Yudhishthira's Svargrarohana:

Why he insists on taking the dog to Svarga

After the destruction of the Vrishnis, Arjuna – his ego severely ruffled by mere Dasyus - went straight to Vyasa in utter dejection. Vyasa had foreseen it all. He advised Arjuna –

‘The time has come, O Bharata, for you all to attain to the highest goal -kaalo.gantum.gatim.mukhyaam.bhavataam.api.bhaarata. Even this is what I regard to be highly beneficial for you all, O chief of Bharatas race (CE-16.9.36).’
Vyasa suggested it was time to search the highest purpose of life - gatim.mukhyaam
Arjuna returned to Hastinapura and informed Yudhishthira about vyasa’s advice.
‘Having heard the particulars of the great slaughter of the Vrishnis, the Kaurava king set his heart on leaving the world. He addressed Arjuna, saying, O thou of great intelligence, it is Time that cooks every creature (in his cauldron). I think that what has happened is due to the cords of Time (with which he binds us all). It behoveth thee also to see it.
Thus addressed by his brother, the son of Kunti only repeated the word Time, Time! and fully endorsed the view of his eldest brother gifted with great intelligence. Ascertaining the resolution of Arjuna, Bhimasena and the twins fully endorsed the words that Arjuna had said - 

arjunasya.matam.jnaatvaa (KMG-Mahaprashthanik.1/CE-17.1.5).’
The Pandavas resolved to retire from the world for earning Dharma – 

pravrajan.dharma.kaamyayaa (CE-17.1.6).
The purpose, why the Pandavas leave Hastinapura is very clear. It is for earning Dharma; not Moksha, nor Svarga.
As the Pandavas trek in some higher terrains of the Himalayas, Draupadi is the first to fall. Then all his younger brothers fall one by one. Yudhishthira does not turn back; he walks on followed by a dog, which has been following them from Hastinapura.
Finally, Indra comes to take Yudhishthira to Svarga.
Just as the Devaduuta told Mudgala in one of the Pauranika narratives in Mahabharata, Indra offers a new glory to Yudhi – ‘As regards thee, it is ordained that thou shalt go thither in this very body of thine - 

zariireNa.svargam.gantaa.na.samzayah. (KMG-Section-3/CE-17.3.6)’
Contrary to popular belief, Yudhishthira is not the first person to get this chance.
Svarga – in Mahabharata – is clearly a geographical location on earth. Earlier, Pandu wanted to go to Svarga, and saw many other ascetics going there. Arjuna had been to Svarga to procure weapons; even Bhima had been there to bring Parijaata for Draupadi. So, Indra’s offer was not that extraordinary! Besides, earning dharma, not Svarga, is Yudhishthira’s aim.
Yudhishthira refuses to part with the dog and says –

‘This dog, O lord of the Past and the Present, is exceedingly devoted to me. He should go with me. My heart is full of compassion for him - 

sa.gaccheta.mayaa.saardham.aanrzamsyaa.hi.me.matih (CE-17.3.7)
He uses the same word – ‘aanrzamsyaa’ – that he had used in reply to Yaksha’s question, 'What is the highest duty in the world? - kaz.ca.dharmah.paro.loke’.  Yudhishthira replied, ‘‘the highest of duties is to refrain from injury or ‘daya’ - aanrzamsyam.paro.dharmas (3.297.55).’’
Indra advises him – ‘Do thou cast off this dog. In this there will be no cruelty – tyaja zvaanam na atra nrzamsam asti (17.30.8)
Yudhishthira would not relent - ‘I do not desire that union with prosperity for which I shall have to cast off one that is devoted to me - tyakSyaamy.enam.sva.sukha.arthii.mahaa.indra (CE-17.3.11). He says abandoning a devotee is sin - bhakta.tyaagam.praahur.atyanta.paapam.
Is it a reminder to Indra that Svarga-dharma should also follow this in respect to him – who has been a lifelong devotee of Dharma and Truth? If Indra disallows Yudhishthira’s entry in Svarga because of his insistence in taking the dog with him, won’t that be violation of God’s principle of not abandoning a devotee? In other words, if Indra abides by Svarga-rule of denying entry to a dog, that would amount to denying Yudhishthira entry, and therefore commitment of the sin of abandoning a devotee!
Indra would not see the subtlety of Yudhishthira’s argument at this point, and points out -

