Symbolism of Mahabharata



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Symbolism of Mahabharata

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The Mahabharata symbolizes the Creation of the Universe, and the Creation of Man from Spirit or the Supreme Consciousness, into Matter. The discourse in the Gita is the process by which one could reverse this descent. In other words, it details the steps by which man can reascend from his limited consciousness as a mortal being, back to the immortal consciousness of his true Self, merging with the Infinite (Spirit), from whence he came.

SHANTANU He is representative of God, the Para-Brahman, and the father of all creation. All beings evolved from his cosmic consciousness. This is done through his two wives. Ganga (1st wife) She represents the Spiritual aspect of Nature, the Chaitanya, or Consciousness or Maha-Prakriti. This is sometimes called God’s Consciousness, Krishna Consciousness, or Christ Consciousness. Jesus referred to it as the Holy Ghost. Satyavati (2nd wife) She represents Primordial Nature. She is matter. She is the force that manifests into the Universe with all of its sensory, thinking and active beings.

Ganga as the consciousness aspect of Nature is further differentiated into 8 intelligences. Hence the 8 sons of Ganga. - Kutashta Chaitanya, the Universal unchangeable Consciousness or Spirit that pervades the Universe; - The Six Intelligences governing the 3 macrocosmic manifestations, and 3 Microcosmic manifestations of the causal, astral and physical universe; - Abhasya Chaitanya, (the symbolism of BHISHMA), self-consciousness, ahamkara, or universal ego. It is actually a reflection of the Kutashta Chaitanya. Matter in this spiritualized state becomes conscious of a separate existence, endowed with mind, intellect and consciousness. So the spiritual consciousness remains in creation in seven forms of intelligence, but hidden from ordinary consciousness, i.e., normal man is not able to perceive it. Hence why the seven children were drowned by Ganga in the Universal stream; leaving only the reflected consciousness, the eighth offspring, Bhishma to manifest in the world. Bhishma is derived from the Sanskrit root bhi or bhis, to frighten, and asmi, I am. He is the most powerful opponent of the Pandavas. Ego is the reflected consciousness; the reflection of God, the image of God in man, that forgets it’s true divine Self and becomes identified with the powers of perception and action in the instruments of the body and mind.

Satyavati’s first child is - Vyasa. God has to cloak his consciousness in order to conceive creation. He has to project His Singular Reality into the idea of Duality. This represents Vyasa, the Power to perceive and discern the differentiation from Singularity and Duality. This is done through the two wives that he eventually weds. - Satyavati’s other two sons

`Chitrangada, represents Chitta or Mental Consciousness, the first of 24 principles of creation. It will degenerate into its constituent parts; hence Chitrangada dies at an early age. - Vichitravirya, represents Divine Ego. Divine Ego is the Causal body of man. It gives individuality to the soul, from its universal consciousness. He represents the first transformation of the sense of “I”, or ego. Divine Ego is hidden from subjective consciousness, by it’s contact with formations of outward consciousness; hence Vichitravirya dies, after his marriage with two wives, the two forms of outward consciousness.

o Ambika, represents perception without clear discernment (negative doubt). She gives birth to Dhritarashta. o Ambalika, represents positive discriminating faculty. She gives birth to Pandu. - These two wives of Vichitravirya are eventually wedded to Vyasa.

- Dhritarashtra, represents Manas, the Sense Mind, or the Blind Mind, that which is without discriminating power; hence Dhritarashta is born blind, from Ambika and Vyasa. He has two wives. - Gandhari, his first wife, represents the Power of Desires. - Vaishya, his second wife, represents the Attachment of Desires. - Duryodhana, represents Material Desire. He is the firstborn of the 100 sons of Dhritarashtra, with his wife Gandhari. His name is derived from the Sanskrit word dur meaning difficult and yudh meaning to fight. Hence he becomes the king and leader of the Kauravas, the king and leader of all worldly enjoyments. - The 100 sons represent the 100 offspring of the blind sense-mind. These consist of the 5 sense instruments of perception: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; and the five sense instruments of action: speech, manual ability, locomotion, procreation and excretion. Each of these ten, have ten tendencies or propensities; hence 100 offspring. - Yuyutsu is born from Dhritarashtra’s second wife, Vaishya. He represents the Desire to give Psychological battle.

- Pandu, represents Buddhi, the pure discriminating intelligence, the positive aspect of the mind. He has two wives. - Kunti, the first wife, represents the Power of Dispassion (free from emotion or Prejudice) - Madri, the second wife, represents the Power of attachment to Dispassion.

