The Mahabharata Home
"Janamejaya said, 'How did the grandsire of the Bharatas, who lay on a bed of arrows, cast off his body and what kind of Yoga did he adopt?'
"Vaisampayana said, 'Listen, O king, with pure heart and concentrated attention, as to how, O tiger among the Kurus, the high-souled Bhishma cast off his body. As soon as the Sun, passing the solstitial point, entered in his northerly course, Bhishma, with concentrated attention, caused his soul (as connected with and independent of the body) to enter his soul (in its independent and absolute state). Surrounded by many foremost of Brahmanas, that hero, his body pierced with innumerable arrows, blazed forth in great beauty like Surya himself with his innumerable rays. Surrounded by Vyasa conversant with the Vedas by the celestial Rishi Narada, by Devasthana, by Asmaka Sumantu, by Jaimini, by the high-souled Paila, by Sandilya, by Devarata, by Maitreya of great intelligence, by Asita and Vasishtha and the high-souled Kausika, by Harita and Lomasa and Atri's son of great intelligence, by Vrihaspati and Sukra and the great sage Chyavana, by Sanatkumara and Kapila and Valmiki and Tumvuru and Kuru, by Maudgalya and Rama of Bhrigu's race, and the great sage Trinavindu, by Pippalada and Vayu and Samvarta and Pulaha and Katha, by Kasyapa and Pulastya and Kratu and Daksha and Parasara, by Marichi and Angiras and Kasmya and Gautama and the sage Galava, by Dhaumya and Vibhanda and Mandavya and Dhaumra and Krishnanubhautika, by Uluka, that foremost of Brahmanas and the great sage Markandeya, by Bhaskari and Purana and Krishna and Suta,--that foremost of virtuous persons, surrounded by these and many other highly-blessed sages of great souls and possessed of faith and self-restraint and tranquillity of mind, the Kuru hero looked like the Moon in the midst of the planets and the stars. Stretched on his bed of arrows, that tiger among men, Bhishma, with pure heart and joined palms, thought of Krishna in mind, word, and act. With a cheerful and strong voice he hymned the praise of the slayer of Madhu, that master of yoga, with the lotus in his navel, that lord of the universe, called Vishnu and Jishnu. With joined hands, that foremost of
eloquent men, that puissant one, viz., Bhishma of highly virtuous soul, thus praised Vasudeva.
"Bhishma said, 'O Krishna, O foremost of Beings, be thou pleased with these words which I utter, in brief and in detail, from desire of hymning thy praises. Thou art pure and purity's self. Thou transcendest all. Thou art what people say to be THAT. Thou art the Supreme Lord. With my whole heart I seek thy refuge, O universal Soul and Lord of all creatures! 1 Thou art without beginning and without end. Thou art the highest of the high and Brahma. Neither the gods nor the Rishis know thee. The divine Creator, called Narayana or Hari, alone knows thee. Through Narayana, the Rishis, the Siddhas, the great Nagas, the gods, and the celestial Rishis know a little of thee. Thou art the highest of the high and knowest no deterioration. The gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Pannagas, do not know who thou art and whence art thou. All the worlds and all created things live in thee, and enter thee (when the dissolution comes). Like gems strung together in a thread, all things that have attributes reside in thee, the Supreme Lord.' 2 Having the universe for thy work and the universe for thy limbs, this universe consisting of mind and matter resides in thy eternal and all-pervading soul like a number of flowers strung together in a strong thread. Thou art called Hari, of a thousand heads, a thousand feet, a thousand eyes, a thousand arms, a thousand crowns, and a thousand faces of great splendour. Thou art called Narayana, divinity, and the refuge of the universe. Thou art the subtlest of the subtle, grossest of the gross, the heaviest of the heavy and the highest of the high. In the Vaks, the Anuvaks, the Nishads, and Upanishads, thou art regarded as the Supreme Being of irresistible force. In the Samans also, whose declarations are always true, thou art regarded as Truth's self! 3 Thou art of quadruple soul. Thou art displayed in only the understanding (of all creatures). Thou art the Lord of those that are bound to thee in faith. O God, thou art adored (by the faithful) under four excellent, high, and secret names. 4 Penances are ever present in thee. Performed (by other creatures for gratifying thee), penances live in thy form. Thou art the Universal Soul. Thou art of universal knowledge. Thou art the universe. Thou art omniscient.