‘There is no place in Heaven for persons with dogs -svarge.loke.zvavataam.na.asti.dhisnyam. Besides, the (deities called) Krodhavasas take away all the merits of such persons. Reflecting on this, act, O king Yudhishthira the just. Do thou abandon this dog. There is no cruelty in this - tyaja.zvaanam.na.atra.nrzamsam.asti (CE-17.3.10)
Yudhishthira says, ‘I shall not abandon this dog today from desire of my happiness. Even this is my vow steadily pursued, that I never give up a person that is terrified, nor one that is devoted to me, nor one that seeks my protection, saying that he is destitute, nor one that is afflicted, nor one that has come to me, nor one that is weak in protecting oneself, nor one that is solicitous of life. I shall never give up such a one till my own life is at an end.’
What Yudhishthira does is that he is actually standing his ground strong in Indra-dharma. in Rig Veda, Indra is Indra because he is a protector of the weak against the misuse of power of the strong.
Indra perhaps realizes that Yudhishthira is a hard nut to crack, because by commanding to ‘abandon (tyaja)’ the dog – the weakest entity at that time and place – he is actually violating his own Indra-dharma; and if he so violates, how could he continue to be Indra anymore? Indra’s self-contradiction would deny his own entry in Svarga then!
Indra now takes a different line of argument-

‘Having abandoned thy brothers and Krishna, thou hast, O hero, acquired a region of felicity by thy own deeds. Why art thou so stupefied? Thou hast renounced everything. Why then dost thou not renounce this dog? ‘
Despite Indra’s arguments, Yudhi refuses to give up the dog accompanying him, and says –

‘This is well known in all the worlds that there is neither friendship nor enmity with those that are dead. When my brothers and Krishna died, I was unable to revive them. Hence it was that I abandoned them. I did not, however, abandon them as long as they were alive. To frighten one that has sought protection, the slaying of a woman, the theft of what belongs to a Brahmana, and injuring a friend, each of these four, O Shakra, is I think equal to the abandonment of one that is devoted.’
This utterance shows that Yudhishthira is considering the dog at par with his brothers and wife. Perhaps, he remembers Vyasa’s teaching -

‘One that behaves towards all creatures as if one is their kinsman, and one that is acquainted with Brahma, is said to be conversant with all the Vedas.’

.// (CE-12.243.3)
He had learnt from Bhisma and Vyasa –

‘They that are possessed of wisdom look with an equal eye upon a Brahmana possessed of knowledge and disciples, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a Chandala.’

.// (CE-12.231.19)
This is Yudhi Dharma – his immense compassion for living beings, and his steadfast loyalty to one who is his loyal. He is also acting in accordance with his Kshatra Dharma, by offering his protection to a helpless creature. He knows if he abandons the creature it would die. Whereas, in his brothers’ and Draupadi’s case, it was abandonment after death.
Though Indra assures that abandoning the dog would not be cruel - tyaja.zvaanam.na.atra.nRzamsam.asti – Yudhishthira refuses to abide by that Svarga-Dharma, if it is so at all, and stands by his Manava-Dharma.
When Yudhishthira refuses to part with the dog, it transforms himself into God Dharma, blesses Yudhi, and says –

‘On the present occasion, thinking the dog to be devoted to thee, thou hast renounced the very car of the celestials instead of renouncing him. Hence O king, there is no one in Heaven that is equal to thee. Hence, O Bharata, regions of inexhaustible felicity is thine. Thou hast won them, O chief of the Bharatas, and thine is a celestial and high goal.’
Actually, Dharma is compelled to show his true face. Had he not done so at this point of time and entered Svarga in the shape of that dog, it would have been violation of Svarga-rule. Even Dharma fears violation of dharma, but Yudhishthira, cherished as Dharma, Dharma-incarnate or Dharma’s son has no such fear.
The entire episode, obviously interpolated in Vyasa’s Mahabharata by some later poet/s, is however, not without purpose. In fact, Svargarohana Parva shows the final culmination of Yudhisthira’s dharma-evolution.    
Many Yudhishthira-critics – who perhaps feel an urge to out-Yudhishthira Yudhishthira in Dharma or for reasons whatsoever - detect deep self-centricity in his indifference to his fallen wife and brothers. Their theory is bolstered by the fact that Yudhishthira insists on taking the Dog with him to Svarga because it has been his devotee; as if Yudhishthira has been so loyalty-hungry throughout his ‘career’ – like the Public Servants assuming the role of Samrats in modern democracy – that he could not do or think anything else.
Unfortunately, they fail to have even a glimpse of the depth of Yudhishthira’s wisdom – earned through firsthand experiences of trial and error in an endless and inexhaustible journey of learning through actual living - as Lao Tzu would say later -