- Pandu had 5 sons, 3 from Kunti and 2 from Madri. The 5 sons represent the 5 Tattvas or elements that make up all matter: ether, air, fire, water and earth. The five elements are not elements as defined by science, instead they are five subtle vibratory forces into which the Creative Force differentiates itself. Within the spinal column of man are five subtle centers of consciousness, called Chakras that create and sustain this body. These chakras also bestow divine powers to an enlightened person who has awakened the spiritual consciousness within. The three sons of Kunti represent the Vishuddha Chakra (cervical), Anahata Chakra (heart), and the Manipura Chakra (lumbar). The two sons of Madri represent the Swadhisthana Chakra (sacral) and Muladhara Chakra (coccyx). The structure of the spinal cord also shows a differentiation supporting the divisions of the three sons of Kunti, with the two sons of Madri. The spinal column extends to the level of the lumbar vertebrae, as one solid structure. From the lower lumbar to the coccyx, the spinal nerves with their ganglia, extend downwards like the tail of a horse, and has been named cauda equina (horses tail). It has the same origin, (as in having the same father) but are at the same time different. They are the location of the 2 sons of Madri. Also significant to the spiritual aspirant (Sadhaka), is the function of the first three chakras, versus the last two. The first three are important in the inner spiritual activities of the Sadhaka; the lower two, are important for the purification of his external activities.

- Yudhistir, is Divine Calmness or Divine Discrimination and the Ether Element in the Cervical Center or Vishuddha Chakra. Ether remains unchanged, and undisturbed by the violent plays of nature’s forces. Similarly, waves of sensual or emotional desires that can ripple the consciousness, and distort perception, have no effect on Yudhistir. He is the power of comparison between good and evil. He is the common sense that perceives all that is virtuous. He is the son of Dharma.

- Bhima, is Prana, the Power of Vitality, the Air Element in the Dorsal Center, or Anahata Chakra. Hence why Vyasaji wrote that he is the son of the God Vayu, the God of Wind. The aspiring Sadhaka, practices his Pranayama that is controlled by this center, thereby calming the breath and controlling the mind and all of its sense objects.

- Arjuna, is Self-Control, the Fire Element in the Lumbar Center or Manipura Chakra. This center is for the purification of mind and body, making intense meditation possible. Arjuna is seen as the chief devotee of Lord Krishna, because he represents self-control, patience and determination, without which, no spiritual progress is possible. This center provides the fire-force of mental and bodily strength to ward off the attack of the sense forces of materialism and sense-bound body consciousness.

- Nakula, is Adherence, the Power to Obey Rules of Dharma, the Water Element in the Sacral Center, or Swadhishthana Chakra. Adherence to Dharmic principles, allows the Sadhaka to control mental tendencies.

- Sahadeva, is Restraint, the Earth Element in the Coccyx Center, or Muladhara Chakra. He is the Power of Resistance by which restless outer sense organs can be controlled.

- Karna, the first son of Kunti, is Attachment(Raga), the inclination that dwells on pleasure. Hence his friendship with Duryodhana (Material Desire), and his battle with his half-brothers, the Pandavas. Interestingly that Vyasaji in placing him in context, has indicated that he is born of the Sun, the light of the consciousness of the spiritual eye, he is brought up by a charioteer, in a place other than where he was born. He is brought up in the Pons Varoli, the seat of Manas, the sense mind, or Dhritarashtra. The word Karna also means “the helm of a ship”; hence Vyasaji is indicating that Karna can be steered inwards through the spiritual eye, to the calm waters of the spiritual consciousness, or outwards into the stormy waters of attachments and sense forces.

- Drona, the Teacher, is Habit or Samskara. As the preceptor, he taught archery to both Pandavas and Kauravas, but during the battle he sided with the Kauravas. Past thoughts and actions create impressions on the consciousness. These impressions or Samskaras, create strong tendencies to repeat themselves. The word Drona comes from the Sanskrit word dru, meaning in a melted state. This indicates that past actions and thoughts remain in melted form as impressions on the consciousness of man. Good Samskaras help to create good thoughts, actions and habits. When the Samskaras are evil, they create wicked thoughts that result in evil actions and habits. If the dominant tendencies are wicked, then the inner urges joins the overwhelming wicked mental tendencies, against the angelic forces. Hence, with Duryodhana and his sense army in control, Drona or Inner Urges, joins his army, and attacks the Pandavas.

