Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 27

Thread: Symbols of the mahābhārata

  1. #1
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    This post is the continuation of http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=51735&postcount=36 and the idea of the following:
    We reside in the field of action (kurukṣhetra). This is one of many lessons the mahābhārata teaches us.
    Overview
    The continuation of this post has been brought here to the uttara¹ folder due to the subject matter being a bit more in-depth .
    The greatest level of appreciation will be gained for those that have read or are perhaps studying mahābhārata. I put myself in this
    category as the śiṣya (student) of this great work.

    For those that have not read the mahābhārata this knowledge may be mildly interesting and the reader of the posts may be missing a frame of reference that makes the knowledge lively.

    The intent of this string will be to look at the personalities of the mahābhārata that play a major role in story e.g. dhṛtarāṣṭra , the pāṇḍava, kṛṣṇ ( some prefer kṛṣṇa) , bhīṣma, etc. and what they symbolically represent.

    Note that I have searched some years for this information and I am not the final authority on this matter. I will offer the insights on the etymology of many of the words, offer different views and ideas from my studies, yet the muni that is most insightful on this matter is svāmī paramahaṃsa yogānaṃda-ji. His knowledge takes the conversation to the spiritual significance of the personalities and how it aligns ( perfectly) with a yogic view ( that of patañjali -muni), a tantric view - that of the body and various energy centers ( carkra-s &#185, etc. Only a being with direct personal experience can offer the insight that svāmī paramahaṃsa yogānaṃda-ji brings to this conversation; to him I owe my gratitude and respect for connecting the dots. Any blemishes on his ideas that occur can only be from my misunderstanding.

    Let's begin here
    The knowledge in the mahābhārata is quite profound. It can address an audience on multiple levels. As you recall the bhagāvad gītā is part of the mahābhārata. It is full and perfect in every way. My teacher has said it is so perfect it addresses all 6 darśana-s:
    For the ṣaḍ-darśana one could in general group the 6 into 3 pairs :
    • yoga & sāṁkhya - very similar views of creation, one's advancement and the like.
    • mimāṁsā & vedānta as vedānta is also known as uttara mimāṁsā a.k.a. the brahma-sūtra-s
      Also some distinguish mimāṁsā as pūrva ( former , prior ) to that of uttara ( later , following , subsequent ) mimāṁsā
      One needs to look at this work of jaimini's pūrva mimāṁsā and see if one can find īśvara. I see īśvara
      very easily in vedānta as this is = to the upaniṣads, as which is the subject at hand in the brahma-sūtra-s.
    • nyāya & vaiśeṣika - logic and cosmology - Here we find the 'atom eater' or kaṇāda-muni the author of the vaiśeṣika branch.
      And we have akṣapāda-muni (akṣapāda = having his eyes fixed on his feet ) of the nyāya philosophy.
    Why do I mention this ? Many of the personalities & their symbols that will be offered in the following posts will be from the yogic and spiritual perspective. That is, how these intrinsic qualities are part of one's own being and how they may advance or retard one's sādhana.

    With the following posts we will take a look at some of the key characters and their relevance.

    praṇām

    words
    • uttara - northern; spiritually, energy that is rising; in a mundane POV we can consider this upper , higher , superior as opposed to adhara declining.
    • cakra-s - 6 in number mūlādhāra, svādhiṣṭhāna , maṇi-pūra , anāhata , viśuddha some call kaṇṭha-cakra, & ājñākhya
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    Let's take a look at king dhṛtarāṣṭra (some write dhritarāshtra) . We know him to be blind and this will be a key symbol of this personality.
    We also know he is the off-spring of vyāsa-ji¹ , and in an upcoming post we will look at vyāsa as a symbol.

    Dhṛtarāṣṭra is derived from dhṛta धृत - drawn tight (reins) , kept back , detained ; and rāṣṭra is kingdom, or realm. This rāṣṭra is also rooted in rāj ,
    to rule , as this makes sense of one that has a kingdom. So , when we add the words together it is one who rules tightly, has the reins tight.

    The key to this personality is the idea of being blind. King dhṛtarāṣṭra is the symbol of manas , the mind. That faculty or instrument through which thoughts
    enter or by which objects of sense are collected. Svāmī paramahaṃsa yogānaṃda-ji calls him the sense-mind.
    But why blind? The sense-mind lacks discriminating power on its own. The sense-mind is turned outward toward the world of objects. It lives in the world of māyā ¹ ,
    of the many, of the Infinite that is measured out.

