Mahaprasthanika-Parva-Book of the journey.

Dharma’s Journey with the Dog

Mahaprasthanika-parva – Ascension to Swargaloka / Heavens by pandavas

{ commentaries are my personal understanding of what i have read, i have no intention to hurt the sentiments of any one who may have  a valid  and a differant understanding }

(picture-curtsey-Maharaj Mahatab ChandBahadur-1820-1870)

( Pandavas are the protogonists of the great Hindu epic Mahabharatha of time line 3228 BC, consisting of 200,000 verses in 18 chapters, The story is about the internecine  fued between Five sons of King Pandu called Pandavas and one hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra, elder brother of King Pandu, called Kauravas) This story that is retold by me is the 17 the and the shortest chapter titled- Mahaprasthanika-parva – Ascension to Swargaloka / Heavens by pandavas )

God Krishna lived during this time and he was the cousin of Pandavas and the discourse in the battlefield between him and Pandu Prince at the onset of the eighteen day Mahabharatha war is the book of Bhagavath- Gita.

( The seven hundred slokhas or verses consisting of 1400 lines , called GITOPADESHA or the song , or called by some as the divine song , just took forty five minutes for Krishna to tell Arjuna in the extremely surcharged battlefield. Probably it took more time than that as Krisha was indeed the Avatar of the great GOD MAHAVISHNU, could have stopped time for a period, so everything that was tumultuous around the battlefield could have become calm and in that period he could have recited his teachings to warrior Arjuna in time .)

Discourse between Guru Vaisampayana and King Janamejaya

This is a part of continuing discussion between Janamejaya who was the son of Parikshit and grandson of Arjuna and Rishi / Guru Vaisampayana. The great rishi narrates the complete story of Mahabharata from beginning to the end to Janamejaya.

The following is the part describing the departure of all panduputhras (sons of pandu) and Panduputhra vathu or daughter in law of Pandu, the great Draupadi from this mortal world.

King Janamejaya asks the learned rishi what happened to pandavas after Sri Krishna Bhagavan left his bodily form.

The great Yuddhistra is mentioned here as a Kaurava king ,even though he was born of Pandu, because, he inherited the throne vacated by the kaurava king Dhritharashtra.

The great king of kauravas, King Yuddhistra become heartbroken after hearing the departure of his cousin Sri Krishna from this mortal world and then looks at his younger brother Arjuna and says,

kālaḥ pacati bhūtāni sarvāṇy eva mahāmate

karma nyāsam ahaṃ manye tvam api draṣṭum arhasi

ity uktaḥ sa tu kaunteyaḥ kālaḥ kāla iti bruvan

anvapadyata tad vākyaṃ bhrātur jyeṣṭhasya vīryavān’

 “time or kala is like a cook, who cooks us all in a great pot”. Yudhishtra says it is inevitable, as all men are bound by the rules of time and it is better  we accept the rules of time  and we see what is willed by time and behave accordingly” Arjuna  the son of Kunti repeats the word kala,kala (probably Arjuna was also disconsolate that his brother in law and cousin Sri Krishna has left and his  realtives the vrisnis and yadavas have destroyed themselvs in a fratricidal brawl) and  readily accepts his wise elder brothers’ words. (  quote Anon”Hindu units of time are described in Hindu texts ranging from microseconds to trillions of years, including cycles of cosmic time that repeat general events in Hindu cosmology. Time (kāla) is described as eternal”.)

Image Courtsey /KAALA GANANA – Concept & Significance of Hindu Time (Part-1)

(It is interesting to note the importance of time given in Indian scriptures like Vedas, puranas, Upanishads and epics. Hindus or the people who followed Sanatana dharma have no fear of time. It was given to a Sanatani, he or she is a creature that has to obey the rules of time. Time was a notion that was not brushed aside nor the knowledge of it kept away even from an ordinary person who lived in the ancient land mass was  of Barata or india as it is called now.  In most ancient civilizations Time was exclusive to the kings or ruling class and  was guarded fiercely because  if it becomes known to common people they could not be controlled by the elite.)

Then all the five brothers discussed and decided to forsake this worldly life in preparation to ascend the paraloka or the transcendental world and then asked Yuyutsu, one of the sons of King Dhritharashtra to act as regent in Hastinapura as Parikshit grandson of Arjuna  was still too young to rule the country. Yuyustsu was the only kaurava to fight the Mahabharatha war by the side of Pandavas. He was the son of Dhritharashtra and a vaisya /a trading caste maid of Queen Ghandhari.

