Who defeated the Pandavas

Chapter 108 - The Pandavas consult Bhishma a second time

Sanjaya said:
While they were still fighting, O Bharata, the sun set, and the terrible hour of twilight came, so that the warriors could hardly see anything. King Yudhishthira watched as dusk fell and how his troops, crushed by Bhishma, had thrown their weapons aside. Fearful, they tried to escape from the battlefield. He also looked at Bhishma, who tormented everyone in battle with fury, and saw that the mighty Somakas' chariots had been defeated and had lost all their joy. He thought only briefly and ordered his troops to withdraw. So the army of King Yudhishthira withdrew, and at the same time yours, O Dhritarashtra. And after the retreat, O leader of the Kurus, the mighty chariots, who had torn one another in battle, went to their tents. But tormented by the arrows of Bhishma and considering the mighty achievements of this hero, the Pandavas found no rest, while Bhishma, who had defeated the Pandavas and Srinjayas in battle, was praised and worshiped by your sons, O King. Accompanied by the cheering of the Kurus, Bhishma entered his tent. Then night fell, robbing all beings of their sight. During this dark hour of the night the Pandavas, Vrishnis and the invincible Srinjayas sat down for consultation. All of these powerful people who were experienced in reaching decisions in a counseling had factual considerations of what would be useful in the current situation. And after thinking for a long time, King Yudhishthira turned his eyes to Vasudeva and said:
Remember, oh Krishna, the mighty hero power of the high-souled Bhishma! He smashes our troops like an elephant through a bamboo forest. We don't even dare look at this high-souled warrior. Like a raging conflagration, it devours our army. When the brave Bhishma flares up angrily in battle with his sharp weapons and sends out his arrows with bow in hand, he appears as terrible as the mighty Naga Takshaka with his poison. Verily, the angry Yama would be defeatable, or even the leader of the Heavenly Ones with his thunder, or Varuna himself with a noose in hand, or the Lord of the Yakshas armed with a club, but this Bhishma, blazing with anger, seems to be in battle to be unbeatable. If that is the case, O Krishna, the weakness of my mind caused me to enter an ocean of worry when I decided to fight Bhishma. All that remains for me is another retreat into the woods, oh invincible one. The seclusion seems to me to be more salutary. Oh Krishna, I don't want to keep fighting! Bhishma will always hit us. Like an insect that rushes into a blazing fire, only ever meets death, so I charge against Bhishma. O descendant of Vrishni, by showing my fighting strength for the cause of my kingdom, I will meet a painful downfall. My brave brothers were also extremely tormented by the arrows. Because of the affection for me, hers (oldest) Brother, then, deprived of their kingdom, they had to go into the woods. For me alone, O Madhu Annihilator, Draupadi had to sink into such agony. I see life as something very valuable. But verily, even life now seems to be scarcely tenable. But (if I can save this life)so let the last of it pass with the practice of excellent virtue. If I am worthy of your favor with my brothers, O Kesava, then tell me, O Krishna, what is for my good, without breaking the commandments of my caste.

Hearing these elaborate words from him, Krishna answered with compassion to comfort Yudhishthira:
Oh son of Dharma, oh more truthful one, do not get lost in worry, who have these invincible heroes, these destroyers of enemies, as your brothers. Arjuna and Bhimasena are endowed with the energy of fire and wind. The twin sons of Madri are as brave as the leader of the Heavenly Ones himself. And because of the good relationship we have between us, you have even won me over to the task. Even I, O son of Pandu, could fight Bhishma. Guided by you, oh great king, what would I not do in the great battle? I will challenge Bhishma, this bull among men, and beat him in battle in front of the dhritarashtras if Arjuna does not want to defeat him. If you, oh son of Pandu, see the victory for sure, when the heroic Bhishma is defeated, then I will even destroy the venerable grandfather of the Kurus in a single chariot. Look, O king, my hero power, like the great Indra in battle. I will overthrow this warrior from his chariot who keeps shooting such powerful weapons. He who is an enemy of the Pandu sons is undoubtedly also my enemy. For what is yours is also mine, and what is mine is also yours. Your brother Arjuna is my best friend, relative and student. I would, O king, even cut off my own flesh to give for Arjuna, just as this tiger among men would sacrifice his life for my sake. O King, that is precisely what we are all about, that we protect one another. Therefore, O king, command me in what way to fight. But remember that at that time in Upaplavya Arjuna himself had praised in the presence of many people: "I will defeat the son of the Ganga!" These words of the intelligent Arjuna should be heeded. Verily, if Arjuna asks me, I will no doubt grant him that wish. Or let it be his job in battle, for it is not difficult for Arjuna. He can defeat Bhishma, that conqueror of enemy cities. When he flares up in battle, Arjuna can accomplish feats that others can never achieve. Arjuna could even defeat the great gods in battle if they opposed him together with the Daityas and Danavas. What else is there to say about Bhishma, O King? Gifted with great energy, Bhishma, the son of Shantanu, stands on the side of injustice. His intelligence dwindles and the meaning is lost. No doubt he doesn't know what to do.

