Rajasuya Yagya/Sacrifice – Part I

The Background of the Rajasuya Yagya

The real events happened in the following order:

  1. The kingdom is partitioned and Yudhishthir gets Khandavaprastha
  2. The Pandavas slowly start building their kingdom and establish their capital at Indraprastha (modern day Delhi)
  3. The celestial sage Narad pays a visit to Indraprastha. He advises them of having an established pattern and rule for sharing Draupadi as their common wife after telling the story of Sunda and Upsunda.
  4. Some months later, Arjun breaks the vow and goes into 12-year exile. Arjun marries Uloopi, Chitrangada and Subhadra. Arjun returns to Indraprastha with Subhadra.
  5. Krishna visits Indraprastha. One summer day, Krishna and Arjun decide to go to the sylvan banks of the Yamuna for picnic.
  6. Agni visits Krishna and Arjun in the guise of a brahmin. He requests meal in the form of the Khandava forest. Arjun and Krishna help Agni annihilate the Khandava forest. During the burning of the forest, the Danav Mayasur seeks refuge from Arjun. He is saved.
  7. The grateful Maya agrees to build “the palace of illusions” for Yudhishthir on the advice of Krishna.
  8. Krishna leaves for Dwaraka to the great regret and sadness of the Pandavas.
  9. The Mayasabha or the hall of illusions is built.

The story continues from here …

After the hall is built, Yudhishthir consulted various priests and brahmins on the auspicious day to inaugurate the hall. The ceremony is held and Yudhishthir and his brothers with Draupadi enter the hall for the first time. When the rishis and courtiers are seated, sage Narad appears at the gate suddenly. Yudhishthir at once receives him with great respect and pays him the due worship.

Narad continued to question Yudhishthir on a variety of subjects, his questions effectively constituting a number of instructions on the art of kingship. Yudhishthir sat with folded palms and listened attentively. The entire assembly remained silent as Narad, the foremost of the Rishis spoke. His knowledge and wisdom were famed throughout the universe. Narad was fully acquainted with every aspect of the Vedic teachings, and he was renowned as a great devotee and servant of the Supreme Lord. He knew the Lord’s desire, and his movements and actions were always arranged to assist the divine plan. The Pandavas were reverent as he instructed them. “The whole aim of the monarch”, Narad explained, “was to keep his people on the path of progressive spiritual life, helping them advance toward life’s ultimate goal of emancipation, while ensuring that they were protected and had all their material needs provided.”

After much advice, discourse on duties of the king and procedures of the general affairs of the state, Yudhishthir asked Narad, “O great rishi, you can travel with the speed of the mind and go anywhere within the universe. Please tell me of all the assembly halls you have seen. Do any of them equal mine?”

The Pandava asked Narad to describe in detail the other halls as well as who was to be found in them. Who waited upon Indra in his hall and who upon Yamaraja? Which fortunate souls attended Brahma in his hall? Yudhishthir’s enquiry was pointed. He wanted to know where his ancestors, the great kings of the past, had gone. He was especially eager to hear of his father, Pandu. Had Pandu attained the highest heaven? Yudhishthir waited expectantly for Narad to reply.

Narad described the great halls belonging to all the principal gods, beginning with that of Indra, then halls of other smaller deities such as Yamaraj, Varun, Kuber, etc. and then finally the hall of the preceptor Brahma. Narad said that only the great king Harishchandra was granted the honour of adorning the hall of Indra. The rest of the pious kings were seated in Yamaraj’s hall. Narad named the personalities who wait upon Yamaraj, which included all the monarchs in Yudhishthir’s line, ending with Pandu.

When Narad stopped speaking, Yudhishthir began to question him further. He wanted to know why only Harishchandra, out of all the great kings of the past, had attained to Indra’s abode. He also wanted Narad to tell him about his meeting with Pandu. What did Pandu say to the sage? How was he faring now in Yamaraja’s assembly?

Narad explained that Harishchandra had reached Indra’s planet because he had performed the great Rajasuya sacrifice. That sacrifice involved subjugating all other kings and distributing charity to hundreds of thousands of Brahmins, and it had set Hariscandra apart from the other kings. Narad then told Yudhishthir that Pandu had given him a message for his son. If Yudhishthir could also perform the Rajasuya, then both he and Pandu could reach Indra’s kingdom. Pandu felt that his sons were now capable of performing such an incomparable sacrifice. If they were successful, then father and sons would be reunited in heaven.

Both Narad and Pandu understood that the Gods had their own purposes to fulfill through Yudhishthir’s performance of the Rajasuya. It was part of a divine plan meant to free the world of demonic influences. There were presently many evil kings and kshatriyas inhabiting the earth. Before beginning the sacrifice, Yudhishthir would need to overpower them. Only then would he be able to perform the Rajasuya, and only then would he be able to establish piety and virtue throughout the world. Narad looked around at the five brothers who sat humbly before him. He knew they were dear to Krishna, who wanted to use them as instruments to fulfill His own desire to reestablish religion upon the earth.

Narad concluded, “Therefore, O King, you should perform the Rajasuya sacrifice. The celestials have ordained it. I shall return when the sacrifice begins. Now I am going to Dwaraka, for I desire to see Krishna, under whose will this entire universe is moving.”

Narad stood up to leave and Yudhishthir requested him to ask Krishna to again visit Indraprastha. Narad agreed and the Pandavas bowed before him and his companions. The Rishis then disappeared into the sky by their mystic power. After Narad’s departure, the Pandavas continued to live peacefully at Indraprastha, but Yudhishthir was contemplating how he might perform the Rajasuya sacrifice.


Post Author: Prasanna Bhalerao

IT Professional with interest in History, Mythology and Photography. Likes to travel and see interesting places.

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