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Dharma Quizzes Yudhishtira

by Jyotsna Kamat
First Online: January 01, 2007
Page Last Updated: January 10, 2018


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 Background

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 ? 
Mother is weightier than the earth; Father is loftier than sky; The mind is swifter than wind.. 

What given up trait, makes one popular ? 
Self-pride (ego) when given up, makes one popular.

What saves grief, when given up ? 
Anger when given up saves grief. 

When given up, what trait makes a man rich ?
Desire when given up, makes a man rich. 

What trait when given up makes a person happy ? 
Greed when given up, makes a person happy. 

What is the news? What is strangeness? What is the way?
Time factor is boiling the creatures in a cauldron called ignorance. The Sun serves as fire, day and night as fire-sticks, and the months and the seasons as stirring spoons - This is the news. 
Men are dying everyday. Yet the rest think that they will never die! What more could be stranger than this ?
The knowledge is vast. Many are the traditions. There is not a single scholar, who does not disagree with the other. The essence of truth is shrouded in mystery. So the path shown by a great man is the way to be followed.

What can compare with the brightness of the sun? 
Only Truth equals the Sun in brightness.

Who is considered a best Brahmin and a best Kshatriya?
He who is learned in all the Vedas (knowledge) is a true Brahmin. The best Kshatriya is one who wields all weapons and fights without fear of death.

How can one earn wealth? Of all the riches which is the best? What is true Wealth? 
Money is to be earned by hard work. Learning is the best of riches. Health is Wealth.

What is faster than the wind? What troubles a person always?
The mind is faster than the wind. Worry troubles a person always.

Who is a great man ? 
One who practices non-violence.


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 replied, "We have two mothers--  Kunti and Madri. It is but proper that one son of each should live. I respect both of my mothers".

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.

See Also:

  • By Jyotsna Kamat -- Dr. Jyotsna Kamat is an active contributor to Kamat's Potpourri. Read all her articles here.

 The Epic Story of Mahabharat
The Mahabharata

Rajasuya Sacrifice of PandavasThe Mystifying Architecture of IndraprasthaShantanu Meets the Fishergirl Satyavati and Falls in LoveDepiction of the Gadayudha EpicKrishna Shelters Cows and Men During a Thunderstorm
Divesting of DraupadiLord Shiva and Arjuna Pick a FightThe Ashwamedha SacrificeBheema Finds Duryodhana Immersed in WaterDeath of Abhimanyu
Karnas PredicamentDraupadi, the Wife of Pandava BrothersKrishna Kills BakasuraDuryodhana Hiding Under WaterBhishma Lies on a Bed of Arrows
Bhima Finds Duryodhana Hidden in LakeKauravas Challenge Pandavas for a Game of DiceGandhari by Nandalal BoseLakshagriha Dahana (Burning of Lacquer House)Veda Vyasa is the author of Mahabharata.

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