How did Bhishma die?
If you are asked the question, “how did Bhishma die?” Most of you would probably remember the scene from Mahabharata TV serial where Shikhandi rode on Arjuna’s chariot and when faced with Shikhandi, who was born a woman, Bhishma abandoned his weapons and then Arjuna pierced an unarmed Bhishma with his arrows.
If you read the Mahabharata text, this is certainly not how it went. Shikhandi did not ride on Arjuna’s chariot. Bhishma did not give up his arms and did not fall without a fight. Arjuna certainly did not pierce an unarmed Bhishma, he in-fact kept cutting his bows towards the end till he was left with no bows in his chariot. In the end, Bhishma grabbed a sword and shield, which was also destroyed by Arjuna.
Shikhandi was a part of Pandava army from day one, he certainly came in front of Bhishma many times during ten days of battle, however Bhishma did not give up his arms. Bhishma just did not strike Shikhandi and chose to ignore him, every time he faced him.
On the tenth day, on Bhishma’s advice, Pandava chose to constantly keep Shikhandi in front of Bhishma, who kept striking him with his arrows.
This is how KMG translated the last fighting moments of Bhishma,
“Bhishma, the valiant son of Santanu, as if for the object of consuming the Pandavas, hurled a dart at Partha. Partha, however, caused that dart to drop down, cutting it into three fragments with three shafts, in the very sight, O Bharata, of all the Kuru heroes of thy army.
Desirous of obtaining either death or victory, the son of Ganga then took up a sword and a shield decked with gold. Before, however, he could come down from his car, Arjuna cut off by means of his arrows, that shield into a hundred fragments”
After disarming Bhishma like this, Arjuna pierced every inch of Bhishma’s body with his arrows, while all the Kuru warriors protecting Bhishma were running away in confusion, unable to face Arjuna and the Pandava warriors who had converged around Arjuna.
So Bhishma did not give up his arms looking at Shikhandi, he in fact fought valiantly and killed Virata’s brother Shatanika along with ten thousand other warriors before being disarmed by Arjuna.
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