Mahabharata - Yudhishthira and Krishna - Indra & Vishnu on One Chariot

Arjuna questions Yudhishthira’s  sagacity and calls his ‘vairaagya’ ‘fickleness of intelligence -  buddhi.laaghavaat (12.8.4)’, and even calls him ‘a eunuch or a person of  procrastination - kliibasya.hi.kuto.raajyam.diirgha.suutrasya.vaa.punah  (12.8.4)’.

Arjuna has the sagacity to  understand that Yudhishthira has not gone beyond ‘SaDa ripu’, and that his  ‘vairaagya’ is not founded on the strong ground of ‘sannyasa’. He tells  Yudhishthira a narrative of Janaka and his wife, in which she says to Janaka – ‘One  is not to be called a mendicant for his having only renounced his possessions,  or for his having only adopted a life of dependence on eleemosynary charity. He  who renounces the possessions and pleasures of the world in a sincere frame of  mind is to be regarded a true mendicant. Unattached at heart, though attached  in outward show, standing aloof from the world, having broken all his bonds,  and regarding friend and foe equally, such a man, O king, is regarded to be  emancipated! Having shaved their heads clean and adopted the brown robe, men  may be seen to betake themselves to a life of wandering mendicancy, though  bound by various ties and though ever on the lookout for bootless wealth. They  who, casting off the three Vedas, their usual occupations, and children, adopt  a life or mendicancy by taking up the triple-headed crutch and the brown robe,  are really persons of little understanding. Without having cast off anger and  other faults, the adoption of only the brown robe, know, O king, is due to the  desire of earning the means of sustenance. Those persons of clean-shaven heads  that have set up the banner of virtue, have this only (viz., the acquisition of  sustenance) for their object in life. (CE-12.18.29-33)’

What Arjuna says is akin to what Krishna told him –
  na  karmaNaamanaarambhaannaishhkarmyaM purushho.ashnute .
  na cha sa.nnyasanaadeva siddhi.n  samadhigach{}chhati -
  One does not attain freedom from the  bondage of Karma by merely abstaining from work. No one attains perfection by  merely giving up work.  (Gita-3.04)

In reply, Yudhishthira displays rare  pride and impatience saying –
  veda.aham.taata.zaastraaNi;  (CE-12.190.1)
  'I am conversant with both the Vedas  and the scriptures that lead to the attainment of Brahma.’

He tells Arjuna that he is incapable  of understanding Dharma because he knows only Yuddhashahstra -  tvam.tu.kevalam.astra.jno; – performs only the rituals of a valiant warrior -  viira.vratam.anuSThitah, and conversant only with Arthashashtra, so unable to  understand truly the sense of the scriptures - (CE-12.19.3). Yudhishthira  even goes on to saying that Arjuna’s knowledge even in those subjects is not  complete because he is not ‘zaastraartha suukSma darzii’ and is not a  ‘dharma.nizcaya.kovidah’.

Yudhishthira does not mind as usual,  and he goes on with his futuristic plans of a forest life. In the intensity of  ‘vairaagya’, the world seems to him an illusion –
  asaaram.imam.asvantam.samsaaram.tyajatah.sukham.//  (CE-12.9.33)
  ‘He, however, who abandons the  worldly course of life, which is really a fleeting illusion although it looks  eternal, and which is afflicted by birth, death, decrepitude, disease, and  pain, is sure to obtain happiness.’

He considers he has finally attained  ‘prajnaa.amRtam’ intelligence, i.e. intelligence that leads to Moksha. It is  this over-faith in his ‘sattvik’ attitude that comes occasionally following  deep crisis, which is the main defect in his Dharma. ‘Attitude’ is not the real  self, and Yudhishthira learns that in Svarga reacting to Duryodhana’s presence.

Vyasa shows deep insight into human  character by depicting the irony of life.
  Yudhishthira on earth thinks Reality  an Illusion, and Yudhishthira in Svarga will think Illusion a Reality.

