56th Day before Bhishma Nirvana (36+X+1 day after Fall of Bhishma)
Yudhishthir and his brothers along with Krishna, Satyaki, Kripacharya, Yuyutsu and Sanjay spent this day in the company of Bhishma.
Soon, Sun could be seen on the western horizon and assembled sages took leave of Krishna, Bhishma and Yudhishthir. Yudhishthir and his brothers, Krishna, Sanjay, Satyaki and Kripacharya also paid their respects to these sages. Sages left to their desired destinations while saying that ‘they would return the next day (Shanti Parva 52:26-29)
Thereafter, Krishna and Pandavas also took leave of Bhishma and boarded their chariots (Shanti Parva 52:30)
It appears that they were also accompanied by a decent sized army and the whole procession, filled with horses and elephants, chariots and army men appeared like a mighty river (Shanti Parva 52:31-32)
As they were returning to Hastinapur, the moon rose in the eastern sky. They reached Hastinpur extremely exhausted (Shanti Parva 52:33-34)
It thus appears that this 56th day before Bhishma Nirvana was the day that occurred during early part of Vadya (waning fortnight) Paksha of the lunar month.
55th day before Bhishma Nirvana (36+X+2 day after Fall of Bhishma)
Next day, Krishna woke up, in Hastinapur, early morning before sunrise. He took a shower and chanted Gayatri mantra and also completed other rituals and then asked Satyaki to check on Yudhisthir if Yudhishtir was ready to leave for Kurukshetra (to meet Bhishma) (Shanti Parva 53:1-13)
Yudhisthir asked Arjuna to prepare chariots and also expressed his wish not to have soldiers accompany them on this day. Yudhishthir wanted to do this for two reasons: (1) to avoid noise and distraction for Bhishma and (2) to have no ordinary people present at a time when Bhishma was going to impart critical advice to Yudhishthir (Shanti Parva 53:14-16)
Soon Five Pandavas along with Krishna and Satyaki reached Kurukshetra and paid their respects to sages who had assembled near Bhishma (Shanti Parva 53:18-53)
On this day Bhishma began instructions to Yudhishthir in the subject of ‘Raja-dharma’ (Shanti Parva, chapters 53-58).
Krishna, Vyasa, Sanjay, Kripacharya and Satyaki were also pleased to listen to instructions of Bhishma (Shanti Parva 58:26)
Thereafter, Yudhishthir reminded Bhishma that the sun was ready to set on the western horizon and took leave of Bhishma by saying that he would return for further instructions the next day (Shanti Parva 58:27-28).
Thereafter, Krishna, Yudhishthir, Kripacharya and others did parikrama around Bhishma and left for Hastinapur. They took wash in the river Dristavati on the way, performed evening rituals and returned to Hastinapur at night (Shanti Parva 58:29-30)
54th day before Bhishma Nirvana (36+X+3 day after Fall of Bhishma)
Next day, early morning, Pandavas left for Kurukshetra (to meet Bhishma) along with Krishna, reached Kurukshetra and sat around Bhishma (Shanti Parva 59:1-3).
Bhishma continued instructions to Yudhishthir
53th day before Bhishma Nirvana (36+X+4 day after Fall of Bhishma)
It appears that Yudhishthir went alone to meet Bhishma on this day for Vaishampayan states that when Bhishma had discussed with Yudhisthir at length and when Bhishma became silent, Yudhishthir went home (Hastinapur) to deliberate the matter with his brothers (GP Shanti Parva 167:1)
52th day before Bhishma Nirvana (36+X+5 day after Fall of Bhishma)
After deliberating at length, with his brothers, Yudhishthir returned to Bhishma, the next day (GP Shanti Parva 167:50-51)
51th day before Bhishma Nirvana (36+X+6 day after Fall of Bhishma)
Yudhisthir visited Bhishma, for the last but one time, on the 51st day before Bhishma Nirvana. He visited this time with a big party that included Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, royal priests and ministers (GP Anushasan Parva 166:16-17)
This day appears to be that of Ekadashi (Lunar tithi 11). On this day, Bhishma recited ‘Vishnu Sahasranama (Anushasan Parva 149).
When Bhishma had instructed Yudhisthir for a long time and when Bhishma became silent, Vyasa approached Bhishma. At Vyasa’s request, Bhishma asked Yudhishthir to return to Hastinapur and to only return to Bhishma when the sun turned northward (day of Winter solstice) (GP edition, Anushasan Parva 166:14). Yudhishtir accepted this order of Bhishma and returned to Hastinapur, along with Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and his ministers (GP edition, Anushasan Parva 166:15-17).
In this way, Bhishma instructed Yudhisthir on various subjects for up to 6 days (56th through 51st day before Bhishma Nirvana).
Yudhishthir returned to Hastinapur and busied himself in administrative duties. When 50 nights passed, he remembered words of Bhishma (GP edition, Anushasan Parva 167:5) to return to Bhishma when the sun turned northward (GP edition, Anushasan Parva 167:6)
To be continued…