Bhishma Nirvana: Upper and Lower limits

Shri Phadnis writes…

“The subject matter covered in Yudhishthir – Bhishma dialogue in Shanti and Anushasan Parvas is so enormous that, if it is assumed to have been physically recited and explained by Bhishma to Yudhishthira, it could take a very large number of days! A definitive time line of events between end of war and Bhishma’s death can not be built based on these various references.

It could stretch to even 200 days if one wants! (10 days till funerals, travel to Ganga and jalanjali + 30 at ganga + 15 in Hastinapur for corronation etc. before visit to Bhishma, then say 90 days for the full Bhishma-Yudhishthira dialogue + 50 days after returning, at Hastinapur).”

My Response…

My limited objective, here, is to assert that there are upper and lower limits, both in duration, i.e. number of days Bhishma could be on the bed of arrows before the day of winter solstice (Bhishma Nirvana) and also in terms of lunar month/tithi identifications.

Lunar months & Tithi: Upper and Lower limits

Bhishma Parva, GP 2:23

Narration of Vyasa (to Dhritarashtra) that ‘Kartika purnima’ had already occurred (before the war) sets the pre-war limit of lunar month of Kartika.

In addition, if we take into account, all the varying claims for the first day of war, from Amawasya to Shukla 11 to Full moon, this would lead us to conclude that earliest war would have begun would be Kartika Amawasya (day before Margashirsha Shukla 1) or as late as Margashirsha purnima (full moon).  This also means the tithi for fall of Bhishma could be somewhere between Margashisha Shukla 9 and Margashirsha Vadya 9.

Let’s look at limit on the other side…..

Ashwamedhic Parva GP 72:4

Vyasa asked Yudhishthir to proceed with rituals of ‘Ashwamedha Yajna’ beginning with upcoming Chaitra purnima.

Conclusion: After Kartika full moon (more likely Margashirsha Shukla 9 or after) to long before Chaitra full moon.

Duration for Bhishma on the bed of arrows: Upper and Lower limits

Thus taking Chaitra Purnima as upper limit, we have,

~22 days of Margashirsha + 30 days of Pausha + 30 days of Magha + 30 days of Phalguna+ 15 days of Chaitra = ~127 days as the, maximum duration for Bhishma on the bed of arrows.

It is true that Mahabharata researchers have invoked/conjectured/made a case for Adhika masa (intercalary months) and also Kshaya masa (elapsed months) during the time of Mahabharata war.

While elapsed month, depending on when it occurred, may to lead to further reduction of this duration (for upper limit) on days to ~97 days, an insertion of adhika masa would increase this duration by ~30 days to 157 days.

When coupled with my assertion for Bhishma on the bed of arrows for a minimum of 92 days, we can state that the duration for Bhishma (on the bed of arrows) can not be shorter than 92 days and longer than 157 days.

Conclusion:  Duration of  Bhishma on the bed of arrows can not be shorter than 92 days and longer than 157 days.

I may bring it to the attention of readers that without going into any such calculations based on Mahabharata references, one can also recognize the natural limit of ~183 days (as upper bound) for Bhishma to be on the bed of arrows!

I will leave it to readers to figure out the reasoning behind this natural limit of ~183 days.

Hint: This has nothing to do with minimum length of stay one must have to retain one’s US Green card (pun intended).

And, No.  One can not stretch duration of Bhishma,on bed of arrows,to 200 days. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Bhishma Nirvana: Upper and Lower limits

  1. I suggested 200 days in fun as a possibility if the entire Shanti and Anushasan Parva stuff was actually explained by Bhishma. Thank God Shri. Oak contemplates one day prior to Chaitra Purnima as outer limit. By the way, from Kartik Amavasya to Magha Shukla Ashtami we get only 30 + 30 + 8 = 68 days out of which 10 are to be deducted which leave 58.
    Researchers may suggest Adhika Masa to suit their theories but there is no basis. Which one? Margashrsha? Poush? Magha? Any mention in Mahabharat? Adhikamasa is out of question as a pair of adhikamasas had already occurred in the Adnyatavasa year. In the whole of Mahabharata there is only one single mention of system of Adhik Masa then prevailing. Bhishma clearly said that ‘panchame panchame varshe, masadvayam’ are to be taken as adhikamasas.

  2. Notwithstanding if all the narration between Bhishma-Yudhshthir (as documented in Shanti Parva of Mahabharata), all the stories, in theory, could be narrated even by an ailing individual within a span on 6 days and still more time to spare.

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