‘Heaven and Earth are impartial;
They see the ten thousand things as straw dogs.
The wise are impartial;
They see the people as straw dogs. (1.5)

What is the difference between his brothers, wife and the dog then at this time – when Yudhishthira has renounced the world with their consent?
Why would Yudhishthira need a human-Svarga only? Why would Yudhishthira, a lifelong learner of liberal-dharma need a sectarian corner that has partiality for a two-legged being to a four-legged one? If Svarga prefers human forms only, then it is a parochial Svarga, and certainly not the Svarga of God, who is prajaapati and not merely maanavapati.
Brahma is prajaapati, not maanava-pati -

.// (CE-1.1.27)
Why Yudhishthira wants to take the Dog to Svarga, has, apparently, a very ‘easy’ answer.
If everything is created by Brahma, the Svarga is also created by him, and if Svarga is created by Brahma it cannot violate the Creator!
Numerous times, it has been mentioned in the Mahabharata that an Ideal Ruler’s dharma is to look after prajaa, and it is for this reason that he wields danda.
For example, in Adi Parva, the duty of a Kshatriya is stated as –

.// (CE-1.110.14)
On another occasion, Arjuna advised Yudhishthira –

ksatriyesv.aazrito.dharmah.prajaanaam.paripaalanam (CE-13.137.16)
Even blind Dhritarashtra – on the eve of leaving Hastinapura forever –gains rare insight and foresight to advise Yudhishthira –

.// (CE-15.120.23)
There are many other similar discourses in which a Kshatriya Ruler’s duty is stated as ‘prajaanaam.paripaalanam.’ Now, prajaa means human subjects, no doubt, but not exclusively, prajaa, in fact, has a wide range of connotation, and includes all living beings (prajaa - "procreation, propagation, birth; offspring, children, family, race, posterity, descendants, aftergrowth; a creature, animal, man, mankind; people..." -Monier-Williams).
How can Yudhishthira – a Kshatriya Ruler who has lived by the ideology of ‘prajaanaam.paripaalanam’ – discard the dog, then, for his personal gain of Svarga?
Yudhishthira is Vyasa’s disciple after all – Vyasa, from whom he learnt –

‘The bodies of all embodied creatures are derived from earth. The humours are from water. Their eyes are said to be derived from light. Prana, Apana (and the three other vital breaths) have the wind for their refuge. And, lastly, all unoccupied apertures within them (such as the nostrils, the cavities of the ear, etc.) are of Space. In the feet (of living creatures) is Vishnu. In their arms is Indra. Within the stomach is Agni desirous of eating. In the ears are the points of the horizon (or the compass) representing the sense of hearing. In the tongue is speech which is Saraswati (CE-12.231.6-8).’
Indra’s argument against the dog seems puerile then, for he dwells in the dog’s arm! Entering Svarga without the dog, then, would mean making Indra a wretched handicapped God! Thus insisting on taking the Dog to Svarga, Yudhishthira is actually doing a favour to Indra!
Yudhishthira is Krishna’s ‘sakhaa’ after all – Krishna, who says in Gita –

sarvabhuutasthamaatmaanam sarvabhuutaani chaatmani .
iikshate yogayuk{}taatmaa sarvatra samadarshanah

Because of perceiving the (same) Self (abiding) in all beings and all beings (abiding) in the (same) Self; a yogi, who is in union with the Self, sees every being with an equal eye. (Gita-6.29)
Krishna also says –

vidyaavinayasampanne braahmane gavi hastini .
shuni chaiva shvapaake cha panditaah samadarshinah ..

An enlightened person looks at a learned and humble Braahmana, an outcast, even a cow, an elephant, or a dog with an equal eye.  (Gita -5.18)
Refusing to part with the dog, Yudhishthira is actually on the same Dharma-chariot with Krishna, like the Indra-Vishnu pair in Rig Veda.     

