The greatest mystery in life is the birth of a child. Simplistically, it is out of the meeting of two parents, but holistically, it is a lot more. What comes from the parents, what was there of that child before, and in what form was it there? The shastras call this something that was already there as jeeva or soul. This soul is NOT made from the material provided by the two parents. It uses the material provided by the two parents to form a body to come in contact with the world. The soul does this for its own growth.
We may have a well formed body but that does not ensure growth of the soul. We may have many degrees, a lot of money, or be very famous, but that too does not ensure growth of the soul. In old age, most people become childlike, which shows that the soul has not grown at all. The same child that was born now dies. The purpose of the soul is to free itself of animal tendencies, become human, and realise its divine nature. When the shastras say that a particular soul is the son (or a part) of a particular God, it is signifying the degree of development of that soul or rather, how close the soul has come to its divine nature.
Nakula and Sahdeva, the Pandava twins are the children of the Ashwinikumars, born of the Devas or Gods. Here, the shastras do not talk about the physical parents but unravel to us the development of the souls of Nakula and Sahdeva. Souls of the level of the Ashwinikumars would mean that they have knowledge of the laws of Karma and Time, the word ‘Ashwa’ meaning time. Nakula, within us, is the moving centre, which controls the organs of action. Sahdeva is the instinctive centre, which controls the sense organs.
Nakula means the one who is free of conditioning, signifying a relaxed moving centre. Whenever we observe our body, we will find that we are holding so much of muscular tension – around the eyes, jaws, cheeks, elbows, and knees. When we walk, we are either in agitation or in stiffness. This continuous tension in our muscles is one of the biggest causes of illness. Nakula had a special ability to look after and understand horses, symbols of time and emotions. All our emotions come from our subconscious and unconscious minds. To be able to enter into our unconscious is to conquer time and reach the roots of our emotions. In yoga, this technique of consciously entering our unconscious mind is called ‘yoganidra’. The capacity to enter into a deep state of relaxation is essential to practice ‘yoganidra’. Nakula was also very handsome, signifying pride. The student of spirituality learns to use pride positively to move ahead on his path.
He was also an expert in sword fencing and defeated Ashwathama (memory) in this form of fighting during the Great War. This shows that one who commands or rides time cannot be bound by memory. We use our organs of action together with the sense organs to enjoy the pleasures of life. Nakula could ride a horse in the rain without getting wet. This shows that he could enjoy all the pleasures of life, yet, not be touched by them. When we work consciously with our moving centre, all our actions have a relaxed beauty about them. I used to love observing my teacher do simple tasks such as drinking tea or reading the newspaper; it was like poetry in action.
Sahdeva is an expert at looking after cows, symbolising the five senses controlled by the energy of sensitivity. When we are able to increase the intensity of this energy, we are able to sense what will happen in the future. Sahdeva was a great astrologer and could see the future but the rule was that he could not foretell, unless asked. The moment we talk about what we have sensed, the ego comes in and eats away the energy of the senses. Sri Krishna once asked Sahdeva how to stop the war. Sahdeva said that Sri Krishna must be bound and imprisoned. Sri Krishna challenged him to do so, and Sahdeva meditated – Sri Krishna found that he could not move. This signifies that if we can work on the energy of sensitivity, we can at one point sense and then, hold the sensitivity of the divine.
From the Yoga perspective, Nakula is the ‘swadhisthana chakra’, which contains the power of adherence and of holding attention for a long time on one object. Sahdeva is the ‘muladhara chakra’, which gives the student the power of restraint, tenacity and support. These two chakras are twins. By working on these twin chakras, the disciple can make the energy of kundalini rise. The popular way of doing this is by creating tension between the two chakras and forcing the energy to rise. This is a dangerous process and can bring about imbalances in the body and mind. The other way, only taught by the guru to certain disciples, is to merge the two chakras into one. When this is done, the energy rises in a balanced manner.
If the student can balance sensing and moving, then he has balanced action and knowledge and achieved the highest state of yoga.