- Kripa or Kripacharya, is Avidya, Individual Delusion, or Individual Maya. He is the warrior General of the Kauravas. He represents that which makes individuals express, perceive, and interact with one another as if each has its own separate reality. He is a true materialist, that perceives this world as real, and that all sensory experience is true feeling. He creates his own standards of morality and behavior, and considers these as the highest standards of good, even though they may be in total disharmony with Divine Law. Under the influence of worldly sense urges, he becomes the enemy of Divine Realization. But interestingly, Vyasaji writes that he survived the battle of Kurukshetra, after which he was appointed tutor to Parikshit, the Grandson of Arjuna. The reason for this is that if Avidya is completely withdrawn (Avidya dies), then this form will become formless. In other words, if a being is to remain in this sphere of relativity, then he has to maintain some individuality, hence Avidya cannot die.

- The Game of Dice, represents the Game of Delusion. In childhood, the senses, and the development of the body, are governed by the soul’s powers of discrimination. As youth approaches, the strong sense desires are awakened, by temptations in this life and Samskaras (habit tendencies) of past lives. The game is very charming, and the princely faculties of discrimination are enticed into a deceitful game with the sense desires, and man stakes his entire bodily kingdom. He is overpowered by them, and the pure discriminative intelligence of the soul is ousted from the throne, and sent into exile. Yudhistir and the Pandavas are banished from the kingdom and sent into exile for 12 years, with a further 1 year in total anonymity.

- The Twelve Years of Exile. A Sadhaka, who is armed with the grace of the Guru, and the knowledge of Kriya Yoga, and with all faculties intact, can with perseverance, evolve spiritually within twelve years, to the point where he can wage a battle with the senses to reclaim this body kingdom. This is a known fact to Spiritual aspirants.

- The One Year in Anonymity refers to the period when the Sadhaka, having attained a lofty height of spiritual evolution, i.e., he has attained Yudhistir’s calmness, Bhima’s Pranayama, Arjuna’s nonattachment, Nakula’s adherence, and Sahadeva’s power to resist evil, he is now ready to immerse himself in states of Samadhi. In the state of Samadhi, the Sadhaka is withdrawn from the world, and all that is worldly, immersing him in states of consciousness. In the State of Samadhi, one’s consciousness is not in the material world, but in the supreme consciousness, hence, why the Pandavas were incognito, to the people around them.

- Manipushpaka, the Conch of Sahadeva. Sahadeva blowing on his conch, represents the cosmic vibration that a Sadhaka hears when he is concentrating on the Muladhara Chakra. It is the sound of Om, but with a unique sound like a bee. It is the first stage of a meditational mind.

- Sughosha, the Conch of Nakula. Nakula blowing on his conch, represents the cosmic vibrations that a Sadhaka hears when he is concentrating on the Swadhisthana Chakra. An astral sound like that of a flute is heard.

- Devadatta, the Conch of Arjuna. Arjuna blowing on his conch, represents, an astral sound that a Sadhaka hears when he is concentrating on the Manipura Chakra. It is like that of a Veena or Harp.

- Paundra, the Conch of Bhima. Bhima blowing on his conch, represents the Om sound that a Sadhaka hears when he is concentrating on the Anahata Chakra. It is like that of an astral bell.

- Anantavijaya, the Conch of Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira blowing on his conch, represents the Om sound that a Sadhaka hears when he is concentrating on the Vishuddha Chakra. It is like the roar of a distant mighty ocean

- Panchajanya, the Conch of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna blowing on His conch, produces the true cosmic Om sound. It is the combination of the five sounds of the five chakras. A Sadhaka, hears this sound only when he is in the state of Savikalpa Samadhi. He has now attained God Realization.

- Sanjaya, is Divine Insight, Impartial Intuitive Self-Analysis. He is the ability within all individuals, to observe oneself without any prejudice, and without biased emotions, and judge accurately. In Mahabharata, Sanjaya is the charioteer, and a Minister for Dhritarashtra. He was given the power to be able to see all that takes place on the battlefield, and report without prejudices, an accurate account of the events. It is worth noting, that Dhritarashtra’s questions to Sanjaya are all in the past tense. The reason for this is because Sanjaya, who represents Intuitive Self-Analysis, is the faculty, which the aspiring Sadhaka uses at the end of the day. He asks himself the question that becomes the first verse of the Bhagavad-Gita: “…..what did they, O Sanjaya.” Vyasaji employs the past tense to indicate that the Sadhaka invokes his Intuitive Self-Analysis at the end of the day in his mind, in order to determine who has won the daily battle-good or evil. In verses 74 to 78 of Bhagavad-Gita, Sanjaya exclaims in ecstasy, of the wondrous joy that he feels, having been enlightened by the conversations between Krishna and Arjuna. In reality, he is expressing the divine ecstasy that the soul enjoys, when it is united with the Supreme Consciousness in Samadhi. The Sadhaka is left with feelings of bliss. These are the feelings that Sanjaya tells to Dhritarashtra in these verses.

