73. THE PASSING OF BHISHMA
IT was the tenth day of the battle. Keeping
Sikhandin in front of him, Arjuna attacked
Bhishma. When Sikhandin's darts pierced
his breast, sparks flew from the grandsire's
For a moment the old warrior's anger rose
like flaming fire and his eyes glared as if
to consume Sikhandin. But, at once, the
grandsire restrained himself.
He decided not to be provoked into
fighting Sikhandin, who was born a
woman and to strike whom it seemed
unworthy of a warrior.
He knew, however, his end was near and
calmed himself. Sikhandin went on
discharging his arrows, not minding the
battle of emotions in his opponent's mind.
Arjuna also steeled his heart, and from
behind Sikhandin aimed arrows at the
weak points in Bhishma's armor, even
while the grandsire stood still.
Bhishma smiled as the arrows continued
to come down thick on him, and turning to
Duhsasana, said: "Ah, these are Arjuna's
arrows! These cannot be Sikhandin's, for
they burn my flesh as the crab's young
ones tear their mother's body."
Thus did the grandsire look upon his dear
pupil's arrows and, while saying this to
Duhsasana, he took up a javelin and
hurled it at Arjuna. Arjuna met it with
three arrows which cut it to pieces even
as it was speeding through the air.
Bhishma then decided to end the combat
and made as if to dismount from his
chariot, sword and shield in hand. But
before he could do so, his shield was cut
to pieces by Arjuna's arrows.
With arrows sticking all over his body so
thickly that there was not even an inch of
intervening space, Bhishma fell headlong
to the ground from his chariot.