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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Mon Jul 28 1997 - 01:37:37 PDT

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", 

If BhishmA's so-called 'act of treachery' on the 9th evening of Kurukshetra
were to be subjected to the 5 "visEsha-dharmA" "tests" -- (A) to (E) listed
in the last post -- the "test-results" would read as follows :

Firstly, the 'pitAmaha-r', a "mahApUrUshan" per Swami Desikan's definition,
"transcended" Moral Choices 'A' or 'B' (both 'sAmAnya-dharmA') as a way out
of the moral morass in which he realized all of his beloved Hastinapur (and
both royal families as well) found itself in .

Secondly, the "uttama-dharmAdhikAri" felt that if there was a single act by
which he could help bring a senseless war to an ABRUPT END on the 10th Day,
and thereby save several thousands of families of innocent men and women
.... if there was any ONE such act.... then BhishmAchArya-r wanted to
perform it immediately ! 

He foresaw, if the War dragged on any longer, far grimmer tragedy would
befall Hastinapur than what prevailed before it all started ! 

Under the circumstances, the venerable old warrior clearly perceived what
was his true "visEsha-dharmA" :

                          HE HAD TO DIE !

BhishmA was the pre-eminent elderman of both the Kaurava and Pandava
families. He held a unique position of reverence for both of them.
Therefore, BhishmA himself was 'constructively' responsible for their
collective plight ! He knew, he could never escape responsiblity, in large
part, for the UTTER MORAL ROT that had set in the state of Hastinapur over
the years since Lady Draupadi was disrobed in open assembly in the royal
palace. Bhishma, thus, may be said to have felt bitterly like the Prince in
Shakespeare's "Hamlet" who wailed, "Methinks, something is rotten in the
state of Denmark!"

Therefore, there was a "moral Inevitability" to which BhishmA knew he would
have to, at last, submit.

It was an "Opportunity", too, for him to seize .... an "opportunity" by
which the crushing burden of his conscience, grown heavy over the years with
the unspeakable corruption heaped on his beloved state and peoples of
Hastinapur,  could be lightened, at last.

That "moral Inevitability", BhishmAchAryA clearly saw, was HIS OWN END.

"If I were to die now", Bhishma calculated,"if I were to die now, then
perhaps both the Kauravas and Pandavas might all be brought back to their
senses !". 

The loss of a common family-elder, and the "vishva-druk" of their
communities, might perhaps jolt them all out of their hateful madness and
might yet remind them that they had a common ancestry, a common heritage, a
common destiny.

"If I were to lay down my life, then perhaps, brother and brother, father
and son, kith and kin may stop tearing each other's throats .... and pause
to mourn the death of a common elderman .... and thereby, perhaps,
re-discover their own fraternity, their filial bonds and love .....If I were
to die now, maybe, my lovely Hastinapur and her people could yet be saved ....?"

That was the forlorn hope of Bhishma. It was the seed of his supremely moral
3rd choice and what he perceived as his "visEsha-dharmA". It was the "final
solution" to the ravages and blight wrought on his beloved Hastinapur. He
was himself the prime cause for Hastinapur's woes and, hence, deserved
certainly to be no less arraigned for it than any Pandava or Kaurava.

In the final analysis, as the 'pater-familias' of both families, it was he,
BhishmA thought, who ought to carry the combined load of guilt for moral
failings which otherwise seemed to sit so lightly on both Kaurava and
Pandava shoulder ....

(Those of you who are familiar with modern Indian History would know that
something of the same feelings of Sri.Bhishma also beset Mahatma Gandhi when
in 1947/48 Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Noakhali and districts of Bihar.
During those dark and bloody days Gandhi felt that if he were to DIE through
an indefinite fast, then perhaps, the rioting would stop; and Hindu and
Muslim would recover his sanity, good sense and goodwill. After days of
fasting in the city of Calcutta, he was on the verge of death. The rioting
mobs finally fearing Gandhi's end quit their madness! Such was the power and
glory ONE MAN's "dhArmi-c" stature.... NOT martyrdom !)

So, Bhishma quickly made his moral choice that night ... he gave Yudhishtra
the advice that would help the Pandavas advance their cause in War .... but
MORE IMPORTANTLY, would lead to the "pitA-mahar's" own END which he
perceived as his "moral Inevitability".

Bhishma's was thus, well and truly, an utterly self-less act of

Lastly, even today, after many ages, lesser mortals still find the great
"pitA-mahar"'s" deed morally questionable !

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srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yatindra mahadesikaya namaha