- Dhrishtadyumna, represents the Inner light of Divine Perception. He is the son of Drupada, and the person responsible for killing Drona. He was also the disciple of Drona. But he represents the results of good Samskaras.

- In Patanjali Yoga Sutras, there are references to the “soldiers” that one needs to be able to wage this battle to reclaim this body kingdom. Vyasaji has placed these soldiers solidly in the camp of the Pandavas, ready to do battle.

o Yuyudhana, or Satyaki, represents Shraddha or Devotion for God. He was one of the Vrishnis; the grandson of Sini, and the son of Satyaka, and cousin of Krishna.

o Uttamaujas, represents Virya, or Vital Celibacy. He is a warrior of Pancala.

o Chekitana, represents Smriti, or Spiritual Memory. It stands in readiness to oppose the material delusion that makes one forgets God. He is a Yadhava.

o Virata, represents Samadhi. He was the King of the Matsyas. It was in Virata’s kingdom that the Pandavas took refuge in the thirteenth year of their exile. The Pandavas had to hide here in disguise, similarly the Sadhaka has to enter into the temporary states of divine union in meditation, from which he draws spiritual strength, ready to reclaim his bodily kingdom.

o Kashiraja, represents Prajna or Insight or Wisdom. It protects from false reasoning. He is the King of Kasi.

o Drupada, represents Vairagya (Tivra-Samvega) or Extreme Dispassion. It is often seen as a dispassionate detachment from worldly objects and concerns. He was the father of Draupadi.

o Dhrishtaketu, represents Yama or Moral Conduct. He battles the desires to indulge in behavior that is contrary to spiritual law. He was the son of Sisupala, who was killed by Krishna. He eventually died at the hands of Drona.

o Shaibya, represents Niyama, or Power of Mental Adherence. He adheres to all that is good or auspicious. He is the father-in-law to Yudhisthira.

o Kuntibhoja, represents Asana or Right Posture. He is the adopted father of Kunti. He adopted and reared Kunti. Similarly right posture is necessary to nurture and support divine life energy in preparation for spiritual sadhana. Asana or correct posture is necessary for the Sadhaka to gain rapid spiritual evolution.

o Purujit, represents Pratyahara or Interiorization, which gives the Sadhaka the steadiness of mental calm that prevents his prenatal habits from causing a sudden scattering of the mind on the material world. He is the brother of Kuntibhoja. Both brothers were killed by Drona.

o Yudhamanyu, represents Pranayama or Life-Force Control. With the aid of Pranayama, the meditating Sadhaka is able to reverse the flow of the life force. He and Uttamaujas were assigned to protect the wheels of Arjuna’s chariot. Both were killed in their sleep, by Ashwatthama.

o Saubhadra or Abhimanyu as he is also known, represents Samyama or Self-Mastery, which bestows Light or Illumination. He is the son of Arjuna and Subhadra (Krishna’s sister). He was unjustly killed by the son of Dushasana.

- Kurukshetra, the Land (field) of the Kurus, is the symbolic representation of the body. Kurukshetra is formed from the Sanskrit roots, kri meaning work, material action, and ksetra meaning field. So this Field of Action is the body, on which all activities of life, take place.

- Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra, refers to the Brain and Spinal Column with its Chakras. It is the holy plain or inner bodily field, on which the sons of Pandu (the five Chakras, representing all that is virtuous, and righteous), and the Kauravas, (the uncontrolled activities of the blind mind), wage battle for the attainment of Self-Realization.




For more details

 Source of this symbolism of Mahabharata and chakras is from



1. "Discourses on Bhagavad Gita" by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda  

http://veda.sakthifoundation.org/chap-6.htm


The beauty of Bhagavad Gita is that it vividly portrays our mental traumas and illusionary beliefs and fancies in life as characters in the story. The struggle between our positive and negative thoughts can be symbolized as the two armies fighting the Mahabharata war. Mahabharata is a real historical event happened but the greatness of the author Sage Vyasa is that he in parallel brings out our own inner conflicts while narrating the story.  |Mahabharata is thus an amazing work marveling in literary, artistic, social, scientific, political, philosophical and psychological aspects.