[paragraph continues] Thou art the creator of everything in the universe. 1 Like a couple of sticks generating a blazing fire, thou hast been born of the divine Devaki and Vasudeva for the protection of Brahma on earth. 2 For this eternal salvation, the devout worshipper, with mind withdrawn from everything else and casting off all desires, beholds thee, O Govinda, that art the pure Soul, in his own soul. Thou transcendest Surya in glory. Thou art beyond the ken of the senses and the understanding. O Lord of all creatures, I place myself in thy hands. In the Puranas thou hast been spoken as Purusha (all-pervading spirit). On occasions of the commencement of the Yugas, thou art said to be Brahma, while on occasions of universal dissolution thou art spoken of as Sankarshana. Adorable thou art, and therefore I adore thee. Though one, thou hast yet been born in innumerable forms. Thou hast thy passions under complete control. Thy devout worshippers, faithfully performing the rites laid down in the scriptures, sacrifice to thee, O giver of every wish! Thou art called the sheath within which the universe lies. All created things live in thee. Like swans and ducks swimming on the water, all the worlds that we see float in thee. Thou art Truth. Thou art One and undeteriorating. Thou art Brahma, Thou art That which is beyond Mind and Matter. Thou art without beginning, middle, and end. Neither the gods nor the Rishis know thee. The gods, the Asuras, the Gandharvas, the Siddhas, the Rishis, and the great Uragas with concentrated souls, always adore thee. Thou art the great panacea for all sorrow. Thou art without birth and death. Thou art Divine. Thou art self-created. Thou art eternal. Thou art invisible and beyond ken. Thou art called Hari and Narayana, O puissant one. The Vedas declare thee to be the Creator of the universe and the Lord of everything existing in the universe. Thou art the Supreme protector of the universe. Thou knowest no deterioration and thou art that which is called the highest. Thou art of the complexion of gold. Thou art the slayer of Asuras. Though One, Aditi brought thee forth in twelve forms. 3 Salutations to thee that art the soul of the Sun. Salutations to thee in thy form of Soma that is spoken of as the chief of all the regenerate ones and that gratifies with nectar the gods in the lighted fortnight and the Pitris in the dark fortnight. Thou art the One Being of transcendent effulgence dwelling on the other side of thick darkness. Knowing thee one ceases to have any fear of death. Salutations to thee in that form which is an object of knowledge. 4 In the grand Uktha sacrifice, the Brahmanas adore thee as the great Rich. In the great fire-sacrifice, they sing thee as the chief Adhyaryu (priest). Thou
art the soul of the Vedas. Salutations to thee. The Richs, the Yajus, and the Samans are thy abode. Thou art the five kinds of sanctified libations (used in sacrifices). Thou art the seven woofs used in the Vedas. Salutations to thee in thy form of Sacrifice. 1 Libations are poured on the Homa fire in accompaniment with the seventeen monosyllabic sounds. Thou art the soul of the Homa. Salutations to thee! Thou art that Purusha whom the Vedas sing. Thy name is Yajus. The Vedic metres are thy limbs. The sacrifices laid down in the three Vedas are thy three heads. The great sacrifice called Rathantara is thy voice expressive of gratification. Salutation to thee in thy form of sacred hymns! Thou art the Rishi that hadst appeared in the great sacrifice extending for a thousand years performed by the creators of the universe. Thou art the great swan with wings of gold. Salutations to thee in thy form of a swan. 2 Roots with all kinds of affixes and suffixes are thy limbs. The Sandhis are thy joints. The consonants and the vowels are thy ornaments. The Vedas have declared thee to be the divine word. Salutations to thee in thy form as the word! 3 Assuming the form of a boar whose limbs were constituted by sacrifice, thou hadst raised the submerged earth for the benefit of the three worlds. Salutations to thee in thy form of infinite prowess! Thou sleepest in Yoga on thy snake-decked sofa constituted by the thousand hoods (of the Naga). Salutations to thee in thy form of sleep! Thou buildest the bridge for the good (to cross the sea of life) with Truth, with those means by which emancipation may be obtained, and with the means by which the senses may be controlled. Salutations to thee in thy form of Truth! Men practising diverse creeds, actuated by desire of diverse fruits worship thee with diverse rites. Salutations to thee in thy form of Creed! From thee have all things sprung. It is thou that excitest all creatures having physical frames containing the principle of desire. Salutations to thee in thy form of Excitement. The great Rishis seek thy unmanifest self within the manifest. Called Kshetrajna, thou sittest in Kshetra. Salutations to thee in thy form of Kshetra! 4 Thou always conscious and present in self, the Sankhyas still describe thee as existing in the three states of wakefulness, dream, and sound sleep. They further speak of thee as possessed of sixteen attributes and representing the number seventeen. Salutations to thy form as conceived by the Sankhyas! 5 Casting off sleep, restraining
