The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said,--'How hath Bhishma, that bull among the Kurus, been slain by Sikhandin? How did my father, who resembled Vasava himself, fall down from his car? What became of my sons, O Sanjaya, when they were deprived of the mighty Bhishma who was like unto a celestial, and who led life of Brahmacharyya for the sake of his father? 2 Upon the fall of that tiger among men who was endued with great wisdom, great
capacity for exertion, great might and great energy, how did our warriors feel? Hearing that bull amongst the Kurus, that foremost of men, that unwavering hero is slain, great is the grief that pierceth my heart. While advancing (against the foe), who followed him and who proceeded ahead? Who stayed by his side? Who proceeded with him? What brave combatants followed behind (protecting his rear) that tiger among car-warriors, that wonderful archer, that bull among Kshatriyas, while he penetrated into the divisions of the foe? 1 While seizing the hostile ranks, what warriors opposed that slayer of foes resembling the luminary of thousand rays, who spreading terror among the foe destroyed their ranks like the Sun destroying darkness, and who achieved in battle amongst the ranks of Pandu's sons feats exceedingly difficult of accomplishment? How, indeed, O Sanjaya, did the Pandavas oppose in battle the son of Santanu, that accomplished and invincible warrior when he approached them smiting? Slaughtering the (hostile) ranks, having arrows for his teeth, and full of energy, with the bow for his wide-open mouth, and with the terrible sword for his tongue, and invincible, a very tiger among men, endued with modesty, and never before vanquished, alas, how did Kunti's son overthrow in battle that unconquered one, undeserving as he was of such a fate, 2--that fierce bowman shooting fierce shafts, stationed on his excellent car, and plucking off the heads of foes (from their bodies)--that warrior, irresistible as the Yuga-fire, beholding whom addrest for battle the great army of the Pandavas always used to waver? Mangling the hostile troops for ten nights, alas, that slayer of ranks hath set like the Sun, having achieved feats difficult of achievement. He who, scattering like Sakra himself and inexhaustible shower of arrows, slew in battle a hundred millions of warriors in ten days, that scion of Bharata's race, now lieth, although he deserveth it not, on the bare ground, in the field of battle, deprived of life, a mighty tree uprooted by the winds, as a result of my evil counsels! Beholding Santanu's son Bhishma of terrible prowess, how indeed, could the army of the Pandavas 3 succeed in smiting him there? How did the sons of Pandu battle with Bhishma? How is it, O Sanjaya, that Bhishma could not conquer when Drona liveth? When Kripa, again, was near him, and Drona's son (Aswatthaman) also, how could Bhishma, that foremost of smiters be slain? How could Bhishma who was reckoned as an Atiratha and who could not be resisted by the very gods, be slain in battle by Sikhandin, the prince of Panchala? He, who always regarded himself as the equal of the mighty son of Jamadagni in battle, he whom Jamadagni's son himself could
not vanquish, he who resembled Indra himself in prowess,--alas, O Sanjaya, tell me how that hero, Bhishma, born in the race of Maharathas, was slain in battle, for without knowing all the particulars I cannot regain my equanimity. What great bowmen of my army, O Sanjaya, did not desert that hero of unfading glory? What heroic warriors, again, at Duryodhana's command, stood around that hero (for protecting him)? When all the Pandavas placing Sikhandin in their van advanced against Bhishma, did not all the Kurus, 1 O Sanjaya, stay by the side of that hero of unfading prowess? Hard as my heart is, surely it must be made of adamant, for it breaketh not on hearing the death of that tiger among men, viz., Bhishma! In that irresistible bull of Bharata's race, were truth, and intelligence, and policy, to an immeasurable extent. Alas, how was he slain in battle? Like unto a mighty cloud of high altitude, having the twang of his bowstring for its roar, his arrows for its rain-drops, and the sound of his bow for its thunder, that hero showering his shafts on Kunti's sons with the Panchalas and the Srinjayas on their side, smote hostile car-warriors like the slayer of Vala smiting the Danavas. Who were the heroes that resisted, like the bank resisting the surging sea, that chastiser of foes, who was a terrible ocean of arrows and weapons, an ocean in which shafts were the irresistible crocodiles and bows were the waves, an ocean that was inexhaustible, without an island, agitated and without a raft to cross it, in which maces and swords were like sharks and steeds and elephants like eddies, and foot-soldiers like fishes in abundance, and the sound of conches and drums like its roar, and ocean that swallowed horses and elephants and foot-soldiers quickly, an ocean that devoured hostile heroes and that seethed with wrath and energy which constituted its Yadava-fire? 2 When for Duryodhana's good, that slayer of foes, Bhishma, achieved (terrible) feats in battle, who were then in his van? Who were they that protected the right wheel of that warrior of immeasurable energy? Who were they that, mustering patience and energy, resisted hostile heroes from his rear? Who stationed themselves in his near front for protecting him? Who were those heroes that protected the fore-wheel of that brave warrior while he battled (with the foe)? Who were they that stationing themselves by his left wheel smote the Srinjayas? Who were they that protected the irresistible advance ranks of his van? Who protected the wings of that warrior who hath made the last painful journey? And who, O Sanjaya, fought with hostile heroes in the general engagement? If he was protected by (our) heroes, and if they were protected by. him, why could he not then speedily vanquish in battle the army of the Pandavas, invincible though it be? Indeed, O Sanjaya, how could the Pandavas succeed even in
