In the Mahabharata, there is a episode when the brothers and companions of Yudhishthira are poisoned by a Yaksha, to bring them back to life Yudhishthira has to answer some questions posed by the Yaksha.
What we can learn from the questions and answers in general is that both the one asking questions and the one answering are well knowledgeable in the subject of Dharmah. The more specific lessons to be learned are encoded in the questions and answers them self.
For reference: The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Aranya Parva: Section CCCXI.
The Yaksha then said, ‘What is it that maketh the Sun rise? Who keeps him
company? Who causeth him to set? And in whom is he established?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘Brahma maketh the Sun rise: the gods keep him company: Dharma causeth him to set: and he is established in truth.
The Yaksha asked, ‘By what doth one become learned? By what doth he attain what is very great? How can one have a second? And, O king, how can one acquire intelligence?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘It is by the (study of the) Srutis that a person becometh learned; it is by ascetic austerities that one acquireth what is very great: it is by intelligence that a person acquireth a second and it is by serving the old that one becometh wise.
The Yaksha asked, ‘What constituteth the divinity of the Brahmanas? What even is their practice that is like that of the pious? What also is the human attribute of the Brahmanas? And what practice of theirs is like that of the impious?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘The study of the Vedas constitutes their divinity: their asceticism constitutes behaviour that is like that of the pious; their liability to death is their human attribute and slander is their impiety.
The Yaksha asked, ‘What institutes the divinity of the Kshatriyas? What even is their practice that is like that of the pious? What is their human attribute? And what practice of theirs is like that of the impious?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘Arrows and weapons are their divinity: celebration of
sacrifices is that act which is like that of the pious: liability to fear is their human attribute; and refusal of protection is that act of theirs which is like that of the impious
The Yaksha asked, ‘What is that which constitutes the Sama of the sacrifice? What the Yajus of the sacrifice? What is that which is the refuge of a sacrifice? And what is that which sacrifice cannot do without?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘Life is the Sama of the sacrifice; the mind is the Yajus of the sacrifice: the Rik is that which is the refuge of the sacrifice; and it is Rik alone which sacrifice cannot do without
The Yaksha asked, ‘What is of the foremost value to those that cultivate? What is of the foremost value to those that sow? What is of the foremost value to those that wish for prosperity in this world? And what is of the
foremost value to those that bring forth?
Yudhishthira answered, ‘That which is of the foremost value to those that cultivate is rain: that of the foremost value to those that sow is seed: that of the foremost value to those that bring forth is offspring.
The Yaksha asked, ‘What person, enjoying all the objects of the senses, endued with intelligence, regarded by the world and liked by all beings, though breathing, doth not offer anything to these five, viz., gods, guests, servants, Pitris, and himself, though endued with breath, is not yet alive.’
Yudhishthira answered: The one who does not look after Gods, guests, servants, ancestors and his own self is considered as not breathing, even if he breaths.
The Yaksha asked, ‘What is weightier than the earth itself? What is higher than the heavens?’ What is fleeter than the wind? And what is more numerous than grass?
Yudhishthira answered, ‘The mother is weightier than the earth; the father is higher than the heaven; the mind is fleeter than the wind; and our thoughts are more numerous than grass.
The Yaksha asked, ‘What is that which doth not close its eyes while asleep; What is that which doth not move after birth? What is that which is without heart? And what is that which swells with its own impetus?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘A fish doth not close its eyes while asleep: an egg doth not move after birth: a stone is without heart: and a river swelleth with its own impetus.
The Yaksha asked, ‘Who is the friend of the exile? Who is the friend of the householder? Who is the friend of him that ails? And who is the friend of one about to die?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘The friend of the exile in a distant land is his companion, the friend of the householder is the wife; the friend of him that ails is the physician: and the friend of him about to die is charity.
The Yaksha asked,-‘Who is the guest of all creatures? What is the eternal duty? What, O foremost of kings, is Amrita? And what is this entire Universe?’
Yudhishthira answered, Agni is the guest of all creatures: the milk of kine is amrita: Homa (therewith) is the eternal duty: and this Universe consists of air alone.
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is that which sojourneth alone? What is that which is reborn after its birth? What is the remedy against cold? And what is the largest field?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘The sun sojourns alone; the moon takes birth anew: fire is the remedy against cold: and the Earth is the largest field.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is the highest refuge of virtue? What of fame? What of heaven? And what, of happiness?’
Yudhishthira answered,- ‘Liberality is the highest refuge of virtue: gift, of fame: truth, of heaven: and good behavior, of happiness.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is the Atma of man? Who is that friend bestowed on man by the gods? What is man’s chief support? And what also is his chief refuge?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘The son is a man’s Atma: the wife is the friend bestowed on man by the gods; the clouds are his chief support; and gift is his chief refuge
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is the best of all laudable things? What is the most valuable of all his possessions? What is the best of all gains? And what is the best of all kinds of happiness?’
