Yudhisthira, the son of Dharma

Thank you, Lakshmi, for speaking to us. I know that telling your story must bring up a lot of emotions from that life.  For our next story, I am going to be telling you the story of my son on earth, Yudhisthira. Let us come to my house while I serve you some hot tea and I can tell you how my son stayed true to his Dharma (me!) and fulfilled his moral duties.

Before I tell you how Yudhisthira followed Dharma, I need to tell you about his life and how he came to earth. Yudhisthira’s father was cursed after accidentally shooting at a Brahmin named Kindama and his wife. Because of his mistake, Kindama cursed Pandu and said he would die if he were to engage in intercourse with any woman. Pandu also relinquished his throne to his brother Dhritarashtra as further penance for his crime. Yudhisthira’s mother, Queen Kunti, had the power to invoke the Devas, or the gods. Because of this power, Kunti was able to give birth to Yudhisthira by invoking me, Dharma! Yudhisthira was Pandu’s eldest son and by right should have been the heir to the throne. But remember when I said Pandu gave up his seat? That caused problems because Dhritarashtra’s son, Duryodhana, challenged Yudhisthira for the throne.

The Hastinapura kingdom was split into two parts – Yudhisthira agreed to rule the more arid and fallow region of the two. He, with his four Pandava brothers, then married Draupadi, the princess of Panchali. She gave birth to a son, Prativindya. Yudhisthira lived a normal life before his dedication to duty became his undoing. My son was then challenged by Shakuni, Duryodhana's uncle, in a game of dice. He lost everything in this game including his kingdom, wife, and brothers and was forced into exile. While in exile, Yudhistira tried to return to his kingdom multiple times but was refused by Duryodhana and Shakuni. An ally of Yudhisthira and his Pandava brothers, Krishna convinced Yudhisthira to go to war and win back his kingdom. After winning the war, Yudhisthira returned and crowned himself as the Emperor of Hastinapura.

My son had a very unique understanding of Dharma. He believed in fulfilling his moral duty. To Yudhisthira, his Dharma was more important than anything in his life – his family, throne, and any material objects.  For instance, Yudhisthira married Draupadi because of a comment his mother made in jest. He was almost obedient to a fault - he married Draupadi because of his duty to his mother.  He also denounced the strict distinctions between castes when he made Bhima, who was a ksatriya, marry Rakshasi, a Rakshasa demon. He believed that kshatriyas needed to fulfill their Dharma and be held accountable by their actions, rather than their birth. His dedication to fulfilling the moral duties of his caste was tested when Duryodhana’s uncle, Shakuni, challenged him to a game of dice. He was unable to refuse Shakuni who was a master gambler and eventually gambled away his kingdom, wealth, brothers, and even his wife. Even though Yudhisthira could have refused, his dedication to his Dharma prevented him from doing so. He said that he could not refuse any sort of challenge because he was of the Kshatriya, or warrior, class and had to stand by the warrior code of honor.

While he was not perfect by any means, I am proud of my son. He was willing to give everything up to fulfill his Dharma.

 

Image Information: Yudhisthira losing in Dice

Author’s note:

For this story, I wanted to have Dharma tell the story of his son, Yudhisthira. I thought it would be more beneficial for him to tell his story because I feel Dharma would have been invested in his life and would be paying attention to everything he does. I did not change anything from Narayan’s Mahabharata because I feel Yudhisthira’s life perfectly exemplifies the moral duty aspect of Dharma. However, in order to tell his story, I had to first tell the story of his life and then tell the audience about how Yudhisthira exemplified Dharma. I think between the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Mahabharata is more complicated of the two and to properly provide context, I had to first tell his life story and then talked about Dharma. For the picture, I chose the scene where Yudhisthira lost in the game of dice. I believe this scene is the most indicative of Yudhisthira’s dedication to his duty. He could not refuse any sort of challenge and knowingly entered multiple games of dice. Because of his dedication to Dharma above all else, Yudhisthira lost everything. However, because he was devout, he was able to defeat Duryodhana and become the rightful ruler.


Bibiliography:

  • Narayan, R. K. (1978). The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic.