Mahabharata and Vedas| Importance of 18 in Mahabharata | Yaksha plans to meet the Pandavas | Yaksha Prashnam-01

Yaksha plans to meet the Pandavas

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Who is Veda Vyasa, the composer of Mahabharata?

The disciplic succession of the
Composer of the Mahabharata, Veda Vyasa, came from father to son. Sri Brahma
passed on the knowledge of the Supreme Being to His son Sage Vashishta. From Sage
Vashishta the knowledge was passed on to his Son Sage Shakti. From Sage Shakti
it was received by his son, Sage Parashara. From sage Parashara the knowledge was passed
on to his son Sage Veda Vyasa and from Veda Vyasa the knowledge was passed on
to his son Sukadeva Maharaj. The Mahabharata was composed as an auxiliary text
to support the teachings of Vedas. The Vedas are referred to as Brahman itself.
The Mahabharata is Upa-Brahman (उपयब्रह्मणम), a
text written so that that teachings of the Vedas can be understood deeply and
clearly through live examples. Hence Mahabharata is also known as the fifth

What does 18 represent in relation with the Mahabharata?

Srimad Veda Vyasa churned the
ocean of the Upanishads. Krishna Dvaipayana, the very same Veda Vyasa, used his
purified intelligence as the toolkit to churn the ocean of Vedanta, for the
welfare of mankind, from which he extracted the ambrosia known as Mahabharata.
The Mahabharata has 18 Parvas or main sections. The Bhagavad Gita, an essential
component of the Mahabharata had 18 Chapters. The Mahabharata war also lasted
for 18 days. Even the number 18 has a special place in Vedic parlance. The
Mahabharata has a total of 125 thousand verses. All dimensions of life have
been covered in the Mahabharata. If some instance or an aspect of life is not
found anywhere, it is bound to have been presented in the Mahabharata. If there
is something that is not to be found in the Mahabharata, there is certainty
that it shall not be found anywhere else.

What is the Araneya?

The first Parva is called Adi
Parva. In this Parva the birth of Pandavas and Kauravas as well as the brewing
enmity amongst the Kauravas and Pandavas is covered. The second Parva is called
Sabha Parva in which the division of Hastinapur, the Rajasuya Yajna of King
Yudhishthira and the death of Shishupal is discussed. Third Parva is called
Vana Parva. In this the Gambling game, the loss of the Pandavas, the 12 years
of the Pandava exile, the one year of incognito exile of the Pandavas and their
various exploits during that course is discussed in great detail. In this
article we shall discuss a subdivision or Upa-Parva (उप-पर्व) of
the Vana Parva which is called the Araneya Parva (आरणेय पर्व). The
Araneya Parva is related to the woods. The woods are related to the material
known as wood, which is normally rubbed to create Agni or the sacrificial fire
that is lit to perform Yajna. Yajna is a chief activity that kings carry out
for the welfare of the kingdom. So the Araneya is closely related to Yajna,
especially when the Pandavas are in exile in the woods.

Why did the Pandavas meet death prematurely?

Lord Krishna was the eternal
benefactor and protector of the Pandavas. When the Lord, the immortal being is
your shelter, nothing can touch you. As the Pandavas wandered in the forests in
hiding, Duryodhana performed a deadly sacrifice using Tantra-Vidya. In this
sacrifice he summoned Kritya, a ghostly form. When Kritya is summoned, she can
be used for destructive purposes. She is usually instructed to destroy someone,
for which she immediately sets off for; without fail she completes her work and
disappears. Duryodhana had summoned Kritya to kill the Pandavas. However Sri
Krishna was aware of Duryodhana’s evil designs. The thing with Kritya is that
she never fails. The Lord had three challenges. One is that he would not stop
Kritya, because she is an outcome of correctly applied Vedic science. The Lord
was all-capable and is fully equipped to stop the evil-doings of Kritya. On the
other-hand he also wanted to establish the efficacy of Vedic rituals, so he
decided not to interfere with Kritya. Secondly the Lord could have ordered the
Pandavas to run for protection and could have, by someway subverted the attacks
of Kritya by introducing the Pandavas into a Vedic process as an antidote to
Kritya’s doing. But the Lord was certain that the Pandavas would not listen to
Him. This was because the Pandavas were proud Kshatriyas and would rather prefer
to fight Kritya and die rather than take an escape route. There was only a
third option available with the Lord and that is to somehow handover the
Pandavas to the God of Death for a temporary period so that Kritya would find
the Pandavas with the God of death and get convinced that she does not have to
do anything more. Thus Lord Krishna planned to introduce Lord Yama, the God of
death into the life of the Pandavas so that Kritya could go back satisfied
believing that her objective was met. Hence Lord Yama took the form of a Yaksha
goblin) and spent time with the Pandavas. This meeting of the Pandavas
with the Yaksha became famous as the Yaksha Prashnam (यक्ष प्रश्नम).
Lord Yama takes the form of a Yaksha and tests the Pandavas with some important
questions related to the. This is a very important event from which the common
man can learn many lessons which can serve as guideposts for one’s journey
through life.

How did the Pandavas lose their way in the forest?

The Pandavas had spent 12 years
in a forest known as Dwaita Vana (द्वैत-वन).
As the Pandavas prepared for the 1 year of incognito exile, before proceeding
to the kingdom of Virat, A Brahmana approached them one morning, totally
agitated and worried. He expressed his grief to the Pandavas saying that a pair
of wood-sticks also known as the Araneya were taken away by a stag, which had
locked its horns accidently with the Araneya sticks which were kept bundled in
a rope. The Brahmana reminded the Pandavas of their Kshatriya Dharma and
requested their help in retrieving the Araneya sticks from the stag. The five
Pandavas immediately set off to find the stag. On having located the stag, they
started chasing the stag, which led them far into the jungle. The five brothers
were hassled by hunger and thirst having come a long way. Nakula observed that
there was something wrong with the whole episode and suspected that it may have
been the work of a ghost or something super-normal. The five brothers were
trapped in the centre of the jungle and no sense of direction. Realizing their
folly, king Yudhishthira ordered Nakula to climb up a tall tree and asked him
to spot the nearest water-body by which the Pandavas could halt and quench
their thirst. Nakula got up on the tree and soon located a water-body a few
hundred meters away from the spot where the Pandavas stood.