breath, withdrawn into their own selves, Yogins of restrained senses behold thee as eternal light. Salutations to thee in thy Yoga form! Peaceful Sannyasins, freed from fear of rebirth in consequence of the destruction of all their sins and merits, obtain thee. Salutations to thee in thy form of emancipation! 1 At the end of a thousand Yugas, thou assumest the form of a fire with blazing flames and consumest all creatures. Salutations to thee in thy form of fierceness! Having consumed all creatures and making the universe one vast expanse of water, thou sleepest on the waters in the form of a child. Salutations to thee in thy form as Maya (illusion)! From the navel of the Self-born of eyes like lotus leaves, sprang a lotus. On that lotus is established this universe. Salutations to thee in thy form as lotus! Thou hast a thousand heads. Thou pervadest everything. Thou art of immeasurable soul. Thou hast subjugated the four kinds of desire that are as vast as the four oceans. Salutations to thee in thy form of Yoga-sleep! The clouds are in the hair of thy head. The rivers are in the several joints of thy limbs. The four oceans are in thy stomach. Salutations to thee in thy form as water! Birth and the change represented by death spring from thee. All things, again, at the universal dissolution dissolve away in thee. Salutations to thy form as cause! Thou sleepest not in the night. Thou art occupied in day time also. Thou observest the good and the bad actions (of all). Salutations to thee in thy form of (universal) observer! There is no act which thou canst not do. Thou art, again, ever ready to accomplish acts that are righteous. Salutations to thee in thy form of Work, the form, viz., which is called Vaikuntha! In wrath thou hadst, in battle, exterminated thrice seven times the Kshatriyas who had trampled virtue and authority under their feet. Salutations to thee in thy form of Cruelty! Dividing thyself into five portions thou hast become the five vital breaths that act within everybody and cause every living creature to move. Salutations to thee in thy form of air! Thou appearest in every Yuga in the form called month and season and half-year and year, and art the cause of both creation and dissolution. Salutations to thee in thy form of Time! Brahmanas are thy mouth, Kshatriyas are thy two arms, Vaisyas are thy stomach and thighs, and Sudras live in thy feet. Salutations to thee in thy form of caste! Fire constitute thy mouth. The heavens are the crown of thy head. The sky is thy navel. The earth is thy feet. The Sun is thy eye. The points of the compass are thy ears. Salutations to thee in thy form as the (three) worlds! Thou art superior to Time. Thou art superior to Sacrifice. Thou art higher than the highest. Thyself without origin, thou art the origin of the universe. Salutations to thee in thy form as Universe! Men of the world, according to the attributes ascribed to thee by the Vaiseshika theory, regard thee as the Protector of the world. Salutations to thee in thy form of Protector! Assuming the forms of food, drink, and fuel, thou increasest the humours and the life-breaths of creatures and upholdest their existence. Salutations to thee in thy
form of life! For supporting the life-breaths thou eatest the four kinds of food. 1 Assuming also the form of Agni within the stomach, thou digestest that food. Salutations to thee in the form of digesting heat! Assuming the form of half-man and half-lion, with tawny eyes and tawny manes, with teeth and claws for thy weapons, thou hadst taken the life of the chief of the Asuras. Salutations to thee in thy form of swelling might! Neither the gods, nor the Gandharvas, nor the Daityas, nor the Danavas, know thee truly. Salutations to thy form of exceeding subtility! Assuming the form of the handsome, illustrious, and puissant Ananta in the nether region, thou upholdest the world. Salutations to thy form of Might! Thou stupefiest all creatures by the bonds of affection and love for the continuance of the creation. Salutations to thee in thy form of stupefaction. 2 Regarding that knowledge which is conversant with the five elements to be the true Self-knowledge (for which yogins strive), people approach thee by knowledge! Salutations to thee in thy form of Knowledge! Thy body is immeasurable. Thy understanding and eyes are devoted to everything. Thou art infinite, being beyond all measures. Salutations to thee in thy form of vastness! Thou hadst assumed the form of a recluse with matted locks on head, staff in hand, a long stomach, and having thy begging bowl for thy quiver. Salutations to thee in thy form of Brahma. 