How would Yudhishthira forget his conversation with Yaksha?
The Yaksha asked Yudhishthira, ‘ What is that which is without heart?’ he replied, ‘a stone is without heart.’ Since Yaksha admits that ‘a stone is without heart - ashmano hridayam nasti’, it implies that everything else has heart. If dharma has accepted that everything – which includes dog – has heart, how can Yudhishthira leave him behind? And if Svarga closes its door to a being with heart, why would Yudhishthira need such a ‘heartless’ Svarga?
As Yudhishthira’s heart pours out for the Dog, it has to transform into Dharma, for Dharma – who earlier appeared as Yaksha - cannot contradict himself now.
In Rig Veda, the Rishis says – ‘Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent - sató bándhum ásati nír avindan hrdí pratiísyaa kaváyo maniisaá (RV-10.129.4).’
Only the heart can discover dharma i.e. existent's kinship in the non-existent. We may remember yet again that the Pandavas left Hastinapura desiring Dharma - pravrajan.dharma.kaamyayaa – and Dharma cannot be achieved without heart. ‘Freedom and complete felicity - sarvátaatim áditim’ – cannot be achieved without simple heart (RV-10.100.3).”
In Rig Veda, Indra can kill Vrtra only because he is ‘bold of heart.’ If Indra insists that Yudhishthira should discard the response of his heart, he is actually exchanging position with Yudhishthira! Recognizing his heart, Yudhishthira the Indra on earth is becoming the true Indra, and being heartless, the Indra of Svarga is actually transforming into a Vrtra!
Yudhishthira’s insistence in taking the dog with him is thus Indra-on-Earth’s challenge to Indra-of-Svarga to retain his Indratva!
Earlier, when Yaksha asked Yudhishthira, 'Who is the friend of the exile? -kim.svit.pravasato.mitram’, Yudhishthira answered, 'The friend of the exile in a distant land is his companion - saarthah.pravasato.mitram.’
Naturally- after the fall of his wife and brothers one by one - the dog is Yudhishthira’s ‘saarthah’ or companion now – providing him with the only warmth of life - in a companionless land of cold mountainous terrains. The dog is his only connection with living beings on earth.
Yudhishthira once learnt from Bhisma about Vyasa’s teaching –

‘By observing the duties laid down for him and by self-studying, one becomes a Dwija (regenerate).Whether one does any other act or not, one becomes a Brahmana by becoming the friend of all creatures-

.// (CE-12.230.13)
Attaining Moksha would not be possible unless one becomes a true Brahmana. Yudhishthira sees the dog, the only living creature with him as ‘maitro’.
The Dog following Yudhishthira is also his ‘guest’, and being his guest, its place is higher than Indra, for Manu declares – ‘a guest rules over the world of Indra’ (Manu Samhita-4.182).
We may even ask - who is the Dog? Is it not Yudhishthira himself? Well, if this sounds shocking, we may put it thus – Doesn’t Yudhishthira identify himself with the Dog?
At the end of the war Yudhishthira lamented for having killed his kinsmen, denounced Kshatra Dharma and compared themselves to dogs –

‘Like a pack of dogs fighting one another for a piece of meat, a great disaster has overtaken us! That piece of meat is no longer dear to us. On the other hand, it shall be thrown aside.’

.// (CE-12.70.10)
Kshatra Dharma is Dog-Dharma to Yudhishthira, a man who has now SEEN much. If he – a Kshatriya who reddened his hands with the blood of his own kinsmen – is entitled to a place in Svarga, how can he agree with Indra that a dog is denied entry in Svarga?
Perhaps, Yudhishthira SEES his own Kshatra-dharma following him in the form of the Dog. The Dog remains his constant reminder like his conscience, and he would not allow corruption of his conscience even for Svarga. Taking the Dog with him is actually Yudhishthira’s acceptance of his own Self - cruel Kshatra-dharma as part of his Self, and without such acceptance, where is dharma?
When Yudhishthira was ‘vairaagya’ striken after the war, Arjuna – attempting to convince his elder brother of the glory of Kshatra-dharma - told him a story of king Janaka and his wife, in which one who ‘abandoning blazing prosperity looks around for food’ is compared to a Dog -