Yudhistra along with his brothers performed all the necessary rituals like shrardha or ceremonies to propitiate the souls of departed ancestors before taking the renunciation vows,  as ascetics they would not be allowed to perform these rituals. Ascetics are freed from the bondages of this world and are not bound to perform any statuary duties that would be expected from any grihastha or householder who even if they are kings are to abide by the rules laid by sanatana dharma.After performing the samskara rituals Yudhishtra along with  Draupadi , the seven of them set towards the aranya or forest followed by a dog

 {Rituals are extremely important in sanatana dharma and every sanatani or hindu is expected to  perform.Samskara rituals are the rituals performed between birth and death including the marriage rituals, namakharana,  karnavedha or ear piercing ceremony,Annaprasnna-giving morsels of blessed rice to the child,yagnopavita-donning of the sacred thread,Ritushuddhi-when a girl attains puberty,Kanyadhana- when the marriage is performed, Gruhaprevesa, shrardha-death ceremonies and like. Apart from this vratas-performed by individuals belonging to several sects, dhanas-charity, utsavas-festivals,Thirtha yatra, Jathras-village diety festivals………… The point  here is rituals are intrinsic to sanatana dharma. It is fashionable these days to either ignore or not perform them as these have been termed maeningless futile exercises by western influencers.}

Procession of the seven

picture coursey /blog of Michael Dolan, B.V. Mahāyogi

bhrātaraḥ pañca kṛṣṇā ca ṣaṣṭhī śvā caiva saptamaḥ

ātmanā saptamo rājā niryayau gajasāhvayāt

The order of the procession was  as follows,

The five brothers- भ्रातरः पञ्चbhrātaraḥ pañca

The sixth was Drupadi-kṛṣṇā and

the seventh, the dog-śvā

Then Yuddhistra, the king himself left Hastinapura.

(Here it is pertinent to note that Yuddhistra is mentioned again not only as a brother but the king of Hastinapura. This is to reemphasize  how easily  Yudhishtra  along with his brothers who had been all along upto their middle ages been subjected to  terrible  treatment at the hands of Dhritharashtaraputhras easily renunciated  a kingdom for which the terrible  Mahabharata war was fought at the cost death of thousands of blood relatives on both side of the Kuru family.)

This band of seven crossed many countries, mountains, rivers and reached a huge red colored boiling ocean. There they were accosted by the God Agni, who addressed all the virtuous brothers and said the great Sudhrashana / The weapon has left this world when Krishna ascended the heavens and the Gandiva /the sacred bow which was Agni’s / god of fire was borrowed by God Varuna / god of rain and was  given as a gift to Arjuna and the time has come for Arjuna to surrender it back, as he has no further  use for any weapon hereafter.

Then Arjuna threw the Gandiva with its set of arrows into the fiery red ocean and all the brothers followed by Draupadi and the dog decided to Circumambulate the earth, Yuddhistra turned towards the south direction and then towards south west, then west and after viewing the great city of Dwaraka at that direction and paying respect to it again turned towards the north thus finishing the circumbulation of the earth.

Then the procession of five brothers followed by Draupadi and the dog proceeded towards the north and reached the Himavata Parvata / Himavat mountains, crossed it and then crossed a great sandy desert reaching the great Meru Parvata / Meru mountains. This great journey fraught with extreme physical discomfort was possible because the five brothers and Draupadi were in control of their physical bodies due to yogic powers. The first to fall or die was Draupadi

“teṣāṃ tu gacchatāṃ śīghraṃ sarveṣāṃ yogadharmiṇām

yājñasenī bhraṣṭayogā nipapāta mahītale”

“The Yajnaseni-the one born out of fire, slipped from her yogic control of mind and fell down”

The powerful Pandava prince Bhimasena became distraught at this  and asked his elder brother why the virtuous Draupadi had to meet this end.Yudhistra answers as follows.

