Tomorrow is another day; Yuyutsu rose to Dharma
Life gives us choices, and our wisdom and steadfastness to values help us select our preferences. Every day we make choices, some of which significantly impact our life and some marginally affect a few moments of pleasure and pain. Our choices have the power to define who we are; hence, they must be guided by our values and beliefs with optimism.
The story of a lesser-known character in Mahabharat who chose the right path on the brink of the moment is worth sharing and pondering over. One's decision should be in harmony with his belief system and values. The story of Yuyutsu shows his resolve to come out of the dilemma between his decision and his values and deciding for the Dharma right when it was desired. Though he believed in the righteousness and Dharma of Pandavas, being the stepbrother of the Kauravas, he was on Kauravas' side by design.
Going back to the story, the birth of Yuyutsu was out of the desperation and anxiety of Dhritarashtra. Since Gandhari's gestation period was unusually long, Dhritarashtra consciously chose to have a child through his maid. He was desperate to have an heir for his throne, so he chose this way. Yuyutsu was the eldest of the Kauravas. As he chose righteousness and Dharma at the right moment, he was the only Kaurava to remain alive after the Kurukshetra war.
All decisions are not simple in choosing between extremes; right or wrong, evil or good. Various decisions are to be made between complex choices where the Dharma of an individual in one role confronts his Dharma in another. Choices are to be made between options which look very similar but have subtle differences, which a person with good discriminative power can differentiate. Indian philosophy has majorly emphasised developing Vivek (विवेक) - the discriminative power of identifying good from bad, temporary from permanent and Brahman from the visible world.
History is full of such stories where the future course of action depended primarily on the choices made by the person in question. Duryodhana chose Krishna's army over Lord Krishna. Vibhishana decided to desert his brother and support Lord Ram in the war. Sita chose to join her husband Rama in the 14 years of vanvaas; similarly, Yuyutsu, the stepbrother of Duryodhana, chose the Pandava's side in the war against his brothers. Vasudev offered Karna to join Pandavas' side as they were brothers from the same mother, but he opted for Duryodhana's side being fully aware that Duryodhana was wrong.
Yuyutsu rose to Dharma at the last moment. He valued the Dharma for which the entire Pandavas were fighting. He believed in the value of justice and felt that injustice was meted out towards Pandavas, and he needed to stand with them. Yuyutsu was a strong warrior believed to possess the powers of fighting 60000 warriors alone. He was considered an atirathi. An aithirathi is a warrior who is equivalent to 12 rathis. Yuyutsu was also instrumental in saving the life of Bhima as he shared the information about how Duryodhana was planning to poison the water which Bima was to drink
The value system in which Bhisma and Drona believed was akin to Yudhisthira, but still, they fought against Pandavas. Their mind and heart belonged to the Pandavas, but they devoted their physical body of a warrior to the Kauravas. Being the lead warriors of the Kaurava's side, they did not believe in Duryodhan or Kaurava's righteousness but still had to fight in their favour. This non-belongingness of the warriors to their team was a strategic factor in why they were to lose the war. Our decisions and actions must be in harmony with our values and beliefs. If we are forced to act against our deep-rooted values by situational compulsions, we go into total disharmony within ourselves. Bhisma Pitamah, Dronacharya, kripacharya, and Shalya could not take the moral courage to go by the side of the Pandavas at the moment( as their words bound them). Yuyutsu, for whom Dharma was more valuable than social obligations, crossed the boundary and went to the side of the Pandavas. He wanted to end his internal disharmony.
During the Kurukshetra war, when both armies were standing opposite each other with their strategic array of foot soldiers and horse and elephant mounted warriors, Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, approached the great grandfather, Bhishma and sought his blessing. Bhishma blessed him with success in the war and accepted that he was not free and was bound to Kaurava's side.
Yudhisthira asks Bhisma pitamah how he can be defeated, to which Bhisma replies that no one in this world can beat him. After saying this, Bhisma once again blesses Yudhisthira with success in the war.
After that, Yudhisthira approached Guru Dronacharya. He sought his Guru's blessing and asked the invincible warrior how Pandavas could fight so that they defeat all their foes without incurring any sin.
Dronacharya, happy with the complete surrender and respect from Yudhisthira, felt gratified and said he no longer is a free man. He is under the obligation of the Wealth of Kauravas to be on their side. He said that he would fight for the sake of Kauravas but would pray for the success of Pandavas.
Next, Yudhisthira approached Kripacharya and stood in silence for some time. Kripa ( Gautama ), knowing the intentions, told him that he was incapable of being slain but advised him to fight and prayed for his victory.
After this, he paid respect to Shalya and got blessings from him. Shalya, the maternal uncle of Pandavas, also expressed his inability to help them but blessed Yudhisthira to be a winner. Meanwhile, Vasudeva proposed to Karna to join Pandavas, as they were brothers. Karna refused to leave Duryodhana as he was devoted to whatever was agreeable to Dhritarashtra's son.
Finally, Yudhisthira placed himself at the centre of the warring groups on the battlefield and announced that whoever wanted to join them could do so, and they would forever protect him and become their ally". Hearing these words of Yudhishthira, Yuyutsu, the stepbrother of Kauravas, chooses to side with Pandavas just at the beginning of the war. Yuyutsu was welcomed by Vasudeva and Pandavas. Yudhisthira, like a confident warrior, happily received Yuyutsu and made an impactful statement for both sides.
"Yuyutsu, with this decision of yours, you will save Dhritrashra's lineage".
These words of Yudhisthira guaranteed the war's outcome, indicating the annihilation of Adharma, the saving of Dharma, and the lineage of Kauravas simultaneously.
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः (Mahabharat, Manusmriti)
(Dharma protects the protector of Dharma)