Chapter 167

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the royal son of Kunti, having duly honouredthe citizens and the inhabitants of the province, dismissed them to theirrespective homes. The Pandava king then consoled these women, who hadlost their heroic husbands and sons in the battle, with abundant gift ofwealth. Having recovered his kingdom, Yudhishthira of great wisdom causedhimself to be duly installed on the throne. That foremost of men thenassured all his subjects by diverse acts of good will. That foremost ofrighteous men then set himself to earn the substantial blessing of theBrahmanas, of the foremost military officers, and the leading citizens.The blessed monarch having passed fifty nights in the capital recollectedthe time indicated by his grandsire as the hour of his departure fromthis world. Accompanied by a number of priests he then set out of thecity named after the elephant, having seen that the sun ceasing to gosouthwards had begun to proceed in his northward course. Yudhishthira theson of Kunti took with him a large quantity of clarified butter andfloral garlands and scents and silken cloths and excellent sandalwood andAquilaria Agallocha and dark sloe wood, for cremating the body ofBhishma. Diverse kinds of costly garlands and gems also were among thosestores. Placing Dhritarashtra ahead and queen Gandhari celebrated for hervirtues, and his own mother Kunti and all his brothers also, Yudhishthiraof great intelligence, accompanied by Krishna and Vidura of great wisdom,as also by Yuyutsu and Yuyudhana, and by his other relatives andfollowers forming a large train, proceeded, his praises hymned the whileby eulogists and bards. The sacrificial fires of Bhishma were also bornein the procession. Thus accompanied, the king set out from his city likea second chief of the deities. Soon he came upon the spot where the sonof Santanu was till lying on his bed of arrows. He beheld his grandsirewaited upon with reverence by Parasara’s son Vyasa of great intelligence,by Narada, O royal sage, by Devala and Asita, and also by the remnant ofunslain kings assembled from various parts of the country. Indeed, theking saw that his high-souled grandsire, as he lay on his heroic bed, wasguarded on all sides by the warriors appointed for that duty. Alightingfrom his car, King Yudhishthira with his brothers saluted his grandsire,the chastiser of all foes. They also saluted the Rishis with theisland-born Vyasa at their head. They were saluted in return by them.Accompanied by his priests each of whom resembled the grandsire Brahmanhimself, as also by his brothers, Yudhishthira of unfading glory thenapproached that spot whereon Bhishma lay on his bed of arrows surroundedby these reverend Rishis. Then king Yudhishthira the just, at the head ofhis brothers, addressed that foremost one of Kuru’s race, viz., the sonof the River Ganga, as he lay on that bed of his, saying, ‘I amYudhishthira, O king! Salutations to thee, O son of the River Janhavi! Ifthou hearest me still, tell me what I am to do for thee! Bearing with methy sacrificial fires, I have come here, O king, and wait upon thee atthe hour indicated! Preceptors of all branches of learning, Brahmanas,Ritwiks, all my brothers, thy son, viz., king Dhritarashtra of greatenergy, are all here with my counsellors as also Vasudeva of greatprowess. The remnant of unslain warriors, and all the denizens ofKurujangala, are also here. Opening thy eyes, O chief of Kuru’s race, dothou behold them! Whatever should be done on this occasion has all beenarranged and provided for by me. Indeed, at this hour which thou hadstindicated, all things have been kept ready!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Kunti’s son of greatintelligence, the son of Ganga opened his eyes and saw all the Bharatasassembled there and standing around him. The mighty Bhishma then, takingthe strong hand of Yudhishthira, addressed him in a voice deep as that ofthe clouds. That thorough master of words said, ‘By good luck, O son ofKunti, thou hast come here with all thy counsellors, O Yudhishthira! Thethousand-rayed maker of day, the holy Surya has begun his northwardcourse. I have been lying on my bed here for eight and fifty nights.Stretched on these sharp-pointed arrows I have felt this period to be aslong as if it was a century. O Yudhishthira, the lunar month of Magha hascome. This is, again, the lighted fortnight and a fourth part of it oughtby this (according to my calculations) be over.’ Having said so untoYudhishthira the son of Dharma, Ganga’s son Bhishma then salutedDhritarashtra and said unto him as follows.’

