“Suta Gosvami said: Thus Bhishmadeva merged himself in the Supersoul, Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, with his mind, speech, sight and actions, and thus he became silent, and his breathing stopped.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.43)
कृष्ण एवं भगवति
आत्मन्य् आत्मानम् आवेश्य
सो ऽन्तःश्वास उपारमत्
kṛṣṇa evaṁ bhagavati
ātmany ātmānam āveśya
so ‘ntaḥśvāsa upāramat
Friend1: One of the reasons that the Mahabharata history makes for such a compelling narrative is that the line between good and evil is clear.
Friend2: The Mahabharata is a lengthy work in the Sanskrit language. I am assuming you are referring to the main storyline interwoven throughout the many dialogues and teachings presented.
Friend1: Yes, the basic struggle of the Pandava family. Kicked out of their kingdom. Homeless. No wealth. Embarrassed. Humiliated. All they had was the association with Shri Krishna.
Friend2: Which is more than enough to survive and thrive.
Friend1: He saved them on so many occasions. When they were stuck in exile in the forest, He suddenly arrived as a guest. He took the last morsel of food from the Akshaya-patra, so that Durvasa Muni and company would not be angry. Krishna saved them from the fire. He saved Draupadi from being shown naked.
Friend2: That is one of His roles. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the protector of the devotees.
Friend1: The perpetrators, the villains, in this case, are easily identified. Duryodhana is the leader of the bad guys. Selfish. Greedy. Dishonest. Grossly foolish. I mean, he even tried to bind Krishna one time.
Friend2: Just prior to the war. Krishna was visiting as an emissary of peace, as a last-ditch attempt to avoid hostilities.
Friend1: That idiot Duryodhana thought he could bind Krishna. The Supreme Lord then showed one version of the universal form.
“Go bind this, you moron.”
Friend2: That’s funny.
Friend1: I want to focus on some of the other people who remained aligned with Duryodhana. Let’s look at Bhishmadeva.
Friend2: He is something like the patriarch of the entire family. He unites both sides.
Friend1: Except he stood with the Kauravas during the war. Duryodhana had his doubts. He accused Bhishma of taking it easy, due to the natural affection for the Pandavas.
Friend2: But Bhishma fought so valiantly that he finally succumbed to time. He lay on the ground, filled with arrows.
Friend1: Whereby the Pandavas approached him for advice. Krishna was there, too. It is one of the beautiful moments from the Mahabharata, especially considering the setting.
Friend1: Okay, so I am wondering exactly how that happened. Was not aligning with Duryodhana adharma?
Friend2: You mean, wasn’t it sinful?
Friend1: Exactly. How do you still achieve liberation?
Friend2: For starters, fighting valiantly in a war automatically opens the doors to heaven. Those are the rules for the kshatriyas. Even if you fight for the wrong side. I know it might be hard to believe, but it is true:
सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ
लभन्ते युद्धम् ईदृशम्
sukhinaḥ kṣatriyāḥ pārtha
labhante yuddham īdṛśam
“O Partha, happy are the kshatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.32)
Friend1: Hmm. Interesting.
Friend2: More importantly, if you want to nitpick about dharma and adharma, there is too much to review. A person commits so many sins on a daily basis that everyone would be automatically disqualified on that basis. Bhishma’s consciousness is what mattered. While quitting the body he was looking directly at Krishna. He was a pure devotee, one of the twelve mahajanas listed by Yamaraja, the god of death.
Friend2: To err is human. We will make so many mistakes. No one is perfect, but if we can fix the consciousness prior to leaving this world we have achieved the goal of life. Vedic culture is based on reaching this end for every single person, no matter how many lifetimes it takes. Bhishma’s passing is one to be celebrated.
As pure devotion demonstrated,
His passing one to be celebrated.
Even though with adharma aligned,
The best destination to find.
Since Bhishma conscious so,
Towards Narayana to go.
Everything properly ending,
To best afterlife sending.