“Bhishma said,–The will under which the ruler of Chedi summoneth thee tofight though thou art of strength that knoweth no deterioration, isscarcely his own intention. Assuredly, this is the purpose of Krishnahimself, the lord of the universe.
O Bhima, what king is there on earththat would dare abuse me thus, as this wretch of his race, alreadypossessed by Death, hath done to-day? This mighty-armed one is, withoutdoubt, a portion of Hari’s energy. And surely, the Lord desireth to takeback unto himself that energy of his own. In consequence of this, O tigerof the Kuru race, this tiger-like king of Chedi, so wicked of heart,roareth in such a way caring little for us all.”
“Vaisampayana continued,–“Hearing these words of Bhishma, the king ofChedi could bear no more, He then replied in rage unto Bhishma in thesewords.–
‘Let our foes, O Bhishma, be endued with that prowess which this Kesavahath, whom thou like a professional chanter of hymns praisest, risingrepeatedly from thy seat. If thy mind, O Bhishma, delighteth so inpraising others, then praise thou these kings, leaving off Krishna.Praise thou this excellent of kings, Darada, the ruler of Valhika, whorent this earth as soon as he was born. Praise thou, O Bhishma, thisKarna, the ruler of the territories of Anga and Vanga, who is equal instrength unto him of a thousand eyes, who draweth a large bow, who enduedwith mighty arms owneth celestial ear-rings of heavenly make with whichhe was born and this coat of mail possessing the splendour of the risingsun, who vanquished in a wrestling encounter the invincible Jarasandhaequal unto Vasava himself, and who tore and mangled that monarch. OBhishma, praise Drona and Aswatthaman, who both father and son, aremighty warriors, worthy of praise, and the best of Brahmanas, and eitherof whom, O Bhishma, if enraged could annihilate this earth with itsmobile and immobile creatures, as I believe. I do not behold, O Bhishma,the king that is equal in battle unto Drona or Aswatthaman. Why wishestthou not to praise them? Passing over Duryyodhana, that mighty-armed kingof kings, who is unequalled in whole earth girt with her seas and kingJayadratha accomplished in weapons and endued with great prowess, andDruma the preceptor of the Kimpurushas and celebrated over the world forprowess, and Saradwata’s son, old Kripa, the preceptor of the Bharataprinces and endued with great energy, why dost thou praise Kesava?Passing over that foremost of bowmen–that excellent of kings, Rukmin ofgreat energy, why praisest thou Kesava? Passing over Bhishmaka ofabundant energy, and king Dantavakra, and Bhagadatta known for hisinnumerable sacrificial stakes, and Jayatsena the king of the Magadha,and Virata and Drupada, and Sakuni and Vrihadvala, and Vinda and Anuvindaof Avant Pandya, Sweta Uttama Sankhya of great prosperity, the proudVrishasena, the powerful Ekalavya, and the great charioteer Kalinga ofabundant energy, why dost thou praise Kesava? And, O Bhishma, if thy mindis always inclined to sing the praises of others, why dost thou notpraise Salya and other rulers of the earth? O king, what can be done byme when (it seemeth) thou hast not heard anything before from virtuousold men giving lessons in morality? Hast thou never heard, O Bhishma,that reproach and glorification, both of self and others, are notpractices of those that are respectable? There is no one that approveththy conduct, O Bhishma, in unceasingly praising with devotion, fromignorance alone, Kesava so unworthy of praise. How dost thou, from thywish alone, establish the whole universe in the servitor and cowherd ofBhoja (Kansa)? Perhaps, O Bharata, this thy inclination is notconformable to thy true nature, like to what may be in the bird Bhulinga,as hath already been said by me. There is a bird called Bhulinga livingon the other side of the Himavat. O Bhishma, that bird ever utterethwords of adverse import. Never do anything rash,–this is what she alwayssayeth, but never understandeth that she herself always acteth veryrashly. Possessed of little intelligence that bird picketh from thelion’s mouth the pieces of flesh sticking between the teeth, and at atime when the lion is employed in eating. Assuredly, O Bhishma, that birdliveth at the pleasure of the lion. O sinful wretch, thou always speakestlike that bird. And assuredly, O Bhishma, thou art alive at the pleasureonly of these kings. Employed in acts contrary to the opinions of all,there is none else like thee!”
“Vaisampayana continued,–Hearing these harsh words of the ruler ofChedi, Bhishma, O king, said in the hearing of the king of Chedi,–‘Trulyam I alive at the pleasure of these rulers of earth. But I do regardthese kings as not equal to even a straw.’ As soon as these words werespoken by Bhishma, the kings became inflamed with wrath. And the down ofsome amongst them stood erect and some began to reprove Bhishma. Andhearing those words of Bhishma, some amongst them, that were wielders oflarge bows exclaimed, ‘This wretched Bhishma, though old, is exceedinglyboastful. He deserveth not our pardon. Therefore, ye kings, incensed withrage as this Bhishma is, it is well that this wretch were slain like ananimal, or, mustering together, let us burn him in a fire of grass orstraw.’ Hearing these words of the monarchs, Bhishma the grand-sire ofthe Kurus, endued with great intelligence, addressing those lords ofearth, said,–‘I do not see the end of our speeches, for words may beanswered with words. Therefore, ye lords of earth, listen ye all untowhat I say. Whether I be slain like an animal or burnt in a fire of grassand straw, thus do I distinctly place my foot on the heads of ye all.Here is Govinda, that knoweth no deterioration. Him have we worshipped.Let him who wisheth for speedy death, summon to battle Madhava of darkhue and the wielder of the discus and the mace; and falling enter intoand mingle with the body of this god!”