“pakṣapāto mahān asyā viśeṣeṇa dhanaṃjaye

tasyaitat phalam adyaiṣā bhuṅkte puruṣasasttama”

(Here  “पक्षपातो ” “pakṣapāto”  means partiality  points to a common shortcoming in all humans which actually is an emotion that is not balanced but tainted with desire and selfishness, actions that causes effects like this in this life or in the future. what we have  to understand here is almost all of us are prone to this base emotion which with along with other actions decides our karma. maybe the rare few humans of extraordinary character rise beyond these emotions and they are the true noble  saints of humans )

 Yuddhistra consoles his younger brother saying even though Draupadi was virtuous and faithful to all of them she was always partial ( “pakṣapāto” )to Arjuna and because of that this end happened. Also, he said we are all responsible for our actions and accordingly our fates would be decided. Then this procession of five brothers followed by the dog continued its onward journey and suddenly sahadeva son of Madri fell down from the top of Meru parvata onto the earth and ascended the swargaloka. Again, Bhimasena became distraught with sorrow and asked his elder brother Yuddhistra, how come the ever devoted and humble Sahadeva met this sad end. Yuddhistra answered him by saying even though sahadeva was devoted to his brothers, his fault was his arrogance that he was extremely wise. This arrogance was the reason for his fall to death. As this procession of four brothers followed by the dog went ahead, Nakula the son of Madri whose  mind was distraught with the death of Krishna, Draupadi and Sahadeva, himself slipped off the great Meru Parvata and fell down on to the earth and ascended the swargaloka/heavens

Bhimasena was again so distraught by seeing his wife and two brothers falling off the Meru parvata one after other, asked Yuddhistra how come the handsomest man that lived on this earth who was also the most obedient of the five brothers had to meet this end. Yuddhistra replied to Bhimasena that even though Nakula was the most obedient yet he was extremely vain about his beautiful looks and this vanity made him think he was very superior to others and that is the reason for his fall.

As the procession of the three brothers continued followed by the dog, the great Arjuna, the fiercest warrior of the great Kuru clan who was also equally sad about the departure of his brothers fell down from the Great Meru Paravta on to the earth. The noble Bhimasena asked Yuddhistra why Arjuna who never even once uttered any falsehood and was so noble had to meet this end  

ekāhnā nirdaheyaṃ vai śatrūn ity arjuno ’bravīt

na ca tat kṛtavān eṣa śūramānī tato ’patat

Yuddhistra tells Bhimasena, that Arjuna indeed was the noblest of all but his arrogance that he was the best at the of art of archery and his refusal to acknowledge any other great archer was the reason he fell down. Here again note the boasting or arrogance when Arjuna says “एकोऽहं निर्दहेयं” “. ‘ekāhnā nirdaheyaṃ’. ” I  alone will on my own burn all my enemies.” This arrogance was the reason for his downfall.

(‘‘However noble, great or having attained excellence in any field is not a reason a person should forego humility and become overcome with arrogance, which then takes control of the mind of that person. These incidences are not just about the final journey of pandava brothers and Draupadi, the underlying message is at the end of our lives these actions of ours come before us, makes us pay for that. However mighty one may be but when the day of reckoning comes all of us have to pay the price for our actions”)

Then the procession of two brothers followed by the dog continued and the great Bhimasena himself slipped and fell on to the earth. This part is the most heart wrenching part of the Mahaprasthanika Parva.when Bhimasena also falls down off the mountain and while falling beseeches his brother plaintively like this

ity uktvā prasthito rājā bhīmo ’tha nipapāta ha(falling down)

patitaś cābravīd bhīmo dharmarājaṃ yudhiṣṭhiram

bho bho rājann avekṣasva patito ’haṃ priyas tava

kiṃnimittaṃ ca patitaṃ brūhi me yadi vettha ha

While falling he asked his brother Yudhistra, “

“I who is so dear to you am falling, what is the reason for my fall like this”,😥

“bho bho rājann avekṣasva patito ’haṃ priyas tava”

{there are ceratin scenes in both in Mahabharatha ,Ramayana or Bhagavata , many hindus while reading will shed tears of joy or sorrow, that’s is  the kind of emotions that are are woven into a sanatanis psyche because a hindus upbringing forever keeps reminding him or her about the fraility of humans miserable existance and the helplessness we often we feel during that short journey, because we know we are all subjected to this endless cycle of birth and death till a day that may come when our Atmans may become one with Paramatman or primordial self )

Yuddhistra addressed the falling Bhimasena by saying, “your fall was for the reason your boasting about your physical prowess, and the greediness you exihbited by never sharing your food

( This is a saddest part of Mahaprasthanika Parva , we all feel Bhimasena is so well built , powerful, full of zest for action and life, falls and in the process is so helpless and appeals plaintively to his dear elder brother why he who is so dear to Yuddhistra has to fall .Of all the brothers ,Vrighodhra is the  soft hearted and the kindest. He was not only dear  to Yuddhistra but also the to pandu family as he always took it  on himself as a protector. yet at this moment when he has to leave this mortal  world emotions takes over and helplessly he beseeches his brother for sustenance )

Then Yuddhistra continued walking ahead without a glance back followed only by the dog.

