Yaksha Prashna ~ Lord Dharma Questions & Yudhisthra Answers



Yaksha Prashna
Questions/Answers b/w
Lord Dharma and Yudhisthra

Yakhsa Prashna, Dharma Baka  Upakhyan: appears in the Mahabharata, in Book of Forest (Aranyaka Parva ~ Vana Parva)

Quick Prelude:

One day while living in exile in the forest, Yudhisthira finds that while attempting to drink water from a lake, his all brothers have been killed. When he went near the lake to fetch some water, he heard a sudden voice, (of Yaksha who is in disguise).

Yaksha said: This Lake belongs to me; I have asked your brothers to answer my questions before drinking the water. But they denied my pledge, and drank water and hence they are dead. You too will become victim if you do not answer my question before drinking this water.

Yudhisthra replied: I have no desire to take what belongs to you. Please ask me the questions; I will try my best to reply your queries.  These questions and answers are precise, beautiful, and embedded with sophisticated deep wisdom and philosophy.

The focus of this entire discussion is on Dharma.

Shri Krishna – Gopis’s Raasa-Leela



Shri Krishna – Gopis’s Raasa-Leela

Unison of Lord with Devotees

Raasa-Leela is considered as the final (absolute) milestone/landmark in the field of worshipping. Raasa-Leela is Pure, Unconditional, Unalloyed and Devoted Love / Bhakti / Prem from unadulterated (pure) devotees for their Beloved Shri Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Raasa-Leela is one of the Divine Activities (Leelas), which Shri Krishna played in the month of Phalgun, on the night of Sharad Purnima (Full Moon Night), with the Gopis (village women) on the banks of river Yamuna in Vrindavan. Shri Krishna was nearly around 7 to 10 years old when He performed this Divine Leela ~ Unison of Lord with His Devotees.

Raasa-Leela is considered to be one of “The Highest & The Most Incomprehensible Leela” of Shri Krishna's pastimes.

The textual reference of Raasa-Leela can be found in Shrimad Bhagavatam Purana; there are five chapters known as Raasa-PanchAdhyayi in (Canto 10 dedicated to Shri Krishna ~ The Summum Bonum). These five chapters describe the Raasa-Leela of Shri Krishna with the Gopis (village women) of Vrindavan.

Raasa-Leela has got NOTHING TO DO WITH male-female material enjoyment, which is Major Misconception. It is Divine Connection between Shri Krishna with His Devoted Devotees.

The Raasa-Leela is an external expression of divine Leela, which takes place in the heart of each and every individual, between the finite and the Universal Soul. Unless we have unflinching love and faith, Shri Krishna and His life would always confuse us.   ~ Swami Vivekananda

The word Raasa-Leela:

The word Raasa comes from Sanskrit word “Ras” having different meanings, such as taste (sweet taste), emotion, juice, nectar etc. The word Leela describes the divine activities of Shri Krishna (that we may not understand completely). The literal meaning of word Leela, such as act, play and here the act is of dance. So combining both words, we can translate Raasa-Leela as:

“Dance of Shri Krishna with Gopis, performed with Full of Emotions, Love & Bliss”

“The Sweet & Hearth Soothing/Pleasing act of Lord Hari”

Raasa meaning “Aesthetics” and Leela meaning “Dance”
thus Raasa-Leela is “Play of Aesthitcs ~ Dance of Divine Love. (Anonyms)

Raasa-Leela ~ The Zenith of Divine Love:

As per Shrimad Bhagavatam Purana, no words can describe the Immense True Love of Gopis for their beloved Shri Krishna in the proper way. The love Gopis felt for the Lord Hari was not bodily / physically / (or what we called Modern Day Shameless Love); it was Prerna, Divine Love. The Gopis were totally merged in the love of Shri Krishna through the practice of constant Smaran (Remembrance) of Him all the time. In fact these Gopis were not ordinary women, they were the Great Rishis, Sages who went thru severe Tapas (penance) in their previous births, and they reincarnated as Gopis and were waiting to unite with their beloved Shri Krishna in the Raasa-Leela. (Note: Some excerpt suggests that these Gopis where Rishi Munis, who were saddened that they did not meet Lord Rama during His exile of 14 years in Forest, born as Gopis to fulfill their desire, as they were promised by the Lord Himself).

Shri Vishnu Incarnations - Dashavatar - 24 Incarnations


Shri Vishnu Incarnations (Avatars)
 
The word “Avatar”, a Sanskrit word means “descent”. In Sanatana Dharma it means the Descent/Incarnation/Manifest/Appearance of Lord/Supreme Being/Deity in an earthly embodiment.

