Ahymsin Newsletter Banner: Left is Swami Rama, Center is Yoga Is Samadhi logo, Right is Swami Veda

Blessing of a Death Conqueror

by Swami Veda

Book Cover: Mahabharata's Bhishma by Swami Veda Bharati[This passage has been taken from the book titled Mahabharata’s Bhishma, Death Your Servant: Examples from a World Classic by Swami Veda Bharati, published by Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust in cooperation with New Age Books. This book is to be released in Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) on the 14th of July 2019].

In those days, and up to very recently in the history of Indian civilisation, no hostile acts were permitted at night. Soldiers picked up weapons only after morning prayers, which was a daily duty, and laid them down for evening prayers. In the night, enemies might even feast with each other on occasion.

Doffing their armour, the five Pandavas and Krishna, weapon-less, go to Bhishma and honour him by placing their heads at his feet, as if entering a refuge.

"Welcome, welcome to each of you." Bhishma addresses each one by name. "What service can I give you today that would be pleasing to you? I will do even the most difficult task for you with my whole self."

Yudhisthira says to him in a very loving and pitiful voice:

You know everything, Sir. How can we win?
How can we gain the kingdom without endangering our progeny?
You yourself, tell us the way you would die.
How can we withstand you in the battlefield?
We cannot find the minutest weak point in you, the tiniest aperture to get through.
Your bow is like a mystic design, a mandala,
When you hold it, set it, pull the strings,
We see you on the chariot like the great sun's twin.
Just advise us how we may defeat you, how the destruction
Of our armies can be stopped. How can I gain the kingdom?

Bhishma replies, "There is no way that you could win while I am alive. I am telling you the truth, and you all know it yourselves. If you manage to defeat me, then, and only then, will you win the war. Therefore, organise your attack on me soon if you wish to gain victory in this war. I permit you, attack at your pleasure."

Yudhisthira asks again how they might go about doing this very thing which they have not failed in doing for so many days. Bhishma now counsels them seriously, "I do not fight someone who has thrown away his weapons, has fallen, has lost his armour or flag, is running away, is scared, or who says ‘I am yours.’ I do not fight a woman, someone with a woman's name, someone who is maimed, has only one child, or is an ignoble person.”

Readers of the Mahabharata will recall that Draupadi's brother, Shikhandi, was born a girl and had later become a boy. Bhishma always regarded him as a girl even though he was now a warrior fighting on the Pandava side. Bhishma advises Arjuna to place Shikhandi in front of the latter in the chariot and to shoot from behind Shikhandi so that Bhishma will not be able to return the attack. The Pandavas gratefully honour Bhishma, who has, through his counsel, taken initiation to enter the next world. The Pandavas return to their camp. Arjuna is in despair:

Our elder, our Guru, he of cultivated wisdom and great intelligence,
How will I fight my grandfather in this way in battle?
In childhood I would come with limbs all muddy after play,
Upsetting him by looking like this …!
Yes, as a child I climbed on the lap of the great–souled one
And called him “Tata, Daddy”
And he too would say, “Not your father's, but your father am I.”
Better to let him destroy my whole army.
I will not fight against that great soul
Whether I win or lose my own life.
But Krishna, what do you think?

Thus Arjuna repeatedly echoes the earlier sentiments of The Bhagavad Gita 1.8. Krishna again uplifts Arjuna from the mire of depression, reminding him of his duty, so that the depressed mood of his friend and disciple does not disturb the Lord's divine plans for Bhishma.

The next day, in the battle, Arjuna follows Bhishma's advice and by the end of the day not two fingerbreadths of Bhishma's body are without an arrow sticking into them. Finally he falls. It is said, that at the moment of his fall, as he stumbles from his chariot, some divine force enters him. He becomes part of the divine essence so that when he falls, he does not touch the ground. The arrows stick, and he is supported on them. He sees that the sun is not yet in the right place for him to leave his body. A yogi waits for all the forces of the universe to be in a certain harmonious position with his own spirit before he drops the body. Because Bhishma knows the relationship of prana with the sun, and sees that the sun is not yet in the right place, he will not yet depart.

Editor’s Note:

For all Swami Rama’s and Swami Veda Bharati’s published works, please visit yogapublications.org or email [email protected].

Published works of Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati are also available at other venues.


The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

Purification of Thoughts     Dhyana    Mindfulness
Japa     Dharana     Shavasana
Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor
Guru Disciple Relationship     Unbroken Lineage
Yoga Nidra     Silence Retreats     Full Moon Meditation

Copyright © by AHYMSIN ®