Yogic Symbolism of the Battle of the Kurukshetra
Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda
Selected excerpts from GOD TALKS WITH ARJUNA : THE BHAGAVAD GITA
It will become evident… that the historical background of a battle and the contestants therein have been used for the purpose of illustrating the spiritual and psychological battle going on between the attributes of the pure discriminative intellect in attunement with the soul and the the blind sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the ego. In support of this analogy, there is shown an exact correspondence between the material and spiritual attributes of man as described by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras and the warring contestants cited in the Gita:
- the clan of Pandu, representing Pure Intelligence;
- and that of the blind King Dhritarashtra, representing the Blind Mind with its offspring of wicked sense-tendencies….
Pandu, buddhi, the positive aspect of the mind, the pure discriminating influence, has five sons, the five tattvas or vibrator elements that inform all matter: earth, water, fire, air (prana, life force), and ether. In the body of man they manifest in the five spinal chakras, subtle centres of life and consciousness in the spinal centres, they bestow divine powers on the enlightened yogi.
The first three sons are born of Kunti, “the power of dispassion” that invokes the cosmic principles governing creation:
Yudhisthira, “divine calmness” and the “vibratory ether” in the visuddha or cervical centre, born of Dharma, presiding deity of all righteousness;
Bhima, “vibratory air” (vayu or life force) in the anahata or dorsal chakra, born of the strongest of the gods, Vayu or Pavana; and
Arjuna, “divine self-control” and the “vibratory fire element” in the manipura or lumbar chakra, born of Indra, king of the gods.
Then from the second wife, Madri, “the power of attachment to dispassion,” twin sons are born from the Ashvin devas:
Nakuka, the “divine poer of adherence” and the “vibratory water element” in the svadhisthana or sacral chakra; and
Sahadeva, the “divine power of resistance” and the “vibratory earth element” in the muladhara or coccygeal chakra.
Even the anatomy of the physical body hints at the symbology of the five Pandavas as coming from two mothers: Kunti,and then Madri through the instrumentality of Kunti.
The spinal cord extends from the medulla to below the lumbar chakra, accommodating the location of the subtle centres of the first three brothers born of Kunti.
From the lower end of the spinal cord extend the spinal nerves with their ganglia to the base of the spine, accommodating the location of the subtle centres of the twin sons of Madri.
This too is metaphysically significant: though all five centres are operative in maintaining life and consciousness in the body and the mind, the three upper spinal centres are especially auspicious and helpful to the aspiring devotee in his inner spiritual activities in meditation, while the other two lower centres are a powerful support for the spiritualization of his external activities.
Draupadi, wife of Pandavas
The common wife of the five Pandavas is Draupadi, the life force in the body that is coiled or centralized in the spine and referred to as kula kundalini, which awakens the spiritual powers in the spinal centres of the advanced devotee; i.e., produces a son for each of the Pandava princes in each of the five spinal chakras.
Kauravas, sons of the blind king Dhritarashtra
The offsprings of the Blind King are referred to as Kauravas. The blind Dhritarashtra, “the sense mind,”gives birth through his first wife Gandhari, “the poewer of desires,” to Duryodhana, “vainglorious desire,” and his ninety-nine brothers: the ten senses (five of perception and five of action) with their ten inclinations. From Vaihya, “the attachment of desires,” the second wife of the sense mind, another son is born: Yuyutsu, “the desire to give psychological battle,” In the war, Yuyutsu spurns his Kuru brothers and sides with the Pandavas.
The negative aspects of the one hundred sense inclinations are formidable foes (whose variations can be innumerable).
Some of the more recognizable offspring of the blind mind are as follows:
- material desire;
- sex attachment;
- abuse, and promiscuity;
- ill will;
- desire to hurt others;
- destructive instinct;
- harshness of speech and thought;
- pride of caste or social birth;
- racial pride;
- false sense of delicacy; high-handedness;
- saucy temper;
- ill feeling;
- quarrelsome attitude;
- sensitive feelings;
- physical laziness;
- lack of initiative;
- absentmindedness and mental sloth;
- spiritual indifference;
- unwillingness to meditate;
- spiritual procrastination;
- impurity of body, mind and soul;
- disloyalty to God;
- ungratefulness to God;
- mental weakness;
- lack of vision;
- littleness of mind;
- lack of foresight;
- physical, mental, and spiritual ignorance;
- sense attachment;
- enjoyment in seeing evil, listening to evil, tasting evil, smelling evil, touching evil;
- thinking, willing, feeling, speaking, remembering and doing evil;
- fear of disease and death;
- too much sleeping;
- too much eating;
- pretense of goodness;
- shunning God, and
- postponing meditation.
These sense Bolsheviks – offspring of the blind sense-mind – have brought only sickness, mental worries, and the pestilence of ignorance and spiritual famine, owing to the dearth of wisdom in the bodily kingdom. The awakened soul force and the meditation-evolved self-control must seize the kingdom and plant therein the banner of Spirit, establishing a reign resplendent with peace, wisdom, abundance, and health.
Each person has to fight his own battle of Kurukshetra. It is a war not only worth winning, but in the divine order of the universe and of external relationship between the soul and God, a war that sooner or later must be won.
In the holy Bhagavad Gita, the quickest attainment of that victory is assured to the devotee who, through undiscourageable practice of the divine science of yoga meditation, learns like Arjuna to hearken to the inner wisdom-song of Spirit.
O Krishna, Lord of Yoga ! surely there shall not fail
Blessing, and victory, and power, for Thy most mighty sake,
Where this song comes of Arjun, and how with God he spake.
(Chapter XVIII:76-78 (poetic rendering bySir Edwin Arnold, Song of the Spirit)