3 Thou bearest the trident, thou art the lord of the celestials, thou hast three eyes, and thou art high-souled. Thy body is always besmeared with ashes, and thy phallic emblem is always turned upwards. Salutations to thee in thy form of Rudra! The half-moon forms the ornament of thy forehead. Thou hast snakes for the holy thread circling thy neck. Thou art armed with Pinaka and trident. Salutations to thy form of Fierceness! Thou art the soul of all creatures. Thou art the Creator and the Destroyer of all creatures. Thou art without wrath, without enmity, without affection. Salutations to thee in thy form of Peace! Everything is in thee. Everything is from thee. Thyself art Everything. Everywhere art thou. Thou art always the All. Salutations to thee in thy form as Everything! Salutations to thee whose work is the universe, to thee that art the soul of the universe, to thee from whom hath sprung the universe, to thee that art the dissolution of all things, to thee that are beyond the five (elements that constitute all things)! Salutations to thee that art the three worlds, to thee that art above the three worlds! Salutations to thee that art all the directions! Thou art all and thou art the one receptacle of All. Salutations to thee, O divine Lord, O Vishnu, and O eternal origin of all the worlds! Thou, O Hrishikesa, art the Creator, thou art the Destroyer, and thou art invincible. I cannot behold that heavenly form in which thou art displayed in the Past, Present, and the Future. I can, however, behold truly thy eternal form (as manifest in thy works). Thou hast filled heaven with thy head, and the earth
with thy feet: with thy prowess thou hast filled the three worlds. Thou art Eternal and thou pervadest everything in the universe. The directions are thy arms, the Sun is thy eye, and prowess is thy vital fluid. Thou art the lord of all creatures. Thou standest, shutting up the seven paths of the Wind whose energy is immeasurable. They are freed from all feats that worship thee, O Govinda of unfading prowess, thee that art attired in yellow robes of the colour of the Atasi flower. 1 Even one bending of the head unto thee, O Krishna, is equal to the completion of ten Horse-sacrifices. The man that has performed ten Horse-sacrifices is not freed from the obligation of rebirth. The man, however, that bows to Krishna escapes rebirth. They that have Krishna for their vow, they that think of Krishna in the night, and upon rising from sleep, may be said to have Krishna for their body. Those people (after death) enter Krishna's self even as libations of clarified butter sanctified with mantras enter the blazing fire. Salutations to thee that dispellest the fear of hell, to thee, O Vishnu, that art a boat unto them that are plunged amid the eddies of the ocean represented by worldly life! Salutations to thee, O God, that art the Brahmana's self, to thee that art the benefactor of Brahmanas and kine, to thee that art the benefactor of the universe, to thee that art Krishna and Govinda! The two syllables Hari constitute the pecuniary stock of those that sojourn through the wilderness of life and the medicine that effectually cures all worldly, predilections, besides being the means that alleviate sorrow and grief. 2 As truth is full of Vishnu, as the universe is full of Vishnu, as everything is full of Vishnu, so let my soul be full of Vishnu and my sins be destroyed! I seek thy protection and am devoted to thee, desirous of obtaining a happy end O thou of eyes like lotus petals, O best of gods, do thou think of what will be for my good! Thyself without origin, O Vishnu, thou art the origin of Knowledge and Penances. Thus art thou praised! O Janardana, thus worshipped by me in the Sacrifice constituted by speech (alone), be, O god, gratified with me! The Vedas are devoted to Narayana. Penances are devoted to Narayana. The gods are devoted to Narayana. Everything is always Narayana!'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Having uttered these words, Bhishma, with mind concentrated upon Krishna, said, 'Salutations to Krishna!' and bowed unto him. Learning by his Yoga prowess of the devotion of Bhishma, Madhava, otherwise called Hari, (entering his body) bestowed upon him heavenly knowledge compassing the Past, the Present, and the Future, and went away. When Bhishma became silent, those utterers of Brahma (that sat around him), with voices choked in tears, adored that high-souled chief of the Kurus in excellent words. Those foremost of Brahmanas uttered the praises of Krishna also, that first of Beings, and then continued in soft voices to commend Bhishma repeatedly. Learning (by his Yoga powers) of the devotion of Bhishma towards him, that foremost of Beings, viz., Madhava, suddenly
rose from his seat and ascended on his car, Kesava and Satyaki proceeded on one car. On another proceeded those two illustrious princes, viz., Yudhishthira and Dhananjaya. Bhimasena and the twins rode on a third; while those bulls among men, Kripa and Yuyutsu, and that scorcher of foes, Sanjaya of the Suta caste, proceeded on their respective cars, each of which looked like a town. And all of them proceeded, causing the earth to tremble with the rattle of their chariot-wheels. That foremost of men, as he proceeded, cheerfully listened to the speeches, fraught with his praise, that were uttered by the Brahmanas. The slayer of Kesi, with gladdened heart, saluted the people that waited (along the streets) with joined hands and bent heads."
