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And here, the Pandavas – the disciples of Vyasa and Narada in particular - are followers of Vashishtha liberality – some glimpses of which we do find in Vashishtha Dharmashashtra.
Vashsihtha says a woman has no sin – ‘For month by month the menstrual excretion takes away her sins -
maasi maasi rajas^hi^aasaam^duskrtaani^apakarsati(apa-krs-) (Va.5.5)
That - ‘A woman is not defiled by a lover - na strii dusyati (Va.28.1)
That – ‘Women (possess) an unequalled means of purification; they never become foul. For month by month their temporary uncleanness removes their sins-
striyas^pavitram atulam^na^etaas^dusyanti(dus-) karhi.cit (c)/
maasi maasi rajas^hi^aasaam^duskrtaani^apakarsati(apa-krs-) (c)// (Va.28.4)
That – 'A woman is purified by her monthly discharge, a river by its current, brass by (being scoured with) ashes, and an earthen pot by another burning.'
rajasaa zudhyate(zudh-) naarii nadii vegena zudhyate(zudh-) (c)/
bhasmanaa zudhyate(zudh-) kaamsyam^punahpaakena mrd.mayam (c)// (Va.3.58)
Womanhood is a perpetual state of purity, nothing can make her impure or defile her. Vashishtha speaks of Great woman liberty- ‘A wife, (though) tainted by sin, whether she be quarrelsome, or have left the house, or have suffered criminal force, or have fallen into the hands of thieves, must not be abandoned; to forsake her is not prescribed (by the sacred law). Let him wait for the time of her courses; by her temporary uncleanness she becomes pure-
svayam^vipratipannaa vaa yadi vaa vipravaasitaa (c)/
balaat kaara.upabhuktaa vaa cora.hasta.gataa^api vaa (c)//
na tyaajyaa(tyaj-) duuSitaa naarii na^asyaas tyaagas^vidhiiyate(vi-dhaa-) (c)/
puspa.kaalam upaasiita(upa-aas-) Rtu.kaalena zudhyati(zudh-) (c)// (Va.28.2-3)
Why Kunti’s sons and Draupadi’s husbands are Vyasa-Vashishtha’s chosen people needs no further explanation.
Yudhishthira’s decision to take the dog is thus a protest against Rama’s meanness, which Rama tried to justify in abhorring a dog.
In a sense, God Dharma taking the form of Dog demonstrates the advent of Kali-kaala. Dharma represents himself as Dog which he is not, and Yudhishthira could not recognize him in that guise, implying ‘guise of reality’ – one aspect of Kali-kaala; again, soon after he is taken to Svarga after the dog episode, Yudhishthira experiences Svarga and Naraka without actually being there, implying ‘reality in the brain’ – another aspect of Kali-kaala. In that illusory reality of Svarga and Naraka, Yudhishthira’s emotional responses are genuine and real, signifying yet another aspect of Kali-kaala – that ‘representational’ becoming ‘real’ and ‘felt’.
The first Svarga Yudhishthira encounters is ‘Hyperreal’, in the sense Jean Baudrillard uses it to mean simulation - the process in which representations of things come to replace the things being represented . . . the representations become more important than the "real thing". It is as if Dharma heralds an age of simulation with its four orders -
- Signs taken as reflecting reality: re-presenting "objective" truth;
- Signs masking reality: reinforcing notion of reality;
- Signs masking the absence of reality;
- Signs becoming simulacra - they have no relation to reality; signs simulating a simulation
The episode of Yudhishthira-Indra-Dog is significant from another perspective; the episode marks spiritual evolution of Yudhishthira’s Dharma.
The Yudhishthira of Vana Parva places more importance on ‘pramaanah’ offered by Rishis than on ‘own reasoning - aatma.pramaana’- ‘The fool that doubteth Dharma and disregardeth virtue, proud of the proof derived from his own reasoning, regardeth not other proofs and holdeth the Rishis, who are capable of knowing the future as present as mad men -
Here he is diametrically opposite to Krishna’s Dharma that places more importance on ‘aatma’ –
aatmaiva hyaatmano bandhuraatmaiva ripuraatmanah -
One must elevate, not degrade, oneself by one's own Self. The Self alone is one's friend as well as one's enemy. (Gita-6.05)’
To the Yudhishthira of Vana Parva, a cynic in Scriptural proof goes to Naraka – ‘A rejecter of proofs, a slanderer of the interpretation of the Vedic scriptures, a transgressor urged by lust and covetousness, that fool goeth to hell. O amiable one, he on the other hand, who ever cherisheth Dharma with faith, obtaineth eternal bliss in the other world. The fool who cherisheth not Dharma, transgressing the proofs offered by the Rishis, never obtaineth prosperity in any life, for such transgression of the scriptures -
But the Yudhishthira of Svargarohana Parva has evolved.
Indra throws him into a crisis telling that the Dog must be abandoned to gain entry into Svarga.
There is no one now to advice him on Shruuti, or narrate to him similar or relevant itihasa-purana to provide him with a guideline. Now, he must look into his heart and act. And he does what his heart tells him – he refuses to part with the Dog.
No ‘careful consideration’, no inner debate, nothing…his decision is immediate. He is no more the Yudhishthira of Vana Parva who relies heavily on shruuti and pramaNa offered by ancient wisdom, he is no more the Yudhishthira of that young age who would postpone a decision until convinced of an action having precedence in itihasa-purana.
Finally he realizes the value of ‘own reasoning - aatma.pramaana’.
And finally Yudhishthira-Indra is truly in one chariot with Krishna-Vishnu.
Yudhishthira’s compassion for a ‘jiiva’ makes him the true embodiment of Vyasa and Krishna’s dharma.
God is not bound by dharma, ‘jiiva’ is bound, yet God is bound by jiiva – that is the revolutionary statement Vyasa makes, when he places dharma at the centre of the trivarga and says with compassionate anguish-
‘With uplifted arms I am crying aloud but nobody hears me. From Righteousness is Wealth as also Pleasure. Why should not Righteousness, therefore, be courted? For the sake neither of pleasure, nor of fear, nor of cupidity should any one cast off Righteousness. Indeed, for the sake of even life one should not cast off Righteousness. Righteousness is eternal. Pleasure and Pain are not eternal. Jiva is eternal. The cause, however, of Jivas being invested with a body is not so -
It is Vyasa’s revolutionary statement that ‘jiva’ is eternal but the cause of it is not eternal.
This is in fact the first pronouncement on ‘Anthropic Principle’, where God or ultimate Cause becomes secondary to his purpose of Creation. In other words, if ‘jiiva’ exists not, there is no God.
The final triumph of of Vyasa’s declaration - Jiiva is eternal - jiivo.nityo – is the triumph of Yudhishthira’s ‘jiiva dharma’.
Yudhishthira, thus, upholds the supremacy of ‘jiiva-dharma’ over Svarga-dharma. And that is why he is Vyasa’s true hero – dharma Yudhishthira.
(N.B. – All excerpts of Mahabharata are taken from K.M.Ganguly’s English Translation of Mahabharata; all transcriptions are from ‘The Machine-readable Text of the Mahaabhaarata Based on the Poona Critical Edition’, Produced by Muneo Tokunaga, Kyoto, Japan)