When the great Paandavas left for Aranyavaasam, many Viprottamas followed them. Requesting them to go back, Dharmaraaja said “I have lost my Raajyam in Jyuudam. In the forests you will have to live on fruits. The difficulties of living in the forests are great. So please go back”. Then the Braahmanas replied “Mahaaraaja! Please dont worry about our poshana. We want your kshemam only. We will tell you many good stories and entertain you”.
Yudhishthira agreed, but was worried that being a Gruhastha, he was not able to even do poshana of his aashritas. Thinking like this, he approached his Purohita (Puratah hitam karoti — one who does hitam, before anybody else), Dhaumya, and said “Mahaatma! Atithi seva, satkaaram is sajjana’s prathama-kartavyam. We are ourselves in difficulties, so how to do Atithi seva?”. Dhaumya then told Dharmaraaja how to do Suurya-upaasana. He said “O Dharmanandana! Shrimannaarayana, in the form of Suurya-bhagavaan, does poshana of this shrushti. You everyday do Suryopaasana, by doing Paaraayana of Surya-ashtottara-shata-naamaavali. I am sure then Surya-bhagavaan will help you”.
With Kathora-niyamams, Dharmaraaja did Suryopaasana. Suurya-bhagavaan became prasanna and appeared before Yudhishthira. Yudhishthira had great aanandam, did stotram and said “O Bhaaskara! You are the netram of this jagat and the aatma of all the living creatures. This jagat is having prakaasham because of You only. Without any Svaartham, You are doing poshana of this prapancham. I am krutagnya to have Your divya-darshanam”.
Suurya-bhagavaan said “Dharmaraaja! I am pleased with your aaraadhana. I will make sure you all will never have kshut-baadha all these 12 years”. Saying this, He gave him the Akshaya-paatra. Due to Daiva-prabhaavam, akshaya aahaaram comes from the divya-paatra. Using the Akshaya-paatra, Draupadii devi used to serve the Atithi-abhyaagatas first, then following Pativrataa-dharmam used to serve Paandavas and then eat aahaaram provided by the Akshaya-paatra. The divya-paatra everyday used to provide whatever they wanted till Draupadii devi has her aahaaram.
Morals in the story:
- Once a person has sat-sankalpam and does Daiva-praarthana, as suggested by elders, God Himself will show the way. Yudhishthira, with the sankalpam of doing Atithi-seva, did Suryopaasana as directed by Shri Dhaumya. With this he was able to provide aahaaram to the Viprottamas.
- Atithi-seva of Dharmaraaja and Pativrata-dharmam of Draupadi are shown in the story. Panditas say that a Pativrata has greater power than even the Tri-muurtis!
Search Terms: Dharmaraja, Akshaya Patra, Sun God, Suryadeva