Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mahabharata and me, 2

Mahabharata (and me, two) This is one of my favourites stories. In the great Indian epic the Mahabharata, of the five Pandav brother, Yudhishthir, is the embodiment of all good qualities. One day while living in exile in the forest, Yudhisthir finds that while attempting to drink water from a lake, all his brothers have been killed by a mysterious Yaksha (a celestial entity). When Yudhisthir arrives, the Yaksha challenges him to answer all his questions or else face the same consequences as his brothers. These questions-answers are like Vedic sutras. There are so beautiful in their simplicity, and so true. 
There are many more questions of the Yaksha Prashana (Yaksha’s questions) but I have listed quite a few here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and, above all, I hope they give you food for thought as they do to me. 

Yaksha: Who is really a helpful companion?
Yudhisthir: Steady intelligence is a very good friend, and can save one from all dangers.
Yaksha: How can one acquire something very great?
Yudhisthir: Everything desirable can be attained by the performance of austerity.
Yaksha: What is the best of happiness?
Yudhisthir: True happiness comes as a result of contentment.
Yaksha: Why does one forsake friends?
Yudhisthir: Lust and greed drives one to forsake friends.
Yaksha: What is the king of knowledge?
Yudhisthir: Knowledge pertaining to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the king of all kinds of knowledge.
Yaksha: What is ignorance?
Yudhisthir: Not knowing one's constitutional duty.
Yaksha: What is the best bath?
Yudhisthir: That which cleanses the mind of all impurities.
Yaksha: What make one a brahman, birth, learning or behaviour?
Yudhisthir: It is behaviour alone that make a person a brahman. Even one who is expert in the four Vedas, born of brahman parents, but whose behaviour is not proper, should be considered a shudra.
Yaksha: Who is pleasing?
Yudhisthir: A person who speaks in a pleasing manner.
Great questions: 
Yaksha: Who is truly happy?
Yudhisthir: One who cooks his own food (is not dependant on anyone), is not a debtor (does not spend more than he can afford), does not have to leave home to make in order to earn his livelihood (does not over endeavour for material things) is truly happy.
Yaksha: "Who is the sustainer of all?" 
Yudhisthir: "Air is the sustainer of all"
Yaksha: "Who wanders alone?" 
Yudhishthir: "The sun wanders alone." 
Yaksha: "Who is born again and again?" 
Yudhishthir: "Moon is born again and again"
Yaksha: "Which is the container of all?" 
Yudhishtihr: "Earth is the container of all"
Yaksha: "Who is the self of man?" 
Yudhishthir: "A son is the self of man"
Yaksha: "Who is a god-sent friend?" '
Yudhishthir: "Wife is the god-sent friend"
Yaksha: "On what does one live?" 
Yudhishthir: "On rain does one live" 
Yaksha: "What should be one's interest?" 
Yudhishthir: "One's interest should be in doing charity"
Yaksha: "By losing what does one becomes dear?" 
Yudhishthir: "By losing one's self-importance one becomes dear"
Yaksha: "By losing what does one does not grieve?" 
Yudhishthir: "By losing getting rid of one's anger, one does not grieve"
Yaksha: "By losing what does one does become purposeful" 
Yudhishthir: "By losing one's passion one becomes purposeful"
Yaksha: "By losing what, does one becomes happy?" 
Yudhishthir: "By losing greed one would be happy."
Yaksha: "By what is the world enveloped?" 
Yudhishthir: "The world is enveloped by ignorance"
Yaksha: "Who would desert his friends?" 
Yudhishthir: "A greedy man would desert his friends" 
Yaksha: "By what reason, one does not reach heavens?" 
Yudhishthir: "Because of attachments one does not reach heavens"
Yaksha: "When does a man die?" (as good as dead)
Yudhishthir: "When he becomes poor"
Yaksha: "When does a kingdom die?" 
Yudhishthir: "When it does not have a king."
Yaksha: "When does a sacrifice die?"
Yudhishthir: "When it is devoid of charity”
Yaksha: ''What is food?" 
Yudhishthir: "Sense-objects are food"
Yaksha: "What is poison." 
Yudhishthir: "Desire is poison"
Yaksha: "What is self-control?" 
Yudhishthir:"Keeping the mind under control is self-control"
Yaksha: "What is shame?"
Yudhishthir: "Withdrawing from doing bad deeds is shame"
Yaksha: "Oh King, what is wisdom?" 
Yudhishthir: "Understanding the true nature of Tatva (Reality)"
Yaksha: "What is compassion?" 
Yudhishthir:"Compassion is wishing for the happiness of all"
Yaksha: "Who is the invincible enemy of man?" 
Yudhishthir: "Anger is the invincible (difficult) enemy of man"
Yaksha: "Which is the incurable disease of man?" 
Yudhishthir: "Greed is the incurable disease of man"
Yaksha: ''Who is pious?" 
Yudhishthir: "One who is concerned with the welfare of all being"
Yaksha: ''Who is not pious? 
Yudhishthir: "One who is cruel"
Yaksha: "Oh King, what is delusion?" 
Yudhishthir:"Fanatism is delusion"
Yaksha: "What is laziness?" 
Yudhishthir: "Inactivity in one's own duty (dharma)"
Yaksha: "What is sorrow?" 
Yudhishthir: "Ignorance is sorrow"
Yaksha: "What is courage?" 
Yudhishthir: "Control over the senses"
Yaksha: "What is steadfastness?" 
Yudhishthir: "To abide by one's own dharma, duty"
Yaksha: "What is bathing?"
Yudhishthir: "To cleanse the mind of its dirt"
Yaksha: "What is charity?" 
Yudhishthir: "Protecting all beings is charity."
Yaksha:What is the most wonderful thing?
Yudhishthir: The most amazing thing is that even though every day man sees countless living entities dying, he still acts and thinks as if he will live forever.
Yaksha: "What is the right path?

Yudhishthir: "Logic and reasoning are invalid; many are the laws and scriptures, differing from one another; there is no single sage whose words could be an authority. The essence of Dharma is hidden in the deep cave. The path tread by the pious and the wise is the right path.”