Deeming yourself successful without passing through a test can, most often, be self deceiving. The tendency to fear testing times is a great hindrance in the path of progress.
The entire life of Mahatma Yudhishthar is a struggling saga of his re-installation on the Satya-pada(The throne of truthfulness). Yudhishthar had to adopt the human form as a penitence for one wrong judgment, delivered as Dharmadhikari in his previous life. His life progressed on the path of truth, even in the face of extremely adverse circumstances. Dharamraj made Yudhishthar undergo rigorous tests thrice, to assess his progress on the path of truth and righteousness. Yudhishthar could regain his exalted position as dharmadhikari only after passing through these tests.
This story is about the second such test posed before Yudhishthar.(The first one has been dwelt upon in the previous story in this book).
The great battle of Mahabharata had concluded. Maharaj Yudhishthar had been crowned as the undisputed emperor. Without any enemies around, total peace prevailed in his kingdom. The time was ideal to enjoy unhindered prosperity and pleasure. At such a gleeful time, there broke the disconcerting news of the Yadava clan having been wiped off and of Lord Krishna having departed for his real abode.
Serious discussions were held by Yudhishthar with his brothers and Draupadi, regarding the course of action to adopted since all of them too were bound by the noose of mortality. It was decided that, enthroning Parikshit as the king, they should also proceed ahead on the path of Swargarohan (Literally meaning ‘ascendency to heavens’), following the path of Yoga and in consonance with the Sanyas (Ascetism)Dharm.
The Pandava brothers and Draupdi duly worshipped the seers and sages as also the general public. Before proceeding, they relinquished their princely apparel and replaced them with simple ascetic attire.
Renouncing all material possessions thus, they proceeded on to their avowed path, alongwith a dog that followed them. The general public accompanied them to some distance, trying to dissuade them from what they had resolved, but had to return without any success.
Brimming with the essence of Yoga, the fasting Pandavas and Draupadi proceeded eastwards. Traversing many a forest, they reached the sea shore, from where their journey turned southwards, with a desire to go around the earth’s periphery. Turning westwards and then northwards, they reached the Himalyas. From there, they started ascending towards the peak of Sumeru mountain.
While ascending the steep terrain, Draupadi, fell down, having drifted away from the concentrated essence of Yoga. Unable to climb further, Draupadi’s physical form started decaying.
Bhima was perturbed. “ Tell me the sinless one”, he addressed Yudhishthar, “ This princess always lived a life of righteousness. Still she has dropped down so helplessly.Why ?”
“She was a wife to all the five of us. She should have considered all of us as equals. But she was always biased towards Arjuna. Due to this drawback of her’s, she is unable to ascend to the heavens.”, replied Yudhishthar as he continued to walk, established in utmost stoicism, without even sparing a glance on Draupdi’s form.
A little later, Sahdev also dropped down. “Why him”, asked Bhima again. “Why this son of Madri, who served every one with humility?”
“ This prince saw himself as the wisest one on the earth, looking down upon others”, explained Yudhishthar. “ His arrogance has taken the toll”, he said as he went ahead accompanied by his remaining three brothers, and the dog.
However, Nakul could not bear the sight of Draupdi and Sahdev lying dead. He too fainted and dropped down unable to bear the grief of departing from them.
“Nakul too?” asked Bhima. “The one who never wavered from the path of righteousness, one of the most handsome men on this earth. Why has he fallen?”
“Arrogance again, Bhima. His arrogance of seeing himself as the most handsome one, has caused his fall. So rue not his demise. Move ahead.” Replied the stoic.
Bhim followed him. However, weighed down heavily by the anguish of departing from his dearest ones, Arjun too swooned and fell down on the path.
“ Arjuna, never dithered from the path of truth by word or deed, not even in a jocular vein. Why is such a pious person unable to ascend.” Asked a shaken Bhima.
“He had vowed and declared that he would decimate all enemies within a day, but he could not live upto his pledge. The failure to keep his pledge has caused his fall. His arrogance of looking down upon other archers, has also contributed” , said Yudhishthar as he proceeded ahead, unmoved.
Soon after, Bhima himself began to sink. He could move no longer and fell to the ground.
“Oh king!” he called aloud. “ Why am I falling, despite being the dearest to your heart?”.
