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At the end of the great epic poem Mahabharata, which tells history of India, the emperor Yudhisthira, famous for his rectitude, goes to the top of Meru Mountain to get his final liberation. During his trip he is faithfully accompanied by a dog.

Yudhisthira, having lost his wife and children, is alone on the top. Up there Indra (king of gods and father of his brother Arjuna) appears and invite him to enter the paradise. Yudhisthira is allowed to keep his body in reward for having ruled with fairness and justice.

He is going to enter with the dog beside him, the last companion of his life, but Indra stops him and says, “leave him outside”!

Yudhisthira, after a short hesitation, politely refuses the offer. How could he ever abandon on that desolate place that little animal, which has relied on him?

His conscience doesn’t permit it. Although Indra exhorts him to leave the dog saying there is no evil in this, the emperor doesn’t feel like abandoning the animal. His decision is taken.

He prefers to renounce beatitude and paradise than make a living being unhappy.

“I’ll be able to come only after this loyal creature, which trusts me, ends its earthly life. Now my duty is to take care of him.”

At that moment the dog turns into Dharma, the God who embodies the right direction, the law, the rectitude, the right acting (and emperor’s father).

Yudhisthira is revealed by his father that is was the last test to pass.

How can this episode be read?

Someone gives this interpretation: at the end of our life we need to abandon the right acting because it results from a social and not a universal law.

This could be the right perspective especially if we base on Western translations or on the interpretation of Peter Brook’s film The Mahabharata (in the last part of the film Yudhisthira’s renounce to his reward is a punishment; the emperor joins his wife and brothers and they stay in a sort of limbo waiting for their liberation).

But my interpretation is different. My hypotheses, on which we can discuss, is nearer to what I mean for the right acting.

First of all we have to take care of people and things we have been given by our Dharma (the right law). At the end of this phase, freed from ties and debts, we’ll be ready to go for our realization.

In other words: if I decided to get married and have children, before retiring into a monastic life somewhere, I have to be sure my husband or wife and my children are economically and emotionally self-sufficient.

If I’m practising meditation in the late morning and my four-year old child is hungry, hasn’t had his breakfast yet and doesn’t dare to disturb me because he’s afraid of my irritated reaction, what’s the value of my meditation?

If I’m doing japa holding mala in my right hand and the string of beads in my left hand for keeping count of prayers (hindu prayer recitation, like catholic way, uses a kind of rosary) and see someone tripping and risking to fall, what’s the value of my prayer if I don’t stretch even a hand to help him?

We could object that certain high results are possible only with constant exercise and proper techniques.

But what’s the use of technique without comprehension?

Doesn’t it make bigger an already prominent ego, especially in a society persuaded that its exigencies must be satisfied completely, immediately, easily and at any price?

Also the commitment to attend a course, like yoga, which helps us to know ourselves and get rid of afflicting problems, is shattered by a light headache, laziness and not excellent weather conditions (it’s not unusual I give lessons followed by few students because the others are discouraged by two drops of rains or a trivial reduction of temperature).  Maybe who skip lessons for irrelevant reasons are those who quarrel with their family needing their help when they want to meditate …!

Well, in our society where people believe that the way to acquire realization, welfare and approach to spirituality in as easy and convenient like getting a handful of pills is very hard to understand what is right acting is (Dharma)


Hari Om Tat Sat  


by Emy Blesio