15- Bhishma’s fall in the war and his death- Part 2

As the fight is going on, Bhishma decides that it is time for him to end his life on earth. He has a boon from his father that he can choose the time of his death.
I should, however, now wish my own death, this being the proper hour”.
Ascertaining this to be the resolve of Bhishma of immeasurable energy, the Rishis and the Vasusstationed in the firmament, said, 'That which hath been resolved by thee is approved by us also, O son! Act according to thy resolution, O king. Withdraw thy heart from battle.'

Bhishma is a kshatriya, to give up and surrender his life is not even something he can imagine doing. To him ‘giving up his life’ means to give it up in battle and he chooses to do so at the hands of his favourite grandson, Arjuna. Now he rushes at Arjuna himself:

Having listened to these words of the celestials, Santanu's son Bhishma of great ascetic merit rushed out at Vibhatsu (Arjuna), even though he was then being pierced with sharp arrows capable of penetrating through every armour.

And once more, Dhananjaya (Arjuna), with great speed and excited with wrath struck him in every vital part with hundreds of arrows. Thus pierced by others, also with thousands of arrows, the mighty car-warrior Bhishma pierced those others in return with great speed. And as regards the arrows shot by those warriors, Bhishma, possessed of prowess in battle that was incapable of being baffled, equally checked them all with his own straight arrows.

Bhishma continues to fight fiercely against all the Pandavas, especially Arjuna, after deciding that it is time for his life to end. Arjuan too fights with his full might now. Shikandin is still battling the grandsire but Bhishma does not fight back with him, instead he fights with Arjuna.

At this point, Bhishma speaks to Dushasana who is fighting by his side, trying to protect him from Arjuna and points out to him the arrows shot by Arjuna and those shot by Shikandin. He is proud of Arjuna’s skills and he says that Shikandin’s arrows do not even hurt but Arjuna’s penetrate right into his vital organs. After this point, there is of mention of Shikandin.

Arjuna draws closer and there is a fierce battle between him and Bhishma. Soon, Arjuna destroys all the Kaurava forces surrounding him and supporting him. The warriors who had come for Bhishma’s support all run away afraid, leaving Bhishma to face Arjuna.

Then that great bowman, Partha, stationed at the head of his troops, broke the centre of the Kuru army. Ourselves then, afraid of Kunti's son Dhananjaya having white steeds attached to his car, and afflicted by him with polished weapons, fled away from the battle. The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sayas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kaikeyas. 1--these and many other illustrious warriors,--afflicted with arrows and pained by their wounds, abandoned Bhishma in that battle while he was fighting with the diadem-decked (Arjuna).

The battle goes on and finally Bhishma falls from his chariot covered with arrows shot by Arjuna.

Having slain in that battle, O monarch, (his foes) by hundreds and thousands, there was not in Bhishma's body space of even two fingers' breadth that was not pierced with arrows. Thus was thy sire mangled with arrows of keen points by Phalguni in that battle. And then he fell down from his car with his head to the east, a little before sunset, in the very sight of thy sons.

Bhishma falls but he is not dead yet. He can choose the time of his death and he does so well after the war is over. In fact, Bhishma dies 58 days after he falls in battle, after he has given Yudhishthira the knowledge of how to rule the kingdom.


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