“Bhishma said, ‘O king, thou art well-conversant with duties. All thydoubts, again, relating to the science of wealth have been well-solved.Thou hast waited upon many Brahmanas of great learning. The subtlesciences connected with the Vedas, all the duties of religion, O king,and the whole of the four Vedas, are well-known to thee! Thou shouldstnot grieve, therefore, O son of Kuru! That which was pre-ordained hashappened. It could not be otherwise. Thou hast heard the mysteriesrelating to the deities from the lips of the island-born Rishi himself.Yudhishthira and his brothers are morally as much thy sons as they arethe sons of Pandu. Observant of the duties of religion, do thou cherishand protect them. In their turn, they are always devoted to the serviceof their seniors. King Yudhishthira the just is pure-souled. He willalways prove obedient to thee! I know that he is devoted to the virtue ofcompassion or abstention from injury. He is devoted to his seniors andpreceptors. Thy sons were all wicked-souled. They were wedded to wrathand cupidity. Overwhelmed by envy, they were all of wicked behavior. Itbehoveth thee not to grieve for them!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this much unto Dhritarashtra ofgreat wisdom, the Kuru hero then addressed Vasudeva of mighty arms.’

“Bhishma said, ‘O holy one, O god of all gods, O thou that art worshippedby all the deities and Asuras, O thou that didst cover the three worldswith three steps of thine, salutations to thee, O wielder of the conch,the discus, and the mace! Thou art Vasudeva, thou art of golden body,thou art the one Purusha (or active agent), thou art the creator (of theuniverse), thou art of vast proportions. Thou art Jiva. Thou art subtle.Thou art the Supreme and eternal Soul. Do thou, O lotus-eyed one, rescueme, O foremost of all beings! Do thou, give me permission, O Krishna, todepart from this world, O thou that art Supreme felicity, O foremost ofall beings! The sons of Pandu should ever be protected by thee. Thou art,indeed, already their sole refuge. Formerly, I spoke to the foolishDuryodhana of wicked understanding that thither is Righteousness whereKrishna is, and that there is victory where Righteousness is. I furthercounselled him that relying on Vasudeva as his refuge, he should makepeace with the Pandavas. Indeed, I repeatedly told him, ‘This is thefittest time for thee to make peace! The foolish Duryodhana of wickedunderstanding, however, did not do my bidding. Having caused a greathavoc on earth, at last, he himself laid down his life. Thee, Oillustrious one, I know to be that ancient and best of Rishis who dweltfor many years in the company of Nara, in the retreat of Vadari. Thecelestial Rishi Narada told me this, as also Vyasa of austere penances.Even they have said unto me that. Thyself and Arjuna are the old RishisNarayana and Nara born among men. Do thou, O Krishna, grant me leave, Ishall cast off my body. Permitted by thee, I shall attain to the highestend!’

“Vasudeva said, ‘I give thee leave, O Bhishma! Do thou, O king, attain tothe status of the Vasus, O thou of great splendour, thou hast not beenguilty of a single transgression in this world. O royal sage, thou artdevoted to thy sire. Thou art, therefore, like a second Markandeya! It isfor that reason that death depends upon thy pleasure even as thy slaveexpectant of reading thy pleasure!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said these words, the son of Ganga oncemore addressed the Pandavas headed by Dhritarashtra, and other friendsand well-wishers of his, ‘I desire to cast off my lifebreaths. Itbehoveth you to give me leave. Ye should strive for attaining to truth.Truth constitutes the highest power. Ye should always live with Brahmanasof righteous conduct, devoted to penances, ever abstaining from cruelbehaviour, and who have their souls under control!’ Having said thesewords unto his friends and embraced them all, the intelligent Bhishmaonce more addressed Yudhishthira, saying, ‘O king, let all Brahmanas,especially those that are endued with wisdom, let them who arepreceptors, let those who are priests capable of assisting as sacrifices,be adorable in thy estimation.'”

Chapter 166
Chapter 168
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