The Deep Symbolism Of The Mahabharata

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

B R I L L I A N T !!!

The `Mahabharata’ has a deep underlying symbolism.  Imagine Draupadi as the human body.  The Pandavas, the five senses, are wedded to it.  Their first cousins, a hundred in number, the Kauravas, are present in the form of the tendencies of the mind.  Yudhishthir thinks that he is a good gambler and so would win over the Kauravas.  The senses also think that they can win over the tendencies of the mind.  The Pandavas keep gambling till they lose everything, including themselves and their beloved wife, Draupadi.  Likewise, we lose everything when we gamble with our tendencies, and, like the Pandavas, end up in spiritual exile.  The body is demeaned, like Draupadi was, and only divine intervention can save it.  However, our body does not abandon us, even when we lead it into exile.  However, there are some good tendencies also.  There are many good people in the Kaurava camp.  But, Krishna advises Arjuna to kill all of them, implying that all tendencies, both good and evil should be exterminated.  They are already dead, he says.  You are only an instrument in making this evident.   If a person has to gain enlightenment he must overcome all the tendencies of the mind, good or bad.  These do not have an existence, apart from what we have given them they are already dead.  However, we keep them alive by our own acts, and, by our own acts, we can kill them all. Only then will we be free.  Kurukshetra is the world in which we live this life, witnessing a war between our senses and our mind’s tendencies.  Dhritarashtra symbolises the mind, which gives birth, in a sense, to our tendencies.  He was blind as the mind is to its tendencies.  His wife, Gandhari, was not blind but chose to blindfold herself.  Even when we have a choice to see, we choose not to see.  

None of the Pandavas were born of their mother’s husband, Pandu.  Their mother, Kunti, had been given a chant, which invoked various gods who fathered the Pandavas.  The Sun was the father of Karna.  Dharma, the god of duty was the father of Yudhishthir and Indra the king of gods was the father of Arjuna.  The god of wind, symbolising strength, was the father of Bhishma and the Ashwini Kumars were the fathers of Nakul and Sahdev.  Our senses are basically part of our divinity, the instruments born to keep us in this form.  The original name of their mother was Pritha, signifying Prithvi, the Earth, and she took the name Kunti when Kuntibhoja adopted her.  So, the Pandavas were born through the conjoining of the Earth and the divine the body and the spirit.  Karna was born of the Sun-god and the Earth mother.  He is a symbol of our ego.  Like him, our ego is also armoured.  Only the guru’s intervention could get the armour removed.  Similarly, the guru helps the seeker in killing his ego.  Krishna’s form, too, is symbolic.  Deep blue is the colour of eternity.  It is the colour of the sky, and of the deep ocean.  Yellow is the colour of the earth.  A deep blue god-image enclosed in yellow clothes symbolises the spirit clothed in the body.  Krishna, then, is a symbol of the body and spirit, a symbol of you and me in our enlightened form.  When we become aware of our true self, we realise that there is no difference between us and Krishna or Vishnu, of whom he is an incarnation, as, indeed are we.

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3 Responses to “The Deep Symbolism Of The Mahabharata”

  1. rahul Says:

    wonderful metaphors and comparisons. Just a few things, “the wind god,”Vayu” was the father of Bhima (not Bhishma). And Nakul and Sahdev were not Kunti’s sons. They were from Madri if I am not wrong.
    Thank You

  2. Astarte Says:

    If I remember the story correctly, Bhishma was the 8th son of Ganga which makes him the Human Ego..The birth of Karna is the birth of the human soul..half is divinity (sun) and half is matter (earth),and symbolizes our attachment to in our family, friends, desires, education, career..but we also have that spark of divinity, that leads us to devotion,perform virtues and practice a fair amount of justice and truth symbolized by his armour.If you say the Ego is armoured,then who is the protector of the Ego?
    Bhima is the Vital body of the Human being born of Kunti,the creative energy..From the Vital Body, we develop Our Emotional body and our Mental Body symbolized by Nakul and Sahadeo. Arjuna (a matured Karna) is our Willpower, half of which fights the negatives of our senses for the protection of the other half which is Justice and Mercy or all that is righteous. Drapadi is an extention of that superior part of our willpower (superior part of Arjuna) She is our Divine Soul.She is that part of us that links us to God in prayer..she fights for justice. Yudhishtra is that part of us that seeks mercy and fight for that which is truth and righteous.
    As it is, we are so deeply attached to this material world that rarely do we recognize what is just and truth.Our devotion is mechanical. We perform religious activities mechanically, with no sincerity. Every thought word and action is for our fulfill our desires..This Me, Myself and I is essentially our EGO. Arjuna, our Human Willpower fight to destroy this EGO which has over-powered the Material mind and bring it under the guidance of the Intuitive Mind. In this way, one abandons the Ego..The Me myself and I and our thoughts, words and actions are directed for the benefit of mankind.

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