Yudhishthira answered,-“The best of all laudable things is skill; the best of all
possessions is knowledge: the best of all gains is health: and contentment is the best of all kinds of happiness
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is the highest duty in the world? What is that virtue which always beareth fruit? What is that which if controlled, leadeth not to regret? And who are they with whom an alliance cannot
Yudhishthira answered,-‘The highest of duties is to refrain from injury: the rites ordained in the Three (Vedas) always bear fruit: the mind, if controlled, leadeth to no regret: and an alliance with the good never breaketh.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is that which, if renounced, maketh one agreeable? What is that which, if renounced, leadeth to no regret? What is that which, if renounced, maketh one wealthy? And what is that which if renounced, maketh one happy?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Pride, if renounced, maketh one agreeable; wrath, if renounced leadeth to no regret: desire, if renounced, maketh one wealthy: and avarice, if renounced, maketh one happy.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘For what doth one give away to Brahmanas? For what to mimes and dancers? For what to servants? And for what to king?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘It is for religious merit that one giveth away to Brahmanas: it is for fame that one giveth away to mimes and dancers: it is for supporting them that one giveth away to servants: and it is for obtaining relief from fear that one giveth to kings.
The Yaksha asked,-‘With what is the world enveloped? What is that owing to which a thing cannot discover itself? For what are friends forsaken? And for what doth one fail to go to heaven?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘The world is enveloped with darkness. Darkness doth not permit a thing to show itself. It is from avarice that friends are forsaken. And it is connection with the world for which one faileth to go to heaven.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘For what may one be considered as dead? For what may a
kingdom be considered as dead? For what may a Sraddha be considered as dead? And for what, a sacrifice?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘For want of wealth may a man be regarded as dead. A kingdom for want of a king may be regarded as dead. A Sraddha that is performed with the aid of a priest that hath no learning may be regarded as dead. And a sacrifice in which there are no gifts to Brahmanas is dead.
The Yaksha asked,-‘What constitutes the way? What, hath been spoken of as water? What, as food? And what, as poison? Tell us also what is the proper time of a Sraddha, and then drink and take away as much as thou likest!’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘They that are good constitute the way. Space hath been spoken of as water. The cow is food****. A request is poison. And a Brahmana is regarded as the proper time of a Sraddha. I do not know what thou mayst think of all this, O Yaksha?’
****The Srutis speak of the cow as the only food, in the following
sense. The cow gives milk. The milk gives butter. The butter is
used in Homa. The Homa is the cause of the clouds. The clouds
give rain. The rain makes the seed to sprout forth and produce
The Yaksha asked,-‘What hath been said to be the sign of asceticism? And what is true restraint? What constitutes forgiveness. And what is shame?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Staying in one’s own religion is asceticism: the restraint of the mind is of all restraints the true one: forgiveness consists in enduring enmity; and shame, in withdrawing from all unworthy acts.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What, O king is said to be knowledge? What, tranquillity? What constitutes mercy? And what hath been called simplicity?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘True knowledge is that of Divinity. True tranquillity is that of the heart. Mercy consists in wishing happiness to all. And simplicity is
equanimity of heart.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What enemy is invincible? What constitutes an incurable
disease for man? What sort of a man is called honest and what dishonest?
