When in primary school in the 70’s, I dug out yet another book in some corner of the house and began reading. The blue and white tome turned out to be C. Rajagopalachari’s abridged retelling of the Mahabharata(1951) (available online).
Many of the short stories therein made a big impression on me. One came to mind tonight, as it has many other times. In Yudhishthira’s final trial, the Pandavas, have given up their kingdom and embarked on a final pilgrimage. Eventually as they climb a final tall mountain, a dog joins and accompanies them. As they make their way up the mountain, they fall in exhaustion, one by one, leaving the dog who survives to accompany Yudhishthira, who has witnessed the demise of his wife and brothers.
As the pair ascend to an even greater height, the story recounts the appearance of Indra, who invites the weary Yudhishthira to ascend his chariot to enter heaven.
“…when Yudhishthira went up to take his seat in Indra’s chariot, the dog also climbed up.
“No, no,” said Indra. “There is no place for dogs in swarga,” and pushed the dog away.
“Then there is no room for me either,” said Yudhishthira, and refused to enter the heavenly chariot if he had to leave his faithful companion behind.”
It turns out after that Dharma, his father, had come to test his son’s loyalty and was pleased with his conduct.
In that moment, I felt that Yudhishthira certainly restored some of the honour he lost when he lied to Drona on the battlefield.
Happy New Year everyone!