Faith

The fifth Veda

The Mahabharata and the Ramayana are the two great Itihasas that have guided humanity to tread the path of dharma. The term ‘Iti-ha-sa’ roughly means ‘it thus happened’ and since both the granthas are records of actual historical events, they have come to be called Itihasas. Rightfully, tradition hails the Mahabharata as the fifth Veda and the Ramayana as the very incarnation of the Vedas as both of them reflect the same soundness, strength, authority and the validity of the Vedas, pointed out Sri B. Sundarkumar in a discourse.

It is held that Vyasa composed the Mahabharata by the grace of Brahma. It was assigned that Ganesha should be the scribe for this work even as Vyasa would dictate the story. Vyasa taught it to his disciple Vaisampayana who narrated it to Janamejaya, Parikshit’s son, soon after the disruption of the Sarpa yaga and in the presence of Vyasa. There are many gems in the Mahabharata such as the Yaksha Prasna, Vidura Niti, the Sanat Sujatiya, the Bhagavad Gita, the Vishnu Sahasranama, etc. wherein many profound truths and ideals of life are taught so that people can imbibe the principles in their daily lives.

The incident of the Yaksha Prasna takes place during the last few months of Pandavas’ exile, when a Brahmin comes to their place with a request to rescue the arani sticks used for lighting fire that had been stolen by a deer. They chase the deer but it disappears. They feel very thirsty and one by one they go to a nearby pond to fetch water but do not return. Then finally Yudhishtira reaches the pond and a hoary voice orders him to answer the questions to be asked. Yudhishtira rises to the occasion and answers each of them promptly with matching subtlety and sophistication. Impressed by Yudhishtira’s commitment to dharma, the yaksha reveals his true identity as Yamadharmaraja who wanted to test them.


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 4:38:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/the-fifth-veda/article37167894.ece

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