striking Bhishma who was like Parameshti himself, that Lord and creator of all creatures? 1 Thou tellest me, O Sanjaya, if the disappearance of that Bhishma, that tiger among men, who was our refuge and relying upon whom the Kurus were fighting with their foes, that warrior of mighty strength relying on whose energy my son had never reckoned the Pandavas, alas, how hath he been slain by the enemy? 2 In days of yore, all the gods while engaged in slaying the Danavas, sought the aid of that invincible warrior, viz., my father of high vows. That foremost of sons endued with great energy, on whose birth the world-renowned Santanu abandoned all grief, melancholy, and sorrows, how canst thou tell me, O Sanjaya, that that celebrated hero, that great refuge of all, that wise and holy personage who was devoted to the duties of his order and conversant with the truths of the Vedas and their branches, hath been slain? Accomplished in every weapon and endued with humility, gentle and with passions under full control, and possessed of great energy as he was, alas, hearing that son of Santanu slain I regard the rest of my army as already slain. In my judgment, unrighteousness hath now become stronger than righteousness, for the sons of Pandu desire sovereignty even by killing their venerable superior! In days of yore, Jamadagni's son Rama, who was acquainted with every weapon and whom none excelled, when addrest for battle on behalf of Amvya, was vanquished by Bhishma in combat. Thou tellest me that that Bhishma, who was the foremost of all warriors and who resembled Indra himself in the feats he achieved, hath been slain. What can be a greater grief to me than this? Endued with great intelligence, he that was not slain even by that slayer of hostile heroes, that Rama, the son of Jamadagni, who defeated in battle crowds of Kshatriyas repeatedly, he hath now been slain by Sikhandin. Without doubt, Drupada's son Sikhandin, therefore who hath slain in battle that bull of Bharata's race, that hero acquainted with the highest weapons, that brave and accomplished warrior conversant with every weapon, is superior in energy, prowess, and might to the invincible Vargava endued with the highest energy. In that encounter of arms who were the heroes that followed that slayer of foes? Tell me how the battle was fought between Bhishma and the Pandavas. The army of my son, O Sanjaya, reft of its hero, is like an unprotected woman. Indeed, that army of mine is like a panic-struck herd of kine reft of its herdsman. He in whom resided prowess superior to that of every one, when he was laid low on the field of battle, what was the state of mind of my army? What power is there, O Sanjaya, in our life, when we have caused our father of mighty energy, that foremost of righteous men in the world, to be slain? Like a person desirous of crossing
the sea when he beholds the boat sunk in fathomless waters, alas, my sons, I ween, are bitterly weeping from grief on Bhishma's death. My heart, O Sanjaya, is surely made of adamant, for it rendeth not even after hearing the death of Bhishma, that tiger among men. That bull among men in whom were weapons, intelligence, and policy, to an immeasurable extent, how, alas, hath that invincible warrior been slain in battle? Neither in consequence of weapons nor of courage, nor of ascetic merit, nor of intelligence, nor of firmness, nor of gift, can a man free himself from death. Indeed, time, endued with great energy, is incapable of being transgressed by anything in the world, when thou tellest me, O Sanjaya, that Santanu's son Bhishma is dead. Burning with grief on account of my sons, in fact, overwhelmed with great sorrow, I had hoped for relief from Bhishma, the son of Santanu. When he beheld Santanu's son, O Sanjaya, lying on earth like the Sun (dropped from the firmament), what else was made by Duryodhana as his refuge? O Sanjaya, reflecting with the aid of my understanding, I do not see what the end will be of the kings belonging to my side and that of the enemy and now mustered in the opposing ranks of battle. Alas, cruel are the duties of the Kshatriya order as laid down by the Rishis, since the Pandavas are desirous of sovereignty by even compassing the death of Santanu's son, and we also are desirous of sovereignty by offering up that hero of high vows as a sacrifice. 1 The sons of Pritha, as also my sons, are all in the observance of Kshatriya duties. They, therefore, incur no sin (by doing) this. Even a righteous person should do this, O Sanjaya, when direful calamities come. The display of prowess and the exhibition of the utmost might have been laid down among the duties of the Kshatriyas.
