Appendix 4: Questions Posed by Dharma to Yudhiṣṭhira

The following questions and answers are not included in the main text:

“What makes one learned? How does one attain an exalted status? What is one’s second self and by what does one become wise?”

“By study of the Vedas one becomes learned. Asceticism raises one to an exalted status. Intelligence is his second self, and serving elders makes one wise.”

“What is the Brahmins’ divine attribute? What is their virtuous practice resembling that of the pious, what is their human attribute, and what practice of theirs resembles that of the impious?”

“Study of the Vedas is the Brahmins’ divine attribute. Their asceticism is like the virtuous practice of the pious, death is their human attribute, and slander by them is their impiety.”

“What is the divine attribute of kṣatriyas, what is their piety and impiety, and what is their human failing?”

“Arrows and weapons constitute their divinity, sacrifice is their piety and abandoning the distressed their impiety. Fear is their human failing.”

“What is the Sāma of sacrifice, what is its Yajur and what can it not do without?”

“Life is the sacrificial Sāma, mind is its Yajur and it is the Ṛg which it cannot do without.”

Yudhiṣṭhira understood his actual meaning. By sacrifice he meant the spiritual sacrifice for obtaining pure knowledge. In the objective sacrifice which one normally performs with fire and mantras, the three Vedas--Sāma, Yajur and Ṛg--are required. In the subjective, spiritual sacrifice, the acquisition of true knowledge, along with life and mind, are as necessary as the mantras of the three Vedas are for the objective sacrifice. Particularly spiritual sacrifice depends upon prayer, which is represented by the Ṛg mantras.

The Yakṣa went on without pause. “What is of greatest value to cultivators, to those that sow, to those wishing for prosperity and to those who bring forth?”

“Rain is the most valuable thing for cultivators, for showers it is the seed, for those desiring prosperity it is the cow and for those who bring forth it is the son.”

“What person, although breathing, endowed with intelligence, respected by the world and enjoying sensual pleasures, is nevertheless said to be not alive?”

“The person who does not satisfy the gods, guests, servants, ancestors and his own self with offerings of sanctified food is said to be dead even though breathing.”

“What is weightier than the earth? What is higher than the sky? What is fleeter than the wind? And what is more numerous than grass?”

“The mother is weightier than the earth. The father is higher than the sky. Mind is fleeter than the wind and thoughts are more numerous than grass.”

Yudhiṣṭhira understood that by serving the mother one was said to obtain the earth and by serving the father one could rise to heaven.

The Yakṣa continued, “What does not close its eyes when sleeping? What does not move after birth? What has no heart, and what swells with its own force?”

“Fish do not close their eyes when sleeping. Eggs do not move after birth. A stone has no heart and a river swells with its own force.”

“Who is the friend of an exile, of a householder, of a sick person and of a dying man?”

“An exile’s friend is his companion, that of a householder is his wife, the physician is a sick person’s friend and charity is a dying man’s friend.”

“Who is the guest of all creatures? What is the eternal religion? O king of kings, what is life-giving nectar, and what pervades this entire universe?”

“Agni is the guest of all creatures. Cows’ milk is life-giving nectar. Offering ghee into fire sacrifices made to the Lord is the eternal religion, and this entire universe is pervaded by air.”

“What is it that wanders alone? What is born again after its birth? What is the antidote to cold, and what is the largest field?”

“The sun wanders alone. The moon is repeatedly born. Agni is cold’s antidote, and the earth is the largest field.”

“What is the highest refuge of virtue? What of fame? What of heaven, and what of happiness?”

“Liberality is virtue’s highest refuge, of fame it is charity, of heaven it is truth, and of happiness the highest refuge is good conduct.”

“What is the soul of a man? Who is the friend given to him by destiny? What is his chief support, and what is his chief refuge?”

“The soul of a man is his son, his wife is the friend given by destiny, clouds are his principal support, and charity his best refuge.”

“What is the best of all laudable objects, of all sorts of wealth and of all kinds of happiness? And what is the most important of all gains?”

“Skillfulness is the most laudable object. Knowledge is the greatest wealth. Health is the greatest gain, and contentment is the highest happiness.”

“What is the greatest virtue in the world? What religion always bears fruits? What is it that which if controlled never leads men to misery? And with whom does friendship never break?”

“Abstention from harming any creature is the greatest virtue. The religion of the three Vedas is always fruitful. The mind if controlled never leads to misery, and friendship with the righteous never breaks.”

“What is it that, by renouncing, makes a man dear to others? What is it which if given up never leads to misery? What is it which if renounced leads to wealth, and what is it which if renounced leads to happiness.”

“Giving up pride makes one dear. Abandoning anger never leads to misery. Desire, if renounced, makes one wealthy, and abandonment of avarice leads to happiness.”