The concept of Avatar in Sanatana Dharma mostly related to Lord Vishnu, one of The Trinity. Srimad Bhagavatam described the innumerable Lord Vishnu’s Avatars, mostly The Ten Incarnations (Dashavatara) are widely known. And among them Lord Shri Rama (related to Ramayana) and Lord Shri Krishna (related to Mahabharata) are widely worshiped Avatars of Lord Vishnu. In Srimad Bhagavatam, around 24 different Avatars of Lord Vishnu are discussed that were descended in different Yugas.

There is no reference of Avatar exists in Vedas. The Bhagavad Gita discusses the subject matter associated with Avatar in textual format in Chapter 4 Slokas 5~9, where Lord Shri Krishna Himself declared the role of taking Avatar.

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion — at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium. (Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 Verses 7~8)

Classifications of Avatars:

Avatar, incarnations are broadly classified into two kinds. When Lord Vishnu Himself descends on earth, He is called Sakshaty-Avatara, and when He indirectly empowers some living entity to represent Him, than that living entity is called an Avesa-Avatara.

Examples:
Direct (Sakshaty): Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Narasihma etc.
Indirect (Avesa): Narada Muni, Parashurama, VayasDeva etc.

Sakshaty or Direct Avatars are further classified into two more categories:

Purna Avatar: Lord Visnhu takes form directly and all the qualities and powers of God are expressed. (Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Narasimha)

Amsarup Avatars: Lord Vishnu takes form directly but He is manifest in the person only partially (Matsya, Kurma, Varaha )

Lord Krishna is highest Purana Avatar.
 
Various Incarnations of Lord Vishnu as per Srimad Bhagavatam:

The details of about 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu are mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam:
Canto 1: Chapter 3: Verses 1~25.

Adi Purush Avatar

Lord Vishnu having desire to commence creation, took first avatar, incarnation as the pre-eminent man (with all his sixteen Kalas). The first incarnation is full of Super Natural Powers, Indestructible Seed from which all other incarnations manifested. While lying on Adi Sheesh (Seesh Naag), Lord Vishnu in state of Yoganidra (deep meditation), manifested Lord Brahma from His navel, and then so on, The Creation commenced from the organs of Lord Brahma.

The Four Kumaras (ChaturSana)

The Four Kumaras are the first mind-born (ManasPutra, born by wish) creation of Lord Brahma, who exemplifies the path of devotion by being remain in the state of celibacy throughout their life. The name of Four Kumaras are: Sanaka (Ancient), Sanatana (Eternal), Sanandana (Joyful), and Sanatkumara (Ever Young). The Four Kumaras practiced the vow of Renunciation (Sanyasa), Celibacy (BrahamCharaya) and signifies the importance of Penance. They are well versed in the context of Vedas and they underwent severe austerities for the realization of Absolute Truth.   

Shanti Parva ~ Book of Peace



Shanti Parva
Book of Peace & Wisdom Literature

Shanti Parva (The Book of Peace) is the 12th and longest Parva (book) of Great Epic Mahabharata (comprising 18 Parvas, Books). It is the set of instructions given to King Yudhisthira (son of Pandav) by Great Bhishma (eldest among Kuru Parivar) on various treatises such as: duties of a king and his rule, governance system, dharma, rights, justice, prosperity and welfare of his people, moksha, etc. This book comprises various stories narrated by Bhishma to motivate the King Yudhisthira to understand the importance of kingdom, to be administered by Dharma. 

Advent of Shanti Parva:

At the End of Mahabharata War, Yudhisthira was very dejected at the death of his elders, brothers, relatives and loved ones. He was lamented so much that he has decided to renounce everything and move to forest and live there. Then various Great Sages Rishi Vyasa, Narad Muni, Devala, Devasthana, and Lord Hari Himself counsel him to give up such dejection and rule the kingdom of Hastinapur with the Code Of Dharma, considering that his duty. Even Arjuna, Bhima (younger brothers of Yudhisthira), and Drupadi also guides the same to Yudhisthira. But his sorrows did not vanish completely from his mind and heart.

After the crown ceremony of Yudhisthira as King, on very next morning he went to Shri Krishna and surprised to see Him in deep thought. On enquiring, Shri Krishna replied,

'Yudhisthira! I was thinking of Bhishma, the dying ember, lying on a bed of arrows! Ganga's son, tutored in the vedas as a student of rishi Vashista, well versed in warfare as a favorite student of Parusharama!  A great man who knows the past, present and the future. When he goes, the world will go dark like a night without the moon. Yudhisthira, hence go and meet him when he is still alive and ask him whatever you want to know about laws relating to kings'.   