Arrival of Indira

picture courtsey_Ramanarayanadatta astri –

INDIRA , the thousand eyed God of thunder, the chief of abode of devatas/demigods

Then the great indra/ the god of heaven, of thousand eyes in a huge vimana/ a space vehicle appeared before Yuddhistra and asked Yuddhistra to ascend the vimana so he can enter swarga with his physical body. Suddenly Yudhistra was weighed by emotion and asked Indira, why his noble brothers and his virtuous wife had to fall down on the earth and die?

Yudhishtra asks Indira,

“bhrātaraḥ patitā me ’tra āgaccheyur mayā saha

na vinā bhrātṛbhiḥ svargam icche gantuṃ sureśvara

sukumārī sukhārhā ca rājaputrī puraṃdara

sāsmābhiḥ saha gaccheta tad bhavān anumanyatām”

“Oh god of thousand eyes, all my brothers have fallen down, I do not want to leave without them, also my beautiful wife who is used to so much royal  comfort, I cannot leave behind, you are great enough to allow my wish”

(This again is so strange, Dharma who went about going forward even after the death of Draupadi, Sahadeva, Nakula and Arjuna and Bhima, very composed  even without a glance back suddenly asks Indira like a greedy man to allow his fallen wife and brothers to be with him when he ascends Swargaloka. How to explain this contradiction?why is he talking about the beauty of Drupadi and her poorvasrama status of a royal princess who lived in royal comfort? Is Yudhistra affected by the death of his beloved wife and brothers or is he at this moment becomes so selfish that he wants all these to come with him? or  is he for all his nonchalant behaviour after their death, was after all in a stupor with sorrow? when someone tells the Mahabharatha as a story it sounds so much simpler but when one reads verse by verse in Sanskrit and deciphersit. it then gives way for multiple interpretations.)

Indira replied to him by saying all his four brothers along with Draupadi after casting their physical bodies had already reached swarga and as Yuddhistra is so noble and without any shortcomings he can enter the same in his physical body and then meet his brothers and wife there.

 But Yuddhistra tells Indra this

“atha śvā bhūtabhāvyeśa bhakto māṃ nityam eva ha

sa gaccheta mayā sārdham ānṛśaṃsyā hi me matiḥ”

“Oh God, you who is the master of past as well as present, my heart is filled with compassion for- this dogatha śvā .so let this dog go with me to swargaloka”

Indira tells Yuddhistra that he has achieved immortality, fame and he is equal to himself  Indira the thousand eyed god in all respects and leaving behind this mere dog would not be construed as cruelty at all and hence Yuddhistra should enter the vimana without the dog. But Yuddhistra looked back and says, “this dog has been following me steadfastly from Hastinapur and I cannot come without this dog, as I do not want to leave him uncared for here”. Yuddhistra declines Indira’s invitation to accompany him to swargaloka by saying abandoning someone who is devoted is equal to committing a sin and he rather forego all the splendor of heavens for the sake of the dog who is terrified and alone at this moment and deserting him would be  a sin and Yuddhistra says till he is alive he will not give upon the dog. 

(Here is the great Yuddhistra who forsake his kingdom, his subjects and set out on a journey of renunciation as an ascetic, towards the end of his journey of life, who lost all his four brothers and wife yet was able to plod along stoically without ever looking back, still was unwilling to abandon a dog, simply for the reason that the animal followed him all the way from Hastinapur, crossing all those immeasurable lands, rivers, mountains  full of hurdles with utmost devotion to  him. Here I wonder whether the great king who walked  steadfastly ahead after all the losses, did he develop any attachment  towards this dog? or was it only a sign of duty towards the devotion of the dog? Sometimes while deciphering Indian or any epic, these kinds of doubts will arise

It is fair enough to have doubts on any verse or line of scripture or Vedas as human method of enquiry by nature is like this and in Santana dharmic tradition raising doubts and questions to find answers is intrinsic to the dharma. Even the last stanza of Nasidya suktam gives the benefit of doubt to an enquiring mind. The beauty of Santana dharma is the freedom to enquire without guilt or any stricture. How blessed we who are sanatanis”There is no custodian of our dharma except ourselves. The very fact sanatana or “hinduism” has survived this long is die to this intrinsic nature of its practice.The sanatani is the ultimatee decider of his karma, the only other element in this quest his faith in Paramatma.)

