The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said,--'Stringing then his large bow and reverentially saluting the grandsire, Arjuna, with eyes filled with tears, said these words, O foremost one among the Kurus, O thou that art the first among all wielders of weapons, command me, O invincible one, for I am thy slave! What shall I do, O grandsire!--Unto him Santanu's son said,--My head, O sire, hangeth down!--O foremost one among the Kuru's O Phalguni, get me a pillow! Indeed, give me one without delay O hero, that would become my bed! Thou O Partha, art competent, thou art the foremost of all wielders of bows! Thou art conversant with the duties of Kshatriyas and thou art endued with intelligence and goodness!--Then Phalguni, saying,--So be it--desired to do Bhishma's bidding. Taking up Gandiva and a number of straight shafts, and inspiring them with mantras, and obtaining the permission of that illustrious and mighty car-warrior of Bharata's race, Arjuna then, with three keen shafts endued with great force, supported Bhishma's head. Then that chief of the Bharatas, viz., Bhishma of virtuous soul, conversant with the truths of religion, seeing that Arjuna, having divined his thought, had achieved that feat, became highly gratified. And after that pillow had thus been given to him, he applauded Dhananjaya. And casting his eyes upon all the Bharatas there, he addressed Kunti's son Arjuna, that foremost of all warriors, that enhancer of the joys of his friends and said,--Thou hast given me, O son of Pandu, a pillow that becometh my bed! If thou hadst acted otherwise, I would have cursed thee, from wrath! Even thus, O mighty-armed one, should a Kshatriya, observant of his duties, sleep on the field of battle on his bed of arrows!--Having addressed Vibhatsu thus, he then said unto all those kings and princes that were present there, these words:--Behold ye the pillow that the son of Pandu hath given me! I will sleep on this bed till the Sun turneth to the northern solstice! Those king that will then come to me will behold me (yield up my life)! When the Sun on his car of great speed and unto which are yoked seven steeds, will proceed towards the direction occupied by Vaisravana, verily, even then, will I yield up my life like a dear friend dismissing a dear friend! Let a ditch be dug here around my quarters ye
kings! Thus pierced with hundreds of arrows will I pay my adorations to the Sun? As regards yourselves, abandoning enmity, cease ye from the fight, ye kings--
'Sanjaya continued,--"Then there came unto him some surgeons well trained (in their science) and skilled in plucking out arrows, with all becoming appliances (of their profession). Beholding them, the son of Ganga said unto thy son,--'Let these physicians, after proper respect being paid to them, be dismissed with presents of wealth. Brought to such a plight, what need have I now of physicians? I have won the most laudable and the highest state ordained in Kshatriya observances! Ye kings, lying as I do on a bed of arrows, it is not proper for me to submit now to the treatment of physicians. With these arrows on my body, ye rulers of men, should I be burnt!'--Hearing these words of his, thy son Duryodhana dismissed those physicians, having honoured them as they deserved. Then those kings of diverse realms, beholding that constancy in virtue displayed by Bhishma of immeasurable energy, were filled with wonder. Having given a pillow to thy sire thus, those rulers of men, those mighty car-warriors, viz., the Pandavas and the Kauravas, united together, once more approached the high-souled Bhishma lying on that excellent bed of his. Reverentially saluting that high-souled one and circumambulating him thrice, and stationing guards all around for his protection, those heroes, with bodies drenched in blood, repaired for rest towards their own tents in the evening, their hearts plunged into grief and thinking of what they had seen.
Then at the proper time, the mighty Madhava, approaching the Pandavas, those mighty car-warriors cheerfully seated together and filled with joy at the fall of Bhishma, said unto Dharma's son Yudhishthira these words,--"By good luck victory hath been thine, O thou of Kuru's rare! By good luck hath Bhishma been overthrown, who is unslayable by men, and is a mighty car-warrior of aim incapable of being baffled! Or, perhaps, as destiny would have it, that warrior who was master of every weapon, having obtained thee for a foe that canst slay with thy eyes alone, hath been consumed by thy wrathful eye!--Thus addressed by Krishna, king Yudhishthira the just, replied unto Janardana, saying,--Through Thy grace is Victory, through Thy wrath is Defeat! Thou art dispeller of the fears of those that are devoted to thee. Thou art our refuge! It is not wonderful that they should have victory whom Thou always protectest in battle, and in whose welfare Thou art always engaged, O Kesava! Having got Thee for our refuge, I do not regard anything as wonderful! Thus addressed by him, Janardana answered with a smile,--O best of kings, these words can come from thee alone!"
Next: Section CXXIII