    This mind has a function to coordinate the senses , as for itself, it cannot see, or hear or touch , etc. without those other faculties i.e. it is ~blind~ yet
    holds a 'tight rein' (dhṛta) on these horses i.e. the senses. The mind as ~ blind~ ( and separate from intelligence, as we will get to this later) relays the impressions
    received from the senses ( the horses) to the proper channels i.e. buddhi¹ ( intellect) or the emotions , etc.

    Now the implications of this blind king ( manas) and the children he produces with queen gāndhārī (his wife) comes the kaurava of 100 sons and one daughter.
    The sense mind ( the king) + the power of desires ( the queen) gives birth to 100 sons. Yet the most noteworthy is the 1st son, duryodhana.
    We will take a look at him in the next post, as much mischief is caused by this personality in the mahābhārata and in our own lives.

    praṇām

    words
    • vyāsa is veda vyāsa - the one who compiled the veda-s and is also known as kṛṣṇa dvaipāyana for more insight on vyāsa see this HDF post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=49765&postcount=35
    • māyā - rooted ( √ ) in mā - measuring
    • buddhi - the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; in sāṃkhya darśana
      the second of the 25 tattva-s called buddhi-tattva)
    Last edited by yajvan; 06 December 2015 at 01:48 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  3. #3
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    Lets take a look at duryodhana as he causes much mischief for the pāṇḍava-s. We know he is king dhṛtarāṣṭra's 1st born son.
    We will look at the other sons ( not all 100) in a future post,; let's see what this word duryodhana implies.
    • dur दुर् is bad or difficult; great crime or wickedness . We see this in this word duriṣṭha - very bad or difficult or wicked.
    • yudh युध् is to fight with.

    So dur + yudh is very difficult or bad to fight with. And who is so difficult for us to fight with ? Desire. He is considered active desire , material desire.
    We will discuss the 6 faults or blemishes (ṣaḍ-doṣa-s) found in the human and their equivalent personalities in the mahābhārata , yet the 1st one is kāma.
    In this use it is the excessive longing and desire for things some like to call lust. This is the symbol that duryodhana plays.

    Think of the time in the mahābhārata where the pāṇḍava asked for just a small part of the kingdom, even just 1 village and then there would be no need for war.
    Duryodhana would not even give one inch to the pāṇḍava, due to his excessive desire to possess i.e. to own and indulge in as many of the sense-objects as possible. It is my humble opinion that this insatiable desire is the engine for greed, gluttony and the like. It is driven by the symbol of duryodhana.


    Before we continue to advance the conversation it will be helpful to revisit this notion of kurukṣhetra. We know this word to mean the field ( kṣetra) of the kuru's.
    Kuru also means kartāras or 'doers' and this is rooted in (√) kṛ ( or kri) . This kṛ is quite a profound an robust root sound in saṃskṛtam. In its simplest definition it means to do ,
    make , perform , accomplish , cause , effect , prepare , undertake . Hence on 1st inspection this word is viewed as the field of the kuru's, yet it also means the field ( kṣetra ) of doing (kṛ).

    We as humanbeings are engaged in the field of doing both internally and externally to our bodies. That is, we engage in work, play, family, fun, thoughts,finances, worry, happiness, good behaviors, bad behaviors, etc. etc. on a daily basis.

    The symbol of kurukṣhetra in the mahābhārata
    There are 3 levels one can look at this kurukṣhetra. This is also found in many ( not all) śāstra-s to decode their use and application.
    • The physical level - this would be the fight of good vs. bad, right and wrong, the big oppressing the small, the strong oppressingthe weak. One could say this occurs on the individual, social, national levels and can be seen via the senses.


    • The mental level - that of thoughts, ideas, tendencies, behaviors, traits, manas or mind, intellect (buddhi), etc. We can even place meditation on this level. The ~battle~ of the senses drawing one into the field of matter vs. inward to calmness, to steadiness towards the direction of the Self.


    • The spiritual level - this is the level of the devata, yet we as spiritual beings can also be found here as one experiences samādhi, perfect silence, etc. Now we have that tendency for union ( yukti, yoga) with the Supreme, yet the ego may get in the way , or the subtler kośa's¹ or even other impulses of nature that may restrict this ability.

    So , when we talk of the various symbols of the mahābhārata we're inferring those forces, tendencies, etc. that restrict or divert ( detour) one from their full spiritual experience. Yet the mahābhārata at the same time teaches those social rules
    and individual rules of proper habit and actions ( dharma).

