Yaksha Prashna- An Encounter between Dharma, the father and Yudhishthira, the son

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35.Yaksha: 'You have truly  answered who is a man, and what man possesses every kind of wealth. Therefore,  let one only amongst your brothers, whom you may wish, get up with life!'  Yudhishthira: 'Let this one that is of darkish hue, whose eyes are red, who is  tall like a large Sala tree, whose chest is broad and arms long, let this  Nakula, O Yaksha, get up with life!

36.Yaksha rejoined: 'This  Bhimasena is dear to you, and this Arjuna also is one upon whom all of you  depend! Why, then, O king do you, wish a step-brother to get up with his life!  How can you, forsaking Bhima whose strength is equal to that of ten thousand elephants,  wish Nakula to live? People said that this Bhima was dear to you. What is your  idea then for wishing your step-brother to revive even forsaking Arjuna the  might of whose arms is worshipped by all the sons of Pandu? '

Yudhishthira said: 'If virtue is  sacrificed, he that sacrifices it is himself lost. So virtue also cherishes the  cherisher (Dharmo rakshati rakshitaha: Dharma protects those who protect  it). Therefore taking care that virtue by being sacrificed may not sacrifice us,  I never forsake virtue. Abstention from injury is the highest virtue, and is, I  believe, even higher than the highest object of attainment. I endeavor to  practice that virtue. Therefore, let Nakula, O Yaksha, revive! Let men know  that the king is always virtuous! I will never depart from my duty. Let Nakula,  therefore, revive! My father had two wives, Kunti and Madri. Let both of them  have children. This is what I wish. As Kunti is to me, so also is Madri. There  is no difference between them in my eye. I desire to act equally towards my  mothers. Therefore, let Nakula live?'

37. Yaksha:  'Since abstention from injury is regarded by you  as higher than both profit and pleasure, therefore, let all your brothers live,  O the greatest among the Bharata race!" 

Conclusion
After this question and answer  session Yudhishthira asked Yaksha who he was, whether he was the foremost of  the Vasus, or of the Rudras, or of the chief of the Maruts? Was he the lord of  the celestials who could slay all his brothers who were invincible? He told him  ‘I see also that their senses have refreshed, as if they have sweetly awakened  from slumber. Are you a friend of ours, or even our father himself’?

Yaksha replied,-'O child, I am  even your father, the Lord of justice, possessed of great prowess! Know the  mightiest of the Bharata race, that I came here desirous of beholding you!  Fame, truth, self-restraint, purity, candor, modesty, steadiness, charity,  austerities and Brahmacharya, these are my body! And abstention from injury,  impartiality, peace, penances, sanctity, and freedom from malice are the doors  (through which I am accessible).

You are always dear to me! By  good luck you are devoted to the five; and by good luck also you have  conquered the six. Of the six, two appear in the first part of life; two  in the middle part thereof; and the remaining two at the end, in order to make  men repair to the next world. I am the lord of justice! I came here to test your  merit. I am well-pleased to see your harmlessness.  I will therefore confer boons on you. Please  ask me whatever you want. '
Note: Five - That is, tranquility  of mind, self-restraint, abstention from sensual pleasures, resignation, and  Yoga meditation. Six - That is, hunger, thirst, sorrow, bluntness of mortal  feeling, decay, and death

Yudhishthira said: 'A deer was  carrying away the Brahmana's fire-sticks. Therefore, the first boon that I  shall ask, is, May that Brahmana's worship to Agni be not interrupted!' The  Yaksha said,--'O Kunti's son, it was I who was carrying away, in the guise of a  deer, that Brahmana's fire-sticks for examining you!" Then he granted the boon  asked for and told Yudhishthira to ask for another boon. Yudhishthira  said,--'We have spent these twelve years in the forest; and the thirteenth year  is coming. May no one recognize us, as we spend this year somewhere?' Yaksha  granted this boon also and assured him that none in the three worlds shall recognize  them and that they will spend this thirteenth year, secretly and unrecognized,  in Virata's kingdom! And every one of them will be able at will to assume any  form they liked!

He continued ‘I have not yet been  satisfied by granting these boons to you! You do, my son, accept a third boon  that is great and incomparable! You, O king, are born of me.’  

Yudhishthira prayed ‘It is enough  that I have seen you with my senses, the eternal God of gods as you are! O  father, whatever boon you will confer on me I shall surely accept gladly! May  I, O Lord, always conquer covetousness and folly and anger, and may my mind be  ever devoted to charity, truth, and ascetic austerities! ‘

The Lord of justice said; ‘Even  by nature, O Pandava, you have been endowed with these qualities, for you are the  Lord of Justice himself! You do attain what you asked for?" Having said  these words, the worshipful Lord of justice, Dharmaraja, who is the object of  contemplation of all the worlds, vanished therefrom and the noble Pandavas were  united with one another. And their fatigue dispelled, those five heroes returned  to the hermitage, and gave back that Brahmana his fire sticks.

Those who study and contemplate  on this story of the revival of the Pandavas and the meeting of the father and  son (Dharmaraja and Yudhishthira), obtains perfect tranquility of mind, and progeny  and also a long life. That man who is convinced about the wisdom contained in this  conversation will never delight in unrighteousness, or in foul thoughts!

Adopted from:
Mahabharata: English Translation  by Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Also read:
What is Dharma?

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