The Pandavas were at the end of their 12 years of exile in the forest and had to spend 1 year in agyatavasa (living incognito). One fine day, as they were moving around in the forest and discussing the strategy of what they should do and how they should go about it, for the one year of incognito, Yudhisthira the eldest among the Pandavas suddenly became tired and thirsty. His brother Nakula went in search of water and found a beautiful lake. The lake was devoid of any living creatures except a crane. It was Lord Yama – God of Death who had come there as a crane to test the Pandavas. As Nakula went down to the lake to drink water, the crane warned him not to do so before answering his questions, else he would die. Nakula in his arrogance did not pay heed, drank water and immediately fell dead.
When Nakula did not come back even after a long time, Sahadeva went in search of Nakula, and without paying heed to the crane, he too drank the water without answering the questions and died. Bhima and Arjuna also met with the same fate. Since none of the brothers came back, Yudhisthira came in search of his brothers. He saw his brothers dead near the lake. Since he was very thirsty, he first thought of drinking water and then investigating into the cause of the death of his brothers. The crane again warned Yudhisthira and said that it was the guardian of the lake and unless the questuons put forth by it are answered, he has no permission to drink the water from the lake. If he does so, he too will die. Being the embodiment of Dharma, Yudhisthira decided to first answer the questions.
The crane then assumed the form of a Yaksha (Demi-God) and asked a number of questions:
1] Yaksha Prashna: (On Surya) – Who makes the Sun rise? Who gives him company? Who causes him to set and in whom is he established?
Yudhisthira Answers: Parabrahma is responsible for the Sun to rise. He is ever in the company of Gods (Nobility), Dharma (his duty) causes him to set and he is ever established in Truth.
2] Yaksha Prashna: ( On Jnana – Learning) : How does one become learned? How can something great be acquired and how can one gain wisdom?
Yudhisthira Answers: By reading the Srutis (Scriptures) one becomes learned. Anything great can be achieved only by severe tapas (austerity) and one can gain wisdom by serving the old and the wise.
3] Yaksha Prashna (On Brahmanas): What are the characteristic of Brahmanas? What is
their supreme Dharma? What signifies their limitation? What is impious practice in them?
Yudhisthira Answers: Self-study of Scriptures is their fundamental characteristic. Asceticism (Tapas) is their supreme Dharma. Identification with finitude signifies their limitation. Slander is their impiety.
4] Yaksha Prashna (On Kshatriyas): What are the characteristic of Kshatriyas? What is
their supreme Dharma? What signifies their weakness? What constitutes their Adharma?
Yudhisthira Answers: Art of warfare is their fundamental characteristic. Sacrifice (on their part) is their supreme dharma. Fear signifies their weakness. Abandonment of duty to provide protection is their Adharma.
[In today’s post , questions on 4 topics and answers are posted. These questions were asked by none other than Lord Yama – Lord of Dharma – to Yudhisthira]
Men of Wisdom are men of conviction and they always openly declare the Truth alone, loudly, heroically, courageously. They cannot, and will not mince matters or polish truth for the ready acceptance of the people of their era. Not caring whether it would please the taste of the public, they would openly declare their views; this is the nature of all wise men. - Swami Chinmayananda
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