This story occurs in the final chapter of the Mahabharatha.
After Shree Krishna gave up His mortal coil, the Pandavas
did not desire to live any longer and undertook Mahaprasthana
or the final journey. They tread the strenuous path of yoga
and dhyana and sought mukthi.

The Pandavas began to walk towards the Himalayas.
Dharmaraja was followed by Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula,
Sahadeva, and Draupadi. A dog also followed them. As they
were walking, first Draupadi fell down due to exhaustion.
Bheema was disturbed. He asked Dharmaraja why Draupadi
fell down and could not reach the heaven.
Dharmaraja answered:

“It was Draupadi’s duty to love all her husbands equally; but
she loved Arjuna more than others; so she failed to reach her
goal.”

Later on, one by one, Sahadeva, Nakula and Arjuna fell down.
Dharmaraja explained the reasons for their fall:

“Sahadeva was proud of his scholarship; Nakula was proud
of his handsome looks; Arjuna, the achiever, was arrogant;
so they all failed to reach the heaven.”

As he was speaking, Bheema too fell down. Dharmaraja
explained Bheema’s failure to reach the goal:
“Bheema, you ate too much. It is a sin to eat more than
necessary and deprive another living being of its food. You
were also proud of your strength.”

Leaving behind his fallen brothers and wife, Dharmaraja
continued his journey towards the heaven. Now, only the
dog followed him.

Indra, the king of Gods was waiting with the Pushpaka Vimana
to take Dharmaraja to the heaven. Dharmaraja asked Indra:
“Can I bring this dog along with me? He has followed me
faithfully till the end of this difficult journey.”
Indra replied, “Sorry, there is no place for dogs in the land of
Gods.”

Dharmaraja responded:

“If I have to leave this dog behind, I wish to stay on the
earth itself. I do not want to gain mukthi by betraying this
animal, which has accompanied me till the end.”
Both Indra and Yama, who was in the guise of the dog, were
pleased with Dharmaraja’s sense of righteousness and blessed
him.

Bheema was world renowned for his strength, Arjuna was
known for his valour, Draupadi and Nakula were endowed
with exquisite beauty, Sahadeva was a scholar of repute.
Dharmaraja did not possess any of these qualities. Only dharma
was his constant companion.

While knowledge, valour and beauty made his brothers and
wife remain on this earth, dharma secured a place in heaven
for Dharmaraja.

Shall we too make dharma our life companion?

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