    Looking at Duryodhana in this light, this ~force~ is what pulls our awareness outward into the field ( kṣetra ) of differences, of diversity, of want.
    No matter how much one achieves in the field of diversity it does not bring complete satisfaction. This is confirmed in the chāndogya upaniad, where sanatkumāra-ji is instructing nārada and says, nālpe sukham asti or finite (alpa) things do not (na) contain happiness (suka).

    Durodhona does not care about this and is only driven , and is the embodiment of kāma. So , the question is how to dis-arm this durodhana and the kaurava that he leads? We will address this in a future post.


    praṇām

    words
    kośa - these are coverings over the Self. Some say there are 3 others say 5. The ānanda-maya kośa or sheath of bliss , the kāraṇa-śarīra or causal frame , the vijñāna-maya or buddhi-maya or mano-maya or prāṇa-maya kośa , " the sheath of intellect or will or life-force , the sūkṣma-śarīra or " subtle frame , the anna-maya kośa , the sheath of nourishmen , the sthūla-śarīra or gross frame i.e. the phyical body level and components
    Last edited by yajvan; 28 February 2016 at 10:54 AM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  4. #4
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    The pāṇḍava-s part 1

    We now need to address the the 5 pāṇḍava-s ( we will leave karṇa for another post).
    Pāṇḍu was a son of vyāsa-ji and ambālīka. Note too that vyāsa-ji and ambikā produced king dhṛtarāṣṭra. In each case vyāsa-ji has played a key role in this mahābhārata. It is said, as a symbol, vyāsa-ji is relativity and discriminating power of the Supreme that resides in the field of differences. He is also called-out as nārāyaṇa here on earth.

    It is though his congress with ambikā ( negitive doubt or unclear discernment) that produces manas (dhṛtarāṣṭra); And with his congress with ambālīka ( positive discriminating power) pāṇḍu is produced. Who now is this pāṇḍu?

    Pāṇḍu is rooted in pāṇḍ meaning 'white'. Hence vyāsa-ji's off-spring with ambālīka ( positive discriminating power) creates pure (pāṇḍ = white) discriminating intelligence. This pāṇḍu is buddhi, the positive aspect of the mind. Through vyāsa-ji's action both positive ( pāṇḍu) and negative (dhṛtarāṣṭra) aspects have been born.

    Now we are set for the 5 pāṇḍava to come into being. Note that pāṇḍu never had sexual congresss with kuntī¹ nor mādrī. What occurs ?Kuntī is also pṛthā , daughter of a yādava prince named śūra , who gave her to his childless cousin kuntibhoja by whom she was adopted . On one occasion before her marriage she paid such respect to the powerful sage durvāsas that he taught her a mantra which allowed her to have a child by any devatā she invoked.

    Kuntī as a symbol is the power of dispassion. It is from this power she is able to solicit the help of the devatā ( cosmic impulses of nature as my teacher would say) to manifest children for pāṇḍu (buddhi). She, kuntī , shares this mantra abilty with mādrī for her too to access these cosmic impulses of nature. Mādrī is then the power of attachment to dispassion ( to kuntī ). Both serve the intellect (buddhi or pāṇḍu ) to give him children.

    Who are these children ? Yudhiṣṭhira , bhīma , and arjuna from kuntī and sahadeva and nakula from mādrī . What do they represent? the tattva-s, key elements of creation. We will take a deeper look at each of them in the next post.

    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 06 December 2015 at 01:50 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  5. #5
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    The pāṇḍava-s part 2

    Who are these children ? Yudhiṣṭhira , bhīma , and arjuna from kuntī and sahadeva and nakula from mādrī . What do they represent? the tattva-s, key elements of creation.
    Note the order of the pāṇḍava's births (again we will leave karṇa for another post, as he was born before kuntī was with pāṇḍu).
    This is the order of the pañca mahābhūta-s , the 5 great elements.
    • yudhiṣṭhira - ākāśa (space)
    • bhīma - vāyu or prāṇa (life force)
    • arjuna - tejas or āgni ( flame)
    • nakula - jala (water or fluid)
    • sahadeva - pṛithvī (earth or material)

    Let's look a bit deeper into these personalities. In an upcoming post we can see these tattva-s in ourselves, within our own being residing within the ‘bow’.
    Bow being the spinal column and hence within the cakra-s.