Hearing these words from Krishna, Yudhishthira replied:
It is as you say, oh strong-armed man, oh descendant of Madhu. All together would not be able to endure your strength. I am convinced that I will always have whatever I want, as long as I know you, oh tiger among men, by my side. Oh first of the victorious, I could overcome the great gods with Indra at their head as long as I have you, oh Govinda, as protector. What more could be said of Bhishma, even if he was a mighty chariot warrior? But, oh Krishna, for my own glorification I do not risk your word being falsified. Therefore, oh Madhava, help us as promised, but without fighting for me personally. In this fight, an agreement was made between myself and Bhishma. He spoke: “I will give you advice, but I will not fight for you, since I have to fight over the cause of Duryodhana. Recognize that as truth. " Therefore, oh Krishna, Bhishma can give me superiority through good advice. And so, O Madhu Annihilator, we should all, accompanied by you, go once more to Bhishma to ask him about the means of his downfall. Oh you great ones, let us all set out together at once and quickly seek advice from these descendants of the Kuru. Oh Janardana, he will surely give useful advice and then, oh Krishna, I will do what he recommends in battle. With stern vows, he will give us advice as well as victory. We were children and orphans. It was through him that we were raised. Oh Madhava, I wish to kill him, our venerable grandfather, our father's father! Oh shame on the profession of Kshatriya!

When Krishna heard these words, he said to Yudhishthira:
Oh wise one, your words, oh king, are entirely to my liking. Bhishma, also called Devavrata, is highly skilled in the art of arms. With just his gaze he can burn the enemy. Go to this son of the Ganga, who strives for the ocean, to ask him about the means of his death. When asked by you, he will surely speak the truth. So let's go to the Kurus' grandfather to question him. There we will ask the venerable son of Shantanu for his advice and fight the enemy according to his command.

Sanjaya continued:
So, O elder brother of Pandu, thought the heroic sons of Pandu with brave Krishna, and went together to the abode of Bhishma. There they took off their armor and weapons, entered his tent, and bowed before him with their heads bowed. In this way, O king, the sons of Pandu, bowing, worshiped this bull of the Bharatas and sought his protection. Then the Kuru grandfather, the strong-armed Bhishma, said to them:
Be welcome, oh Vrishni hero! Be welcome, oh Arjuna! A warm welcome to you too, oh righteous King Yudhishthira, and to you too, oh Bhima! Welcome the twins too! What should I do today to please you guys? Even if it is difficult to achieve, I want to do it with all my soul.

And to the son of Ganga, who said so repeatedly with affection, King Yudhishthira answered with a cheerful heart the words spoken with love:
Oh you wise one who knows everything, how can we achieve victory and regain dominion? And how can this destruction of innumerable beings be stopped? Talk about it to me, oh lord. Show us the means to defeat you. How, oh hero, can we meet you successfully in battle? Oh grandfather of the Kurus, you don't give your opponents the slightest chance to meet you. You can be seen fighting with an arc that is always drawn into a circle. Nobody can tell when you pick up your arrows, draw your bow, aim them and release them. O destroyer of enemy heroes, you ceaselessly smite chariots, horses, men and elephants. We see you in your car, oh strong-armed man, like a second sun. What man is here, O bull of the Bharatas, who dare to defeat you, who throw endless showers of arrows in battle and cause great destruction. Tell me, oh grandfather, the means by which we can defeat you in battle, so that we may eventually regain control and that my army may not be completely destroyed.

O elder brother of Pandu, hearing these words, the son of Shantanu said to Yudhishthira:
As long as I live and fight, oh son of Kunti, victory in battle can never be yours. I speak that sincerely to you. Only after I am defeated in battle can you Pandavas achieve victory. Therefore, if you want to win, beat me without hesitation. I hereby give you permission, sons of Pritha: Hit me at will! It is fortunate that you know me now. After I'm hit, you will hit everyone else too. Therefore act as I ask you!

