Very little attention is paid to Sahadev when it comes to Mahabharata and Pandavas, but as per some ancient texts, he was the wisest of all Pandavas and knew about the future, even death of his own son, but such were the circumstances that he had to kept mum. Some parts of this story does not agree with overall Mahabharata which we know, such as at the time of Pandu’s death, Lord Krishna was a mere infant, but still this narration makes an interesting story.
Early life of Pandavas
When Pandavas were little kids, their father Pandu and their mothers, Madri and Kunti lived in exile in a forest. Pandu brought his sons up in a secluded austere atmosphere, with only sages and ascetics for company, and every day Pandu would teach his sons on how to be men of honour.
Pandu tells little Sahdeva to eat his father’s brain
One day when Pandu sat Sahadev on his knee, he told Sahdev: “When I die, you must consume my brain. Only then will you be able to know all about this world.” Sahadev looked at his father with big eyes and agreed he would consume his Pandu’s brain.When Pandu died, Madri accepted death so that she could accompany her husband to the next realm. As Pandu lay on his pyre, the Pandava brothers stood with Kunti and watched.
Sahadev follows his father’s orders
The fire was slowly burning the corpse and Pandu’s head burst from the heat, Sahadev saw his father’s brain.Sahadev knew that he had to eat the brain. Without a word Sahadev ran up to the flames and reached in, plucking out the matter. When other Pandavas shouted, Sahadev took off into the forest.
Lord Krishna senses a disaster
Lord Krishna was away in Mathura but he knew what was happening. He also knew that if Sahadev managed to do what he wanted, it would be a disaster. He took the form of an old sage, manifested himself near where Pandu’s body burned and chased after Sahadev.
He becomes trikalgyani
But Sahdev had already taken a bite of his father’s brain. And with that bite he became enlightened about all that had happened in the history of the world. With a second bite, he knew about all that was happening in the world. And with a another bite, he became enlightened about what is going to happen in future. Sahadev became ‘trikal gyani’ – a person who knows Past, Present and Future – and even though he was only a little boy he realised that the old sage who was chasing him wasn’t really an old sage but the Supreme Lord Krishna himself.
Lord Krishna advises him to keep quiet
Sahadev stopped. Krishna caught up with him, realising it was too late. Sahadev knew everything. “You must never reveal what you know,” Lord Krishna asked Sahadev.He asked. “What if someone asks me? I can’t lie.”“If someone inquires, then you may tell the truth. But never tell them extra. And never tell anyone that you know so much.”
Sahadev agreed and asked something in return. He said – “Alright. But you have to agree to my request too.” “What request is that?” “That you will always protect Pandavas. And if any one of us dies then you must accept death too.” Krishna narrowed his eyes. The boy was a hard bargainer. “Agreed.”
The know all Sahadev
So all of his life, Sahadev knew everything. He knew of the fire plot of Varnavat even as Duryodhan was planning, he knew about the political aspirations of Duryodhan and the Kauravas, He knew about the loaded dice in the gambling match, he knew what would happen to Draupadi in that gambling hall, he about death of everyone in the war. He knew that Ashwathama would kill the Pandava children including his own.
He knew all these terrible things but he could never tell anyone. Not even his brothers,not even his wife Draupadi, who knew everyone’s secrets. Not anyone but Krishna.
For this reason he was quietest of all brothers, keeping to himself and allowing others to speak. Imagine the strength that must have taken. To know what disasters will happen but not speak of them anyway. This is why He was called the most patient man in the world, that he had the power to cope and be in self control.
At the same time, because he’d made Krishna agree to his request he knew that no harm would ever come to the Pandavas themselves. Krishna was bound to protect them all or face death himself.
This was the masterstroke from Sahadev to protect himself and his brothers.