Yudhishthar was unnerved still. “ You used to eat away the share of every one else and were too proud of your physical strength, always looking down upon others. That is the cause of your fall.”, replied Yudhishthar, as he moved on, totally unattached.
With his wife and all his brothers left behind, Yudhishthar went ahead, accompanied only by the dog that had come along.
Finally, Yudhishthar stood atop the “Swargarohini parvat” (the mountain of ascendancy to heavens), totally established in the Yogic contemplation.
Cleansed by unremitting fasting the consistent Yogic establishment in his true being had burnt away all the impurities of his form. Even his physical body glowed, freed from the dominance of the gross elements of earth and water.
Instantly, Devraj Indra arrived in his heavenly chariot, resonating the earth and the skies, and requested him to come on to the chariot.
“I wished to go to the heaven, along with my brothers and my wife”, replied Yudhishthar. “Now that they are left behind, I do not wish to go to heaven .”
“Grieve not for them O king. They have already reached the heaven”, said Indra. “You will see them in the heaven. They had to renounce their human form to enter the heaven, but you will certainly enter the heaven along with your human form- your physical body.
“What about this dog?” enquired Yudhishthar. “It has followed me all the way. I wish to take it to the heaven too; otherwise I will be branded as the one who he treats his dependants cruelly .”
“O King, risen above the Moha (worldly attachment) and grief (sorrow) etc. you are in an exalted state, Yoga centered and fasting. At this stage abandoning the dog will not amount to cruelty”, Indra tried to persuade him.
“It is easy for me to renounce the pleasures of heaven, but I will never be able to renounce my faithful dependent”, replied Yudhishthar.
However, Indra continued to dissuade Yudhishthar from insisting upon taking the dog to heaven. “The dog’s body is impure. It pollutes the place where it lives.” He said “ You will do well to abandon the dog. Why are you dithering on this count. You have earned the right to enter the heaven along with your gross body, only after abandoning your wife and brothers. Therefore, there is nothing unethical in abandoning the dog.”
But Yudhishthar was determined. “The dead cannot be revived”, he replied. All relationships cease to exist when the body dies. I did not abandon my wife and brothers when their bodies were alive. I certainly cannot abandon this dog due to fear, greed or any other reason.”
Listening to such determined words, Dharamaraj himself appeared out of the dog’s form.. “My son, by showing compassion of such high order, you have established a feeling of oneness among all beings. This is the second test you have passed through with great success. Earlier, I had put you through a test, before your agyatvs, in the form of a Yaksha at Virat Nagar, when you had preferred to revive Sahdev rather than Bhima or Arjun”, extremely elated he addressed Yudhishthar. “Now you can enter the heavens in your physical body itself.”
Thus, accompanied by numerous devatas, the pious Yudhishthar started to rise towards heaven in Indra’s chariot, his radiance overwhelming the earth and the heavens. He obtained the exalted position in the heaven much above the celebrated seers and sages, along with his gross body.
Draupdi’s bias caused her fall. How many of us are really unbiased. Every one is biased in one way or the other, due to greed, attachment or whatever other reason.
Sahdev’s fall was caused by his pride. Considering himself the wisest one, he looked down upon others. Proficiency in any field – music, art, oratory business etc.- is a virtue. However, arrogance and looking down upon others is definitely a hindrance not only in the spiritual path but in the path of material progress as well.
Nakul’s descent was also caused by his pride – about his being handsome. Arrogance about physical beauty is a sure obstacle in the path of inner peace and bliss.
Arjuna’s fall also occurred due to his over confidence, bordering arrogance, which made him avow some thing he could not fulfill. Arrogance always pulls one down, sometime, somehow.
Bhima fell due to his gluttony. He directed his entire concentration and his faculties towards gross eating and caring for his physical body alone. He definitely amassed immense physical strength, but all his energy drained off when he had to go fasting.
However, Yudhishthar could ascend to the heaven with his gross body, fasting and yoga-centred, having risen above all material cravings and aversions, treating every being with compassion and kindness
Even when one may be blessed with virtues like wisdom, strength, intelligence etc., even when one is an ascetic and austere, one cannot ever continue to tread on the exalted path of pure blissful consciousness, unless one inculcates the virtuous quality of true love and compassion towards other beings.