Shri Krishna took him and rest of the Pandavas and Sages to the place (banks of Ogavathi River) where Bhishma was lying on the Bed of Arrows. When Bhishma came to know that Yudhisthira’s heart is full of sorrows on the demise of elders of Kuru Parivar and he cursing himself for all that, then Bhishma pacify him with following words.

While it is dharma for brahmins to study, do penance and to give. In the same way, it is dharma for a khsatriya to engage in war. If invited, a khsatriya cannot refuse to fight. If someone is going in the wrong path, whether it is a father, a brother or a grandfather, he should be punished. It is khsatriya dharma to kill anyone who transgresses dharma out of greed'. (Bhishma)

The instruction goes on for various days, and Yudhisthira asked as many questions as he can, and he got all answered from Bhishma. It is by Shri Krishna’s mercy that pain of painful wound caused by arrows which pierced the body of Bhishma was vanished so that he can give the instructions properly.

Shanti Parva Statistically:
Statistically it consists of 365 chapters and 13,716 numbers of Shlokas, which is further divided into three sub-parvas:

RajaDharma Parva (Chapters: 1 to 130 & 4716 Shlokas)
Describes the duties of king and his governance

ApadDharma Parva (Chapters 131 to 173 & 1649 Shlokas)
Describes the rules of conduct when one faces adversity

MokshaDharma Parva (Chapters 174 to 365 & 7351 Shlokas)
Describes behavior and rules to achieve moksha (emancipation, release, freedom)

Bhagavad Gita


Bhagavad Gita
The Song of Lord (Bhagvan)

In the present Age of Kalyug, it is next to impossible for the people being absorbed in the mundane activities to read all Sanatana Dharma Vedic Literature. So by all the merciful Nature of Lord Shri Krishna, He Himself descended on the earth planet in His Divine form and gave His instructions in the form of one book which will be sufficient for, we the people of Kalyug, called Bhagavad Gita.

Bhagavad Gita is the transcendental literature, the essence of all Vedic Literature and theme of all the Divine philosophies. It is also called Gitopanishad, being essence of all the Upanishads. The proper conscientiously understanding and following the instructions of Bhagavad Gita will make one freed from all sorts of anxieties and miseries of this earthly life and the for the life here after. Srila Parbhupada summarizes that Bhagavad Gita is the Permanent Solution of All Problems of life, if one follows it whole heartedly.

Lord Shri Krishna Himself summarizes the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as:

 “O Arjuna! You are very dear to Me. So, for your own good, I am telling you the greatest secret of the Divine world. Listen carefully. If you or any soul of the world desires to come to Me and be with Me forever, the easiest path is that he should worship Me, love Me, remember Me all the time and dedicate his life for Me. Then surely he will come to Me. It’s My promise.”                                                                     (Chatper 18, Verses 64, 65)

Lord Shri Krishna takes all responsibility for one who surrenders unto Him.

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver your from all the sinful reactions. Do not fear”.   (Chapter 18 Verse No. 66)

The Advent of Bhagavad Gita:

The Bhagavad Gita comes under the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata and comprises the 18 Chapters consisting of 700 verses. Its authorship is traditionally ascribed to Sage Vyasa, the compiler of the Mahabharata. The sacred text of Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Lord Shri Krishna and Arjuna (one of the Pandava) taking place at the mid of the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra War. Arjuna although having divine weapons and master in Dhanur Vidya but was confused and went in moral dilemma about fighting with his own cousins, elders, teachers etc. on a disputed empire of Hastinapur and Indraprastha.

Lord Shri Krishna then pacify the desponded Arjuna and explain him, his duties as a warrior and being Khastriya; elaborates him on different Vedic  philosophies, and explains different ways in which the soul can reach the Supreme Being with examples and analogies. This has led to the advent of Bhagavad Gita, a concise guide to Sanatana Dharma; a practical, self-contained guide to life. During the discourse, Lord Shri Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Supreme Personality of Godhead, Swayam Bhagwan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His Divine Universal Form (Virat Swaroop). 
(Note: Shri Krishna reveals His Universal form in Chapter 11 of BhagavadGita).

