Dharma Quizzes Yudhishtira
by Jyotsna Kamat
Mahabharata, the great Indian epic is a big store house of stories. There are stories inside a story. Stories sad and happy have entertained the countless Indians over the ages.
The story of Yaksha's questions to Yudhishthira (a.k.a Dharmaraya) reads like a quiz program. It is a quiz on philosophy of life and has spiritual overtone. These questions have perhaps haunted the mankind and the replies they obtained might have remained puzzling.
The Pandavas were living in the forest as a consequence of defeat in dice game. A Brahmin comes to them and requests to find away a deer which had vanished taking away his sacrificial tools. They set out, all five of them and not finding the deer which eluded them, they take rest under a tree, exhausted. Nakula, the youngest, climbs a tree and discovers a pond in the vicinity, and goes to bring water. He does not return even after a long wait.
Next goes Sahadeva in search of him and he also does not return. Then Arjuna and later Bhima also follow. When they also fail to return, Yudhishthira also follows and finds all his brothers lying dead near the pond. When he stands flabbergasted, a voice is heard. "I am a crane. Lord of this pond. Your brothers are dead because they did not heed my warning. Same fate is awaiting you. You answer my questions to avoid death" -- boomed the invisible crane.
Yudhishthira replied. "Please ask the questions. I will try my best to reply".
Some of the questions and answers are as below:
What is more heavier than the earth? loftier than the sky? swifter than the wind ?
What given up trait, makes one popular ?
What saves grief, when given up ?
When given up, what trait makes a man rich ?
What trait when given up makes a person happy ?
What is the news? What is strangeness?
What is the way?
What can compare with the brightness of the sun?
Who is considered a best Brahmin and a best
How can one earn wealth? Of all the riches which is the best? What is true Wealth?
What is faster than the wind? What troubles a person always?
Who is a great man ?
A Test of Character
The invisible Lord of the pond was much pleased with Yudhishthira's answers. He offered to bring life to only one of the Pandavas, leaving the choice to Yudhishthira.
Yudhishthira asked to restore Nakula's life.
The astonished voice exclaimed "How is that you do not ask for revival of Bhima or Arjuna who are much nearer, dearer and useful to you"?
Yudhishthira passed the final test. The voice now assumed its real form. "I am Dharma, your father, dear son, I took away the Brahmin's tools in the form of a deer. Here they are", brought all the brothers back to life.
The god Dharma blessed the Pandavas and disappeared.
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