What is more, Kunti reserves the  same judgment for Yudhishthira. She tells Krishna  to convey Yudhishthira her opinion – ‘Do not act vainly. O king, like a reader  of the Vedas incapable of catching their real meaning, and, therefore, truly  unlearned. Thy understanding, affected by only the words of the Vedas, vieweth  virtue alone. Cast thy eyes on the duties of thy own order, as ordained by the  Self-create. For all ruthless deeds and for the protection of the people, from  his (Brahmana's) arms was created the Kshatriya, who is to depend upon the  prowess of his own arms. (CE-5.13.5-7)’

Vyasa too pointed out to him of his  inclination towards Brahmana-Guna –
  ‘'O thou of eyes like lotus petals,  the protection of subjects is the duty of kings. Those men that are always  observant of duty regard duty to be all powerful. Do thou, therefore, O king,  walk in the steps of thy ancestors. With Brahmanas, penances are a duty. This  is the eternal ordinance of the Vedas. Penances, therefore, O bull of Bharata's  race, constitute the eternal duty of Brahmanas. A Kshatriya is the protector of  all persons in respect of their duties. [104] That man who, addicted to earthly  possessions, transgresses wholesome restraints, that offender against social  harmony, should be chastised with a strong hand. That insensate person who  seeks to transgress authority, be he an attendant, a son, or even a saint,  indeed,--all men of such sinful nature, should by every means be chastised or  even killed. That king who conducts himself otherwise incurs sin. He who does  not protect morality when it is being disregarded is himself a trespasser  against morality. The Kauravas were trespassers against morality. They have,  with their followers, been slain by thee. Thou hast been observant of the  duties of thy own order. Why then, O son of Pandu, dost thou indulge in such  grief? The king should slay those that deserve death, make gifts to persons deserving  of charity, and protect his subjects according to the ordinance.' (KMG-Shaanti  Parva – 32).’

Vyasa’s dialogue, leaving aside all  other motives, conclusively shows how earnest he is to see Yudhishthira as  King.

Draupadi is prophetic to the extent  that Yudhishthira discovers ‘tamaH’ and ‘rajaH’ in his much cherished ‘sattva’,  and he gives way to ‘krodha’; and Bhima is prophetic that Yudhishthira’s  ‘kaama’ is responsible for whatever he goes through. Perhaps for this reason,  they reached Svarga before Yudhishthira!

Without coming to terms with the  ‘kaama-krodha-lobha’ of his subconscious, without seeing the play of  ‘dharma-artha-kaama’ in his Dharma, without seeing the presence of one of the  ‘trivarga’ in the other two, Yudhishthira cannot be free from the bondage of  ‘maanava dharma’, therefore he cannot be firmly established in his Dharma which  leads to Moksha!

Balance in ‘trivarga’ is the most  important thing. Each Shashtra makes it clear that ‘trivarga’ must be practiced  with equal balance.

Kautilya says in Arthashahstra – ‘Not  violating righteousness and economy, he shall enjoy his desires. He shall never  be devoid of happiness. He may enjoy in an equal degree the three pursuits of  life, charity, wealth, and desire, which are inter-dependent upon each other.  Any one of these three, when enjoyed to an excess, hurts not only the other  two, but also itself (1.7.3-5).

Vatsayana states in Kamashashtra – ‘Any  action which conduces to the practice of Dharma, Artha and Kama together, or of  any two, or even one of them, should be performed, but an action which conduces  to the practice of one of them at the expense of the remaining two should not  be performed (1.2.41)’.

Vatsayana states how ‘kaama’ is  conducive to Dharma –`He who is acquainted with the true principles of this  science pays regard to Dharma, Artha, Kama, and to his own experiences, as well  as to the teachings of others, and does not act simply on the dictates of his  own desire (7.2.53)’.

