama then, smilingly, and with great affection, said unto me, 'There is no Kshatriya equal to thee on the earth! Go now, O Bhishma, for in this combat thou hast pleased me highly'! Summoning then in my presence that maiden (the daughter of Kasi), Bhargava sorrowfully said unto her these words in the midst of all those high-souled persons.'"
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