Yudhiṣṭhira – Are there any instances in the past when a king attained siddhi, the ultimate accomplishment, even as he was a householder? And if so, what is the nature of the mokṣa that he attained? Kindly tell me, O grandfather!
Yudhiṣṭhira asked, “How did this universe, with animate and inanimate, get created? When it dissolves, where does it go?”
In the past, Kāśyapa, the son of a certain riṣi was run over by a chariot that belonged to a vaiśya. The chariot hit him and Kāśyapa fell down. He was greatly pained because of the incident.
He thought – ‘What is the use of this helpless life? I’ll die right away, right at this spot!’. He greatly lamented for the troubles that had come his way.
Yudhiṣṭhira: As time passes by and all creatures are taken to the abode of death, which is the conduct that leads to śreyas (goodness)?
The fox said, “A golden child! Listening to the words of this eagle, you’re on the verge of leaving this boy here and going away! Will love and sorrow go away just because you leave? If you abandon him here, later you will definitely feel terrible. Long time ago, Śrīrāma killed Śambhuka and brought a brāhmaṇa boy to life, haven’t you heard? And a dhārmika brought Śvetarāja’s son back to life, don’t you know? Similarly, some siddha or muni or deity might come here upon listening to your wails and shower his compassion.”
During times of adversity, if one doesn’t despair and stands firm with determination – and added to that if he received divine grace, the adversity soon passes and he is rewarded. Long back, in Vaidiśa-nagara, a boy had died. His relatives were overcome by grief, for he was the only son in the family [who had to take forward the lineage]; drowned thus in sorrow, they took the corpse to the cemetary, placed it on their laps and wept bitterly. An eagle that came there upon hearing their cries said, “How long will you hold on to the corpse? Leave it here and return to your homes.
I will narrate another story to demonstrate how an enemy should never be trusted even if he appears to be soft and is gentle in his speech. There lived a king by name Brahmadatta in the city of Kāmpilya. A bird by name Pūjini had built its nest in his palace and had lived there for a long time. The queen gave birth to a son and on the same day the bird too had an offspring. The bird brought fruits from the sea shore and fed the royal child and its own. The kid grew up well as he consumed the fruit which was like amṛta.
It is good character that is more important than physical strength. Noble character leads to honesty, dhārmic outlook, strength and wealth. In the past, Prahlāda won over Indra and ruled the three worlds, merely because of his unblemished character. Indra disguised himself as a brāhmaṇa, went to Prahlāda and lived as a student with him. He received noble characteristics as a boon from Prahlāda, for having served him with sincerity. As soon as Indra left, a radiant mūrti came out of Prahlāda’s body.
In the activities related to the protection of his people, a king must only take help from people who are courageous, devoted, loyal, respected, hailing from a good family, those with health and strong bodies, good students, those who keep company of noble persons, those with self-respect, those who don’t look upon others with disdain, well-educated, experienced in worldly affairs, those with an eye on their legacy and the hereafter, those who always adhere to dharma, saintly people, and those who are resilient and stable; only such people should be appointed by the king.
Bhīṣma began his instruction to Yudhiṣṭhira on rāja-dharma (the art and science of governance).