The Mahabharata with 110000 verses, including an appendix, is the longest epic poem in the world literature. In the epic 2,000 verses only are the teachings of Krishna, 20,000 verses are the teachings of Bhishma, the most towering personality of the Mahabharata, a warrior sage who led an army of over 2 million soldiers for 10 days out of 18 days of war. At that time he was 146 years old. His final teachings were given when he lay pierced with arrows for 58 days, waiting for the right time that he had chosen for his death. Swami Veda gives his brief life story. This is a fascinating and inspiring account of a master of wisdom and conqueror of death.
Swami Veda was born in a Sanskrit speaking family in India where he was vigorously trained in the meditative traditions of the Vedic and Upanishadic philosophies. He was a leading authority on Yoga and Meditation. He was an ardent devoted disciple of Swami Rama, who has initiated him in the highest mysteries of the Himalayan traditions of Meditation.
Salutations to the Lineage of Teachers.
At the very outset, I must admit that I am truly humbled bythis spiritual colossus, his erudition and articulation. Mypranams to Brahmabhtta M M Sri Swami Veda Bharati.
Pujya Swami’s discourses on the topic ''conquest of death''are being published as a set of three books. This present book,entitled ''Death your Servant'', runs into seven chapters.
The first chapter, bearing the title ''Dark Ages Begin'', openswith a unique explanation of Mahabharata, its philosophy ratherthan its history or chronology. Time is merely a transactionalfact. The real history of humanity is not to be viewed asevolution of human species but rather as cycles of evolution anddevolution of human consciousness.
In the second chapter, Swamiji has shown how the bulk ofverses from the Mahabharata are teachings of Bhisma on varioustopics. Therefore one is bound to wonder if Vyasa wantedBhisma to be projected as the pivotal force around whom theevents resolve. Hence this chapter is rightly attributed to Bhisma.
The third chapter is a rapid run where the hero Yudhisthiramakes an appearance and the supreme hero, Lord Sri Krsna,makes a grand entry with his cosmic form, the visvarupa. He isshown as the ultimate truth behind the phenomenal world, whomanifests to establish Dharma. The episode of sage Uttanka andSri Krsna makes an absorbing narration.
In the fourth chapter, Swamiji, with utmost simplicity,captures the death of Bhisma and the trying circumstances of hislife. Lying on the bed of arrows, he extols the philosophy andthe Yoga Sastra, animated in the person that Sri Krsna isBhisma’s departure from the world reveals the secret of yogicdeath
The fifth chapter, traditionally known as the Bhisma-stava-raja or Bhisma’s King of Hymns, is a wonderful translation of hisprofound and prayerful devotion to Sri Krsna.
In the sixth chapter, ''Return of the Silence''; Swamiji deepenshis contemplation on Bhisma’s hymn, thus casting light on theshedding of body and the shedding of body-identification.Through meditation one voluntarily cognizes the process ofdeath after one has sufficiently acquainted oneself with thephenomenon of death. Such a person’s death of the body isfreedom from confinement. This in itself is rising from thegreatest impediment to spiritual heights - the bodyidentification.
Chapter seven, ''Delete Death'', is a poetic rendering ofSwamiji’s meditative disposition. The reader is transported toSwamiji’s inner realms and is thus allowed to partake of hiswisdom.
Swamiji’s bulwark of clarity will prove to be a potent guideto the seekers, as his other works have been.
I invoke the grace of the Lord and the blessings of the GuruParampara on one and all.
In the service of the Lord.
I have the habit of speaking to group on whaever topic I amcontemplating at any given time in the forest-of-eye-blinks.As I was contemplating the life of Bhisma at the time, I narrated portions of it to the Himalayan Institute’s group visiting the Rishikesh Ashram in the fall of 1992. The way ofthis narrative somewhat follows the tradition of Indian epics,which encapsulate stories within stories, like Russian grand-mother dolls.
I hope that this particular doll not only entertains you,but also speaks to you to inspire and guide you.
This book should be read as part of a set on the subjectof the conquest of death. The set includes (1) this author’sMeditation and the Art of Dying, (2) the current volumeMahabharata : Bhisma, and (3) Sanatsujatiyam, another portion of the Mahabharata which begins with the statement''there is no such thing as death'' My translation of the textforms the second part of this volume, ''Sanatsujatiyam Deathof Death '''' Beside these, it is most important to read SwamiRama’ Sacred Journey’.
With regard to this edition, my sincerest appreciation forMoriah Wells, who laboriouly took dictation and edited thework, and deepest gratitude to Anne Glazier who applied herSanskrit scholarly apparatus and refined the work to its present polished form.
Prof. Jan Brzezinski (Shri Jagadananda Das) has gone throughthe text of the Sanatsujatiyam portion and edited it to conformto scholastic norms.
Mrs. Lalita Arya, director of our editorial team of selflessvolunteers, has kindly examined the text and format and refinedit all.
I had hoped that I would find time to translate excerpts fromBhisma's 20,000 verses and include them to be translated here.However, time is limited, so here is a repeat of the incompleteversion, with the hope that it will still be somewhat of an elevatingexperience for those who read and contemplate on it.
**Contents and Sample Pages**