Mahabharata’s Yaksha Prashna

As heard from Dr Sampadananda

Sujatha R
3 min readSep 23

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There are battles and conflicts all the time.. dharma-kshetre kuru-kshetre.. Be it in the cells, in the mind, in the outer world, they are unavoidable. At times, we are robbed away from our serenity due to fear, reduced outlook and kArpanya dosha.

Mahabharata is not a story of just two warring clans. The deep messages bring equanimity and wisdom even at this day and age.

AGyaatavaas was to begin from tomorrow. The Pandavas had to remain incognito, for if they were to be seen, they had to repeat the entire vanvaas. There was a lot going on in their minds that evening. The yaksha-prashna episode was a test of composure, equanimity and application of wisdom at all times.

Sampadananda ji narrates the yaksha prashna episode in a light and enjoyable fashion, connecting it with Upanishads, and gives a taste and feel of a handful questions out of the 100 ones, including the placeholder for ‘धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः’, uncovering the profound messages blended with poetic beauty. Could not help reflecting about it a few times.

I was humoring myself about fear of interviews. History will not analyse the answers. At the most, there will be stark reactions from a few people. If Yudhistira could handle intense Q&A in that dire situation where all his mighty brothers seemed to be lying dead beside the lake, it sparks motivation for sure.

Q: Kaa cha vartikaa? What’s up? What’s the news? [Usually this kind of question is asked at the beginning of a conversation, but here it was towards the end]

A: I have just realised that this world is like a cauldron, a cooking pan, on which bake all the beings.. The Sun the fire, the alternating cinders of day and night the fuel, the passing months the ladle, and time the Maha Cook.

[I was awestruck by the aptness of the metaphor and imagery.. Earth indeed is a colossal 3D vessel amidst the cosmic stage of the Universe, hosting and cooking life in the passing time of days and months]

Q: Kim Anandam?

A: Eating limited food in the evening, and not straying to strange foreign places [I would guess doing jobs not in alignment with our nature swadharma, and bantering, too much gadgets and Social Media too fits in this definition of strange virtual world, robbing us from our serene Self]

Q: Who rises the Sun? Who gives it company? What makes it set? Where is it established?

A: Brahma rises the Sun, the Devas give it company. Dharma sets the Sun, and the Sun is established in Truth.

[Took me some time to place each of the phrase encoded with plurality of meanings. Perhaps we are like the reference of earth. Sun referring to the spark of light within each of us, that which rhythmically rises and sets every day, supported by the positive forces within, aligning with the truth and purpose of the Universe]

Q: Kim Ascharyam?

A: Moment after moment, living beings perish, and yet the remaining beings feel, they are invincible, indispensable.. What can be stranger than this?

Ahani ahani bhutAni gachanti yama mandiram.. seesha staavaram

Q: What is the ultimate Path? Kah pantah?

A: There have been unending debates.. The Shrutis and rishis advocate different many paths. Dharma tattva is indeed mysterious. The path which the great realised people have been.. that path is the path.

tarko ’pratiṣṭhaḥ.. śrutayo vibhinnā, nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam, dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ, mahājano yena gataḥ.. sa panthāḥ

[Towards the end of Q&A, Placement of ‘धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः]

Q:If you were to choose one brother who can return alive?

A: It would be Nakula

Q: And why is it so?

A: I shall perish if I tread the path of adharma. Dharma shall take care of me, if I tread the path of Dharma. He is my half brother from my other mother, and hence my dharma is to choose him.

धर्म एव हतो हन्ति ‘धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः’⁠। तस्माद् धर्मं न त्यजामि मा नो धर्मो हतोऽवधीत् ⁠।⁠।

Another brilliant take away from Mahabharata.. The closing lines..

https://myriadpatterns.medium.com/the-opening-closing-verses-from-the-mahabharata-7588a21695db

References

https://youtu.be/tK8j3xjdJiE?feature=shared

https://ia601308.us.archive.org/29/items/Sanskrit_EBooks_Assorted_Titles/Yakshaprasna%20Sanskrit%20English.pdf

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns