Yudhishtira’s Nyaya Wisdom – Lessons Learnt by Prachi das
During the time when Drithrashtra was the King of Hastinapur and both the Pandavas and the Kauravas had grown up, there was a need for a new Yuvaraj (heir to the throne). Drithrashtra was always greedy about the throne. He wanted Duryodhan to be the next king. However, Drithrashtra was a mere representative of Pandava who had abandoned his throne due to a crime he had committed unknowingly. Thus, Yudhistira who was the eldest son of Pandava was the rightful heir to the throne.
In order to make a decision as to who is suitable to be the next king, Vidhur (the wise minister and the brother of Drithrashtra) decided to test both Duryodhan and Yudhistira in the courtroom. Four men were bought in who had committed a murder. When Duryodhan was asked to do justice to the four men, he said that punishment for murder was death sentence in their kingdom. Therefore, each man should be hanged. Then Vidhur asked Yudhistira to do justice. Here is what he said:
“ First I want to know the caste of each man. Upon saying so he found that one was Shudra, the other Vaishya, the third one was Kshatriya and the fourth one was a Brahman. He then said that Shudra is uneducated and he doesn’t know the difference between right & wrong. So he should be imprisoned for 4 years. Vaishya has some knowledge between good and bad. Thus he should get double of what Shudra gets. The Kshatriya is the protector of the nation and thus should not kill people and make them feel unsafe. So the Kshatriya should get double of what Vaishya got. The fourth man is a Brahman. He is well versed with the differences between good and bad. His punishment should be the most severe but you cannot kill a Brahman. Therefore, the head priest of the kingdom should decide the punishment of the Brahman. Every person is different. You cannot measure every person’s doing in the same scale. That would definitely be unjust”.
Mahabharat teaches us all the lessons we need to learn in order to lead a just life. The story that I just narrated has a very powerful meaning not only in terms of how justice should be granted to each individual but also in terms of our behavior towards each person. Since every person is different and comes from different background we need to change our behavior accordingly. If we meet someone who comes from modest background, it is our duty to behave modestly and treat him or her with respect. Also, when we are judging someone’s actions towards us we should understand where the person is coming from. If we start considering these things while interacting with different individuals, the world would definitely be a happier place.