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bhishma-stuthi-25

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Tue Jul 29 1997 - 01:17:52 PDT

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", 

Krishna steered Arjuna's chariot into the battle-field in order to finally
snuff out the fire of Bhishma's valour --- a fire that had blazed gloriously
all 9 days of the War, and yet slowly, on the 10th, had shown signs of
flickering out under Sikhandi, the eunuch's relentless onslaught.

Yet, as soon as the beleaguered "pitAmaha-r" saw the "nara-narayana" pair he
felt a fresh surge of energy course through his stricken body! The sight of
Krishna strangely seemed to rejuvenate the old warrior.

Letting out a baritone growl of rage, the old warrior gathered himself up
like a great, wounded elephant, stood erect in his chariot and challenged
Arjuna, "At last! An adversary worthy of me ! My Arjuna, I waited long for
one like you to cross swords with ! For if I have to die like a honourable
soldier, it will yet be said in the end that Bhishma was felled by a true
warrior! Let's begin !".

The battle royale began.

It was a clash of mighty TITANS !

Lightning flashed. Thunder rolled. Volcanoes erupted, spewing molten rage.
The sea-tides swelled. Distant hills deluged. The earth trembled. Great
trees snapped like twigs. The air in the skies quivered. Birds flew scared.
The jungle grew silent. Brave men cowered, while their hearts stopped
briefly......

All of Kurukshetra was stilled....

General, officer, soldier... every man stopped fighting and turned to look
at the duel between Bhishma and Arjuna ! It was verily a sight for the gods! 

They watched archery in pure, classic, poetic motion.

Spell-bound were they ! They could do naught else but stand dumb and watch a
strange, macabre dance being staged and choreographed, as it were, by two
warriors, atop some mystical dais of cosmic "astra-shakti".  

Never before had they all seen a display of archery carried and consummated
to its highest-level as a sublime and supreme art-form. 

Never before had they witnessed, or even conceived, a duel of such daring
magnificence between two adversaries so evenly matched.   

They feasted their eyes, all the Kauravas and Pandavas who'd gathered there
in Kurukshetra ! They feasted and whetted their eyes, for, they knew ...
never again would mankind ever set eyes on a battle-scene that truly
deserved to be called ...sacred or beautiful or both... had it not also been
so bloody and violent.     

Bhishma, especially, was irrepressible. At one stage, the old warrior's
terrible missiles began zeroing in on the Lord Himself -- a "mere
charioteer" -- causing Him mild injury ! The Lord, infuriated, was forced to
give up his earlier resolve to abjure personal involvement in the
Kurukshetra War. So terrifying did Bhishma's aggression become that Krishna
unsheathed His Ultimate Weapon of Destruction, the "sudarshana-chakram" ---
the lethal discus --- and threatened to employ it against the mighty Bhishma
if he continued to target charioteers instead of warriors ! The great
Bhishma humbly withdrew.

And so the battle raged .... for many hours into the 10th day between Arjuna
and Bhishma.  
                   ****************************************

Bhishma's end, however, came ... as it had to ..... inevitably.

The combined onslaught of Sikhandi and Arjuna, in the end, was finally too
much to handle for the old, venerable war-horse. 

First, they smashed up his chariot into an unrecognizable pulp of metal scrap.

Bhishma then alighted rushed at them on foot with a mammoth mace.

They swiftly cut him down by cooly rifling in half-a-dozen arrows through
his shoulders and knees. Bone shattered; cartilage gashed open. 

The old warrior still kept coming at them with his great sword drawn and
flashing.

They precision-shot another dozen deadly arrows into his abdomen and lungs.

The combined force of Arhuna's barrage physically lifted the "pitA-mahar"
and threw him back a brace of yards away; it turned him into a blood-sodden,
gory mass of stricken human flesh. 

While Bhishma's brave spirit still roared, the old body could no more carry
the dead weight of its own wounded self.

Bones minced; lung-sacs punctured; cartilage torn and hanging loose; blood
gushing; bile spurting out of ruptured intestines; and the adrenalin
draining away..... Bhishma couldn't take anymore of Arjuna's merciless
punishment.....

             **************************************************

It was Lord Krishna then who raised His arm and commanded Arjuna to cease
firing.

The "pitAmahar" stood still and dazed for a moment... swaying unsteadily in
the wind like a great big tree whose formidable trunk had been cruelly sawed
off....

A great silence descended upon Kurukshetra.

All of Kurukshetra watched ....in mute, helpless horror.... as the grand old
man of Hastinapur, a hopeless, hapless, bloody mess.... teetered to his end
like an un-hinged doorway blown hither-thither by a sharp wind.

Bhishma's shattered knees collapsed and he began to sink slowly.....on his
knees....slowly...then evermore slowly... into KuruskhEtra's accursed soil. 

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srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yatindra mahadesikaya namaha
sudarshan