Chapter 188

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Bhishma said, ‘When I had formed this resolution, O king, a din oftumultuous voices arose in the sky. And it said,–O son of Kuru’s race,do not let off the Praswapa weapon!–Notwithstanding this, I still aimedthat weapon at Bhrigu’s descendant. When I had aimed it, Narada addressedme, saying, ‘Yonder, O Kauravya, stay the gods in the sky! Even they areforbidding thee today! Do not aim the Praswapa weapon! Rama is an asceticpossessed of Brahma merit, and he is, again, thy preceptor! Never,Kauravya, humiliate him.’ While Narada was telling me this, I beheldthose eight utterers of Brahma stationed in the sky. Smilingly, O king,they said unto me slowly,–O chief of the Bharatas, do even what Naradasayeth. Even that, O best of Bharata’s race, is highly beneficial to theworld!’ I then withdrew that great weapon called Praswapa and invokedaccording to the ordinance the weapon called Brahma in the combat.Beholding the Praswapa weapon withdrawn, O lion among kings, Rama was ingreat huff, and suddenly exclaimed, ‘Wretch that I am, I am vanquished, OBhishma!’ Then Jamadagni’s son behold before him his venerable father andhis father’s fathers. They stood surrounding him there, and addressed himin these words of consolation, ‘O sire, never display such ‘rashnessagain, the rashness, viz., of engaging in battle with Bhishma, orespecially with any Kshatriya, O descendant of Bhrigu’s race, to fight isthe duty of a Kshatriya! Study (of the Vedas) and practice of vows arethe highest wealth of Brahmanas! For some reason, before ‘this, thouhadst been ordered by us to take up weapons. Thou hadst then perpetratedthat terrible and unbecoming feat. Let this battle with Bhishma be thyvery last, for enough of it thou hadst already. O thou of mighty arms,leave the combat. Blessed be thou, let this be the very last instance ofthy taking up the bow! O invincible one, throw thy bow aside, andpractice ascetic austerities, O thou of Bhrigu’s race! Behold, Bhishma,the son of Santanu, is forbidden by all the gods! They are endeavouringto pacify him, repeatedly saying,–Desist from this battle! Do not lightwith Rama who is thy preceptor. It is not proper for thee, O perpetuatorof Kuru’s race, to vanquish Rama in battle! O son of Ganga, show thisBrahmana every honour on the field of battle! As regards thee, we are thysuperiors and therefore forbid thee! Bhishma is one of the foremost ofVasus! O son, it is fortunate, that thou art still alive! Santanu’s sonby Ganga–a celebrated Vasu as he is,–how can he be defeated by thee?Desist, therefore, O Bhargava! That foremost of the Pandavas, Arjuna, themighty son of Indra, hath been ordained by the Self-create to be theslayer of Bhishma!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed by his own ancestors, Rama answeredthem, saying, ‘I cannot give up the combat. Even this is the solemn vow Ihave made. Before this, I never left the field, giving up battle! Yegrandsires, if you please, cause Ganga’s son to desist from the fight! Asregards myself, I can, by no means, desist from the combat!’ Hearingthese words of his, O king, those ascetics with Richika at their head,coming to me with Narada in their company, told me, ‘O sire, desist frombattle! Honour that foremost of Brahmanas!’ For the sake of Kshatriyamorality, I replied unto them, saying. Even this is the vow I have takenin this world, viz., that I would never desist from battle turning myback, or suffer my back to be wounded with arrows! I cannot, fromtemptation or distress, or fear, or for the sake of wealth, abandon myeternal duty! Even this is my fixed resolution! Then all those asceticswith Narada at their head, O king, and my mother Bhagirathi, occupied thefield of battle (before me). I, however, stayed quietly with arrows andbow as before, resolved to fight. They then once more turned towards Ramaand addressed him, saying. ‘The hearts of Brahmanas are made of butter.Be pacified, therefore, O son of Bhrigu’s race! O Rama, O Rama, desistfrom this battle, O best of Brahmanas! Bhishma is incapable of beingslain by thee, as indeed, thou, O Bhargava, art incapable of being slainby him!’ Saying these words while they stood obstructing the field, thePitris caused that descendant of Bhrigu’s race to place aside hisweapons. Just at this time I once more beheld those eight utterers ofBrahma, blazing with effulgence and resembling bright stars risen on thefirmament. Stationed for battle as I was, they said these words unto mewith great affection, ‘O thou of mighty arms, go unto Rama who is thypreceptor! Do what is beneficial to all the worlds. Beholding then thatRama had desisted owing to the words of his well-wishers, I also, for thegood of the worlds, accepted the words of my well-wishers. Though mangledexceedingly, I still approached Rama and worshipped him. The greatascetic Rama then, smilingly, and with great affection, said unto me,’There is no Kshatriya equal to thee on the earth! Go now, O Bhishma, forin this combat thou hast pleased me highly’! Summoning then in mypresence that maiden (the daughter of Kasi), Bhargava sorrowfully saidunto her these words in the midst of all those high-souled persons.'”

Chapter 189
Chapter 187
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