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The Story of the Dog that followed Pandavas in the Pilgrimage of Death in the Mahabharata

After the great Mahabharat war, the Pandavas ruled the kingdom for 36 years. Then they decided to relinquish their kingdom and go on their last journey – Sanyasa and Vanaprastham. The five Pandava brothers – Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva –and their wife Draupadi left for the Himalayas. They were followed by a Dog.

They started climbing the Himalayan mountains and soon one by one starting with Draupadi they fell down and fainted and died. Now only Yudhishtira, the eldest of Pandavas, was left and keeping him company was the dog. Without looking back the two continued their journey.

Then one day suddenly Indra appeared before Yudhishtira in his chariot. Indra wanted to take Yudhishtira to heaven in the human form as he was the most pious among Pandavas and he was the one who had never strayed from the path of Dharma.

Yudhishtira refuses to enter the chariot without his brothers and Draupadi. Indra assures him that he will meet with them in heaven as they have already reached heaven.

Yudhishtira then asks the Dog to enter the chariot. But Indra objects to it. Indra states that we eat food by sitting on the floor and it is not possible to have a dog roaming in the same place. He also indicates that the presence of a dog will defile heaven. It is considered that a mere glance of a dog deprives the sacraments of their consecration.

But Yudhishtira is adamant; to him the dog appears as one who has been devoted, loyal in the time of loss of his brothers and Draupadi. He was faithful and loving in the hour of entire solitude. He cannot be happy in heaven as he would be haunted by the thought of the dog so true.

Finally, Yudhishtira decides to not to go with Indra and decides to stay with the Dog.

Soon, the very dog for which Yudhishtira refused Heaven transformed to Dharma, the God of righteousness.

This was a final test on Yudhishtira who never swayed from the path of righteousness.

Thus Yudhishtira had the rare honor of reaching heaven in the human form.

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