.// (CE-12.180.12)
If the dog is a dog to Yudhishthira – by the principle of dog-nature as pointed out by Arjuna, Yudhishthira is a Dog to God – by the same principle, having abandoned his prosperity and now looking for the food of his soul.
When Indra says that the dog cannot be taken to Svarga, he is referring to Svarga-Rules that would not permit entry of a dog in Svarga. The Svarga-Rules – inviolable according to Indra - is thus part of a System – what else!
What is Yudhishthira – the man who has forsaken a System of the plains down there - thinking at that time?
The poet – obviously neither an omniscient Novelist, nor intending to have such puerile pretensions - does not let us peep into Yudhishthira’s mind, and leaves us free to peep into our own mind to find an answer. Perhaps, it flashed in Yudhishthira’s mind – ‘If God is bound by a system or dharma, how can he/she/IT be God? If Svarga cannot surpass System – whatever it might be – however be its greatness – how can Svarga being itself in bondage offer man liberation?’
Yudhishthira has been Indra on Earth, would his Self-Dignity now permit him unquestioning stooping before Indra of Svarga? 
Yudhishthira’s holding on to his decision to take the dog against Indra’s injunctions is actually the challenge of a human against a rigid Svarga-Dharma, and his decision to take the Dog is actually an exploration and experimentation with God – ‘An Experiment with Truth’.
Yudhishthira did not know English, otherwise he could have forwarded another argument to Indra– Dog reversed becomes God, and so does God! Without knowing English, he wanted to make a Dog of God by making him appear contradictory. If God is bound by a rigid dharma of not allowing dog in Svarga, then God is not much different from Dog, because a Dog would not –for the sake of ‘becoming’ human, or even for the sake of becoming God – relinquish its rigid Dog-dharma!
Even a Dog follows its Dog-dharma. When it follows Yudhishthira loyally, is not that its dharma?
Yudhishthira, a life-long adherer to dharma, sometimes, seemingly, almost bordering on ‘obsessive-compulsive’ type in the perspective of many, particularly Bhima and Draupadi – not to speak of some modern scholars, has spiritually matured to See that dharma is not a copyrighted matter for humanity alone! Human dharma is only a fragment of jIva-dharma – the greater Wheel of which human Dharma is a spoke – at the best.
If Svarga discards the dog, then Svarga discards dharma too, because a dharma, however insignificant it might be, is dharma still. Yudhishthira does not need such a Svarga which defines or edits dharma to suit its kind.
From the very beginning, it seems, Yudhishthira is keen on subverting the Institutional System called Svarga. The choice is in Indra’s court – either ‘let me take the dog in accordance with my Dharma’, or ‘to hell with your Svarga’.
Earlier he had heard the disadvantages of Svarga, and he has no fascination for Svarga. To him lifelong ‘journey’ in quest of dharma is all that matters - pravrajan.dharma.kaamyayaa.
At one level, Yudhishthira’s insistence in taking the dog to Svarga, is an attempt for revival of Svarga tradition – those days of yore when dogs were residents of Svarga. In the Rig Veda, Sarama was Indra’s dog.
As per one mahabaharta myth, Yudhishthira is the incarnation of an ex-Indra -. So, the ‘present’ Indra-Sakra of Svarga is now posed against the values of an Indra of yore -Yudhishthira!
When tradition is revived in modern context, Renaissance is ensuing, and all static institution is at stake!
To the Rig Vedic Rishis, dog is not abhorred. The Rishi prays to the Asvins to be like dogs -

‘Bear us across the rivers like two vessels, save us as ye were yokes, naves, spokes and fellies.

Be like two dogs that injure not our bodies; preserve us, like two crutches that we fall not (Griffith; RV-2.39.4).’

The dogs mentioned here are actually Yama’s dogs. In RV-10.14.9-12, the Rishi prays-

‘Go hence, depart ye, fly in all directions: this place for him the Fathers have provided.

Yama bestows on him a place to rest in adorned with days and beams of light and waters.

‘Run and outspeed the two dogs, Sarama's offspring, brindled, four-eyed, upon thy happy pathway. Draw nigh then to the gracious-minded Fathers where they rejoice in company with Yama.

‘And those two dogs of thine, Yama, the watchers, four-eyed, who look on men and guard the Pathway, - Entrust this man, O King, to their protection, and with prosperity and health endow him.

‘Dark-hued, insatiate, with distended nostrils, Yama's two envoys roam among the People;

May they restore to us a fair existence here and to-day, that we may see the sunlight.’