“For what does one give charity to Brahmins, to dancers, to servants, and to kings?”

“One gives to Brahmins for religious merit, to dancers for renown, to servants for their support, and one gives to kings for freedom from fear.”

“What is it that envelops the world? What prevents a thing from discovering itself? Why are friends forsaken, and what prevents one from going to heaven?”

“The world is enveloped with darkness. Spiritual ignorance prevents self-discovery. Friends are forsaken due to avarice, and connection with the world bars one from heaven.”

“For what is a person regarded as dead? What causes a kingdom to be seen as dead, and what makes a sacrifice dead?”

“A poor person, although living, is considered as good as dead. A kingdom without a king is considered dead, and a sacrifice without charity is dead.”

“What is the path one should follow? What is spoken of as water, as food, and as poison? What is the proper time for a śraddhā?”

“Following in the footsteps of the righteous constitutes the proper path. Space is spoken of as water in the Vedic texts on cosmogony. The cow is considered as food, as it is from milk that ghee is obtained; ghee is then used in sacrifices, and thanks to sacrifices there is rainfall, from which we get food grains. A request is poison. The proper time for a śraddhā is whenever a qualified Brahmin is available.”

Yudhiṣṭhira was unsure if his answers were satisfying the Yakṣa. He looked at him quizzically. “What is your opinion, O Yakṣa?” But the Yakṣa simply went on placing more questions.

“What is the characteristic of true asceticism? What of self-control? What constitutes forgiveness and shame?”

“Following one’s religious duties is asceticism. Self-control means keeping the mind fixed in remembrance of the Lord. Forgiveness consists of tolerating enmity, and freedom from shame means abstaining from all vile acts.”

“O King, what is said to be knowledge? What is tranquility? What is known as the greatest kindness, and what is simplicity?”

“Understanding Brahman is true knowledge. A peaceful heart is tranquility. Kindness consists of a desire for the welfare of all creatures, and simplicity means equanimity of mind.”

“What is man’s invincible enemy? What is his incurable disease? What man is regarded as honest, and what as dishonest?”

“Anger is the invincible enemy. Covetousness is the incurable disease. A man who is friendly to all creatures is honest, and the cruel man is dishonest.”

“What, O great monarch, is known as ignorance? What is spoken of as pride? What is understood to be idleness? And what is called grief?”

“Not knowing one’s religious duties is ignorance. Pride means thinking oneself to be the doer of acts in this world, without recognizing that there is a supreme power in control of everything. Idleness is not performing one’s religious duty, and ignorance is grief.”

“What is known by the ṛṣis as steadiness, and what as patience? What is said to be the best ablution, and what is spoken of as charity?”

“Steadiness means adhering firmly to one’s religious duties. Patience is controlling the senses. The highest ablution is to cleanse the mind of all impurities, and charity means to protect all creatures.”

“Who is considered learned? Who is an atheist? Who is ignorant? What is spoken of as desire, and what as envy?”

“One who knows his duties is learned. An ignorant man is an atheist, and thus is an atheist ignorant. Desire means longing for worldly things, and envy is nothing more than grief of the heart.”

“What is hypocrisy? What is the grace of the gods? What is called wickedness?”

“Falsely posing as a religious man is called hypocrisy. The grace of the gods is the result of charity. Wickedness means slandering others.”

“Virtue, profit and pleasure are opposed to one another. How then can these three co-exist?”

“When a husband and wife are happily united for the purposes of performing religious duties, then these three can exist together harmoniously.”

“Who, O best of the Bharatas, is doomed to eternal damnation? Speedily answer this question of mine.”

“One who summons a Brahmin for alms, but then gives nothing, is condemned to everlasting hell. He also goes to unending hell who denies the truth of the Vedas, the Brahmins, the gods and the religion of his forefathers. Also that man who although wealthy refuses to give charity must suffer everlasting damnation.”

“O King, tell me with certainty what makes one a Brahmin? Is it birth, good character, learning or study of the Vedas?”

“Hear, O Yakṣa, O worshipable one, what are the true characteristics of a Brahmin? It is by behavior alone that he is recognized. Birth and learning, even knowledge of all the Vedas, are useless if there is no good character. He alone is a Brahmin who performs his religious duties, offering sacrifices and keeping his senses under control. Otherwise he must be considered no better than a śūdra.”

“What is gained by agreeable speech? What is gained by he who acts only after careful thought? What does the man with many friends gain? And what does he gain who is given to virtue?”

“One who speaks agreeably becomes dear to all. One who acts with care obtains whatever he seeks. The man with many friends lives happily in this life, and the virtuous man obtains happiness in the next life.”