He was the eldest son of Pandav and Kunti and the Kings of Pandavas. He was someone with an impeccable Judgment and one who spoke the truth. In the War of Mahabharat broke out because there was claim for kingdom which was rejected by his arrogant cousin Duryodhan.
Yudhistra in true terms can be classified as a generous and noble king but he would not be able to win anything on his own, here the support of his brothers was a crucial point. Yudhistra was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors, Kripa and Drona. Specifically, he became a master in using the spear
Yudhistra was beta male who lived in the shadows of Alpha male brothers like Bhīma and Arjun. He would be rated equivalent to Nakul and Sehdev in Warfare, whom many writers consider as incompetent sidekicks. He is a good man and someone who should rule but foolish and sometimes lets ego get better of him (which is certainly not a good characteristic of a man with good judgment), the biggest example was his gambling in which he lost everything even himself.
Birth of Yudhistra is conceding with the fact that Pandu his adoptive father is cursed that he would die if he has sex with anyone which includes his two wife because he killed a sage and his wife.
He had asked Kunti to call gods to impregnate her and the first god she invokes with her mantra is Yama, god of death and Judgment, interestingly many folk tales mention that Yama is god of Sun much like Manu (The one who wrote scriptures for Ancient Indian and made Brahmins at top of ladder, amusing and laughable, as such thoughts are written by priests to make them higher up and then exploit masses).
After he was born he was named Yudhistra, he had other names too, namely Ajatshatru (the one with no enemies).
Teachings and Personality
There is a story in Mahabharat in which when Drona Kuravas and Pandavas teacher was teaching a lesson to the about Truth.
Another where he and his brothers were sent off to 13 year exile, they went to a lake one by one and did not return after which Yudhistra went looking for them.
However, His personality is not as perfect as many would like it to be or what some ‘scholars’ like to projects as. If he is a good king with better judgment, the question comes why would such a man bet his wife ? (here Let me point out that I do not sympathies with the character of highly egoistic Draupadi )
Why would such a man gamble on the first place, is his ego getting better of him?
However, Yudhisthira’s true personality is was shown in his unflinching adherence to truth and righteousness to fulfill one’s moral duty, which were more precious to him than royal ambitions, material pursuits and family relations.
He rescued Bhima from Nahusha. He also rescued his four brothers from Yaksha by exemplifying not only his immense knowledge of Dharma, but also understanding its finer implications.
His understanding of Dharma was distinct from other kings. He had Bhima marry an outcast Rakshasi, he denounced casteism, saying a Brahmin is known by his actions and not his birth or education, thus portraying a changeable Dharma that modifies itself to suit the times.
Due to his piety, Yudhisthira’s chariot did not touch the ground (until his deception of Drona), to symbolize his purity. This means he was well regarded as a wise and pious man even by his enemies.
One day while living in exile in the forest, Yudhisthira finds that while attempting to drink water from a lake, all his brothers have been killed by a mysterious Yaksha (a celestial entity). When Yudhisthira arrives, the Yaksha challenges him to answer all his questions or else face the same consequences as his brothers. These questions-answers are like Vedic sutras, short, pithy and practical, and deal with piety and religiosity.
Yudhisthira and Yaksha
In order to save his brothers Yudhistra gave answers to Yaksha’s questions.
Yaksha:: Who is really a helpful companion ?
Yudhisthira: Steady intelligence is a very good friend, and can save one from all dangers.
Yaksha: How can one acquire something very great ?
Yudhisthira: Everything desirable can be attained by the performance of austerity.
Yaksha: What is amrita (nectar) ?
Yudhisthira: Milk is just like nectar.
Yaksha: What is the friend bestowed upon man by the demigods ?
Yudhisthira: Wife is such a friend.
Yaksha: What is the best of happiness ?
Yudhisthira: True happiness comes as a result of contentment.
Yaksha: Why does one give in charity to brahmanas, artists, servants and kings ?
Yudhisthira: For religious merit, prestige, maintenance and protection, respectively.
Yaksha: Why does one forsake friends ?
Yudhisthira: Lust and greed drives one to forsake friends.
Yaksha: What is the only food ?
Yudhisthira: The cow is the only food, for the milk that she produces is used to make ghee (clarified butter), which is used to perform sacrifices, pleased by which the demigods give rain, which causes the grains to grow. Therefore it should be understood that the cow is the root cause of all kinds of food.
Yaksha: What is the king of knowledge ?
Yudhisthira: Knowledge pertaining to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the king of all kinds of knowledge.
Yaksha: What is ignorance ?
Yudhisthira: Not knowing one’s constitutional duty.
Yaksha: What is the best bath ?
Yudhisthira: That which cleanses the mind of all impurities.
Yaksha: What is real charity ?
Yudhisthira: Real charity is protecting one from the onslaughts of material nature.
Yaksha: Since dharma (virtue), artha (profit) and kama (desire) are opposed to each other, how can they co-exist harmoniously ?
Yudhisthira: These three become congenial to one another when one has a virtuous wife.
Yaksha: Who is condemned to everlasting hell ?
Yudhisthira: When one promises a brahmana charity, but upon his arrival refuses to give him charity.
Yaksha: What make one a brahmana, birth, learning or behavior ?
Yudhisthira: It is behavior alone that make a person a brahmana. Even one who is expert in the four Vedas, born of brahmana parents, but whose behavior is not proper, should be considered a sudra.
Yaksha: Who is pleasing ?
Yudhisthira: A person who speaks in a pleasing manner.
Finally the Yaksha asked Yudhisthira four questions of great significance:
Yaksha: Who is truly happy ?
Yudhisthira: One who cooks his own food (is not dependent on anyone), is not a debtor (does not spend more than he can afford), does not have to leave home to make in order to earn his livelihood (does not over endeavor for material things) is truly happy.
Yaksha: What is the most wonderful thing ?
Yudhisthira: The most amazing thing is that even though every day one sees countless living entities dying, he still acts and thinks as if he will live forever.
Yaksha: What is the real path to follow in this life?
Yudhisthira: The best path is to follow in the footsteps of the pure devotees, for they are the actual Mahajanas whose hearts are the sitting places of the real truths regarding religion.
Yaksha: What is news? (that is What is real situation in the material world ?)
Yudhisthira: The material world is like a frying pan. The Sun is the fire, the day and nights are the fuel. The passing seasons are the stirring ladle, and time is the cook. All living entities are being thus fried in this pan. This is the real news of what is happening in the material world, which is a miserable place full of ignorance.
These questions and answers cover a wide gamut of instructions from being successful to pious to religious. Pleased by the answers of Yudhisthira, the Yaksha who was none other than Dharmaraja/ Yama/ Hades (the father of Yudhisthira and the embodiment of religiosity) revives all the brothers of Yudhisthira and offers him many benedictions.
There is a story which is told after Mahabharata was finished about when all five brothers and their common wife Draupadi walk together to a mountain before their end.
Yudhistra On management
He is a leader who gives value to Judgement and righteousness, if he has able commanders working under him like Yudhistra had it in the case of his brothers. Then he can become a near perfect leader.
He would be fair in terms of decision making but at the same time will have human failings. His personality would help him create and recreate organizations which would then run on the principles of Truth, thereby creating credibility.
Yudhistra in today’s world:
He is someone who would be an idealist like Bhishma but not Bhishma in every sense, particularly warfare.