Thus Asvins are connected with Yama or Dharma, in that the Rishi prays to them to assume the nature of Yama’s two dogs.
Sarama’s offspring are Vastospati - the ‘bright Sons of Sarama (RV-7.55.2)’, Indra’s dog.
Regarding the significance of Vastospati, Stella Kramrisch notes in ‘The Presence of Siva’– ‘Vastospati is the guardian of the House of Varuna, the universe, its dome the starry sky. The brilliant hound of heaven, whose other name is Mrgavyadha, "the hunter of the antelope." watches over safety and order in this mansion with its thousand gates that lead in and out of the cosmos. There should be no trespass and no escape. He is on perennial duty; rising before the sun, he heralds the begin­ning of the year in a most distant world age of Rudra's myth.
At a new beginning of the world, the gods made Vastospati. The substance they made him from was a brahman, a "word of power," a mantric poem, uttered by them when the seed the Creator fell on the earth: the raudra brahman. They gave the god his name, making him the Guardian of the House, and of sacred order (vratapd). The occasion was the horror of the primordial dawn.  The gods' poem could neither undo the violence ol that morning, nor mitigate it, hut served as a counterweight to balance the disruption ol wholeness and of the avenging violence in its wake. They created Vastospati, the guardian of cosmic order, a multiform counterpart of Pasupati. Vastospati is Pasupati's alter ego; Rudra comprises both and is each.
The gods created a brahman and made Vastospati as Prajapati's seed was falling on the earth (RV.10.61.7). Prajapati made the Wild Hunter desist from his murderous intention, and made him Lord of Animals, Pasupati (MS.1.2.12); or the horrified gods made "that god" out of their most tearful shapes in order to punish Prajapati, "That god" thereupon demanded to he given the lordship over animals (AB-3.33).
Rudra was born neither as Vastospati nor as Pasupati. These dis­tinctions were conferred on the Wild Hunter who was before he aimed at the Father. As Agni, he had prepared the seed for the Father (RV. 1.71.5), and that fell on the earth. Thus the seed was shed from which Rudra was to be born, in a world over which the sun as yet had not risen. The primordial scene was enacted before the first sunrise. It is a prelude to the birth of Rudra.’
Thus Sarma’s sons are associated with Rta or in later conception – dharma. Indra, in denying entry to the dog actually reveals that Svarga has fallen from its traditional dharma, and Yudhishthira, in insisting on taking it is actually keen on the revival of tradition for a Renaissance.
Yudhishthira – one of the chief protagonists of Bharata war – the harbinger of a new Yuga Dharma - is throwing Svarga into a new challenge – ‘either reform and ensue a new Svarga Dharma or continue without Yudhishthira’; perhaps, this is the point the poet or poets creating the Mahaprashthanika and Svarga Parva want/s to make!
But why would Dharma, taking the form of a Dog follow Yudhishthira?
The answer is in Mahabharata itself- ‘Only Righteousness follows the body that is thus abandoned by them all.’
In Anushashana Parva, Vrihaspati tells Yudhishthira, 'One is born alone, O king, and one dies alone; one crosses alone the difficulties one meets with, and one alone encounters whatever misery falls to one's lot. One has really no companion in these acts. The father, the mother, the brother, the son, the preceptor, kinsmen, relatives, and friends, leaving the dead body as if it were a piece of wood or a clod of earth, after having mourned for only a moment, all turn away from it and proceed to their own concerns. Only Righteousness follows the body that is thus abandoned by them all. Hence, it is plain, that Righteousness is the only friend and that Righteousness only should be sought by all. One endued with righteousness would attain to that high end which is constituted by heaven. If endued with unrighteousness, he goes to Hell. Hence, the man of intelligence should always seek to acquire religious merit through wealth won by lawful means. Piety is the one only friend which creatures have in the world hereafter. Let by cupidity, or stupefaction, or compassion, or fear, one destitute of much knowledge is seen to do improper acts, for the sake of even another, his judgment thus stupefied by cupidity. Piety, wealth and pleasure,--these three constitute the fruit of life. One should acquire these three by means of being free from impropriety and sin. (KMG-Anushashana.111)
That Yudhishthira would be followed by dharma is pre-ordained then. But, dharma following as a Dog! Perhaps, even Yudhishthira could not have imagined that. Or is it, that Yudhishthira with his superior intelligence sense something un-normal in the way the Dog follows him? This is probable, because a dog of the plains cannot survive in such altitude of the Himalayas. And is it for this reason that he has been examining the true identity of Indra, as much Indra has been examining him?
Another enlightening meaning of ‘Dog’ is offered by Sri Aurovindo. In his ‘The Secret of the Veda’ he writes about Sarama, Indra’s Dog –