    • It is very befitting that yudhiṣṭhira is the first born. It is space ( ākāśa ) that allows all things to exist. We know that yudhiṣṭhira is the son of dharma. Dharma is rooted in dhṛ meaning to carry , maintain , preserve , keep , possess , that is that which upholds. This ākāśa is perfect as dhṛ for it 'upholds' and provides the space and support for all things to exist.

      It is worthy of note to look at yudhiṣṭhira’s name . It is from yudhi, ‘fighting, in the battle’ + ṣṭhira is sthiti ‘ settled, standing still’ . This to convey calmness, undisturbed.
      Hence yudhiṣṭhira is ‘
      calm, undisturbed’ in battle.


      The symbol is that once again of this ākāśa. No matter what occurs in space e.g. all the actions, movement, etc. it remains calm, undisturbed. This sthiti is also ‘establishment of
      good order’ and another nice connection to dharma – of good order.


    • Next is bhīma and is the symbol of prāṇa. We also know him as bhīma-sena and vkodara. We know of his tremendous strength. If we call him bhīma-sena we recognize
      him and his body (sena) as large, strong. If we say bhīma-senā then we are recognizing him as a small army (senā) onto himself.

      Because of these qualities the name bhīma is defined as ‘forceful, terrific, tremendous’. This comes from life-breath, prāṇa. And he is called vkodara which means wolf-bellied.
      This is due to his fueling his tremendous strength and hence his wolf-like appetite.


    • Next is arjuna ( some spell arjun). He is a central figure in the mahābhārata. His quality is that of fire, tejas. This is the symbol of tapas. This tapas is central to self-control.
      Arjun as a symbol is the quality of self-control. This is inferred as he is the son of indra, meaning to subdue and conquer, and indra is associated with the indriya-s, the 5 senses.


      As a symbol to control the senses it is done by tapas, by self-control, by arjun. So the name arjuna is fitting, it means the color of lightening, of silver, and we know indra
      wields the thunderbolt.
      Arjuna also means ‘of a man’ and is another name for nara – a male person. When arjun talks with kṛṣṇa in the bhāgavad gītā he represents all of man-kind.

      Arjun can also be viewed as ‘a’ = not + ‘rajju’ = rope. Rope is the symbol of being bound or paśu ( any tethered animal). Arjun is not bound, yet he is in human form.
      He has been with k
      ṛṣṇa before as nara, so says kṛṣṇa. As a sage. Yet in this life he comes from indra.

    We will address nakula and sahadeva in the next post.

    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 06 December 2015 at 01:50 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  6. #6
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    Note the order of the pāṇḍava's births (again we will leave karṇa for another post, as he was born before kuntī was with pāṇḍu).
    This is the order of the pañca mahābhūta-s , the 5 great elements..
    • yudhiṣṭhira - ākāśa (space)
    • bhīma - vāyu or prāṇa (life force)
    • arjuna - tejas or āgni ( flame)
    • nakula - jala (water or fluid)
    • sahadeva - pṛithvī (earth or material)
    We are now looking at nakula and sahadeva. They come to this earth via the asvins, they are aśvi-sutau the two sons of the aśvins, and yet the sons of pāṇḍu via mādrī¹.

    On these two I take my lead from svāmī paramahaṃsa yogānaṃda-ji ( some write paramahansa yogananda) on the symbols of nakula and sahadeva.
    He says nakula is the symbol for divine power of adherence and sahadeva , that of the power of resistance. To me, this aligns to the notion of their Divine fathers , the aśvins, as the physicians . They are known to bring treasures to men and avert misfortune and sickness. They are considered nāsatya , or kind and helpful.

    It is by ‘adherence’ to proper practices, to dharma, yoga, etc. that one keeps healthy. And it is by ‘residence’ to adharma and bad practices that one gains self-control, patience, forbearance, and the like. These are my views, as I have always been delightfully mystified by the aśvinau ( the two charioteers )

    We must address ego (ahakāra) in the next post and this is bhīṣma son of śāṃtanu and gaṅgā . We will see why his name applies - bhīṣma भीष्म- terrible, efferent , fearful.


    praṇām

    words

    mādrī - princess of the madras
    Last edited by yajvan; 29 April 2011 at 12:42 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  7. #7
    Join Date
    January 2010
    Location
    tadvishno paramam padam
    Age
    31
    Posts
    2,170
    Rep Power
    2531

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    Namaste Yajvan ji,

    Can these symbolic meanings also be derived ethymologically from the names Nakula and Sahadeva?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté Sahasranama

