VISHMA, GRANDSIRE OF THE PANDAVASAND THE KAURAVAS
(Vishma is lying down on a bed of arrows made by Arjuna. Arjuna and Krishna have come to pay him their last respects. Vishma suddenly bursts into tears.)
ARJUNA: Krishna, Krishna, please tell me why my grandfather is shedding tears? He has read and studied the Vedas. He has read and studied all our Indian scriptures. He knows perfectly well that death is not the end. Why, then, is he afraid of death? It was he who told us how to kill him, despite the fact that he was our adversary in this war. Who else on earth would tell his opponents how to kill him? He has shown the world the zenith of the heart’s nobility and magnanimity. His soul is the height of sacrifice. O Krishna, is there anything on earth that you do not know? Tell me, O Krishna, what can I do for him? I will do anything for my grandfather. We lost our father when we were quite young. Vishma replaced our father with his constant love and concern. His sacrifice for us was unparalleled. Now, Krishna, do tell me why he is crying and weeping.
KRISHNA: I do not know, Arjuna. You can ask him. He will tell you.
ARJUNA: Grandfather, please tell me why you are weeping. What can I do for you?
VISHMA: My child, I am weeping not because I am afraid of death. I am shedding bitter tears for one simple reason: because your Pandava family has suffered so much. The Kauravas have been torturing you right from the beginning. Krishna is the Lord of the Universe, yet your suffering has no end. I do not know how it is that you have suffered so much when Krishna has been with you all the time. How is it possible for him to observe your suffering? His heart is all love and concern for you. I do not understand his game; that is why I am shedding tears.
KRISHNA (smiling): O Vishma, O man of wisdom, my mystery is unfathomable. You know that my heart has been suffering with Arjuna’s family. My soul is one with them. Both my divine existence and my human existence are one with them.
VISHMA: O Lord, you are dearer to me than my life itself. You made a solemn promise that you would not take weapons, that you would not fight, yet twice you left your chariot to kill me. On the third day and on the ninth day of the battle, you came out of your chariot to kill me. I was so filled with joy, for it was by you, my Lord, that I wanted to be killed. To die in your presence, to be killed by your weapons, means to go to Heaven immediately. Nothing can be more glorious than to be killed by the Lord Himself. O Krishna, when you came out of the chariot to kill me, I wanted to embrace you in the battlefield, but Arjuna pulled you back into the chariot. Arjuna, you have done me a terrible disservice.
ARJUNA: I wanted Krishna to keep his promise, Grandfather. He promised he would not fight, that he would only be my charioteer.
VISHMA (to Krishna):I know, Krishna, that you are now with me. The end of my life is fast approaching. You have many times blessed me, O Krishna, with your divine presence. But this time please bless me in a different way: place your ever-compassionate hands on my head, and let this blessing of yours carry me into the highest plane of Peace.
(Krishna blesses Vishma. Vishma sings.)
Shanti shanti hridaye shanty
Parane shanti raje
Chira manohar kanur banshari
Dyuloke bhuloke baje
Ghor danaber hingshar chhaya
Andhar nishar agyana-maya
Hariye phelechhi amar e tanu
Mana prana antare
Akuti amar taba kripa nire
Peace within my heart reigns supreme.
The soul-stirring flute of Lord Krishna
is being played
In my heaven and on my earth.
The destruction-shadows of dark demons
And the ignorance-delusion of sombre night
Lie long-buried in the depths
of my body, mind, heart and life.
My aspiration-flames ever swim across
the expanse of Your compassion-waters.]
KRISHNA: Vishma, the world knows about your supreme promises and supreme sacrifices. To fulfil your father’s desire you did not marry, you did not take the throne. The Kauravas supported you. Morality-bound, you fought for them. The human in you fought with the human, the undivine. The divine in you fought with the divine for the divine. The human in you fought against the Pandavas. The divine in you told the Pandavas how to kill you. Arjuna has listened to your advice, and now you are dying. Your life is now a matter of a few hours. I offer to you all my heart’s boundless Love, Peace and Bliss. Here on earth you are immortal, and there in Heaven you are immortal. Your promise is the pride of Mother Earth and your sacrifice is the pride of Father Heaven.