Krishna, on his  peace mission, says the same thing in Kuru Sabha to Duryodhana – ‘O bull of  Bharata's race, the exertions of the wise are always associated with virtue,  profit, and desire. If, indeed, all these three cannot be attained, men follow  at least virtue and profit. If, again, these three are pursued separately, it  is seen that they that have their hearts under control, choose virtue; they  that are neither good nor bad but occupy a middle station, choose profit, which  is always the subject of dispute; while they that are fools choose the  gratification of desire. The fool that from temptation giveth up virtue and  pursueth profit and desire by unrighteous means, is soon destroyed by his  senses. He that speaketh profit and desire, should yet practice virtue at the  outset, for neither profit nor desire is (really) dissociated from virtue. O  king, it hath been said that virtue alone is the cause of the three, for he  that seeketh the three, may, by the aid of virtue alone, grow like fire when  brought into contact with a heap of dry grass (CE-5.122.32-36)’.

Vyasa proposes Moksha Dharma, which  lays emphasis on ‘karma’ and ‘aachara’ – action and conduct – with the aim of  emancipation though knowledge; the tilt is slightly towards Wisdom. His is a  balance between traditional knowledge and self-earned Wisdom. He thinks traditional  knowledge must be interpreted time to time depending on the age.

Krishna proposes  synthesis of all ‘maarga’ through ‘niskaama karma’; the tilt is towards  ‘karma’, for through ‘karma’ alone one earns wisdom and learns to be  ‘niskaama’. He lays greater emphasis on the self. He respects tradition, but  considers much is to be learnt by the self. To him possibilities do not end.

Yudhishthira proposes a third model,  holding on to the Dharma that one thinks right, being true to one’s faith, yet  not rigid, yet with an open mind to accept debate, and modify or change, but  certain fundamental principles and values cherished by tradition remaining the  fixed axel. His faith in self is to dig out the knowledge already in tradition.  He will not give up Dharma even for Moksha. His vision is ‘if Moksha is the  fourth step, then it too is part of a universal order or Dharma.’

In Yudhishthira’s Dharma, attachment  remains, and the ‘karma’ is to learn to sublimate that attachment. Only if the  object of attachment is forced out of existence, Yudhishthira will accept that whole-heartedly  and become detached only then.

Vyasa  said to Suka –‘By purifying his heart, the Yogin transcends both righteousness  and its reverse. By purifying his heart and by living in his own true nature,  he attains to the highest happiness.’ (KMG-Shaanti Parva-246)‘

Yudhishthira’s Dharma is the Dharma  of the heart. The possibility of the opposite i.e heartlessness remains. He has  to purge himself of that through trial and error. The Svargarohana Parva shows  that when he refuses to accept Duryodhana in Svarga.

Yudhishthira perhaps saw the irony  of Vyasa and Krishna’s advices to him. On one  hand they were speaking of svadharma, on the other they were telling him to  abide by a Kshatra-Varna dharma, though that is not entirely his cup of tea  (errrrr…….cup of Soma!). He cannot be sure of his true svadharma. Despite his  inclinations towards braahmanic mode of life and a life of renunciation, he  ultimately abides by what Vyasa, Krishna, his  brothers and Draupadi have told him time and again. He takes up raajadharma  again and rules humbly with humanistic ideals. As a final solution he rejects  all thoughts, does not concentrate on even Moksha, and sticks to his ‘maanava  dharma’, and make Indra’s Svarga crumble before him.
  The triumph of his dharma is his  ‘jaya’ – victory. Perhaps, that is one reason, why Mahabharata is also titled  ‘jaya’ – the ultimate victory of maanava dharma. Our rational mind would not  believe he went to Svarga. Perhaps, after his brothers’ death, he had  hallucinations of Svarga and Naraka; perhaps, in delirium he saw images of  Svarga and Naraka – no one can say for sure.

One thing is certain, however. He  died alone in the Himalayas, a purely maanava consciousness gradually overcome  by the snowy and rough Himalayas. He completed  a circle thus – he died where he was born- in the lap of the Himalayas!

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