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    Namaste Yajvan ji,

    Can these symbolic meanings also be derived ethymologically from the names Nakula and Sahadeva?
    great question. I have been working with these two names and their roots in this fashion:
    • na+kula ( this I cannot easily see the connection)
    • saha+deva or sa+ha+deva ( here I see the connection with saha - meaning bearing , enduring , withstanding i.e. resistence)

    I continue to work with the etymology and their dhātu-s¹ yet the alignment to svāmī paramahaṃsa yogānaṃda-ji's offer does not ( at once) jump off the page for me to say, ah! I see!
    Yet it must be there, no? Perhaps by the time I finish the total post on the symbols of the mahābhārata it will unfold.

    praṇām

    words
    dhātu - element, constituent part; constituent element or essential ingredient or ~root~
    Last edited by yajvan; 28 February 2016 at 10:55 AM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  9. #9
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,590
    Rep Power
    381

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    If we stop just for a moment , let’s look who we have:
    · The intellect - pure (pāṇḍ = while) discriminating intelligence. This is pāṇḍu, buddhi, the positive aspect of the mind. And through vyāsa-ji's action
    of congress both positive ( pāṇḍu) and negative (dhṛtarāṣṭra) aspects
    have been born and thus;
    · The mind - king dhṛtarāṣṭra is the symbol of manas , the (blind) mind
    · The 5 tattva – the pāṇḍava
    · What is missing? The ego. Enter bhīṣma and this post.

    With the 8 above we have puryaṣṭaka - the eight constituent parts of the body.

    Bhīṣma भीष्म means terrible, efferent , fearful. There are multiple reasons for this name, but for this post let me address it symbolically.
    This ego we have is most hard to destroy, that is why it is bhīṣma terrible, feared. It is this ego that keeps us bound.


    How many arrows were shot into bhīṣma ye he did not fall. And when he finally did, his departure and death was his choice.
    Fifty-six days are called out in the santi parvan section that bhīṣma would lie on a bed of arrows ( 56 = 5+6 = 11 and 11 is owned by rudra,
    this is my assessment on this number).
    He was awaiting for the sun to go north.

    Yet it was kṛṣṇa that infused special abilities into bhīṣma ( to know past, present and future) on the 57th day before his parting. It is the ego when infused with
    the SELF that makes it Divine Ego. It is from this level of Being that bhīṣma gives the wonderful discourses to
    yudhiṣṭhira on all parts of life.


    This is another symbol for the upliftment of the self to go North, up the spine, to unite with the Supreme, but more on this later when we talk of the pāṇḍava and
    their places within the body ~chakra-s~.


    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 28 February 2016 at 10:55 AM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  10. #10

    Re: Symbols of the mahābhārata

    Hi Yajvan ji,
    great thread to begin with, makes one think hard

    Duryodhana, when compared to the attribute 'desire' , this is the desire to achieve or snatch away what is not his. If i go one step further, i would say, this desire is fuelled ( supported ) by 100 of his siblings, 10 indriyas ( 5 gyana + 5 karma ) that are scattered in 10 directions ( up, down included ).

    Regarding the post about Bhishma, i dont completely agree with the description, may be my bias towards that character is so. Bhishma is not his original name as such, he was called Gaangeya, Devavrata. Bhishma, the terrible, is the word used to describe the Oath he had taken for his father's sake.

    When kuru- is a word that signals toward a do-er of action, kurukshetra is a playground for all these do-ers carrying out their individual actions. Kuru - is also a king, ancestor of this dynasty but i dont have any ideas in that direction. So Kurukshetra might well be the individual Mind itself - a playground where opposing thoughts are in a state of constant conflict. 'Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre .. - BGita opens up this way. This should also explain the state of Arjuna - who is like fire tattwa, pure + raw knowledge. He is caught up in a state of confusion, helplessness when he sees himself fighting his dear ones ( in the mind, it is equivalent to fighting qualities of self ). So Krishna the Brahman, guided this confused situation and solved the identity crisis the knowledge was facing in its course.

    Also regardign Bhishma, for all he did in the play, given the way i look at Mahabharata as being simulation of human brain, i would assign him with Wisdom, Discipline. He was completely remindful of his duties all thruout his life, dedicated towards one cause of protecting his kingdom. Only time, wisdom took backseat was durign what happened with Draupadi. He found himself helpless, but realises it was mistake and in the end he accepts it infront of the Brahman - gets the moksha.

    I am a newbie here, comments are always welcome
    Iswara Sankalpam

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •