Why Only One Pandava Reached Heaven

The saga of the Pandava brothers and Draupadi, their final journey to heaven, unfolds the curtain of sin, love, compassion, and unwavering adherence to Dharma.Here we are looking at why the righteous Pandavas suffered.

The Pandavas anointed Parikshit as the crown prince of Hastinapura. They appointed Yuyutsu as the guardian of the young prince. Yuyutsu, born to Dhritarashtra and a Shudra woman, was a beloved figure among the Pandava brothers. He had shown courage to stand with them on the path of Dharma and was considered a son-like to them.

From Hastinapura, Pandava brothers and Draupadi set out walking in the northern direction. In one word, ‘Vanaprastham’

Pandava’s Maha Vanaprastham

Draupadi: The First Loss

On their journey, the first to surrender to mortality was Draupadi. Bhima saw this first, and he couldn’t bear that. His love for Draupadi was profound; he was the one who loved her most.

He fiercely avenged her dishonour in the Kaurava court with blood. During their exile in the forest, Bhima diligently ensures Draupadi’s safety and comfort. How could we forget the Kichaka chapter from Mahabharatha? Even when Arjuna was hesitant, Bhima prioritised Draupadi. Even Bhima encountered Hanuman to fulfil Draupadi’s desire for a flower.

Bhima washing Draupadi's hair with blood (Image credit: insta/saptasarka)
Bhim washing Draupadi’s hair with blood (Image credit: insta/saptasarka)

Bhima collapsed, seeing Draupadi lying motionless on the earth. But the Pandava brothers knew they had to keep going. When others were walking, Bhima asked Yudhishthira, the wisest among all, ‘Why did Draupadi die? She did nothing wrong.’

Yudhishthira said, ‘Our journey is about more than just living and dying. We shouldn’t think too much about it. Draupadi was good, but she was only meant to come with us until here.’ Bhima said, ‘But she was our wife! She should always be with us!’ Yudhishthira calmly said, ‘It’s not up to us. What happened to Draupadi was because of what she did in her life.

Draupadi: Where Love meets Sin

Draupadi loved all five of us, but deep in her heart, she had a special place for Arjuna, the first one to win her heart. This natural inclination of her heart highlights the nuanced psychology of love and attachment in women. A woman, even if she is with many men, can deeply love only one. Maybe he was her first love, or maybe he was the one who made her wet for the first time or who offered her a shoulder in her darkest hours.

Yudishitra, Wisest among the Pandava Brothers
Draupadi with Pandava brothers (Image credit: Hotstar)
Draupadi with Pandava brothers (Image credit: Hotstar)

Bhima, Draupad’s sin was her lust towards Arjuna, but remember, she was noble and righteous, and that’s why she could travel with us this far. I understand your deep feelings for her. You have always protected her. Only Arjuna could truly win her heart, beyond her physical being. And for the four of us who came after, she never denied us fairness and love. She never showed dislike or boredom for our sake. Draupadi was like a goddess! let’s move on, Bhima.’ 

The Downfall of Sahadeva, Nakula, and Arjuna

During their ongoing journey, Sahadeva was the next to die, followed by Nakula. Yudhishthira explained to Bhima that Sahadeva’s pride in his wisdom and Nakula’s pride in his beauty were their downfalls.

Then, it was Arjuna’s turn. He also surrendered to Yama, the god of death. Bhima again asked Yudhishthira why. Yudhishthira said, ‘Arjuna once vowed to defeat all enemies by himself. This boastfulness and wrath, along with his envy, were his sins. That’s why he couldn’t continue the journey.‘ Then they continued walking

Losses Along the Way: Fall of a Gentle Giant

When Bhima was about to fall, he asked Yudhishthira, ‘Elder brother, I am about to fall. What’s my fault?’ Yudhishthira replied, ‘Bhima, you are dear to me. But your pride in your strength and your love for food (gluttony) were your downfalls.‘ Yudhishthira continued his journey alone, as his brothers’ deaths did not stop him.

Bhima Fighting against Asur
Bhima Fighting against Asur

At Heaven’s Gate: Righteous Among Pandavas

From the day they left Hastinapura, a dog had been following the Pandavas. Even as others fell during the long journey, the dog stayed with Yudhishthira. When Yudhishthira reached his destination, the gates of heaven were ready to welcome him. Indra arrived in his chariot and said to Yudhishthira, ‘Climb into the chariot! There is no one in heaven more worthy than you to join us. Don’t hesitate, Yudhishthira, come with me!

Yudishtira and Indra
Yudishtira and Indra

Yudhishthira told Indra, ‘I’m not completely happy with this blessing you’ve given me.’ ‘What? You don’t want to go to heaven?’ asked Indra. Yudhishthira replied, ‘No, Lord! The Pandavas and Draupadi started this journey together. They all died on the way, and I don’t even know what happened to them. Going to heaven alone will bring me more pain than joy. My brothers are my life, and Draupadi is part of our soul. Please tell me where they are now.’Indra smiled and said, ‘Yudhishthira, the world has never seen a brother as loving as you. You often seemed weak because of your love for your family. Is this really commendable? Is it that hard to let go?‘ Yudhishthira, with a lifeless smile, replied, A person without love for his dependents doesn’t deserve to live on earth. My love for my brothers and Draupadi is beyond my senses. Please help me!

Indra told Yudhishthira, ‘Your brothers and Draupadi were good people. They have already reached heaven after leaving their bodies behind. But they did not have the greatness you have, so you are allowed to enter heaven while still alive. Climb into the chariot. You can trust my words.’ Yudhishthira responded, ‘I have one more request.’ Indra looked at Yudhishthira sceptically.

Yudhishthira’s Conflict of Heart and Duty

Yudhishthira said, ‘I cannot abandon this dog that has been with me until the end of my journey. Please let it come with me on the chariot.’ Indra laughed a little and said, ‘You know that dogs cannot enter heaven. Yet, you insist on this worthless animal.’

‘No! Lord Indra, go ahead without me. This dog will always be with me. If I leave this dog behind, all my good deeds for heaven will be worthless. I will never abandon those who depend on me!

Indra said, ‘You left your brothers and Draupadi on the way. Do you care more for this insignificant dog?’ Yudhishthira replied, ‘My brothers and Draupadi died along the way, and I couldn’t bring them back to life. But this poor animal is still alive and has been with me through this long journey. I cannot abandon it.’ As Indra looked at Yudhishthira with compassion, the dog transformed. It was Dharma Deva, the god of death, who had followed him in the form of a dog. He said, ‘Son, your compassion has filled me with pride. You have passed a test beyond ordinary trials. The world will praise you as Yudhishthira, a name synonymous with dharma. Your words and actions have always been rooted in righteousness, and you have never strayed from this path. Go with Indra.’

Yudhishthira boarded Indra’s chariot, and they soared through the sky, eventually reaching heaven.

The Celestial Reunion of Pandavas

He entered heaven and saw Krishna sitting on a majestic throne, with Arjuna beside him. They stood up and joyfully welcomed Yudhishthira. He found Karna among the twelve Adityas and bowed to him. Karna smiled and welcomed his brother. Bhima was among the Maruts, Nakula and Sahadeva were near the Ashwini Kumaras, and they all greeted Yudhishthira with respect. Draupadi, shining like a bright star, was there with their five sons. They all bowed to Yudhishthira. He saw Drona blessed by Brihaspati and Bhishma seated among the Vasus, to whom he bowed. Duryodhana, smiling on a special throne, stood up to honour Yudhishthira. In heaven, there is no enmity. Duryodhana, having died a heroic death and fulfilled his duties well, had earned a special place in heaven. (Even Yudishtira did a minor sin and he faced some challenges at Heaven, but we skipped that part since it’s too long for this)

Bhavachakra describing the cycle of saṃsāra
Bhavachakra describing the cycle of saṃsāra

Beyond Myths: Love, Loss, and Life’s Eternal Lessons

The reunion with his brothers, Draupadi and Duryodhana, each radiant in their own right, symbolised the eternal cycle of life, death, and redemption. So, this story might be more than just a myth because it reveals a timeless truth: Draupadi’s quiet love for Arjuna, even as Bhima loves her deeply, shows us how complex our hearts can be. It tells us that even wise and strong people like Yudhishthira struggle with letting go of those they love. Finally, it tells us that, in the heart of forgiveness and empathy, lies the true path to liberation, the Moksha.

For more stories and articles. click here.

Human Interactions: Understanding the Lonely Wolf and the Social Butterfly

Today, I want to share a conversation I had with my good friend Venkat. He looked confused and asked me, “Akhil, how do you manage both networking and productivity together?” He made a good point: the most productive people—I call them “Lonely Wolves”—among us often work alone, while people who like to socialise a lot, “the social butterflies,” often focus more on taking breaks. Let’s understand the nuances behind human interactions here.

The Evolutionary Tale of the ‘Lonely Wolf’

Imagine the ‘Lonely Wolf’ as someone who’s skilled at their tasks, but deep down, there’s a fear that holds them back from social interactions. Think of it like being hesitant to jump into a pool. Most people want to try that, but they are scared of the consequences. Maybe they are scared of an accident.

Similarly, here the reason for this social distancing isn’t just that they’re shy or prefer being alone; it’s rooted in our ancient history.
In the old days, if you were excluded or rejected by your tribe or group, it was like being left out in the cold without a jacket. You were vulnerable to the elements and wild animals, making survival really tough.

So, being pushed out or ostracised was, in many ways, a death sentence. Our brains are always trying to protect us. Hence, our brain developed a mechanism that made social rejection hurt, almost as if it were physical pain.

Neurologically, when they think about initiating a conversation, their brain’s anterior cingulate cortex (responsible for detecting physical pain) activates, making the mere idea of a possible rejection daunting. This isn’t mere shyness; it’s a protective mechanism that’s years old.
Yet, once they establish a connection, their brain’s reward system gets activated intensely. The hormone oxytocin, responsible for bonding, is released in higher doses. It’s nature’s way of ensuring that once a connection is made, it’s deeply valued. Hence, they often form deeper attachments, valuing quality over quantity.

Historical Roots of the Social Butterflies

Throughout history, individuals who could quickly build rapport, create alliances, and foster relationships had advantages. They were the diplomats, the traders, and the village storytellers. Their strength wasn’t just in the number of their interactions but in the richness of the tales they carried and shared.

Neurologically, every interaction stimulates the release of oxytocin, promoting bonding, and serotonin, enhancing mood and self-esteem. But it’s not just about these chemicals. Their brains are wired to seek variety. Just as our tongue craves different flavours, their neural pathways relish diverse interactions.

Genes of: Social butterflies vs Lonely Wolves

For social butterflies, their brains have likely evolved to prioritise social feedback. The release of oxytocin and dopamine in response to social interactions is more pronounced, reinforcing their social behaviours. Just as some people have a sweet tooth and relish desserts due to evolutionary reasons (sweet usually meant nutritious and calorie-rich), the Social Butterflies have, metaphorically speaking, a ‘social tooth’. Their ancestors were likely those who thrived and survived due to their social adeptness, passing down these traits.

For Lonely Wolves: Their brain prioritises deep work and introspection. This might be due to a heightened activation of regions associated with focus and task-oriented behaviours. Their ancestors were likely the ones whose survival was ensured not by vast social networks but by their individual skills, deep thinking, or problem-solving prowess.

Nature vs. Nurture

While evolutionary and neurological factors play a significant role, one’s upbringing, personal experiences, and the environment can’t be ignored. A naturally sociable child, if repeatedly exposed to negative social feedback, might withdraw and exhibit ‘Lonely Wolf’ tendencies. Conversely, a naturally introverted child, when encouraged and provided positive social experiences, might develop more extroverted tendencies.

In essence, the disparity between ‘Social Butterflies’ and ‘Lonely Wolves’ can be viewed as nature’s way of ensuring that a tribe had both: individuals who could form quick social bonds and those who could delve deep into problem-solving. Both these traits had their unique evolutionary advantages, ensuring the survival and thriving of the group.

How do we bridge the gap?

For the Social Butterfly

  • The Art of Deep Conversations: Social Butterflies often flit from one topic to another. To add depth, they can practice active listening. It involves not just hearing words but understanding and interpreting them. Instead of preparing the next thing to say, truly listen. This leads to meaningful conversations that leave a lasting impact.
  • Scheduling ‘Me’ Time: A day, or even a few hours, reserved for self-reflection can work wonders. During this time, indulge in activities that promote inner growth – reading, journaling, or even a solitary walk. Embracing moments of silence and solitude can offer profound insights and a renewed sense of purpose.
  • Read: Books can be wonderful companions. They can offer the ‘Social Butterfly’ a world of knowledge while also teaching them the joy of solitude.

For the Lonely Wolf

  • Baby Steps: Social interactions don’t need to be grand gestures. Start small. Maybe a hello to a colleague, a smile to a stranger, or a compliment to a friend. Remember, every long journey begins with a single step.
  • Find Your Tribe: The ‘Lonely Wolf’ doesn’t need to fit in everywhere. They need to find their tribe – a group of like-minded individuals who share their passions, hobbies, or beliefs. When you share a common interest, initiating conversations becomes easier.
  • Seek Mentorship: One way to learn about the nuances of social interactions is to learn from someone who excels at it. A mentor can guide, providing insights into the art of communication and relationship-building.

In conclusion, the digital age, though complex, offers myriad opportunities for both the ‘Lonely Wolf’ and the ‘Social Butterfly’ to grow, learn, and bridge the chasm between them. While their innate natures are different, they can certainly borrow pages from each other’s books, creating a balanced narrative for their lives.

For more perspectives and thoughts, click here.