The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Having said so unto all the Kurus, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, remained silent for sometime, O chastiser of foes He then held forth his life-breaths successively in those parts of his body which are indicated in Yoga. The life-breaths of that high-souled one, restrained duly, then rose up. Those parts of the body of Santanu's son, in consequence of the adoption, of Yoga, from which the life-breaths went up, became soreless one after another. In the midst of those high-souled persons, including those great Rishis with Vyasa at their head, the sight seemed to be a strange one, O king. Within a short time, the entire body of Bhishma became shaftless and soreless. Beholding it, all those distinguished personages with Vasudeva at their head, and all the ascetics with Vyasa, became filled with wonder. The life-breaths, restrained and unable to escape through any of the outlets, at last pierced through the crown of the head and proceeded upwards to heaven. The celestial kettle-drums began to play and floral showers were rained down. The Siddhas and regenerate Rishis, filled with delight, exclaimed, 'Excellent, Excellent!' 'The life-breaths of Bhishma, piercing through the crown of his head, shot up through the welkin like a large meteor and soon became invisible. Even thus, O great king, did Santanu's son, that pillar of Bharata's race, united himself with eternity. Then the high-souled Pandavas and Vidura, taking a large quantity of wood and diverse kinds of fragrant scents, made a funeral pyre. Yuyutsu and others stood as spectators of the preparations. Then Yudhishthira and the high-souled Vidura wrapped Bhishma's body with silken cloth and floral garlands. Yuyutsu held an excellent umbrella, over it Bhimasena and Arjuna both held in their hands a couple of yak-tails of pure white. The two sons of Madri held two head-gears in their hands. Yudhishthira and Dhritarashtra stood at the feet of the lord of the Kurus, taking up palmyra fans, stood around the body and began to fan it softly. The Pitri sacrifice of the high-souled Bhishma was then duly performed. Many libations were poured upon the sacred fire. The singers of Samans sang many Samans. Then covering the body of Ganga's son with sandal wood and black aloe and the bark wood, other fragrant fuel, and setting fire to the same, the Kurus with Dhritarashtra and others, stood on the right sight of the funeral pyre. Those foremost ones of Kuru's race, having thus cremated the body of the son of Ganga, proceeded to the sacred Bhagirathi, accompanied by the Rishis. They were followed by Vyasa, by Narada, by Asita, by Krishna, by the ladies of the Bharata race, as also by such of the citizens of Hastinapore as had come to the place. All of them, arrived at the sacred river, duly offered oblation of water unto the high-souled son of Ganga. The goddess Bhagirathi, after those oblations of water had been offered by them unto her son, rose up from the stream, weeping and distracted by sorrow. In the midst of her lamentations, she addressed the Kurus, 'Ye sinless ones, listen to me as I say unto you all
that occurred (with respect to my son). Possessed of royal conduct and disposition, and endued with wisdom and high birth, my son was the benefactor of all the seniors of his race. He was devoted to his sire and was of high vows. He could not be vanquished by even Rama of Jamadagni's race with his celestial weapons of great energy. Alas, that hero has been slain by Sikhandin. Ye kings, without doubt, my heart is made of adamant, for it does not break even at the disappearance of that son from my sight! At the Self choice at Kasi, he vanquished on a single car the assembled Kshatriyas and ravished the three princesses (for his step-brother Vichitravirya)! There was no one on earth that equalled him in might. Alas, my heart does not break upon hearing the slaughter of that son of mine by Sikhandin!' The puissant Krishna, hearing the goddess of the great river indulging in these lamentations consoled her with many soothing words. Krishna said, 'O amiable one, be comforted. Do not yield to grief, O thou of beautiful features! Without doubt, thy son has gone to the highest region of felicity! He was one of the Vasus of great energy. Through a curse, O thou of beautiful features, he had to take birth among men. It behoveth thee not to grieve for him. Agreeably to Kshatriya duties, he was slain by Dhananjaya on the field of battle while engaged in battle. He has not been slain, O goddess, by Sikhandin. The very chief of the celestials himself could not slay Bhishma in battle when he stood with stretched bow in hand. O thou of beautiful face, thy son has, in felicity, gone to heaven. All the gods assembled together could not slay him in battle. Do not, therefore, O goddess Ganga, grieve for that son of Kuru's race. He was one of the Vasus, O goddess! Thy son has gone to heaven. Let the fever of thy heart be dispelled.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'That foremost of all rivers, thus addressed by Krishna and Vyasa, cast off her grief, O great king, and became restored to equanimity. All the kings there present, headed by Krishna, O monarch, having honoured that goddess duly, received her permission to depart from her banks.'"
The end of Anusasana Parva.