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Chapter 168

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having said so unto all the Kurus, Bhishma, the sonof Santanu, remained silent for sometime, O chastiser of foes He thenheld forth his life-breaths successively in those parts of his body whichare 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 wentup, became soreless one after another. In the midst of those high-souledpersons, including those great Rishis with Vyasa at their head, the sightseemed to be a strange one, O king. Within a short time, the entire bodyof Bhishma became shaftless and soreless. Beholding it, all thosedistinguished personages with Vasudeva at their head, and all theascetics with Vyasa, became filled with wonder. The life-breaths,restrained and unable to escape through any of the outlets, at lastpierced through the crown of the head and proceeded upwards to heaven.The celestial kettle-drums began to play and floral showers were raineddown. The Siddhas and regenerate Rishis, filled with delight, exclaimed,’Excellent, Excellent!’ ‘The life-breaths of Bhishma, piercing throughthe crown of his head, shot up through the welkin like a large meteor andsoon became invisible. Even thus, O great king, did Santanu’s son, thatpillar of Bharata’s race, united himself with eternity. Then thehigh-souled Pandavas and Vidura, taking a large quantity of wood anddiverse kinds of fragrant scents, made a funeral pyre. Yuyutsu and othersstood as spectators of the preparations. Then Yudhishthira and thehigh-souled Vidura wrapped Bhishma’s body with silken cloth and floralgarlands. Yuyutsu held an excellent umbrella, over it Bhimasena andArjuna both held in their hands a couple of yak-tails of pure white. Thetwo sons of Madri held two head-gears in their hands. Yudhishthira andDhritarashtra stood at the feet of the lord of the Kurus, taking uppalmyra fans, stood around the body and began to fan it softly. The Pitrisacrifice of the high-souled Bhishma was then duly performed. Manylibations were poured upon the sacred fire. The singers of Samans sangmany Samans. Then covering the body of Ganga’s son with sandal wood andblack aloe and the bark wood, other fragrant fuel, and setting fire tothe same, the Kurus with Dhritarashtra and others, stood on the rightsight of the funeral pyre. Those foremost ones of Kuru’s race, havingthus cremated the body of the son of Ganga, proceeded to the sacredBhagirathi, accompanied by the Rishis. They were followed by Vyasa, byNarada, by Asita, by Krishna, by the ladies of the Bharata race, as alsoby such of the citizens of Hastinapore as had come to the place. All ofthem, arrived at the sacred river, duly offered oblation of water untothe high-souled son of Ganga. The goddess Bhagirathi, after thoseoblations of water had been offered by them unto her son, rose up fromthe stream, weeping and distracted by sorrow. In the midst of herlamentations, she addressed the Kurus, ‘Ye sinless ones, listen to me asI say unto you all that occurred (with respect to my son). Possessed ofroyal conduct and disposition, and endued with wisdom and high birth, myson was the benefactor of all the seniors of his race. He was devoted tohis sire and was of high vows. He could not be vanquished by even Rama ofJamadagni’s race with his celestial weapons of great energy. Alas, thathero has been slain by Sikhandin. Ye kings, without doubt, my heart ismade of adamant, for it does not break even at the disappearance of thatson from my sight! At the Self choice at Kasi, he vanquished on a singlecar the assembled Kshatriyas and ravished the three princesses (for hisstep-brother Vichitravirya)! There was no one on earth that equalled himin might. Alas, my heart does not break upon hearing the slaughter ofthat son of mine by Sikhandin!’ The puissant Krishna, hearing the goddessof the great river indulging in these lamentations consoled her with manysoothing words. Krishna said, ‘O amiable one, be comforted. Do not yieldto grief, O thou of beautiful features! Without doubt, thy son has goneto the highest region of felicity! He was one of the Vasus of greatenergy. Through a curse, O thou of beautiful features, he had to takebirth among men. It behoveth thee not to grieve for him. Agreeably toKshatriya duties, he was slain by Dhananjaya on the field of battle whileengaged in battle. He has not been slain, O goddess, by Sikhandin. Thevery chief of the celestials himself could not slay Bhishma in battlewhen he stood with stretched bow in hand. O thou of beautiful face, thyson has, in felicity, gone to heaven. All the gods assembled togethercould not slay him in battle. Do not, therefore, O goddess Ganga, grievefor that son of Kuru’s race. He was one of the Vasus, O goddess! Thy sonhas gone to heaven. Let the fever of thy heart be dispelled.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That foremost of all rivers, thus addressed byKrishna and Vyasa, cast off her grief, O great king, and became restoredto equanimity. All the kings there present, headed by Krishna, O monarch,having honoured that goddess duly, received her permission to depart fromher banks.'”

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