Bhima’s lesson on Dharma to Yudhishthira

The Mahabharata is as well known for its moral messages as much it is for its main story. It is said that a majority of the 1 lakh shlokas of the Bharata teach lessons and only the remainder describe the main story. Even in the main story, there are so many innumerable sub-plots with their own messages and morals. Further, there are multiple recensions and offshoots of the Bharata. The Puranas, for example, contain thousands of stories which cannot be seen mentioned in the main work.

In such a situation, it becomes very important to obtain an accurate and comprehensive picture of the Bharata. Our understanding of any particular story should never violate the core lessons that Sri Vyasa set out to teach when he wrote the work. For ordinary humans like us, this is a humongous task. Fortunately, Sri Madhvacharya has simplified this task by providing a great treasure of a work known as the Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya. This work, MBTN in short, collates & co-relates various recensions of the Bharata. It also combines the events from the Bhagavata, Harivamsha and the various Satvic puranas. Thus, MBTN truly is a treasurehouse of the Bharata work. 

One such interesting incident is described towards the end of the MBTN. This story is also originally mentioned the Varaha Purana, Chaturmasya Mahatmya, Chapter 23. In the MBTN, this incident is described in the first few shlokas of the 31st chapter.

The Kurukshetra war is complete and Yudhisthira is ruling the earth as its emperor. The Pandavas have successfully completed the Ashwamedha Yaga and are overseeing a flourishing and peaceful country. One day, a brahmin, who is actually Sri Hari himself in disguise arrives at Hastinapur and goes to meet Yudhishtira. It is quite late at night and Yudhishthira is asleep. He wakes up and meets the Brahmin. The Brahmin explains to him that he is keen on performing a Yaga and needs some financial assistance from the Emperor. Yudishthira explains to the Brahmin that it is quite late in the night and therefore it would be difficult for him to open the treasury and give him money. He therefore requests the Brahmin to come back early next day.

The Brahmin proceeds from Yudhishthira’s palace to Bhima’s palace. Bhima, the Yuvaraja, receives him well and asks what the Brahmin’s needs were. After listening to the Brahmin’s story, he immediately takes out his golden armlet and gives it to the Brahmin. The Brahmin leaves the palace after blessing Bhima.

Bhima immediately proceeds towards Yudhishthira and makes the Jayabheri sound (beating of drums and other instruments). Yudhishthira, who is woken up by the sound, comes out and asks Bhima the reason for his happiness. Bhima tells Yudhishthira that he is extremely happy with his older brother’s knowledge of himself and hence the music to express his joy. Yudhishthira is perplexed and asks for clarification. Bhima explains that since Yudhishthira had asked the Brahmin to come back the next day to collect money, he (Yudhishthira) was sure of his own life. Yudhishthira’s assurance meant that he knew he would live the next day in order to meet the Brahmin. Bhima explains that such profound knowledge of oneself is worth celebrating.

Yudhishthira immediately recognizes the sarcasm in Bhima’s explanation. He also learns the underlying lesson. Yudhisthira praises Bhima for opening his eyes towards Dharma. He agrees that there should never be a delay in performing one’s duty, even if it means working in the middle of the night. Also, any sort of assumption cannot be made while discharging duty.

The above story has some important lessons for each of us as well. When everything is controlled and driven by the Lord, we should not make any assumptions about our strength and capabilities. Discharging our duties is the only Dharma and there should not be any negligence towards it.