“Maharaja Yudhishthira was the ideal and celebrated pious King of the world, and still he was greatly afraid after the execution of the Battle of Kurukshetra because of the mass killing in the fight, all of which was done only to install him on the throne. He therefore took all the responsibility for sins committed in the warfare, and to get rid of all these sins, he wanted to perform three sacrifices in which horses are offered at the altar.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.12.34 Purport)
Friend1: Anybody who gives the Bhagavad-gita an honest read will reach the same conclusion.
Friend2: You mean to say “one conclusion.” Because by saying “same,” you are doing a comparison, but you did not mention to which person or people the comparison is being made.
Friend1: Well, it would be to the other people reading. Is that not implied? You’re like the chair umpire in tennis giving a code violation for receiving coaching from the stands.
Friend2: “Apologize to me right now!”
Friend1: Funny. Anyway, you know what I mean. There is one truth to take away from the Song of God that is more important than the rest.
Friend2: It is the thread that holds the other truths together, like pearls on a string.
मत्तः परतरं नान्यत्किञ्चिदस्ति धनञ्जय।
मयि सर्वमिदं प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव।।
mattaḥ parataraṃ nānyatkiñcidasti dhanañjaya।
mayi sarvamidaṃ protaṃ sūtre maṇigaṇā iva।।
“O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)
Friend1: Before you ask, by honest reading I mean not trying to cheat. Not going to a bogus interpretation, where the commentator has no business even touching Krishna or books about Him.
Friend2: I understand. The conclusion is surrender everything. Giving up all varieties of religion, dharma, and being not afraid in moving forward. The Supreme Personality of Godhead will protect.
सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज।
अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः।।
sarvadharmānparityajya māmekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja।
ahaṃ tvāṃ sarvapāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ।।
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
Friend2: Yes, it’s not even a conclusion to be reached, necessarily. That is a specific verse found towards the end of the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna.
Friend1: The bow warrior was hesitant at first. He was unsure how to proceed. So many close relatives on the other side, respected personalities. Such are the tragedies of life. You never know; one day you might be going to war against someone who is like a brother to you.
Friend2: Or father or grandfather.
Friend1: The question I have today is about Yudhishthira.
Friend2: The son of Dharmaraja, the god of justice. He is the eldest of the five Pandava brothers. Though Arjuna was the most skilled on the battlefield, it would be Yudhishthira to take over after victory.
Friend1: The next king of Hastinapura. Saintly in character, he was equally as hesitant to choose the war option. Though the family had been wronged, though the Kauravas were living in sin, though the opposition were against Krishna, Yudhishthira still had a soft spot for them.
Friend2: Not only prior to war. He felt terrible after the victory, too. Krishna assured Arjuna that fighting was in line with dharma; the killing would not be sinful. It is an amazing lesson to teach, something that might not make sense at first. That is why Bhagavad-gita has been studied for thousands of years.
Friend1: You touched upon the issue that I wanted to address. Yudhishthira felt remorse. He couldn’t get over the guilt. Why didn’t Krishna sing the Gita to him, then?
Friend2: What do you mean? Just repeat the same teachings that were told prior to Arjuna?
Friend1: Right. Maybe have Vyasadeva get a quick transcription ready that could be passed on to whoever needed it.
Friend2: Well, you know there was a question and answer prior involving Yudhishthira and someone else.
Friend1: Bhishmadeva. Ironically, a fighter for the other side.
Friend2: But a devotee of Krishna. You never know where you will find a saintly character. Bhishma was lying on the battlefield, awaiting death. Yudhishthira approached him and asked salient questions about all aspects of life.
Friend1: You’re sort of making my point, though. If Yudhishthira was going to ask questions, why not pose them to Krishna?
Friend2: There is no difference in this respect between the devotee and the Supreme Lord. The representative carrying the message of the Divine brings the Divine to the scene.
Friend1: Okay, I get that Bhishma is a respected personality. Why did Yudhishthira feel compelled to conduct yajnas after the fact? We know that the bloodshed in the war was not sinful. There was no need to be absolved of anything.
Friend2: Because Yudhishthira was ruling the world. He sets the example for others to follow. His actions provide further evidence that piety and sin are difficult to accurately identify. Even if you have done everything correctly, by the book, you may have accidentally slipped up here or there. No harm in trying to purify the atmosphere. Such yajnas were not necessary, but they pleased the Supreme Lord. In the modern day the best sacrifice is the sankirtana-yajna, chanting the holy names – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Of sinful reaction fearing,
Yajna then for atmosphere clearing.
By Bhishma and others guided,
After Yudhishthira to them confided.
But why Gita again sung not,
When previously Arjuna got?
Idea that through devotee Krishna reaching,
Lord present through authorized teaching.