Bheeshma continues, “Just as I am about to give up this body, Lord Krishna has come to bless me with His darshan! How fortunate am I! He has come walking to my place to bless me. I am seeing the Supreme Lord Krishna himself! What more can be said about His limitless compassion! That Lord, whose darshan is so very rare, has now walked down to the place where I am lying and is blessing me.
Bhaktyāveśya mano yasmin vācā yan-nāma kīrtayan
Tyajan kalevaraṁ yogī mucyate kāma-karmabhiḥ
The Yogi, who at the time of leaving his body, fixes his mind totally upon Lord Srikrishna and sings His names with devotion, is freed from bondages of frutitive actions (actions done with expectation of some result)! With the darshan of the Supreme Lord, all infatuations disappear.
At the time when Sriman Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of all Lords, is standing in front of me in His form as Srikrishna, at the time when He watches over me pleasantly with His beautifully glowing lotus face and with His red eyes, I am going to give up this body of mine” said Bheeshma.
What a fortunate being Bheeshma was!
Hearing this, Yudhisthira, in the presence of thousands of saints who had assembled there, asked Bheeshma, who was lying on the bed of arrows, to preach him about the different rules of righteousness (dharmas). “Please initiate me into the dharma shookshmas, Swami”, he prayed.
Bheeshma, who was an exponent in this knowledge, taught Yudhisthira, in minute detail, the rules that had been dictated, based on the individual’s nature and also based on the requirements as per the caste (varna) and stage of life (ashrama). He thus taught him dharmas based on both the paths: Pravritti (path of materialistic expansion) and Nivritti (path of return, renunciation) which suit the mental stages called attachment (bondages) and detachment (vairagya) respectively.
He taught him the knowledge behind getting entangled in action, giving up action and instigating action. In addition, he taught him extensively about the dharmic rules and duties as applicable to Kings. He spoke about generosity and deeds of charity. He explained in great detail about śama-dama dharmas which pave the way to liberation. He spoke about the duties of women and about rules pertaining to rituals (vrata dharmas) such as Ekadaśi vrata, which are very dear to the Supreme Lord. In addition, through the medium of many stories and by drawing from history he explained the various ways to attain the Puruśārthas (four goals of life viz., dharma, artha, kama and moksha).
In this way grandfather Bheeshma, while lying on the bed of arrows, taught Emperor Yudhisthira in minute detail all that he knew. He also taught him the various methods through which these principles of righteousness could be easily adhered.
Bheeshma, the wise being, had the boon that he could choose the time of his death. While Bheeshma was initiating Yudhisthira into this knowledge, the auspicious time of Uttarāyaṇa arrived. This was the time which Bheeshma had been eagerly awaiting.
At soon as this auspicious time arrived, Bheeshma, the expert warrior who used to handle thousands of charioteers at one go during wars, suddenly stopped speaking and without even closing his eyelids, focused his mind wholly and solely upon Lord Srikrishna. He did not even wait to close his eyelids as he did not want to waste even that much time! This is a proof that irrespective of the time and irrespective of the situation, the divine names of the Lord can be chanted.
Lord Srikrishna, at that time, appeared before him as Adi Nārāyaṇa, the Original God! The Lord shone with His four arms and with yellow Pitambara clothing which glittered brightly! Bheeshma saw the wonderous divine form of the Lord which was as radiant as His Universal form! He saw the complete form of that Lord and not His fractional form as a human being. Bheeshma, who had absolutely no inclination towards these worldly bondages, merged his mind wholly into that Lord.
To be frank, Bheeshma had never been inclined towards these worldly bondages. Now, when the auspicious time had arrived and when the Lord was directly standing in front of him, why would he waste this golden opportunity? After all he was a very intelligent and wise being.
As a result of this divine contemplation upon the Supreme Lord, all remaining blemishes and defects in Bheeshma were totally washed away. Some trivial defects, if any, that existed within him, were now destroyed. ‘This is my duty, this is my dharma, these are my obligations’- even if such ignorance (moha) that emerged out of stubbornness was existing in him, even they got destroyed.
‘If I do not adhere to this dharma, then I am at fault’; ‘Oh, this dharma is very dear to Krishna, how can I stay away from it? Only if I abide by it He will be happy’ – even such ideas were routed out completely. Nothing more was left! Absolutely nothing! Now no more dharma was left. He had imparted the knowledge in entirety. There was nothing left to be taught also.
It is but natural that every individual will have some defects. It is said that these defects did not even spare Krishna and Rama, when they stepped into this world which is full of defects.
Bheeshma is the one and only proof of how the Supreme Lord relieves a person, who is fully immersed in the kingdom of bhakti which is over and above action, even if defects which emerge from action (karma dosha) and which can be eliminated only through action exist within him.
Not only were the defects in Bheeshma entirely washed away, but in addition the bodily pains due to the war injuries, also disappeared completely! The body became cool as if sandal paste was applied on it. All this was the outcome of the divine darshan of the Supreme Lord!
Lakhs of arrows had pierced Bheeshma’s body. Can you imagine how he would have suffered due to that pain? The Lord was removing Bheeshma’s bondage with this body, wasn’t He? Perhaps if Bheeshma were to leave that body while undergoing the pain associated with it, he would have to take another body to mitigate that bodily suffering, who knows? But now Srikrishna had totally wiped away the bodily pains.
Being relieved of all afflictions Bheeshma was in total bliss. Withdrawing into himself all the senses, that tend to run in all directions, he now sang the hymn praising the Supreme Lord Sriman Nārāyaṇa!