When asked to name the most noble characters from the Mahabharata, we Indians instantly recall the Pancha Pandavas. All the 5 brothers -who had a common wife were named Draupadi- belonged to an autocratic clan when it came to following dharma.
But you’ll be astonished to know that the Pandavas, who always followed the right path at every minute of their lives had been allotted hell and the Kauravas who resorted to violence and cunning means to fulfill their desires attained heaven.
One day the Pandvas felt that they should renounce their lives, so in order to attain liberation the 5 brothers along with their wife began their journey towards to the “Meru Paravartha” (Mountain) which eventually leads to swarga loka (heaven).
Before they could complete their journey, tragedies hit them one by one. At first, Draupadi (wife of the Pandavas) slipped off the mountain and lost her life. Then she was followed by Sahadeva, Nakula, Arjuna and Bhima.
The only among the Pandavas to continue their journey of climbing the mountain was Yudhisthira, along with his loyal dog. Soon after they climbed the mountain, Lord Indra arrived in his chariot and invited only Yudhisthira and not his dog. But Yudhisthira opposed to it and said “The dog must come with me”.
Indra justified his decision of not inviting the dog saying “That is not possible. All cannot attain heaven. The dog is old and thin and has no value”.
Disappointed by this, Yudhisthira said “In that case, I do not seek heaven. The dog was my faithful companion and I cannot abandon it. It sought my help and gave me unconditional love”. He added “the pleasures of heaven will mean nothing to me in comparison to its grief. It has done nothing to deserve abandonment and had none of the weaknesses of my wife and brothers. If it does not deserve to go to heaven, then neither do I” and immediately turned back indicating he is not ready to dump his loyal dog and enjoy in heaven.
At this time Indra had to reveal the real identity of the dog. Indra said that the dog was none other than Dharma. The very next moment the dog transformed itself into God of Dharma and blessed Yudhisthira.
Soon after reaching heaven, Yudhisthira didn’t find his brothers and wive, but was shocked to see his rivals in the Kurukshethra war, Duryodhana and his sons- the Kauravas- along with Bheesma and Dronacharya. So he asked Lord Yama, the lord of death an explanation for this.
“Because the Kauravas died as warriors are supposed to, on the battlefield. This earned them so much merit and credit that it wiped out all their debts” replied Yama.
It is said that any person dying in “Kurukshetra land” doing his duty will be cleansed of all evil and will get the wishes to heaven.
Yudhisthira was eager to know where his brothers and wive were. To answer his question, Yama took him to hell and showed his 4 brothers and wive and stated “this is temporary. Once the debt has been repaid, they will join the Kauravas in Swarga. You too had to experience Hell for the one and only white lie you spoke in your lifetime”.
Soon after Yudhisthira spotted his family, he wanted to run away as he was unale to see the suffering that his brothers and wive were undergoing. That was the amount of torture given in the hell for one’s misdeeds. It is said that after paying for the sins, the 4 brothers of Yudhisthira and their wive were sent to heaven.
Now you ask what were the sins of the rest of the Pandavas and their wive. Here’s the answer!
- Bheema for overreacting and for his gluttony, who used to eat too much without thinking about the hunger of others.
- Arjuna for being insecure. He also suffered from the vice of pride and vanity, thinking he was the most skilled, most powerful warrior in the world.
- Nakula for being a narcissist thinking that he was the most handsome person in the world.
- Sahadeva for being arrogant about his knowledge and smugness.
- And Draupadi for her partiality towards Arjuna as she preferred Arjuna over her other husbands.