Then Yudhishthira said:
Please reveal to us the means by which we can defeat you in battle, if in the fury of battle you slump like the destroyer himself with his club. The Thunderbolt bearer can be defeated, even Varuna or Yama, but not even the gods and demons with Indra at their head could defeat you in battle.

Bhishma replied:
You speak true, oh Pandu son. Oh strong-armed man, if I fight mindfully with weapons and the great bow in hand, even the gods and demons with Indra at their head could not defeat me. However, if I lay down my guns, even charioteers can beat me. Who threw away his weapons, who fell, whose armor was broken, whose standard was felled, who flees, who is shocked, who speaks "I surrender to you!"Who is a woman, who bears the name of a woman, who is no longer master of himself, who has only one son or who has no nobility - I don't like fighting with them. Hear also, O King, of my decision which I made before the battle. Because as soon as I see something unwholesome coming my way, I would never fight. This mighty car warrior, the son of Drupada, whom you have in your army, O king, and who is known by the name of Sikhandin, who is angry in battle, brave and always victorious, was formerly a woman and only later received his manhood. You already know how all of this happened. Determined to fight and clad in armor, let Arjuna, with Sikhandin in front of him, attack me with his sharp arrows. If I meet this unwholesome woman in this particular form as a man who was previously a woman, I will never try to hit her, despite my armed with a bow and arrow. Seizing this opportunity, let Arjuna pierce me quickly with his arrows on all sides, O bull of the Bharatas. Because apart from the most blessed Krishna and Arjuna, the son of Pandu, I do not see any other person in the three worlds who would be able to beat me when I am fighting. So let Arjuna, well armed and mindful, fight with his excellent bow in hand, and strike me, placing Sikhandin in front of him. Then you will be certain of victory. Act as I spoke to you, oh great king, oh you with excellent vows. Then you will be able to defeat all the assembled Dhritarashtras in battle.

Sanjaya continued:
When the Pandavas heard all this, they worshiped the high-souled Bhishma, the grandfather of the Kurus, and went back to their tent camp. And after the son of Ganga, who was ready to go to the other world, had thus revealed himself, Arjuna said, burning with grief and covering his face with shame:
How, oh Madhava, shall I fight in battle with my grandfather, who is years ahead of me and full of wisdom and intelligence? He is the oldest of our tribe. While we were playing in the childhood days, O Vasudeva, I used to smear this high-souled and famous man with dust as I climbed onto his lap with my filthy body. Oh Krishna, he is the father of my father Pandu. As a child, on the lap of this high-souled man, I once called him father. But he said to me in my childlike way: "I am not your father, but your father's father, oh Bharata!" And whoever spoke like that, how could he be killed by me? Oh, may he beat our army. Be it victory or death that awaits me, I should never fight against this high-souled one. This is my opinion. What do you think of it, oh krishna?

Vasudeva said:
Oh Arjuna, after vowing victory over Bhishma at that time, how can you resign from it and still keep the Kshatriya duties? Throw him off his chariot, O Arjuna, this Kshatriya who is invincible in battle! Victory can never be yours without beating the Ganga's son! In this way he should go into the realm of Yama. This was once decided by the gods. And what has been determined, O Arjuna, must be done. It can't be any other way. No one but you, oh invincible one, not even the bearer of the thunderbolt himself, would be able to fight against Bhishma, who is like the destroyer with his jaws wide open. Kill Bhishma without any fear! Hear also these words from me, which the most intelligent Vrihaspati spoke to Indra a long time ago: One should even kill the venerable one who is endowed with any merit when he faces you as an enemy, as well as anyone else who seeks to destroy himself. - Oh Dhananjaya, this is the eternal task which the Kshatriya has been appointed to fight, to protect the subjects and to offer sacrifices, all without malice.

After these words, Arjuna replied:
Oh Krishna, Sikhandin will surely be the cause of death for Bhishma, for as soon as he sees the prince of the Panchalas he will lay down his arms. So place Sikhandin opposite him and at our head, so that in this way we can overthrow the son of the Ganga. This is my opinion. And meanwhile I'll keep the other great archers at bay with my arrows. May Sikhandin fight alone against Bhishma, this first of all warriors. This leader of the Kurus vowed that he would not beat Sikhandin because he was born a woman and only later became a man.

Sanjaya continued:
After this decision, and with the permission of Bhishma, the Pandavas and Madhava went to their respective lodgings with delighted hearts.