Yaksha Prashna from mahabharat- classic ancient wisdom.

The Yaksha asked, What is it that makes the Sun rise? Who keeps him company? Who causes him to set? And in whom is he established?

Yudhishthira answered, Brahma makes the Sun rise: the devas keep him company: Dharma causes him to set: and he is established in truth.

The Yaksha asked, By what does one become learned? By what does he attain what is very great? Who is a man’s second companion? And, O king, how can one acquire intelligence?

Yudhishthira answered, It is by the Shrutis (vedas) that a person becomes learned; it is by ascetic austerities that one acquires what is very great: patience is a second companion and it is by serving the old that one becomes intelligent.

The Yaksha asked, What constitutes the divinity of the Brahmanas? What even is their practice that is like that of the pious? What also is the human attribute of the Brahmanas? And what practice of theirs is like that of the impious?

Yudhishthira answered, The self study of the Vedas constitutes their divinity: their asceticism constitutes behaviour that is like that of the pious; their liability to death is their human attribute and slander is their impiety.

The Yaksha asked, What institutes the divinity of the Kshatriyas? What even is their practice that is like that of the pious? What is their human attribute? And what practice of theirs is like that of the impious?

Yudhishthira answered,The art of archery is their divinity: celebration of sacrifices is that act which is like that of the pious: liability to fear is their human attribute; and refusal of protection is that act of theirs which is like that of the impious.

The Yaksha asked, What is that which constitutes the Sama of the sacrifice? What the Yajus of the sacrifice? What is that which is the refuge of a sacrifice? And what is that which sacrifice cannot do without?

Yudhishthira answered, ‘Breath’(life) is the Sama of the sacrifice; the mind is the Yajus of the sacrifice: the Rig is that which is the refuge of the sacrifice; and it is Rig alone which sacrifice cannot do without.

The Yaksha asked, What is of the foremost value to those that cultivate? What is of the foremost value to those that sow? What is of the foremost value to those that wish for prosperity in this world? And what is of the foremost value to those that bring forth?

Yudhishthira answered, That which is of the foremost value to those that cultivate is rain: that of the foremost value to those that sow is seed: collection of cows and their nurture is of the foremost value to those that wish for prosperity.that of the foremost value to those that bring forth is offspring.

The Yaksha asked, What person, enjoying all the objects of the senses, endued with intelligence, regarded by the world and liked by all beings, though breathing,is not yet alive?

Yudhishthira answered, The person, who does not offer anything to these five, viz., gods, guests, servants,Pitris, and himself, though endued with breath, is not yet alive.

The Yaksha asked, What is weightier than the earth itself? What is higher than the heavens?’ What is fleeter than the wind? What is darker than coal? What is the surest weapon against danger? And what is more numerous than grass?

Yudhishthira answered, The mother is weightier than the earth; the father is higher than the heaven; the mind is fleeter than the wind; Disgrace is darker than coal; courage is a man’s surest weapon against danger. and our thoughts are more numerous than grass.

The Yaksha asked, What is that which does not close its eyes while asleep; What is that which does not move after birth? What is that which is without heart? And what is that which swells with its own impetus?

Yudhishthira answered, A fish does not close its eyes while asleep: an egg does not move after birth: a stone is without heart: and a river swells with its own impetus.

The Yaksha asked, Who is the friend of the exile? Who is the friend of the householder? Who is the friend of a sick man? And who is the friend of one about to die?

Yudhishthira answered, The friend of the exile in a distant land is his companion, the friend of the householder is the wife; the friend of a sick man is the physician: and the friend of a man approaching death is charity.

The Yaksha asked, Who is the guest of all creatures? What is the eternal duty? What, O foremost of kings, is Amrita? And what is this entire Universe?

Yudhishthira answered, Agni is the guest of all creatures: the milk of cows is amrita: Homa is the eternal duty: and this Universe consists of ether alone.

The Yaksha asked, What is that which sojourns alone? What is that which is re-born after its birth? What is the remedy against cold? And what has the largest kshetra?

Yudhishthira answered, The sun sojourns alone; the moon takes birth a new: fire is the remedy against cold: and the Earth has the largest kshetra.

The Yaksha asked, What is the highest refuge of virtue? What of fame? What of heaven? And what, of happiness?

Yudhishthira answered, Liberality is the highest refuge of virtue: charity, of fame: truth, of heaven: and good behaviour, of happiness.

The Yaksha asked, What is the soul of man? Who is that friend bestowed on man by the gods? What is man’s chief support? And what also is his chief refuge?

Yudhishthira answered, The son is a man’s soul: the wife is the friend bestowed on man by the gods; the clouds are his chief support; and charity is his chief refuge.

