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The Philosophical Depths of Yaksha Prashnas: second quartet


In the mystical realm of cosmic understanding, every question, or "Prashna", arises from a seeker's genuine request for knowledge. Picture the figure of Yama, an emblematic representation of Dharma. Yama is not an entity of isolation; he acts in harmony with principles such as Shanti (peace), Kshama (forgiveness), and Daya (compassion). These principles together define the term "Dharma Acharanam". However, when souls appear carrying the burdens of their past actions, both virtuous (Punya) and sinful (Paapa), Yama takes on his dreaded role.


This challenging dual nature led Yamadharma to take a human form as Dharmaraya, an effort to understand humanity's nuanced existence. Later, he appears as an ethereal sound - the Yaksha, testing his comprehension through a dialogue with his human counterpart. This divine Q&A, known as the Yaksha Prashna, acts as a beacon, revealing truths about our reality, which often appears deceptive. The essence? Seek more, question deeper, tread the path of "Brahma Jijnaasa" - the inquiry into the ultimate truth.


Imagine the monumental challenge of adjudicating between right and wrong, while maintaining tranquility. It mirrors a mother's task, where she showers her child with love and forgiveness, yet doesn't hesitate to administer bitter medicine when needed. This intricate balance can be witnessed on our Earth but remains absent in Yamaloka, Yama's abode.


The profundity of Yaksha Prashna is evident in its structured questions. The initial four highlight Dharma's foundational tenets. Succeeding them, the subsequent four delve into the notion of the "Jnani" – those enlightened individuals who've grasped Dharma's essence, striving to embody and champion it.


While the initial questions emphasize the omnipresence of Dharma, they acknowledge its esoteric nature. Not all can decipher it. Yet, among us, there are discerning souls who can, and do, illuminate its truths for others. In this maze of realities, while not everything visible is genuine, the real truth lies hidden within "Jnana" (knowledge). The individual who grasps this is hailed as a "Jnani" or "Pandita", the theme of the second quartet of Yaksha's questions.


Consider an analogy: a car, unaware of its own mechanisms. Only its driver, equipped with knowledge, can navigate it. Similarly, the eternal truth - "Brahma", described as everlasting (Shaashwata), stable (Sthira), and true (Satya) - needs a guide. This guide is the "Brahmana". Not merely someone with academic prowess or birthright, nor just a person donned in sacred threads reciting mantras. A true Brahmana, after attaining Brahma Jnana (knowledge of the ultimate truth), gains insight into Dharma, paving their way towards divinity or "Devatwa". This isn't about mastering ancient scriptures, but about understanding "Maanushi Jnana Praapti" – the wisdom of human dharma. While every individual has duties based on lineage, the true essence of human Dharma isn't just inherited; it's experienced through living it.



The journey to divinity starts with embracing humanity. Among celestial beings - Yaksha, Kinnara, Kimpurusha, Naga, and Vidhyadhara - to name a few of the nine divisions, humans stand paramount. Remaining authentically human is more revered than ascending to deity status. This human, having comprehended Brahma, becomes a "Brahma Jnaani", a true Brahmana. There's a profound thought here: even if Brahma remains unaware of his essence, one who does is greater, achieved solely by preserving humanity.


This exalted form of humanity, "Maanaveeya Dharma", is reached by embracing humility and assisting those in dire straits. Acts like leading a contented life, identifying challenges, and addressing them pave the way to Brahma Jnana. Such actions are termed "Sat-Karmas". Actions diverging from this path are "Asat-Karmas". An intriguing perspective here is that eating to quell hunger isn't wrong. Yet, if it induces lethargy, it's no longer righteous. Similarly, hospitality isn't about overwhelming guests but understanding their needs, epitomized by traditional rituals of refreshment and dining.


This code of human conduct, the "Maanaveeya Dharma Acharanam Jnaanam", is self-study or "swaadhyaaya". Its profound application is "Tapas" (penance). Owning a thousand cows is of no significance if, during a parched summer, one cannot offer buttermilk to a thirsty visitor. True Tapas lies in understanding one's role in the grand tapestry of life. Living such a life, till one's last breath, exemplifies "Maranam Maanusho Bhaavah". In essence, through concepts of Brahmana, Swaadhyaaya, Tapas, and Maanusha, human Dharma manifests, as demonstrated in the latter set of Yaksha Prashnas. Yudhishthira's succinct response to this? Simply, "Maanava-Dharma". A truth I've come to cherish, inspired by my revered Guru, Brahma Rushi K S Nityananda Swamiji of Veda Vijnana Mandira, Chikmagalur.


-Hemanth Kumar G

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