Questions of Yaksha
A strange event happened while the
Pandavas were residing in Dwaithavana. One day a Brahmin visited the Pandavas.
He told them that his 'arani' sticks with which he used to produce fire
for his 'homas' (making offerings to the gods through the sacred fire)
had been carried away by a deer on its horns; and he requested them to
get back the firesticks for him.
Yudhishtira set out with his brothers
in search of the deer. The Pandavas soon came in sight of the animal; but
it ran away fast as the wind, and they could not catch it. All of them
soon felt very thirsty. At the suggestion of Dharmaraja, Nakula climbed
a tree and looked around for water. He caught sight of a lake nearby. Yudhishtira
sent Nakula to fetch some water. Nakula went to the lake, and was about
to drink a little water before taking some with him. Suddenly he heard
a voice addressing him thus: "0 Sir, this is my lake. You shall not drink
water without my permission. You may drink after answering my questions."
He looked all round and saw no one. He was very thirsty. Without heeding
the words he had heard, he drank water; at once he fell down unconscious.
Yudhishtira sent his other brothers
one after another, to look for those who had not come back and to bring
water; but the same fate befell all of them.
At last, Dharmaraja himself hurried
to the spot. He was taken aback to see his brothers lying dead 'on the
ground. There was no one anywhere nearby! Nor was there any sign of wild
animals! Dharmaraja could not understand the cause of his brother's death.
As he, too, was fatigued with thirst, he also proceeded to drink water.
And the same voice from the skies spoke to him. Yudhishtira addressed the
voice: "Sir, who are you? You seem to be the cause of the death of my brothers.
Humbly I ask you, who are you?" The voice replied, "Yes, 1 killed your
brothers. I am a Yaksha, the owner of this lake. They drank water before
answering my questions, and so they died. If you want to drink water, answer
my questions first." With these words the Yaksha himself -appeared before
him. "I shall answer your questions as best I can," agreed Yudhishtira.
Yaksha: What equals the ocean? Who
does well to the world? Who is the mother of all human beings? What can
compare with the brightness of the Sun?
Yudhishtira: The sky equals the ocean.
Devendra is the benefactor of the world. The cow is the mother of all human
beings. Only Truth equals the Sun in brightness.
Yaksha: Who can be considered a Shrotriya
among Brahmins? Who is the best among the Kshathriyas?
Yudhishtira: He who is learned in the
Shruthi or the Vedas is a true Brahmin. The best Kshathriya is one who
can wield weapons and fight without fear of death.
Yaksha: How can one earn money? Of
all the riches which is the best? What is true
Yudhishtira: Money is to be earned
by hard work. Learning is the best of riches. Health
Yaksha: What is greater than the earth?
What is higher than the skies?
Yudhishtira: A mother is greater than
the earth. A father is loftier than the skies.
Yaksha: What is faster than the wind?
What troubles a person always?
Yudhishtira: The mind is faster than
the wind. Worry troubles a person always.
Yaksha: Who is a great man?
Yudhishtira: One who practices nonviolence.
Yaksha: I am pleased with your answers.
Which of your brothers do you wish to come back to life?
As the dialogue continued, one by one
Yudhishtira got all his brothers back. "Why did you want your stepbrothers,
Nakula and Sahadeva, restored to life first, and not your own brothers,
Bhima and Arjuna?" - asked Yaksha. Yudhishtira replied, I do not make any
difference between my own brothers and my step-brothers." Then Yamadharma,
who had taken the form of a Yaksha, appeared in his own person. He said,
"Because you uphold Dharma victory will be yours."
With these words he blessed Yudhishtira
Afterwards, the Pandavas brought the
arani sticks and gave them to the Brahmin.