Mahaabhaarat | General


Home | Mahaabhaarat | General | Articles


Previous | Next

In the celebrated question-answer session between Yam in the guise of a Yaksh and his son and the Dharmputra as found in the Aaranyak Parv of Mahaabhaarat, this is a significant discussion for some of his questions and Yudhishthir's answers for them.

Yaksh asked -
(1) what is the noblest penance? (2) what is the vital restraint? (3) what constitutes the greatest forgiveness? and (4) What is the greatest escape from shame?

The wise King Yudhishthir answered..
(1) The noblest penance is the unwavering adherence to ones own traditions and age-old virtues and faith.
(2) The most vital restraint that is to be effected is the restraint of one's own mind.
(3) The noblest forgiveness is that which is shown even to enemies and even in a war.
(4) The greatest escape from shame can come from not indulging in acts which are abhorrent to nature, society and decency.

Religion and faith constitute cardinal issues in all significant segments of society. The attempt to challenge the age-old traditions and faith and tendency to forcibly draw a person from his faith to another constitutes one of the greatest threats to peaceful coexistence in a multi-spectral society. Our forebears who followed traditions were not naive or idiotic people. There is no reason whatsoever either to veer away from one's own faith and it is also not right to impose one's own faith and beliefs on others. If traditions are to evolve through subtle changes, the dynamic society will bring about such transition in its own smooth and unobtrusive manner.

The most unstable and wavering object or thing is human mind. It is always indecisive and would be contradicting itself unless it is properly trained and tempered. This training is a life-long process. Eternal vigil is the only means to restrain the mind. Even the slightest concession given to mind to indulge in lack of discipline can wreak havoc for ourselves and also for others. But this is easier said than done.

The fiercest wars and duels have their own rules. If we look back to our hoary traditions, it would be seen that an unarmed person, even if he is the most hated enemy will not be killed in a war. We can see the participants in the war being fought at some particular time-slot, meeting one another during other times and restraining from attack. These were old practices of Dharma. Such niceties have no place in these times of terrorism.

Human beings should live a decent life. It is simply not proper to deviate from social decorum. It is all the more reprehensible to indulge in acts which would jar the normal human sensibility. Exceptions may be necessary, but such detours should be minimal. Each individual cannot simply think that he is an island by himself.

Yaksh asked -
(1) What is lack of knowledge? (2) What is vainglorious attitude? (3) What is unpardonable laziness? and (4) What is the real grief?

The wise King Yudhishthir answered..
(1) Not knowing one's own duties is the worst ignorance
(2) Excessive consciousness of self importance leads to vainglorious attitude
(3) Laziness of the worst form is inaction where one's duty is to act with diligence
(4) The insufferable grief is ignorance.

Yaksh asked -
Who is the most invincible enemy? Which is the most incurable disease? Who is the most noble person? Who is the most despicable person?

The wise king answers.
(1) Uncontrollable anger or rage is the worst enemy one can have
(2) Stinginess and jealousy are the most incurable diseases.
(3) The noble man is one who strives for ever for the welfare of all beings; and
(4) a man who has no place for kindness in his heart is the most despicable one.

The crisp answers speak volumes. Anger and its elder brother rage, have arrogance, thoughtlessness and violence as their companions. Most of the destructive acts in the human lore were committed by people under the influence of rage. A jealous fellow is always sad about what others have and does not care much about the huge possessions in his own kitty. And this fellow will never think of parting with even little of his wealth for some good purpose. The noblest thought that can arise to anyone, is that "let there be welfare in the whole of universe, and since the universe includes this noble man also, and therefore he need not take special care of himself. And a person who does not have sympathy for anyone is not a human being at all.

Yaksh asked -
What exactly is steadfastness as envisage by the sages? What is the real boldness? What is the ultimate ablution (bath)? And what is the noblest charity?

Yudhishthir said -
(1) Steadfastness lies in one's unwavering faithfulness to his ordained duty at any cost.
(2) The real boldness lies in one's capacity to control his emotions and sense organs.
(3) The cleanest ablution is cleansing one's mind of all evil thought and emotions.
(4) The real charity is in the protection of all beings even at the cost of one's own life.

The adherence to Swa-Dharm is a cardinal principle in our traditions. The duties could have come through heredity or through the commitments one has set up for himself. But once a person has committed himself to performance of certain duties, he has no justifications in retracting himself, unless in the rarest of the rare occasions. A man with discretion, therefore, will undertake a mission only after due deliberation. Running away in the middle at the face of even the least impediment makes a person lose his name and fame. So he has to be steadfast. Usually we call a person very bold when he exhibits great physical prowess. But the real boldness is in controlling ones own sense organs which crave for pleasure and safety when the call of duty should prod him to strenuous action. The really brave person is one who is in absolute control of himself. It is meaningless to claim oneself to be very clean just because he had a good bath and application of fragrant toiletry. If a person is carrying muck in his mind, he can never be clean. The charity on the part of a king or an administrator should manifest itself in his readiness to sacrifice his own personal ambitions for the protection of persons dependent on him. To have a blemish-less mind is the greatest achievement.



Home | Mahaabhaarat | General | Articles


Previous | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 04/26/12