YAKSHA PRASHNA- II
Prashna” in Mahabharata relates to the exchange of questions and
answers between Yama in the guise of a Yaksha who poses 126 difficult questions
to Yudhishthira who gives the most fitting answers to those questions. The
background to this episode is something like this. One day during their incognito
vanavasa, Yudhishthira felt very thirsty and there was no water in sight
to quench his thirst. Sahadeva, the
youngest of the Pandavas climbed up a tree and spotted a lake at a
distance. When he reached the lake to
bring water for Yudhushthira, he heard a voice which said “Beware! don’t touch
the water before you answer my questions”.
Without heeding the warning Sahadeva started collecting water from the
lake. No sooner had he touched the water
than he fell down dead on the shore of the lake. Seeing Sahadeva not returning,
Nakula went after him. He too met the
same fate as also his elder brothers Arjuna and Bhima. Finally Yudhishthira went to the lake and he
was shocked by seeing all his brothers dead.
The Yaksha revealed to him his terrible form and warned him that he
should answer his questions before helping himself to the water in the
lake. Yudhishthira gave him fitting
replies and Yaksha was pleased. Then
Yaksha said that he would bring back to life one of his brothers. Yudhisshthira wanted Nakula to be brought
back to life. The Yaksha asked him why
he was asking Nakula, the son of Madri, to be brought to life instead of Bhima
or Arjuna who were his own brothers being Kunti’s children. Yudhisshthira
replied that he had two mothers Kunti and Madri, both being wives of his father. He, Kunti Devi’s son, was alive. Therefore it was only just and equitable that
Nakula, the eldest son of Madri should also be alive. Yaksha who was none other than Yama, the god
of death, was very pleased by Yudhishthira’s reply and brought back to life all
the brothers of Yudhishthira.
the great epic of Mahabharata with a simple translation in English.
सन्धिर्न जीर्यते ॥५६॥
Controlling which does not one grieve? With whom a peace treaty does not
धर्मः सदा फलः।
सद्भिर्न जीर्यते ॥५७॥
greatest dharma (virtue). The dharmas enshrined in the three Vedas
always yield fruit. By controlling the mind one does not grieve.
Treaty with the good does not fail.
किं नु हित्वा न शोचति।
किं नु हित्वा सुखी भवेत् ॥५८॥
loved by all ? Discarding which one does not grieve? Discarding which one
becomes wealthy? Discarding which does one become happy?
लोभं हित्वा सुखी भवेत् ॥५९॥
never grieves. One without desires is wealthy and one without greed is
किमर्थं चैव राजसु॥६०॥
dancers (and musicians), to servants and to the King?
भयार्थं चैव राजसु ॥६१॥
to dancers and musicians for the sake of fame, to servants for the sake of
proper conduct of affairs and to the king because of fear.
स्वर्गं न गच्छति ॥६२॥
enveloped? Why does an entity not shine (does not become known)? What is
it that causes one to abandon friends? What is it that prevents one
from entering heaven?
सङ्गात्स्वर्गं न गच्छति॥६३॥
ignorance (of the Reality). One does not shine because of darkness.
It is greed which prompts one to abandon one’s friends. It is attachment
(to worldly things) that prevents one from entering heaven.
राष्ट्रं मृतं भवेत् ।
स्यात् कथं यज्ञो मृतो भवेत् ।।६४॥
dead? When does a kingdom become dead? When does shraaddha performed in memory of forebears is
considered as good as dead? When does a sacrifice becomes as good as dead?
मृतो यज्ञस्त्वदक्षिणः ॥६५॥
dead. A country without a king is (like) dead. Shraddha
performed without a shrotriya (one who has studied the Vedas) is as good as
dead. A sacrifice performed without dakishina is (like) dead.
किमन्नं किं च वै विषम्।
पिब हरस्व च ॥६६॥
food? What is poison? What is the proper time for Shraddha? Answer these
questions and then drink or take away water from this lake.
कथं वा यक्ष मन्यसे ॥६७॥
direction. Sky is water. The cow provides food. Begging is poison. Brahmana is
the time for Shraddha. O Yaksha! What do you think about this?
च ह्रीः परिकीर्तिता ॥६८॥
What is the highest patience? What is called modesty?
of the mind is real control. Enduring pairs
of opposites (like heat and cold, happiness and sorrow, honour and dishonour,
friendship and enmity etc.) is patience. Refraining from doing improper
deeds is modesty.
कः शमश्च प्रकीर्तितः।
the highest form of kindness? What is
the mind. Kindness is the desire to see all beings happy.
Straightforwardness is equanimity in all circumstances.
कीदृशः स्मृतः ॥७२॥
which has no end? Who is a sadhu (good person)? Who is a bad person?
साधुरसाधुर्निर्दयः स्मृतः ॥७३॥
end. A sadhu
who is cruel (to all beings) is a bad person.
कश्च मानः प्रकीर्तितः।
शोकः प्रकीर्तितः ॥७४॥
What is sorrow?
Vanity is false pride about oneself. Indolence is not fulfilling one’s
duties according to swadharma and sorrow is ignorance.
किं च धैर्यमुदाहृतम्।
दानं च किमिहोच्यते ॥७६॥
is known as dhairya (courage)? What is the highest type of snana (bathing)? What is dana (charity,gifting)?
Control of the senses is dhairya. Ridding the mind of all
impurities is the highest type of snana. Providing protection to beings is dana.
नास्तिकः कश्च उच्यते।
को मत्सरः इति स्मृतः ॥७८॥
What is desire? What is jealousy?
मत्सरः स्मृतः ॥७९॥
has knowledge of dharma.
An atheist is a fool. What causes samsara (cycle of births and deaths) is
desire. Heart-burn is jealously.
किं तत्पैशुन्यमुच्यते ॥८०॥
the highest daivam (grace of God)? What is paishunya
पैशुन्यं परदूषणम् ॥८१॥
as a dharmic (virtuous) person. The highest daivam (grace of God)
कथमेकत्र संगमः ॥८२॥
these which are opposed to one another?
त्रयाणामपि संगमः ॥८३॥
will be harmony between dharma,
artha and kama
ब्रूयात् सोऽक्षयं नरकं व्रजेत् ॥८५॥
He goes to eternal hell who, having invited a poor begging brahmana,
tells him that there is nothing which he can give to him ( i.e. the
मिथ्या यो वै द्विजातिषु
सोऽक्षयं नरकं व्रजेत् ॥८६॥
sastras, brahmanas, devas and sacrifices to forebears.
पश्चान्नास्तीति यो ब्रूयात् सोऽक्षयं नरकं व्रजेत् ॥८७॥
neither gives to the needy nor enjoys the
स्वाध्यायेन श्रुतेन वा।
प्रब्रूह्येतत् सुनिश्चितम् ॥८८॥
brahminhood, whether by clan in which born, by virtuous conduct, by the study
of Vedas or by shrutam (learning acquired by hearing from
saints, teachers and elders)? Tell me your considered view on this.
स्वाध्यायो न च श्रुतं।
वृत्तमेव न संशयः ॥८९॥
clan nor Vedic studies nor learning confers brahminhood. Undoubtedly, it
is only virtuous (good) conduct that confers brahminhood.
वृत्ततस्तु हतो हतः॥९०॥
should zealously guard his good conduct. One whose conduct does not
become weak never becomes weak himself. One whose good conduct is killed is as
good as dead.
क्रियावान् स पण्डितः ॥९१॥
thinkers in various shastras (scientific disciplines) are fools if
their conduct is bad. He who is bent on carrying out his swadharma is the real pundit
ब्राह्मणः इति स्मृतः॥९२॥
his conduct is bad. One who performs agnihotra and other karmas enjoined by his swadharma and who has control over his senses is
considered a brahmana.
soft and sweet with concern for others, gain? What does one gain when one
embarks on a project only after critical examination of all its pros and cons?
What is the gain of one who has many friends? What does a stickler to dharma gain?
sincere is loved by all. The one whose actions are preceded by careful
scrutiny, analysis and planning achieves success in his endeavours. One
with many friends lives happily. One who follows the path of dharma goes to heaven.
पन्था का च वार्तिका।
path? What is the news? Answer all these four questions and let your
brothers who are dead come life.
पचति स्वे गृहे।
वारिचर मोदते ॥९६॥
house, who is free from debts and who is not away from home is happy.
किमाश्चर्यमतः परम् ॥९७॥
others want to remain here permanently (They perhaps think that their turn will
not come). There is no greater wonder than this.
logical arguments. The Vedas are different from each other. There
is no one Rishi whose ideas can be taken as authentic. The truth about dharma is very secret (and difficult to
comprehend). Therefore the path one has to follow is the one taken by great
cooking all beings in the huge cauldron of ignorance on the fire of the sun,
using days and nights as fuel and stirring the mix with ladles of months and
प्रश्ना याथातथ्यं परन्तप।
पुरुषं त्विदानीं व्याख्याहि यश्च सर्वधनी नरः
have correctly answered all my questions. Now describe to me the person
who is rich (wealthy) in all respects
तावत्पुरुष उच्यते॥ १०१॥
heaven. As long as that fame is alive one is known as a purusha
सर्वधनी नरः ॥१०२॥
equanimity between likes and dislikes, happiness and sorrow as well as what is
past and what is yet to come.
राजन्यश्च सर्वधनी नरः।
यमिच्छसि स जीवतु ॥१०३॥
O King! You have answered the questions regarding purusha and a man who is wealthy in all
respects. Therefore let one of your brothers, whom you wish, come back to
बृहच्छाल इवोत्थितः ।
यक्ष जीवतु ॥१०४॥
sal tree with broad chest and long arms, come back to
सापत्नं जीवमिच्छसि ॥१०५॥
O King! Bhima is dear to you, Arjuna is your
refuge; why do you want Nakula, born of the second wife of your father, to be
brought back to life. ?
तुल्यं तं भीममुत्सृज्य
नकुलं जीवमिच्छसि ॥१०६॥
you want Nakula brought back to life.
तथैनं मनुजा प्राहुर्भीमसेनं प्रियं तव।
to you. In spite of it, what is the emotion which prompts you to ask for the
life of a brother born of the sapatni (co-wife) of your mother?
यस्य बाहुबलं सर्वे
rely, you want Nakula to be revived
नो धर्मो हतोऽवधीत्॥१०९॥
is protected, it will protect. Therefore I never forsake dharma lest it,
thus spurned, destroy me.
परमार्थाच्च मे मतम्।
the highest purushartha.
I wish to be kind, O Yaksha!, let Nakula live.
नकुलो यक्ष जीवतु॥१११॥
People know me as a King whose conduct is governed by dharma.
भार्ये तु पितुर्मम।
मे धीयते मतिः॥११२॥
Kunti and Madri were the two wives of my father. My mind is determined
that both of them should be with a son.
नास्ति मे तयोः।
यक्ष जीवतु ॥११३॥
any distinction between them. I wish to have them both placed in the same
position. Let, therefore, Nakula live.
आनृशंस्यं परं मतम्।
जीवन्तु भरतर्षभ ॥
above artha (wealth) and kama (desire), let all your brothers come
back to life.
पर्वणि आरणेयपर्वणि यक्षप्रश्नः ॥
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