The audience who somehow listen the conversation of Lord Shri Krishna with Arjuna on the battle field of Kurukshetra War included:


  • Sanjaya using Divya Drishti gifted by the Sage Veda Vyasa so that he can watch the war and narrates the events to King Dhritarashtra.
  • Lord Hanuman (in the flag of Arjuna’s chariot)
  • Barbarika, son of Ghatotkacha, who also witnessed the complete 18 days of action at Kurukshetra

Contents of Bhagavad Gita (Some Brief Info):

The main philosophical subject matter of the Bhagavad Gita is the explanation of five basic “Truths”:

Ishwara
The Supreme Controller, Super-Soul
Jiva
Living Beings, Individual Soul
Prakarti
Nature, Matter
Kaal
The Time, Destroyer
Karma
Duty in Accordance with Divine Laws

The Four Yogas:

Karma Yoga
A process whereby one performs his work for God.
(Selfless Action)
Jnana Yoga
A process of elevation to spiritual consciousness through cultivation of philosophical knowledge. (Self-Transcending Knowledge)
Astanga Yoga
Mechanical meditation practice meant to control the mind and the senses to help focus one’s  concentration on the supreme
Bhakti Yoga
The yoga of selfless, ecstatic, love of God through transcendental devotional service.

The Three Modes of Material Nature:

SATTVA GUNA 
( Goodness )
RAJO GUNA
( Passion )
TAMO GUNA
(Ignorance )
·         Knowledge
·         Free from sins
·         Conditioned by sense of happiness
·         Unlimited desires
·         Fruitive activity
·         Attraction between  man and woman
·         Madness
·         Laziness
·         Sleep and   intoxication

The Four stages of Life ASHRAMS:                       

Brahachari
Student life, Celibacy  
Grihasta
Household life
Vanaprastha
Retired life
Sannyasa
Renounced Life

The Four Castes of Society VARNAS:

Brahmins
Teachers and Priests
Kshatriyas
Warriors and Kings
Vaishyas
Businessman, farmers, merchants etc
Shudras
Servants, Labours

The Three Types of Actions i.e. Karma:

Karma
As per Scriptural directions, Pious
Vikarma
As per Scriptural directions, Sinful
Akarma
For which one does not suffer any reaction

Natya Shastra - Gadharva UpaVeda


Natya Shastra 
(Gandharva UpaVeda)

Natyashastra is the most detail and elaborate of all treatises on drama and acting ever written in any language and is regarded as the oldest surviving text on stagecraft in the world. Natyashastra demonstrates every facet of drama covering areas like music, stage-design, make up, dance and virtually every aspect of stagecraft. Natyashastra was attributed to the Sage Bharata (No connection with Bharata of Ramayan or King Bharata of Mahabharta).

Background of Natyashastra:

Natyashastra composed of two words, Natya means Dramaic Art, and Shastra means holy writ dedicated to a particular field of knowledge. The Natyashastra consists of six thousands sutras and has been divided into some thirty six chapters. The background of Natyashastra is framed in a situation where a number of Munis approach Bharata to know about the secrets of NatyaVeda. The answer to this question comprises the rest of the Natyashastra book.

Lord Brahma created the fifth veda called Natyaveda (Natya = Drama, Veda = Knowledge, thus the art of drama), which can be studied and practiced by everybody. Natyaveda was handed over to Indra and Indra handed it over to Bharata.  While creating this Natyaveda, Brahma adopted its constituents from four Vedas, such as:         

  •  Pathya (Text) including the art of Recitation and Execution in performance taken from the Rig Veda.
  • Geet (Songs) including instrumental Music from the Sama Veda
  • Abhinaya (Histrionics, Acting) the technique of expressing the poetic meaning of the text and communicating it to the spectator from the Yajur Veda,
  • Rasa (Sentiments) or aesthetic experience from the Atharva Veda

Subordinate vedas called Upavedas were also connected with Natyaveda such as:  
  • Ayur Veda was used to show expressions of diseases, their symptoms & certain mental moods
  • Dhanur Veda (archery) was made use of in the representation of fights on the stage
  • Gandharv Veda was used in the preliminaries and in the actual performance of drama
  • Shilpa Veda (architectural science) was necessary for construction of the playhouse

Sage Bharata says that all the knowledge of Natyashastra is due to Lord Brahma. At one point he mentioned that he has a hundred "sons" who will spread this knowledge, which suggests that Bharata may have had a number of male disciples whom he trained in dramatic art. However to play the role of male counterpart female, Lord Brahma created Apsaras (celestial maidens), who were experts in dramatic art.

Chapters of Natyashastra:

Concisely, Natyashastra covers every aspect of art and drama. In its first chapter, Bharata gives account of Natyashastra’s creation. The natya was created by Brahma, the god of creation, to meet the demand of a plaything a source of pleasure to minds; tired of strife, wants and miseries of daily existence. An art form like a drama does it very easily because it has a visual and aural appeal. Any piece of advice communicated through a visual-aural form has more impact on human mind than any other form. A drama, besides offering entertainment, can also influence and uplift the minds of spectators