‘There is a verse, I.104.5, which does not mention her name, nor is the hymn itself about the Angirases or Panis, yet the line describes accurately enough the part attributed to her in the Veda:—“When this guide became visible, she went, knowing, towards the seat that is as if the home of the Dasyu,” prati yat sy? ni?ha?adars? dasyor, oko na accha?sadanam? ja?ati?ga?t. These are the two essential characteristics of Sarama; the knowledge comes to her beforehand, before vision, springs up instinctively at the least indication and with that knowledge she guides the rest of the faculties and divine powers that seek. And she leads to that seat, sadanam, the home of the Destroyers, which is at the other pole of existence to the seat of the Truth, sadanam r.tasya, in the cave or secret place of darkness, guh?y?m, just as the home of the gods is in the cave or secrecy of light. In other words, she is a power descended from the superconscient Truth which leads us to the light that is hidden in ourselves, in the subconscient. All these characteristics apply exactly to the intuition.’(Chapter XX; The Hound of Heaven; Page-212)
So, the Dog following Yudhishthira is ‘animal instinct’, and Yudhishthira’s dharma does not slight that, but accepts it as an essential human reality. Whenever, a crisis appeared, Yudhishthira sense it beforehand with his instinct or intuition, and tackled the crisis with kuutabuddhi. To uphold the supremacy of ‘jiiva’, he cannot discard the very basis of ‘jiiva’.
Since Yudhishtira could not identify the dog as dharma, yet not shocked or surprised when the Dog transformed into Dharma, the message behind it is that, instinct is dharma and unidentifiable as such. Accepting the Dog, Yudhishthira identifies dharma, and now the scope of his dharma expands; it is no more ‘conscious-dharma’, which is only a fragmentary dharma, but also dharma that lies undetectable or unacknowledged in one’s own nature.
From a ‘scientific’ point of view – speaking of ‘recent’ research – Yudhishthira’s dharma is ‘scientific’.
To quote a few lines from an internet article about this instinct-intuition known as R-complex –

‘Known as the R-Complex, this part of the brain is comprised of the brain stem and the cerebellum. The R stands for Reptile. This section of the brain has been nicknamed the Reptile Brain due to the fact that the behavioral traits for which it is responsible are most often observed in and associated with reptiles. These include pure survival instinct, direct stimulus-response, fight-or-flight response, competition, aggression, domination, repetition, ritual, and the desire to hoard resources.
These traits are the "base" functions of Consciousness. They are less-than-human, essentially animalistic thoughts and behaviors, which comprise the "lowest" states of awareness and being. It is interesting to note that, physiologically, this complex lies at the "base", or "lowest" part of the brain. Equating the R-Complex to the Holy Trinity model of Consciousness, it would be the punitive, controlling "Father" god described in the Old Testament. As the "Father," or oldest and least advanced part of the brain, the R-Complex is responsible for the male-dominator, animalistic, instinctual, base behavior which many human beings exhibit and experience. (The Triune Brain)
Yudhishthira knows too well the role of this blind force in his life. He could not detect Shakuni’s cunningness during dice and could not realize what Shakuni had in mind when he staked ‘his all’ (which the Kurus interpreted as ‘including Draupadi’) because his anger took control over him.
His acknowledgment of the Dog as a part of him actually happened when he decided to marry Draupadi in violation of dharmashahstra. When Drupada could not accept the polyandrous marriage, Yudhishthira told him, ‘My mother commandeth so; and my heart also approveth of it. Therefore, O king, that is quite conformable to virtue.

./ (CE-1.187.29-30)

