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Mahābhārata's Yaksha Prashna plight of a human...

The plight of the human - this is our story!!

In the Mahābhārata, there is a dialogue between Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, and a Yaksha (nature spirit) named Yaksha Prashna (Yaksha's questions), which culminates in this vivid scene: 


A human being chased by a great elephant. In a desperate bid for safety, climbes a tree, the branch of which was being gnawed by two rats, one black and the other white. Beneath the tree, a pit teeming with writhing snakes awaited. Despite such imminent danger, the human noticed a beehive dripping with honey above. Stretching out their tongue to taste the honey, seeking the transient pleasures of life, heedless of the peril they were in.



Yudhishthira explains this symbolic allegory.

  • The elephant embodies death's inevitable approach, a reminder of the inescapable end that pursues all. 

  • The rats, with their ceaseless nibbling, represent time's dual aspects—day and night—highlighting the relentless march towards life's conclusion.

  • Below, the snakes signify life's inherent risks and challenges, always present and ready to confront the unwary. 

  • The bees, buzzing and distracting, mirror life's minor trials and annoyances, testing resilience and focus.

  • The honey, despite the imminent threats, symbolises life's pleasures and the human propensity for immediate gratification, often at the expense of long-term well-being.

The story illustrates the delicate balance of existence, where the pursuit of fleeting joys must be weighed against the backdrop of time, mortality, and the pursuit of dharma. It's a reminder of the broader canvas of life, where understanding and accepting these elemental truths can guide our journey through a world filled with paradox.

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