Shri Phadnis writes…
“120 Shanti GP 51 – 14
After Pandavas and others reach Bhishma’s death-bed, Krishna says to Bheeshma that your life on bed of arrows is 56 days balance. (Literal meaning).
This particular reference is the crux of the problem and needs careful scrutiny.
Let us examine Krishna’s statement.
1. Neither Bhishma nor Yudhishthir nor anyone else from many others gathered around Bhishma asked Krishna to state how many days of Bhishma’s life remained. Why ask? They all knew! Bheeshma being a Dnyani, must have known on the day he fell down itself, how many days remained till start of Uttarayan.
2. On the tenth war day also, the subject of ‘days to Uttarayan’ was not raised by anyone from among all the assembled Kourava-Pandavas or all Rajas or rishi-munis. All knew it with reasonable accuracy.
3. When Vyasa asked Yudhishthir to meet Bhishma to learn Rajadharma he didn’t mention days still available but had invoked a sense of urgency, by his advice to do so ‘before Bheeshma ends his life’.
4. ‘56 days still balance’ on this day of visit therefore appears very doubtful.”
Shri Phadnis feels that ‘the fact that no one has specifically asked Krishna to state the ‘remaining’ days of Bhishma, leading to the day of winter solstice’ and the fact that Krishna still tells Bhishma that ‘the latter has 56 more day to live’ is reason enough to doubt this specific statement of Krishna (i.e. Bhishma had 56 more days to live).
(1) Shri Phadnis has raised another reasoning for doubting this statement of Krishna and
(2) also provided still another explanation to interpret this very statement of Krishna.
We will return to both of these attempts (of Shri Phadnis) in future.
But for now, let’s return to Shri Phadnis’s rationale for doubting Krishna’s statement because Krishna said it even when no one had asked him for such information.
In a scientific investigation, one can only talk of either evidence we already have or evidence that might be produced with the help of ingenious experiments, that would corroborate one’s theory.
While possibility always exists that we will find additional manuscripts of Mahabharata, not known to historian as of today which might in turn contain additional information/references that would alter our understanding of the epic/Mahabharata history…
if we have to go by available evidence, the reasoning of Shri Phadnis does not make sense.
This is because…
While it is true that no one (Yudhishthir or Bhishma or others) specifically asked Krishna to state the remaining days (56) for Bhishma (to be alive), when the party met Bhishma at Kurukshetra (Shanti GP 51:14)…
This is also true of all the following instances (i.e. no one asked these individuals to state the duration of ‘whatever’ they were stating, in the context of Bhishma Nirvana)
(1) Bhishma stating that he spent painful 58 nights on the bed of arrows (Anushasan GP 167:26-28)
(2) Vaishampayan stating that Pandavas spend one month on the bank of Ganga, after the war and before returning to Hastinapur (Shanti, GP 1:1-2)
(3) Vaishampayan stating that Yudhishthir spent 50 nights in Hastinapur, after meeting Bhishma for one but last time at Kurukshetra (Anushasan GP 167:1-6)
This is also a great illustration of basic requirement of ‘consistency‘ for any theory/conjecture.