The episode of Yaksa Prasnam in the Mahabharata reveals Yudishtra’s greatness, said V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. The 12-year sojourn of the Pandavas was drawing to a close, and they had to leave the forest presently. However, they had to continue keeping their identity a secret. Even as Yudhishtra was wondering how the Pandavas could conceal their identity outside the forest, a Brahmin came running to the Pandavas and said the stick he used to strike a spark to light the sacrificial fire was lost. He had suspended the wood on a tree. A deer had rubbed its back on the tree. This dislodged the wood, which landed on the deer’s horns, and it ran away in fear. So he asked the Pandavas to chase the deer and retrieve the piece of wood.

The Pandavas gave the deer the chase, but were unable to catch it. They were thirsty. So Yudishtra asked Nakula to fetch water for all of them. Nakula was about to step into a river, when a voice warned him not to drink the water, before he had answered some questions. But Nakula paid no heed and drank the water, He stepped out and fell down dead. Sahadeva, and later Arjuna and Bheema too, met with the same fate as Nakula. Finally, Yudishtra went in search of his brothers. The same voice warned him too. Yudishtra calmly asked the questioner to reveal himself. Anyone else in Yudishtra’s position would have wailed against the fate that had befallen his brothers and would not have been in a mood to answer any question.

But Yudishtra always remained calm and steady. In fact, he was given the name Yudishtra by sages because it signified one who was steady in war. If that were so, why were not Arjuna and Bheema given the name, for after all they were also great warriors? The war that was being referred to in Yudishtra’s case was the war between what was just and what was unjust. In this war, Yudishtra always proved to be the winner. In all battles that took place in the human heart, between right and wrong, Yudishtra had no hesitation in remaining steadily on the side of that which was right. That was why, he was able to look at the situation without being emotional. That was Yudishtra’s strength.

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