How many jokes have we read about a man finding a genie in a bottle and getting three wishes fulfilled, the last one being somehow to get rid of his wife! This story is an exact opposite to this. Here the question of being of selfish is non-existent even to the extent for the ‘feel good’ factor coming into play.
Once a deer carried away accidentally in its horns the Arani sticks of a certain Brahmin. Since they were the source of fire in those days when the match was not yet in use, the poor man came to the Pandavas, who were then in exile, for help. The five brothers chased the deer for a long time but it eluded them. Finally, they all sat down to rest.
Feeling very thirsty, Yudhishtira asked Sahadeva to find water. Sahadeva climbed up a tree and found a pool close by. He went there to quench his thirst and bring some water back for his brothers. As he approached the crystal clear waters of the pool, he heard an ethereal voice: Stop! Do not drink the water unless you have answered my questions!
Sahadeva was too thirsty to even pay heed to the voice and drank the inviting water. No sooner had it passed down his throat than he fell down dead.
Anxious for Sahadeva, Yudhishtira asked Nakula to go and find out what had happened. Reaching the pool, Nakula was shocked to find his brother fallen but his thirst was so acute that he ran towards the water to drink. The voice warned him too: Listen to me! This is my water! Answer my questions before you drink the water!
Like Sahadeva, paying no heed to the warning, Nakula too drank the water and fell down dead.
Arjuna then went searching for Nakula and Sahadeva and came by them dead. Parched by thirst, he went on to drink regardless of the state of his brothers. He too disregarded the voice and fell dead. Soon Bhima followed him.
Finally Yudhishtira went to the pool and found all his brothers dead. Not finding anybody about, he walked towards the water to drink. The voice addressed him: Wait! Do not drink the water!
Yudhishtira asked: Who are you? Was it you who killed my brothers?
The voice said: I am the Yaksha standing guard over this pool. I warned them not to drink the water but they paid no heed to my words and now they are dead. Answer my questions if you want to drink the water.
The Yaksha then revealed its horrifying form.
Yudhishtira said: Please ask!
The Yaksha asked several questions pertaining to dharma and the mysteries of life and Yudhishtira answered all of them convincingly.
The Yaksha, pleased, said: I am very happy with you. You may not only drink the water but also have one of your brothers brought back to life. Which one do you want?
Yudhishtira said: Please restore Nakula to life.
The Yaksha, surprised, asked: Why did you choose Nakula and not Bhima or Arjuna who are dearer to you?
Yudhishtira answered: It is justice that both my mothers should have at least one son living. Kunti now has me and Nakula is Madri’s son. So I want him back.
The Yaksha revealed himself as Yudhishtira’s father, the Lord of Dharma, and blessed his son. He then restored all four of his brothers to life. He also gave to them the Brahmin’s Arani sticks!
What were the Yaksha’s questions that Yudhishtira answered that are pertinent even today?