The Yaksha asked, What is the best of all laudable things? What is the most valuable of all his possessions? What is the best of all gains? And what is the best of all kinds of happiness?

Yudhishthira answered, The best of all laudable things is skill; the best of all possessions is knowledge of scriptures: the best of all gains is good health: and contentment is the best of all kinds of happiness.

The Yaksha asked, What is the highest duty in the world? What is that virtue which always bears fruit? What is that which if controlled, leads not to regret? And who are they with whom an alliance cannot break?

Yudhishthira answered, The highest of duties is compassion: the rites ordained in the Three(Vedas) always bear fruit: the mind, if controlled, leads to no regret: and an alliance with the virtuous never breaks.

The Yaksha asked, What is that which, if renounced, makes one agreeable? What is that which, if renounced, leads to no regret? What is that which, if renounced, makes one wealthy? And what is that which if renounced, makes one happy?

Yudhishthira answered, Arrogance, if renounced, makes one agreeable; wrath, if renounced leads to no regret: desire, if renounced, makes one wealthy: and avarice, if renounced, makes one happy.

The Yaksha asked, For what does one give away to Brahmanas? For what to mimes and dancers? For what to servants? And for what to king?

Yudhishthira answered, It is for religious merit that one gives away to Brahmanas: it is for fame that one gives away to mimes and dancers: it is for supporting them that one gives away to servants: and it is for obtaining relief from fear that one gives to kings.

The Yaksha asked, With what is the world enveloped? What is that owing to which a thing cannot discover itself? For what are friends forsaken? And for what does one fail to go to heaven?

Yudhishthira answered, The world is enveloped with ignorance.Dark qualities of ignorance does not permit a thing to show itself. It is from avarice that friends are forsaken. And it is attachment with the world for which one fails to go to heaven.

The Yaksha asked, For what may one be considered as dead? For what may a kingdom be considered as dead? For what may a Sraddha be considered as dead? And for what, a sacrifice?

Yudhishthira answered, For being stricken by poverty a man be regarded as dead. A kingdom without a king may be regarded as dead. A Sraddha that is performed with the aid of a priest that has no learning(not a ‘Shrotriya Brahmin’) may be regarded as dead. And a sacrifice in which there are no gifts to Brahmanas is dead.

The Yaksha asked,–‘What is direction? What, has been spoken of as water? that, as food? And what, as poison? Tell us also what is the proper time of a Sraddha, and then drink water and take away as much as you like!

Yudhishthira answered, The virtuous man is direction.Sky has been spoken of as water. The cow is food for the milk that she produces is used to make ghee,which is used to perform sacrifices,pleased by which the devas give rain, which causes the grains to grow.Therefore it should be understood that the cow is the root cause of all kinds of food.Lust is poison. And a Brahmana is regarded as the proper time of a Sraddha. I do not know what you may think of all this, O Yaksha?

The Yaksha asked, What has been said to be the sign of asceticism? And what is true restraint? What constitutes forgiveness. And what is prudency?

Yudhishthira answered, Remaining alert in one’s own dharma is asceticism: the restraint of the mind is of all restraints the true one: forgiveness consists in enduring enmity: Keeping oneself away from works, which are not worth doing, is prudency.

The Yaksha asked, What, O king is said to be knowledge? What, tranquility? What is supreme compassion? And what has been called simplicity?

Yudhishthira answered, True knowledge is that of the supreme being.True tranquility is that of the heart.Welfare is supreme compassion. And simplicity is equanimity of heart.

The Yaksha asked, Which enemy is invincible? What constitutes an incurable disease for man? Who can be considered as a saint? Who is immoral and unrighteous?

Yudhishthira answered, Anger is the most invincible enemy. Covetousness constitutes an incurable disease. One who has a sense of benefaction and does welfare to all the living creatures could be considered as a saint. A cruel man is unrighteous.

The Yaksha asked, What, O king, is attachment?what is ignorance? And what is ‘I’ness? What also is to be understood by idleness? And what has been spoken of as grief?

Yudhishthira answered, Ignorance of righteousness is attachment. True ignorance consists in not knowing one’s duties. ‘I’ness is a consciousness of one’s being himself an actor or sufferer in life. Idleness consists in not discharging one’s duties, and ignorance in grief.

The Yaksha asked, What has stability been said by the Rishis to be? And what, patience? What also is supreme bath? And what is charity?

Yudhishthira answered, Stability consists in one’s staying steady in his own dharma, and true patience consists in the subjugation of the senses. A true bath consists in washing the mind clean of all impurities, and charity consists in protecting all creatures.

The Yaksha asked, What man should be regarded as scholar, and who should be called an atheist? Who also is to be called ignorant? What is called desire and what are the sources of desire? And what is envy?