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Anger is an invincible enemy. Covetousness constitutes
an incurable disease. He is honest that desires the weal of all creatures, and he is dishonest who is unmerciful.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What, O king, is ignorance? And what is pride? What also is
to be understood by idleness? And what hath been spoken of as grief?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘True ignorance consists in not knowing one’s duties. Pride is a consciousness of one’s being himself an actor or sufferer in life. Idleness consists in not discharging one’s duties, and ignorance in grief.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What hath steadiness been said by the Rishis to be? And what, patience? What also is a real ablution? And what is charity?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Steadiness consists in one’s staying in one’s own religion, and true patience consists in the subjugation of the senses. A true bath consists in washing the mind clean of all impurities, and charity consists in protecting all creatures.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What man should be regarded as learned, and who should be called an atheist? Who also is to be called ignorant? What is called desire and what are the sources of desire? And what is envy?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘He is to be called learned who knoweth his duties. An atheist is he who is ignorant and so also he is ignorant who is an atheist. Desire is due to objects of possession, and envy is nothing else than grief of heart.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What is pride, and what is hypocrisy? What is the grace of the gods, and what is wickedness?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Stolid ignorance is pride. The setting up of a religious standard is hypocrisy. The grace of the gods is the fruit of our gifts, and wickedness consists in speaking ill of others.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘Virtue, profit, and desire are opposed to one another. How could things thus antagonistic to one another exist together?’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘When a wife and virtue agree with each other, then all the three thou hast mentioned may exist together.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘O bull of the Bharata race, who is he that is condemned to everlasting hell? It behoveth thee to soon answer the question that I ask!’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘He that summoneth a poor Brahmana promising to
make him a gift and then tells him that he hath nothing to give, goeth to everlasting hell. He also must go to everlasting hell, who imputes falsehood to the Vedas, the scriptures, the Brahmanas, the gods, and the ceremonies in honour of the Pitris, He also goeth to everlasting hell who though in possession of wealth, never giveth away nor enjoyeth himself from avarice, saying, he hath none.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘By what, O king, birth, behaviour, study, or learning doth a person become a Brahmana? Tell us with certitude!’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Listen, O Yaksha! It is neither birth, nor study, nor learning, that is the cause of Brahmanahood, without doubt, it is behaviour that constitutes it. One’s behaviour should always be wellguarded, especially by a Brahmana. He who maintaineth his conduct unimpaired, is never impaired himself. Professors and pupils, in fact, all who study the scriptures, if addicted to wicked habits, are to be regarded as illiterate wretches. He only is learned who performeth his religious duties. He even that hath studied the four Vedas is to be regarded as a wicked wretch scarcely distinguishable from a Sudra (if his conduct be not correct). He only who performeth the Agnihotra and hath his senses under control, is called a Brahmana!’
The Yaksha asked,-‘What doth one gain that speaketh agreeable words? What doth he gain that always acteth with judgment? What doth he gain that hath many friends? And what he, that is devoted to virtue?
Yudhishthira answered,-‘He that speaketh agreeable words becometh agreeable to all. He that acteth with judgment obtaineth whatever he seeketh. He that hath many friends liveth happily. And he that is devoted to virtue obtaineth a happy state.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘Who is truly happy? What is most wonderful? What is the path? And what is the news? Answer these four questions of mine and let thy dead brothers revive.’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘O amphibious creature, a man who cooketh in his own
house, on the fifth or the sixth part of the day, with scanty vegetables, but who is not in debt and who stirreth not from home, is truly happy.
Day after day countless creatures are going to the abode of Yama, yet those that remain behind believe themselves to be immortal. What can be more wonderful than this? Argument leads to no certain conclusion, the Srutis are different from one another; there is not even one Rishi whose opinion can be
accepted by all; the truth about religion and duty is hid in caves: therefore, that alone is the path along which the great have trod. This world full of ignorance is like a pan. The sun is fire, the days and nights are fuel.
The months and the seasons constitute the wooden ladle. Time is the cook that is cooking all creatures in that pan (with such aids); this is the news.’
The Yaksha asked,-‘Thou hast, O represser of foes, truly answered ail my questions! Tell us now who is truly a man, and what man truly possesseth every kind of wealth
Yudhishthira answered,-‘The report of one’s good action reacheth heaven and spreadeth over the earth. As long as that report lasteth so long is a person to whom the agreeable and the disagreeable, weal and woe, the past and the future, are the same, is said to possess every kind of wealth.’
The Yaksha said, -‘Thou hast, O king truly answered who is a man, and what man possesseth every kind of wealth. Therefore, let one only amongst thy brothers, whom thou mayst wish, get up with life!’
Yudhishthira answered,-‘Let this one that is of darkish hue, whose eyes are red, who is tall like a large Sala tree, whose chest is broad and arms long, let this Nakula, O Yaksha, get up with life!
The Yaksha rejoined,-‘This Bhimasena is dear unto thee, and this Arjuna also is one upon whom all of you depend! Why, then, O king dost thou, wish a step-brother to get up with his life! How canst thou, forsaking Bhima whose strength is equal to that of ten thousand elephants, wish Nakula to live?
People said that this Bhima was dear to thee. From what motive then dost thou wish a step-brother to revive? Forsaking Arjuna the might of whose arm is worshipped by all the sons of Pandu, why dost thou wish Nakula to revive?
Yudhishthira said,-‘If virtue is sacrificed, he that sacrifice it, is himself lost. So virtue also cherish the cherished. Therefore taking care that virtue by being sacrificed may not sacrifice us, I never forsake virtue. Abstention from injury is the highest virtue, and is, I ween, even higher than the highest
object of attainment. I endeavour to practise that virtue. Therefore, let Nakula, O Yaksha, revive! Let men know that the king is always virtuous! I
will never depart from my duty. Let Nakula, therefore, revive!
And that is it, if you want to read the rest, i suggest get a copy.