In today’s epic, we will know about “Yaksha Prashna”. A beautiful story that forces us to think about life. The Yaksha Prashna, also known as the Dharma Baka Upakhyana or the Akshardham, is the story of a riddle contest between Yudhishthira and a yaksha in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This story will tell us the wisdom of Yudhishthira. Buckle up and let’s dive into it.
Once upon a time or on a certain day, the Pandavas were out hunting in the forest. Tired and thirsty Pandavas were resting, as from nowhere a Brahmana came and asked them for help. Apparently, a deer passed by, and his sacred grass got caught in its antlers, which he needed for worship. Pandavas said yes and started looking for the deer.
Yudhishthira asked his brothers to go in different directions so that they could easily catch the deer. But unfortunately, there was no sign of any deer. They were already so exhausted so Yudhishthira asked Nakula to go and search for water. Nakula found a pond. As he is about to drink from the water, a voice says, “Don’t drink from this water before you answer my questions.” Nakula ignores it, drinks the water, and falls dead. When Nakula didn’t return, Yudhishthira sent Sahadeva to look for him. And the same thing happened to Sahadeva.
Now both were missing. Now Yudhishthira senses that the two brothers are in danger, and he asks Bhima and Arjuna to look for them. They come to the pond. And they drank the water without answering the questions as well. When Yudhishthira reached the site, he saw his brothers lying dead.
He asked the pond, “Water! Are you the culprit? Are you the one who took my brothers’ lives? Take mine too!” A voice said, “Stop! Do not drink the water before answering my questions.” Yudhishthira asked, “Who are you? Where are you? Show yourself.”
A Yaksha appeared and said, “This pond belongs to me. Your brothers died because they drank from its waters before answering my questions. Do you wish to suffer the same fate?” Yudhishthira said, “I do not wish to take what does not belong to me. Ask me your questions, and I’ll answer them as best as I can.”
And thus a series of QnA started.
Question: What is more important than the earth itself?
Yudhishthira: One’s mother.
Question: What is higher than heaven?
Yudhishthira: One’s father.
Question: What is swifter than the wind?
Yudhishthira: The mind.
Question: More numerous than the blades of grass?
Yudhishthira: The thoughts in the mind.
Question: What is the highest sanctuary of dharma?
Question: What is the highest sanctuary of fame?
Yudhishthira: A gift.
Question: Of heaven?
Yudhishthira: The truth.
Question: What is the most praiseworthy thing of all?
Question: The most valuable possession?
Question: The greatest treasure?
Question: The greatest happiness?
Question: What is the highest dharma?
Yudhishthira: To injure none of the living.
Question: What must be controlled?
Yudhishthira: The mind.
Question: What must be renounced to make a man agreeable?
Question: What must be renounced to make a man wealthy?
Question: And what can be renounced without regret?
Question: And what will be relinquished to gain happiness?
Question: What makes the way?
Yudhishthira: The good make the way, indeed they are the way.
Question: Who is the ascetic?
Yudhishthira: He who remains faithful.
Question: What is true restraint?
Yudhishthira: That of the mind.
Question: And what is true forgiveness?
Yudhishthira: He who endures enmity truly forgives.
Question: What is real knowledge?
Yudhishthira: The knowledge of god.
Question: What is tranquility?
Yudhishthira: When the heart is still.
Question: What is mercy?
Yudhishthira: When one desires the happiness of all creatures.
Question: What is simplicity?
Yudhishthira: When the heart is tranquil.
Question: What is the invincible enemy?
Question: What disease has no cure?
Question: What is the honest man?
Yudhishthira: He who desires the happiness of all the living.
Question: And the dishonest one?
Yudhishthira: The one who has no mercy.
Question: What is ignorance?
Yudhishthira: Not knowing one’s Dharma.
Question: What is pride?
Yudhishthira: When a man thinks that he’s the one who is the doer of life.
Question: What is grief?
Yudhishthira: Only ignorance.
Question: How does a man become patient?
Yudhishthira: By subduing his senses.
Question: Which is the true ablution?
Yudhishthira: When the heart is washed clean.
Question: What is charity?
Yudhishthira: Protecting all creatures.
Question: What is wickedness?
Yudhishthira: Speaking ill of others.
Question: How is a man agreeable?
Yudhishthira: When he speaks agreeably.
Question: How does he get what he wants?
Yudhishthira: When he acts with discernment.
Question: And how do you find bliss in the next world?
Yudhishthira: By being virtuous in this one.
Question: What is truly amazing in this world?
Yudhishthira: The most amazing thing is, though humans are mortal, everybody goes about their life as if they are going to be here forever.
Question: What is the news? Who is the real man?
Yudhishthira: The word of one’s good deeds reaches heaven and is spread from there across the earth. As long as that word lasts, one is called a man.
Question: Who is he, Yudhishthira, who has every kind of wealth?
Yudhishthira: Only he to whom joy and sorrow, fortune and misfortune, past and future are all the same.
Impressed by Yudhishthira’s answers. Yaksha granted him a wish to choose one of his brother’s life. And he chose Nakula. When Yaksha asked Why he chose Nakula. He answered, “I have two mothers – Kunti and Madri. I, the son of Kunti, am alive. Surely, a son of Madri should also live.”
Instead of granting just one life. Yaksha granted all his brothers’ life. And said, “ Yudhishthira, you are the wisest man in the world and the most righteous one too.”
The Moral of the Story
During the game of dice which we discussed in the previous edition. https://gogomagazine.in/the-mahabharata-saga-shakuni-game-of-the-dice/
Yudhishthira put Nakula and Sehadeva at stake because they were his stepbrothers. But after spending the forest life, the same Yudhishthira chose his stepbrother above his real ones. The course of forest life changed the perspective. It was not just some punishment they had to spend the forest life but all Lord Krishna’s play to build up a better chance. To make a true king.
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