Yudhishthira answered, He is to be called a scholar who has the knowledge of religion. An atheist is he who is ignorant and so also he is ignorant who is an atheist. Desire is due to objects of possession, and envy is nothing else than grief of heart.

The Yaksha asked, What is pride, and what is hypocrisy? What is the grace of the gods, and what is wickedness?

Yudhishthira answered, Stolid ignorance is pride. Trying to prove onceself a virtuous person deceitfully is hypocrisy. The grace of the gods is the fruit of our charity, and wickedness consists in speaking ill of others.

The Yaksha asked, Dharma, Artha, and Kaama are opposed to one another. How could things thus antagonistic to one another exist together?

Yudhishthira answered, When one has a virtuous wife then all the three you have mentioned may exist together.

The Yaksha asked, Who is he that is condemned to everlasting hell? It behooves you to soon answer the question that I ask!

Yudhishthira answered, He that summons a poor Brahmana promising to give him alms and then changes his mind and does not give alms , goes to everlasting hell. He also must go to everlasting hell, who imputes falsehood and disbelief to the Vedas, the scriptures, the Brahmanas, the gods, and the ceremonies in honour of the Pitris. He also goes to everlasting hell who though in possession of wealth, never makes charity nor enjoys himself from avarice.

The Yaksha asked, By what, O king, birth, behaviour, study, or learning does a person become a Brahmana? Tell me with certitude!

Yudhishthira answered, Listen, O Yaksha! It is neither birth, nor study, nor learning, that is the cause of Brahmanahood, without doubt, it is conduct that constitutes it. One’s conduct should always be well-guarded, especially by a Brahmana. He who maintains his conduct unimpaired, is never impaired himself. Professors and pupils, in fact, all who study the scriptures, if addicted to wicked habits, are to be regarded as illiterate wretches. He only is learned who performs his religious duties. He even that has studied the four Vedas is to be regarded as a wicked wretch scarcely distinguishable from a Sudra (if his conduct be not correct). He only who performs the Agnihotra and has his senses under control, is called a Brahmana!

The Yaksha asked, What does one gain that speaks agreeable words? What does he gain that always acts with judgment? What does he gain that has many friends? And what he, that is devoted to virtue?

Yudhishthira answered, He that speaks agreeable words becomes agreeable to all. He that acts with judgment normally achieve success. He that has many friends lives happily. And he that is devoted to virtue obtains a heavenly abode (in the next world).

The Yaksha asked, Who is truly happy? What is most wonderful? What is the path? And what is the actual situation in the material world? Answer these four questions of mine and let your dead brothers revive.

Yudhishthira answered, O amphibious creature, a man who cooks in his own house, on the fifth or the sixth part of the day, with scanty vegetables, but who is not in debt and who stirs not from home, is truly happy. Day after day countless creatures are going to the abode of Yama, yet those that remain behind believe themselves to be immortal. What can be more wonderful than this? Argument leads to no certain conclusion,Also because there are many Shrutis,numerous opinions of sages being engulfed. there is not even one Rishi whose opinion can be accepted by all; the truth about religion and duty is hid in caves: therefore, that alone is the path along which the greats have trod. This world full of ignorance is like a pan. The sun is fire, the days and nights are fuel. The passing months and the seasons constitute the stirring wooden ladle. Time is the cook that is cooking all creatures in that pan (with such aids); this is actual situation.

The Yaksha asked, You have, O Ajatasatru, truly answered all my questions! Tell us now who is truly a man, and what man truly possesses every kind of wealth.

Yudhishthira answered, A person is worthy of being called a man whose fame of virtuous deeds remains intact till it’s echo touches the heaven and earth. A man to whom fortune,misfortune,joys,sorrows are same and who does not worry about his past, present and future ,always remains happy and in union with the almighty, is the lord of all the wealthy men.

The Yaksha said, You have, O king truly answered who is a man, and what man possesses every kind of wealth. Therefore, let one only among your brothers, whom you may wish, get up with life!

Yudhishthira answered, Let this one that is of darkish hue, whose eyes are red, who is tall like a large Shala tree, whose chest is broad and arms long, let this Nakula, O Yaksha, get up with life!

The Yaksha rejoined, This Bhimasena is dear unto 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. From what motive then do you wish a step-brother to revive? Forsaking Arjuna the might of whose arm is worshipped by all the sons of Pandu, why do you wish Nakula to revive?

Yudhishthira said, if virtue is sacrificed, he that sacrifices it, is himself lost. So virtue also cherishes the cherisher. Therefore taking care that virtue by being sacrificed may not sacrifice us, I never forsake virtue.Compassion is the highest virtue, and is, I ween, even higher than the highest object of attainment. I endeavour to practise 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.

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