In the previous episode, we had witnessed the commencement of the “Vana Parva” with King Janame-Jaya posing a few questions to Sage Vaishampayana. Readers should be informed here that the entire Mahabharata story is born out of this important conversation. As King Janame-Jaya requests with his pertinent questions, Sage Vaishampayana gives elaborate answers to clarify his queries. At this juncture wherein the Paandavas have lost the gambling game twice to Duryodhana, King Janame-Jaya is genuinely concerned as to what happened to his great grandfathers (Paandavas) post the loss. He wants to understand what happened during the twelve-year tenure in the forest and how they led their lives without getting further inflicted by Duryodhana and Co. At this point, Sage Vaishampayana commences the detailed discussion of all the incidents that took place in the forest for the next twelve years. He lists out several instances wherein we can learn extremely important lessons of “Dharma”. Some key moments of this “Vana Parva” are the important pieces of advice that Vidura gives Yudishtra in the forest, the “Yaksha-Prashnam” wherein Yama-Dharma-Raja gets into a detailed conversation with Yudishtra by asking him several questions pertaining to “Dharma”, and Bhagawan Krishna’s conversations with Yudishtra and Draupati pertaining to several aspects of “Dharma”. We shall witness one by one as the contexts come by.
Moving on thus, we shall now commence the detailed discussion of the “Vana Parva” as how Sage Vaishampayana narrates to King Janame-Jaya. This is exactly what is documented by Sage Vyaasa and we shall commence from the point where we’ve left in yesterday’s episode. We’ve seen that Yudishtra and Co. have left Indraprastha and have spent a night at a place called “Pramaana-Koti”, post which, they descend into the dense forest. Of course, many of Yudishtra’s subjects wanted to follow him into the forest, but Yudishtra politely denied them. However, a few Brahmins and some Maharishis wanted to be around Yudishtra and they followed him as a small team. Here, Sage Vyaasa & Sage Vaishampayana add an important note – As Yudishtra leaves, all the people are heavy-hearted. All of them appeal to Yudishtra in one single voice thus, “Oh Yudishtra! You and your brothers are the people who walk the path of “Dharma” at all times. If you are going to leave this country, then who would administer the “Dharma” here? We’ve to live amidst all those who follow “Adharma”, in the lines of Duryodhana, Duchhaasana, etc. King Dhridiraashtra, although he knows “Dharma”, is blinded by his son’s wrath. Given this condition, how would we manage being alone here without even a single person who walks the path of “Dharma”? If we are part of the “Satsanga” with people like you, we would have a peaceful life. Whereas, if we have a bad company around us, how will we be able to walk the path of “Dharma”? Moreover, you would also be alone and you would have to defend yourself in the forest from all the wild animals. If some of us are there with you, we shall come forward and defend you, can’t we? Why don’t you give us the opportunity to come along with you and be of service to you at this needy hour?”
As the people represent their concern thus, Yudishtra is moved to tears. He is in a “Cache-22” situation! On one hand, he cannot straightaway reject the people’s concerns, because they pertain to “Dharma”. Whereas, on the other hand, he cannot accept their concerns and take them with him, because of logistical, financial and other issues. Yudishtra is not in a position to protect them, and would fail in his duty as a king if something happens to someone. This is where a leader should apply thought and make a smart decision which would not harm the people in any way. Yudishtra does this balancing act very beautifully here and this is something that all of us should keenly understand.
Yudishtra explains thus, “Oh people! I understand all your concerns. Now let me give you my answer and my perspective to your queries – Firstly, you opined that there is nobody who follows “Dharma” apart from myself. You are wrong. If learned scholars like Vidura, Bhishmachaarya, Guru Dhronachaarya are there, you should not be telling such things. Vidura is an epitome of “Dharma” and all of us know that. He would guide all of you till I come back and he would take good care of you. Hence, you already have a “Satsanga” with Vidura as its leader. Please follow his words and guidance at every moment. Secondly, you were concerned that I would face danger in the forest. Please understand one thing clearly – In the forest, I do not have any danger. All the dangers are present only within this kingdom. The key sources of my danger are Duryodhana and Co. Whereas, if I’m in the forest, Duryodhana is not going to inflict anything upon me. The wild animals would never pose any danger to me. Even if that is the case, I shall be able to defend myself without any problem. I also have my brothers who can steer me to safety at any point in time. Hence, my request to all of you is this – Please take care of Bhishmachaarya and Guru Dhronachaarya carefully. They are elders and no danger should affect both of them. Hence, you should think of a strategy to somehow protect both of them from the wrath of Duryodhana. This is the most important challenge that is in front of you!”
Readers should note a very important point here – Yudishtra at this context doesn’t consider animals to be a threat to him, but he considers animal-like humans to be the biggest threat. Hence, his approach his very simple – All the animal-like humans are going to be in the country and are going to enjoy life in doing whatever they are best in doing! Hence for Yudishtra, since he is not going to be in the country now, there is no threat from these animal-like humans. The real threat is for people who try to follow “Dharma” in the country. This is where he advises his people to be cautious. Thus, Yudishtra’s point is simple – Follow the path of “Dharma” at all times, and ensure that those who follow “Dharma” are protected! This is how Yudishtra convinces his people to go back to the country. He assures them that he would come back to them as soon as possible and would continue the good work that he has done so far.
With this, the people are convinced and they make their way back to Hastinapura and Indraprastha. So for today, let us understand this important point that Yudishtra has made here, and let us try and reflect upon it for today’s context! We shall continue this discussion further in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