            Bhagavad Gita was given on the first day of Mahabharata war and so becomes unique among all spiritual works. Gita is an enquiry on our inner faculties of  mind, ego, intellect, awareness and consciousness,  origin of universe, the mind,  the body and its connection to the mind not to mention about imprisoning mind and the means to liberation. Since we are interested to liberate ourselves from the imprisoning Ego aspect of the mind, Gita is the most suitable means to achieve  peaceful life.


Sakthi -Gita

     Through Sakthi-Gita we are going to discuss the practical aspect of freeing the mind from Ego and relieve stress and be at peace which  in-fact our true nature. Sakthi Gita is a means to practice (path of enquiry)  in everyday life which would help us to overcome emotional stress to lead a healthy life and also spiritual life.  Without practice or walking the path of enquiry, we would know the Truth at the intellectual level but never experience it.

              Before going to the details of Sakthi-Gita we will first have an overlook on our inner conflicts of mind.


Our Inner Conflict

        What we are going to "achieve" through Sakthi Gita  is inner peace. This inner peace is not some thing which we have to gain. Inner peace is already  there in us  but  because of our inner conflicts we are not aware of it.  Only in brief moments of happiness we get a glimpse of the inner peace.  We then crave to maintain that blissful state and we think that "doing" something we can maintain that peaceful state. It is due to ignorance we are not  aware of the fact that Peace is our real "Nature".

           We are not aware that our real nature is peace or silence because  of the constant rambling noises in our mind. The  inner conflicts of our mind prevent us from being peaceful. Gita helps us  to over come inner conflicts by reveling  the agents in our mind  that cause the conflicts. Like a story it portrays  who or what  is involved in this conflict.

        We will understand that the conflict is between the "Ego" which is an attitude that denies the reality. The Ego wants every thing inside and outside of the way it want to be. It dictates its own rules  and wants everything to happens according to its likes and dislikes. It webs its own  "Matrix" world and want to rule that fictional world. Any thing that threatens its powers , it ruthlessly destroys.


The "I"  World

         Our predominant thought is the "I" thought. "I" want this, "I"  do not want this. "I" want this way and not that way. "I"  like and do not like that. "I" want her or him to behave and  talk in a manner that is pleasing to me. "I"  want things to unfold in the way "I" feel good about it. We will stop here because we are experiencing this "I"  thought every moment of life. This "I thought is referred to the Ego in Gita and all Vedic texts.  Having known about the "I" and the problems it creates we will see its connection to the mind and its affairs.

|The Mind and the Ego

          As we understand the Ego is an attitude born in the mind. To symbolically represent we can say that the Ego is the son of the blind mind. If the blind mind can be taken as a Blind king ruling over a kingdom called the body, then the Ego is the Prince. What is mind?. Mind is just flow of thoughts. Why is the mind blind?  Like a blind man who has no eyes of his own but depends on  other's eyes, the Mind  depends on senses to know what is happening inside and  outside of the body. Mind is just flow of thoughts and knows no direction.

             This Mind has hundreds of thoughts, but the predominant or the eldest thought is the "I" thought , the Ego thought. The Mind cannot think without the feeling of  "I" thought. So the Mind has a blind attachment or affection to its son Ego. Knowing this weakness of the father, the  son Mr. Ego,  grabs POWER  and makes the mind its own puppet. Look at the irony,  instead of the prince (Ego) obeying the King (mind) , the mind dance to the tune of the Ego. You can imagine though history,  the condition of a kingdom, which has a blind king serving his Ego prince.

          This is exactly the condition of our own mind and body.   How can the body (kingdom) be free of diseases and sufferings when our Ego is concerned only in executing its own likes and dislikes and not bothered about the welfare of its citizens. We eat unhealthy foods or use alcohol and drugs just for the Ego ignoring the damages it cause to the body. Isn't this hypocritical? 

         The Ego decides to experience a feeling which it considers great. The mind caters to its need. When the Ego demands this more often then it is called addiction. We have different types of addiction some in the form of habits like coffee, tea, alcohol, smoking, munching potato chips, eating highly spicy foods, eating too much sweets, craving for sex  and the list continues. Have you ever analyzed about your addiction or habits and who demands this addiction?  The body does not  crave for any of these "things". Then where is the craving or addiction coming from?




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