Yudhishthira finds dharma in the response of his conscientious heart.
The Dog is actually the mysterious unidentifiable secrets of Yudhishthira’s own heart. He identifies with the Dog. Just as the Dog follows him loyally, he has been that Dog in relation to his dharma, his svadharma. And in this respect too he is on one dharma-chariot with Krishna like Indra-Vishnu of Rig Veda.
Yudhishthira’s decision to take the Dog, is in a sense – strange as it may sound – his doing penance on behalf of his father Pandu!
After killing Kindama accidentally, Pandu decided to renounce the world, and also the desire of procuring sons by Niyoga, because to him a man who begged sons from another man was nothing but dog - upaiti vritti.n kamatma sa shuna.n vartate pathi (CE-1.110.21)
As per the well-known myth, Pandu contradicted himself and after quite an argument ‘manufactured consent’ of Kunti to give birth to sons by Niyoga.
Didn’t Pandu, then, make himself a dog?
In this light, Yudhishthira’s decision to take the dog is the decision to salvage his father. And what irony! The dog is actually no dog, it transforms into Dharma, Yudhishthira’s biological father!
Did Dharma – who is nothing if not omniscient - assume the shape of dog to enable Yudhishthira endeavour Pandu’s salvation?
Insisting upon taking the dog, Yudhsihtira might be establishing his dharma against a powerful tradition- the one established by Rama, his predecessor as Dharma-King. Valmiki’s poetic self did not hesitate to show a dark part of Rama’s self - Rama’s establishment of a black Raajadharma – that of abandoning an innocent and victimized wife – to appease insensitive subjects.
The same episode is also found in the Ramayana episode in Mahabharata. After killing Ravana Rama rejects Sita saying – ‘What should have been done by me, hath been done! O blessed lady, owning me for thy husband, it is not meet that thou shouldst grow old in the abode of the Rakshasa! It is for this I have slain that wanderer of the night! But how can one like us, acquainted with every truth of morality embrace even for a moment a woman that had fallen into other's hands - parahastagatam narim muhurtamapi dharayet? O princess of Mithila whether thou art chaste or unchaste - suvrittamasuvritta.n, I dare not enjoy thee - notsahe paribhogaya, now that thou art like sacrificial butter lapped by a dog - shvavalIdha.n haviryatha (KMG-Vana.289 /CE-3.275.10-13).’
Rama compares Ravana with a dog. In shunning out Sita, Rama also shuns out the animal called dog from all humanitarian concern.
Does this logic befit Rama, the avatara of Vishnu? Given Rama’s insensitiveness towards Sita at such a juncture, can we even think of giving benefit of doubt to Rama that at the time of uttering such inhuman words he did not know that Sita had not been touched by Ravana?
During the post-dice forest exile, Yudhishthira heard this story from Markandeya. Earlier he had already proved that he and Rama are different mettles altogether.
When Draupadi was abducted by Jayadratha, which is a parallel to Sita’s abduction, the Dhatreyika of the cottage, on seeing the Pandavas return from hunting, told the Pandavas to make haste ‘lest overpowered by threats or violence and losing her sense and the colour of her cheeks, she yields herself up to an undeserving wight - dadati kasmai chidanarhate tanum, even as one poureth forth, from the sacrificial ladle, the sanctified oblation on a heap of ashes.’
Then she went on lamenting, ‘O, let no inferior wight touch with his lips the bright and beautiful face of your wife, fair as the beams of the moon and adorned with the finest nose and the handsomest eyes, like a dog licking clarified butter kept in the sacrificial pot - shva vai purodashamivopayu~nkshit!(KMG-Vana.272/CE-3.253.15-20)’
The similarity is obvious – and it ends at that, for Yudhishthira’s reaction is different.
Yudhishthira rebuked her and said, 'Retire, good woman, and control thy tongue - bhadre tushnimassva niyachchha vacham. Speak not this way before us - masmatsakashe parusanyavochah. Kings or princes, whoever are infatuated with the possession of power, are sure to come to grief - balena matta va~nchanam prapnuvanti!'
Yudhishthira’s concern is to rescue Draupadi because he would not tolerate ‘balena matta’.
Deciding to take the dog with him, Yudhsihthira actually denounces Rama’s dharma – a dharma that fears to live by the spontaneous flow of one’s heart or svadharma – a dharma that would not flinch to inflict agony on a hapless wife in the name of Rajadharma. Is such a Rajadharma insane? Is such a Rajadharma not ‘balena matta’ in complacency of its sanity?
Even Yudhishthira’s great ancestor was no different from Rama!
When Dushmanta finally accepted Shakuntala and her son, he rationalized his earlier rejection, telling her these words, ‘pacifying her affectionately’ – 'O goddess, my union with thee took place privately Therefore, I was thinking of how best to establish thy purity. My people might think that we were only lustfully united and not as husband and wife, and therefore, this son that I would have installed as my heir apparent would only have been regarded as one of impure birth (KMG-Adi.74).’
One may interpret Dushmanta in a different way, but his fear of public opinion is evident; it is such an intense fear that he can openly justify his own pettiness by insulting his wife before public gaze without qualms of conscience.
Yudhishthira had been learning from Itihasa and Puraana throughtout his life, and he learnt when to listen to his heart and take a separate route if necessary.
Rama used the word ‘paribhogaya’ about Sita, Yudhsihthira or the Pandavas never did that, or nor could ever do that. Draupadi was not an object of ‘bhoga’ to them!
So even if Draupadi was abducted by any ‘para purusha’, even if she were raped or ravished, Draupadi was still adorable to them, and unlike Ramachandra or Dushmanta, the Pandavas and Draupadi and Kunti cared a hoot what other people would say!
Continued to Next Page


More by :  Indrajit Bandyopadhyay

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