Lessons from Mahabharat: How a Single Story can Answer all Life Questions.

RARELY DOES ONE COME ACROSS A STORY THAT CAN ANSWER almost all the questions about life. Here is one! Please read this till the very and end, you will enjoy every single word.

Believe me, you’ll get answers to many of your unanswered questions.

The Yaksha Prashna Story.

The Yaksha Prashna, is an amazing story of a Question-and-Answer (Q&A) session between Yudhisthira (Dharma Raj) and a Yaksha (Celestial entity), which appears in the Vana Parva or Aranya-Parva (The book of the forest) section of Mahabharata, the famous epic of Hindu religion.

Mahabharata is one of the greatest single sources of some of the best life lessons and teachings that is far more relevant in today’s modern society.

The story unfolds close to the end of the twelve years of forest exile of the Pandavas, and the time had come to live incognito (Agyat Vas) for one full year.

One fine day when the Pandavas were dwelling in the forest and were discussing the next course of action, a Brahmana came looking for them. He explained his problem. He had hung two wooden sticks which he would use to light the fire for his daily worship ritual. They had accidentally got entangled on an antler of a passing deer and it ran away into the nearby forest.

He requested the Pandavas to follow the deer’s footprints and retrieve his sticks so that he can perform his Vedic fire sacrifice at the proper time in the evening.

The Chase Begins.

Yudhisthira became quite concerned hearing the brahmana’s plea and picked up his bow and arrows and immediately set out, along with his brothers.

The Pandavas soon caught up with the deer after pursuing it for a great distance but suddenly the deer mysteriously disappeared from their view. By this time the Pandavas were extremely tired and thirsty.

When they arrived near a large banyan tree, Yudhisthira said to Nakula: “Please climb this tree and see if you can see a water reservoir nearby as I am practically dying of thirst.”

Nakula climbed the tree and after looking for a while replied: “I can see a bunch of trees that mostly grow by the side of the water and I can also hear the cries of water cranes. It means that there must be a water body nearby.”

Nakula set out with his quiver and after walking some time came to a lake filled with crystal-clear blue water, inhabited by many cranes.

The Tragedy Befalls.

Just when Nakula bent down to fill the quiver and quench his thirst, a voice from the sky announced: “This lake belongs to me. You cannot drink from this water without answering my questions or the water will turn into poison.” Nakula was dying of thirst so he ignored the warning and drank some water. Soon, he fell dead upon the shore.

When Nakula did not return for some time, Yudhisthira got worried and asked Sahadeva to go and look for him. Shahadeva arrived at the lake and saw his dead brother and got aggrieved, but as he too was thirsty, he approached the water to take a drink. As before, the same voice announced and warned him of the consequences. Sahadeva also ignored the warning and the moment he gulped in some water he fell dead onto the ground. After some time, when there was no sign of either Nakula or Sahadeva, Yudhisthira anxiously ordered Arjuna to go and get them. Arjuna also met the same fate followed by Bhima.

The Final Search.

Yudhisthira waited a long time but when none of his brothers returned with the water, he anxiously goes in search of them. While following the same path that his brothers took, his heart burned with grief and he wondered: Is this forest under some magical spell?

While speculating Yudhisthira comes to the pond and saw his worst fears confirmed. Seeing his brothers lying dead, bereft of life he began wailing loudly shedding tears. He noticed that his brother’s face remained unfaded, so thinking that the water could not be poisoned he decided to quench his thirst before searching for his brother’s killer.

As he was about to drink water, the same voice commanded and not only repeated the threat but also revealed itself as a crane living at the lake.

Yudhisthira replied “Please disclose your real identity, for I cannot believe that my heroic brothers can be killed by a bird. So please show yourself.”

The crane then revealed itself as a Yaksha and responded, “I am a yaksha who has taken the form of a crane. This pond belongs to me and since your brothers ignored my warnings and drank water without my permission, they got killed. Now do you wish to suffer the same fate or you would like to answer my questions? If you answer my questions, then you can do as you like.”

Yudhisthira said,” I do not wish to take what does not belong to me without permission. Ask me your questions and I will try to answer them as best I can.”

The FAQ Session Begins.

The yaksha it is said asked over 100 questions on almost all aspects of life.

This Yaksha-Yudhisthira dialogue is also known as the Dharam-Baka Upakhyan (Story of the virtuous crane). Below are some excerpts (my top pick) of the question-answer session which I feel are the best.

Yaksha’s Question: Who is a real helpful companion?

Yudhisthira Answer: Steady and self-intelligence is man’s best friend.

Question: How can one acquire something very great?

Yudhisthira: By the performance of austerity.

Question: What is nectar?

Yudhisthira: Milk is just like nectar.

Question: What is the most valuable possession?

Yudhisthira: Knowledge is the most valuable asset.

Question: What is real happiness?

Yudhisthira: Contentment is real happiness.

Question: A man forsakes friends for what reason?

Yudhisthira: Lust and Greed.

Question: What is the best bath?

Yudhisthira: Cleaning of mind’s impurities.

Question: What is the main cause of envy?

Yudhisthira: Grief.

Question: Who is pleasing?

Yudhisthira: A person who speaks pleasantly.

Question: What is the greatest treasure?

Yudhisthira: Health is the real treasure.

Question: What is swifter than the wind?

Yudhisthira: Our mind is the swiftest.

Question: What is more than the blades of grass?

Yudhisthira: The thoughts in our mind.

Question: What is the highest dharma?

Yudhisthira: Not to injure any living being.

Question: What is more important than the earth?

Yudhisthira: Mother.

Question: What is real tranquility?

Yudhisthira: When the heart is at peace.

Question: Which is an invincible enemy?

Yudhisthira: Anger is man’s worst enemy.

Question: What is real grief?

Yudhisthira: Ignorance is the source of all grief.

Question: What is pride?

Yudhisthira: When a man thinks of himself as the real doer.

Question: How can a person develop patience?

Yudhisthira: By subduing his senses.

Question: What is charity?

Yudhisthira: Protecting all living creatures.

Question: What is real wickedness?

Yudhisthira: Speaking ill about others.

Question: Who is the friend gifted by the gods?

Yudhisthira: One’s wife.

Question: What stays alone?

Yudhisthira: The sun.

Question: What if controlled, leads to no regret?

Yudhisthira: Anger.

Question: What if given, makes us wealthy?

Yudhisthira: Our desires.

Question: What disease is incurable?

Yudhisthira: Greed.

Question: What is poison?

Yudhisthira: To request someone.

Question: Who is the most beautiful woman on earth?

Yudhisthira: Kunti (his mother) because no one is more beautiful than a mother.

Question: What is food?

Yudhisthira: Cow! It gives milk, which is used to produce butter, which is then used in the sacrifice yagna. This causes clouds to form, which brings rain. Rains help the seeds grow and produce food.

Question: What is the most amazing and wonderful thing?

Yudhisthira: Every day hordes of people die and reach the abode of God. Yet one thinks and believes that one will remain on this earth forever like an immortal.

The Final Verdict.

Very pleased with these replies, the yaksha asked Yudhisthira to select any one of his brothers whom he would give life back. After a little thinking, Yudhisthira asks for his brother, Nakula to be given life back.

Yaksha: I am surprised by your choice. Bhima is the dearest to you among all your brothers. Arjuna is the one who can easily win the forthcoming war for you. Then why did you select Nakula?

Yudhisthira: I have two mothers- Kunti and Madri, and to me both of them are alike. I am the eldest son of Kunti and I am alive. Surely Dharma calls for the eldest son of Madri to be alive. I cannot think of doing injustice with her.

Yaksha was very pleased with Yudhisthira and restores to life and revived all his brothers. The Yaksha revealed his true identity to Yudhisthira, he was Dharma, the father of Yudhisthira. He wanted to test his son and so created the whole situation.

Doesn’t matter if you’re God loving or not, if you’re religious or not, these answers are pure golden wise words that can show you the path to light whenever you feel lost in life.

What is your opinion and view on this story, and do you have any personal stories? Then please comment below. Hoping to hear from you!

Stay Happy and Stay Connected.

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