Nasidya suktham-verse-7 RIG-VEDA(10.129)

“इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा न |

यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा न वेद

iyáṃ vísr̥ṣṭir yáta ābabhū́va

yádi vā dadhé yádi vā ná

yó asyā́dhyakṣaḥ paramé vyoman

só aṅgá veda yádi vā ná véda

Whence all creation had its origin,

he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,

he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,

he knows – or maybe even he does not know.”

“he” here is the creator, this verse is from 129th hymn of the 10th mandala of the Rigveda (10:129).

(Here in Mahaprasthanika Parva the concept of devotion stands out, and that alone becomes the vehicle for Yuddhistra to leave this physical world but still able to ascend the heavens with the gross body.For all it might be, the vimana could be his  unwavering devotion to duty.

 Draupadi had partiality for Arjuna, Madris son Sahadeva thought he was the most learned man above all, Madris son Nakula thought himself as the most handsomest man on earth, The great archer Arjuna considered himself matchless in the art of archery and boasted as a one man army he can destroy the world, vrighodhra was a glutton who was so selfish when it came to food, he wouldn’t share it with anyone, even a hungry person and all of them were self-centered, although they performed their duties without blemish yet they all couldn’t raise beyond normal human emotions. But Yuddhistra son of Yama or Dharmaraja was righteous and followed a very strict code of personal conduct without any emotional attachment to the actions he took. One could say he is an exemplary person who accrued no negative deeds during his life time by actions or with his emotions, that is the reason he had the moral strength to decline the invitation to enter swargaloka with his full components of body in its complete sense. {Anna -maya–physical body,prana-maya-the body made of breath,mano-maya-the body made of mind,vijñana-maya-the conscious body,ananda-maya-the blissful body)

Then indra asks Yudhistra

tyaktvā bhrātṝn dayitāṃ cāpi kṛṣṇāṃ;

prāpto lokaḥ karmaṇā svena vīra

śvānaṃ cainaṃ na tyajase kathaṃ nu;

tyāgaṃ kṛtsnaṃ cāsthito muhyase’dya

Indira asks Yuddhistra when he had already abandoned his four brothers and Draupadi as well as renounced all fame and wealth why he cannot renounce a mere dog. Was this mere dog worth sacrificing the Swargaloka and also the chance to be one with his four brothers and Draupadi again?

Yuddhistra replies

(this detailed reply to Indira again contradicts his own behaviour when his wife and brothers fell dying at the way side , again in a moment of grief, Yuddhistra asking Indira earlier  to allow  his wife and brothers to enter the vimana, did he not know at that time they are  already dead? Or what was going on his mind ? Did he even entertain a thought that Indira would revive the dead ones so that they can also go along with Yuddhistra ?)

 na vidyate saṃdhir athāpi vigraho;

mṛtair martyair iti lokeṣu niṣṭhā

na te mayā jīvayituṃ hi śakyā;

tasmāt tyāgas teṣu kṛto na jīvatām

pratipradānaṃ śaraṇāgatasya

striyā vadho brāhmaṇasv āpahāraḥ

mitradrohas tāni catvāri śakra

bhakta tyāgaś caiva samo mato me

Here Yuddhistra says there is no relationship or hate towards the dead, he tried to revive them when they died but he couldn’t do that so, he also did take care of them when they were alive so, he claims he did not abandon them when they were alive.

He also says to put fear into the heart of someone who has sought protection is a sin. He also tells Indira, that killing a woman, stealing a brahmins belongings, or causing any kind of harm to a friend are all equal to abandoning someone who has sought protection. Here the last statement he is alluding is to the dog.

On hearing these words Dharmaraja or Yama who was in the guise of the dog all along revealed himself to Yuddhistra, praised him generously and then in the presence of all maruts, devatas, Ashwinis and all other deities in attendance Yuddhistra sat in the viaman with the thousand eyed god Indira and rose towards Swargaloka

(The reply Yudhistra gives here to Indra’s above question is very pertinent and here we should all pause to digest it. Death is the final end. After a person dies any thoughts either loving, hateful or otherwise has no meaning. To attach emotions to a dead person is futile. Yet we ordinary humans never let go of these emotions. What a lot of futile efforts we put when reminiscing about dead people. Here we have to take few steps back to recollect the same Yudhistra when asked by Indira to get into the vimana, he talks about, “सुकुमारी च गच्छेत” “let the beautiful Draupadi go with me”. Even the great yudhistra wasn’t immune to the confusion mere humans have about the death.)