By Bharat Chandra Dasa
In Mahabharata, Āraṇyaka parva, Chapter 296, we find an intriguing conversation between Yaksha and King Yudhiṣṭhira. Many nuances of life are discussed and one has a lot to gain in understanding this conversation.
Once, during an exile in the forest, the pandavas feel extreme thirst. King Yudhisthira asks Nakula to climb up a tall tree and look for any available water source nearby to quench the thrist of all. Nakula does so and finds a spot where trees which grow near water sources were seen. Also the sounds of cranes were heard from that side. Yudhisthira asks Nakula to drink and fetch water for all. So heads Nakula in that direction. Upon reaching the spot he finds a very beautiful scenic and divine lake filled with various flowers. However, without wasting much time he proceeds to quench his thirst first. At that very moment, Nakula hears a voice asking him to not drink water but answer his questions first. Nakula overcome by extreme thirst neglects it thinking he shall first drink and then rest everything can be done later.
However, upon drinking the water Nakula falls unconscious as told by the voice. Upon noticing that Nakula has not returned yet, Yudhisthira asks Sahadeva to check. Sahadeva finds his brother lying unconscious and with great lamentation and anger to see what has caused his fate he thinks to first quench his thirst, which had increased with the emotions crossing his mind. He too hears the voice of Yaksha but neglects and achieves the same fate.
Yudhistira asks Arjuna to do the needful to why both brothers are late. Arjuna proceeds and the same things happen to him as to Nakula and Sahadeva. Next Bhima was sent but he too goes through the same emotions and the same fate.
Finally, King Yudhisthira comes to see all lying flat. He thinks this must be not an ordinary thing as no ordinary fighter or anyone can cause this fate to his great warrior brothers. He too goes to quench his thirst but then hears Yaksha’s voice.
Yaksha says to answer his questions. King Yudhisthira agrees. What follows is a series of very fascinating conversation between Yakhsa and King Yudhisthira in the form of Yaksha’s questions and Yudhisthira’s answers.
At the end of the series, the last but one question is most interesting in one way as it is also repeatedly and widely quoted by Acharyas.
The most fascinating is the answer to the question, what is real news? This article goes by the same topic.
Yaksha asked, Who is most happy, What is most amazing? What is real path? And what is real news? Please answer these four questions and bring back your brothers back to life.
King Yudhisthira replies:
O Amphibious one (Yaksha, who had introduced himself as an amphibious bird), happy are those who consume food even if simple vegetables cooked in their own home, who have no debt and who do not have to travel far to make a living.
The most amazing thing is that although hordes of living entities die everyday and go to yamaloka, still the remaining ones desire to live forever. There is nothing more amazing than this.
The real path is path walked by (as shown by practical example of) the great Acharyas or Mahājanas, because, the real path is riddled with deep, entwined and finer conclusions of dharma that merely cannot be established by arguments. There are innumerable scriptures and different interpretations of the rishis which do not match each other’s.
The news is that the loving entity is being fried by time on a pan of illusion of Me and Mine created by living entity itself. The pan is being fired by Surya or Sun god whose fuel is the Day and Night created by the Sun God, thus reducing the lifespan of the living entities as the day goes by. The Month and the Seasons are the constant supply of the wood to this fire.
Thus, by King Yudhisthira’s unparallelled reply, Yaksha was very satisfied.
A wonderful verse in Srimad Bhagavatam, spoken by Lord Brahma is as follows:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
ye prāyaśo ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyām
Lord Brahmā said, “O my Lord Kṛṣṇa, a devotee who abandons the path of empiric philosophical speculation aimed at merging in the existence of the Supreme and engages himself in hearing Your glories and activities from a bona fide sādhu, or saint, and who lives an honest life in the occupational engagement of his social life, can conquer Your sympathy and mercy even though You are ajita, or unconquerable.” (SB 10.14.3)
Here, the word “Varta” is used by Lord Brahma stating that real breaking news for the conditioned souls is to hear about the eternally ongoing breaking news of the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. This news shall deliver as compared to the stale news of the material world which is all about the deep frying of the living entities. There is no hope with such material news and the living entity will only slip into more illusions of Me and Mine.
Therefore, throwing away all such illusory conceptions, one should humbly submit to render their ears to hear the wonderful ongoing pastimes of the Supreme Lord and while being engaged so, endeavour only so much with much effort, to keep the body mind and spirit together in a healthy state.