At the end of the great epic, as the Pandavas continued their arduous climb to the heavens, they were joined by a dog.
A perfectly benign and commonplace addition, especially to those who have ever climbed a mountain. On a trek, it's not unusual to find an amiable mongrel who will follow you, or sometimes lead the way to your destination. Their company is pleasant and non-intrusive, and to the lone climber, always welcome.
As Draupadi and the Pandavas fell by the wayside one by one, Yudhishthira, who was the last of them to keep climbing, must have taken solace in the presence of his four-legged companion.
But the real lesson here is that the dog turned out to be Dharma, the God of righteousness and dedication. Dharma can be loosely translated as ‘duty’.
There is truly nothing better than a dog to help you understand what duty really means. The immense patience and quiet dedication that goes into rearing a dog is the best lesson in being dutiful I have ever received.
Waking up at an ungodly hour to persistent toe-licking and little whiny noises to leash her highness up and take her for her royal walk, rain or shine. Paying for even a five minute delay in serving dinner by being subjected to a withering yet somehow pathetic look from princess Pancake the great. Sewing together ripped up mattresses, salvaging chewed up objects, lamenting drooled on papers with nary a sigh. Patience I didn’t know I had, energy I had no idea I could muster, all to serve the pure and benevolent Goddess of Dharma, with four paws and a few fleas.
But every labour of love and worship is rewarded. As all dog people know, that helpless ball of loyalty and love will follow you to the ends of the Earth, and they would even go with you to heaven, if they could.
Dharma is a dog after all.