"'How, indeed, did the sons of Pandu oppose my father Bhishma, the son of Santanu, that unvanquished hero endued with modesty, while he was engaged in destroying the hostile ranks? How were the troops arrayed, and how did he battle with high-souled foes? How, O Sanjaya, was my father Bhishma slain by the enemy? Duryodhana and Karna and the deceitful Sakuni, the son of Suvala, and Dussasana also,--what did they say when Bhishma was slain? Thither where the dice-board is constituted by the bodies of men, elephants, and steeds, and, where arrows and javelins and large swords and bearded darts from the dice, entering that frightful mansion of destructive battle's play, who were those wretched gamblers,--those bulls among men,--that gambled, making their very lives the frightful stakes? Who won, who were vanquished, who cast the dice successfully, and who have been slain, besides Bhishma, the son of Santanu? Tell me all, O Sanjaya, for peace cannot be mine, hearing that Devavrata hath been slain,--that father of mine, of terrible deeds, that ornament of battle, viz., Bhishma! Keen anguish had penetrated my heart, born of the thought that all my children would die. Thou makest that grief of mine blaze forth, O Sanjaya, like fire by pouring clarified butter on it. My sons,
I ween, are even now grieving, beholding Bhishma slain,--Bhishma celebrated in all worlds and who had taken upon himself a heavy burden. I will listen to all those sorrows arising from Duryodhana's act. Therefore, tell me, O Sanjaya, everything that happened there,--everything that happened in the battle, born of the folly of my wicked son. Ill-ordered or well-ordered, tell me everything, O Sanjaya. Whatever was achieved with the aid of energy in the battle by Bhishma desirous of victory,--by that warrior accomplished in arms,--tell me all fully and in detail. How, in fact, the battle took place between the armies of the Kurus and the manner in which each happened.'"
30:2 The first half of the first line, in the Bengal texts, is read as 'Kathamascha me putra', the Bombay text reads "Kathamascha me Yoddha'. If the latter reading be adopted, the meaning would be--"Tell me how my warriors were, etc. etc.
31:1 In the second line of sloka 3, for 'kim na asinmanastada' (what was the state of mind of our men) the Bombay text reads 'Kimu asinmanastava' (what was the state of your mind)?
31:2 The Plural pronouns 'ye' in the second line of the 8th sloka (changed into 'ya' by rule of Sandhi because coming before tenam) is read 'ke' (or ka)' by the Burdwan Pundits. I think the correction a happy one. Nilakantha would take 7 and 8 and the first half of 9 as a complete sentence reading 'Asya twama antike' (thou wert near him) for 'Asyaram antike' (smiting or shooting arrows near).
31:3 Some of the Bengal texts have Panchalanam for Pandavanam.
32:1 The form of the 2nd line is a negative interrogative, implying,--'I hope the Kurus did not abandon him.
32:2 This comparison, lengthy as it is, is not sustained throughout with the usual felicity of Vyasa. In several parts it is undoubtedly faulty. Slight variation of reading also occur here and there, without affecting the sense materially.
33:1 Gachchhato durgam gatim. The Bombay edition reads Gachchhanto etc., etc. The meaning then would be--"who protected the wings, themselves making the last painful journey?
33:2 The Burdwan Pundits make Mahavalas an adjective of Putras. A better construction would be to take it as referring to Bhishma.
34:1 Ghatayitwa is, literally, causing to be slain.
Next: Section XV