Bhishma-Yudhishthir Samvad continued for 6 days when Bhishma instructed Yudhishthir on various subjects. On the last day of this ‘Samvad’, Bhishma recited ‘Vishnu Sahasranama’. Yudhishthir and his brothers, Krishna, Satyaki, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and senior ministers of Yudhishthir were present on this day near Bhishma.
At the suggestion of Vyasa, Bhishma asked Yudhishthir to return to Hastinapur and only return to Bhishma when the sun turned north (the day of winter solstice or one day after the day of winter solstice)
Yudhishthir returned to Hastinapur, along with his entourage, and busied himself in the affair of the kingdom. He spent 50 nights, when he remembered words of Bhishma and thus proceeded to Kurukshetra to meet Bhishma for the very last time.
Additional details for above chronological instances can be read here..
Yudhishthir stayed in Hastinapur for 50 nights, before returning to Bhishma at Kurukshetra. (GP edition, Anushasan Parva 167:5).
Yudhishthir had already made arrangement for the final rites of Bhishma (Anushasan Parva 167:7-8) and proceeded towards Kurukshetra (to meet Bhishma) along with Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, his brothers, Krishna, Vidur, Yuyutsu, Satyaki and others. They soon reached the location of Bhishma (Anushasan Parva 167:10-12).
Bhishma confirmed with Yudhishthir that the sun had turned northward (Anushasan Parva 167:26)
Here, Bhishma stated…
GP edition, Anushasan Parva 167:27-28
अष्टपंचाशतं रात्र्य: शयानस्याद्य मे गता:
शरेषु निशिताग्रेषु यथा वर्षशतं तथा
(58 days have passed, while sleeping on this pointed bed of arrows. I felt them equal to (as if) hundred years (a long time).
माघोsयं समनुप्राप्तो मास: सौम्यो युधिष्ठिर
त्रिभागशेष: पक्षोsयं शुक्लो भवितूमर्हति
(It appears to be lunar month of Magha and fortnight of waxing moon; and 1/3 of its Paksha (or month) has elapsed (or remaining)).
These two Shloka will form the basis for discussion (corroboration, consistency, contradiction, arguments and theories, tautology, falsification, assumptions and assertions, confusion and evasion, avoidance and running away from evidence) of claims by multitudinous Mahabharata researchers, in remaining parts of this series. We will return to it shortly.
Bhishma spoke his parting words (Anushasan Parva 167:30-52) and then became silent (Anushasan Parva 168:1) and then he attained death with peace (Anushasan Parva 168:2-9)
Yuyutsu made preparations for final fire rites of Bhishma (Anushasan Parva 168:10-14). Thereafter Pandavas completed all other rites for Bhishma and then returned to Hastinapur (Anushasan 168:15-37).
Almost all Mahabharata researchers have assumed that Bhishma was on the bed of arrows for 58 nights (from the time he fell down in the War on the 10th day of the War, until the day of Winter Solstice which is when he passed away). The entire argument rests on these two Shloka of Mahabharata text (GP edition, Anushasan Parva 167:27-28)
Few researchers did acknowledge numerous other references from Mahabharata text that contradict the claim for duration of Bhishma on bed of arrows for 58 days. However, in the end, not a single researcher could show, to this day, how this claim of 58 days reconciles with rest of Mahabharata narration.
In next section, we will look at some of the ingenious and also ridiculous and unsatisfactory efforts made by these researchers for their blindsided claim of 58 days!
Not to be outdone, some researchers have claimed less than 58 days for duration of Bhishma (from his fall in the battle until his passing away) and still others have not bothered to count the days.
The fun continues….
To be continued….