Yudhistra und the dog

The big hero Yudhistra experienced glories, all happiness, power and honour a man could earn in a lifetime. He has been thru human hells though too, experienced privation, slavery, banishment and indignity.

When he reached the end of his life task, he prepared himself for his last journey and wandered off, carrying the hope in him to find the entrance to heaven from the highest mountain in the Himalayas. His family followed him at first, but they fell behind, one after another. One died with thirst under the hot sun, another died of a fever in the tropical jungle and others were defeated by tiredness and cold in the moment they started to climb into the icy parts of the mountain.

Eventually the group became smaller and smaller until Yudhistria was completely on his own, just accompanied by a small, trusty dog which started to follow him after Yudhistria walked thru one of the villages.

When they reached the mountain top, the sky opened and Indra, the king of all gods, stepped out of heaven and welcomed Yudhistria. In the moment he started to climb into a fiery vehicle from heaven to enter heaven, the little drog hopped into the wagon as well. Indra refused to let the dog in and instructed Yudhistria to get rid of this little creature. The appalled Yudhistria replied 'Oh master, this dog is the only soul that stood by my side thru my whole journey, how could i ever leave it back here...?' --- a big dispute started to form between Indra and Yudhistria. Indra did not give in though and again requested Yudhistria to either enter heaven on his own or not at all.

Yudhistria turnt around and said 'I do decline politely --- if heaven has no place for me and my trusty soul, then i don't want to be there.' --- In that same moment, the small dog transformed into a bright, white light and Yama, god of death and mercy stepped out of this light. While losing consciousness, Yudhistra heard a voice saying 'Yudhistira, oh mercifully Yudhistria, this was your last furnace!' and the gate of heaven opened in its beauty and glory...

This legend, which has been written about 2300 years ago, long time before Buddha, originated from the heroic epos Mahabharata.