93:1 The Supreme Being is called here and elsewhere Hansa, i.e., swan, because as the swan is supposed to transcend all winged creatures in the range of its flight, so the Supreme Being transcends all creatures in the universe. He is called That, as in the Vedic formula of Praise, "Thou art That," meaning, "Thou art inconceivable and incapable of being described in words."
93:2 Created things have attributes. It is Brahma only that has no attributes, in the sense that no attributes with which we are familiar can be affirmed of him.
93:3 The Vaks are the mantras; the Anuvaks are those portions of the Vedas which are called Brahmanas; the Nishads are those portions of the Vedic ritual which lead to an acquaintance with the gods. The Upanishads are those portions which treat exclusively of the knowledge of the Soul.
93:4 Quadruple soul, i.e., Brahma, Jiva, Mind, and Consciousness. The four names under which the Supreme Being is adored by the faithful are Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha.
94:1 Penances are ever present in thee, in the sense thou art never without them, penances constituting thy essence. Performed by creatures, they live in thy limbs, in the sense that penances performed are never lost.
94:2 In ancient India, the Rishis living in the woods got their fire by rubbing two sticks together. These they called Arani. Brahma on earth is explained by Nilakantha to mean the Vedas, the Brahmanas, and the Sacrifices.
94:3 These are the twelve Adityas or chief gods.
94:4 Thou art pure Knowledge and resident beyond the darkness of ignorance. I bow to thee not in any of those forms in which thou art ordinarily adored but in that form of pure light which Yogins only can behold by spiritual sight.
95:1 The five libations are Dhana, Karambha, Parivapa, and water. The seven woofs are the seven mantras (Cchandas) predominating in the Vedic hymns, such as Gayatri, etc.
95:2 The Prajapatis who are the creators of the universe performed a sacrifice extending for a thousand years. The Supreme Being appeared in that sacrifice as an act of grace to the sacrificers.
95:3 Sandhis are those changes of contiguous vowels (in compounding two words) that are required by the rules of euphony. Akshara is literally a character or letter; word made up of characters or letters.
95:4 The manifest is the body. The Rishis seek thy unmanifest self within the body, in their own hearts. Kshetra is buddhi or intelligence. The Supreme Being is called Kshetrajna because he knows every mind. Intelligence or mind is one of his forms.
95:5 The sixteen attributes are the eleven senses and the five elements in their subtle forms called Mahabhutas. Added to this is Infinity. The Supreme Being, according to the Sankhya doctrine, is thus the embodiment of the number seventeen. Thy form as conceived by the Sankhyas, i.e., thy form as Number.
96:1 In cases of those that are reborn, there is always a residuum of sin and merit for which they have, in their earthly life, to suffer and enjoy. In the case, however, of those that have betaken themselves to a life of renunciation the great endeavour is to exhaust this residuum.
97:1 i.e. that which is chewed, that which is sucked, that which is licked, and that which is drunk.
97:2 All creatures are stupefied by love and affection. The great end which the Yogins propose to themselves is to tear those bonds rising superior to all the attractions of the flesh to effect their deliverance or emancipation from rebirth.
97:3 i.e. Brahmacharin.
98:1 Linum usitatissimun.
98:2 Samsara is the world or worldly life characterised by diverse attachments. Reflection on Hari frees one from those attachments. Or, Samsara may mean the repeated deaths and births to which the unemancipated soul is subject. Contemplation of the divine Being may prevent such repeated births and deaths by leading to emancipation.
Next: Section XLIX