In previous articles, we have seen that Arjuna represents the emotional centre. Just as the sex centre works with vital energy, the emotional centre works with psychic energy. A yogi has to work to free the sex energy from excitement, and also to free the psychic energy from likes and dislikes.
We relate to life through our five senses; every moment energy from our surroundings flows into us in the form of impulses. These impulses are received, analysed, and worked upon by the brain. The energy within us that receives these incoming impulses is psychic energy. It is akin to a member of household receiving guests at the door. This energy needs to be purified because it is tinged by likes and dislikes; the emotional centre gets attached to what it likes and rejects what it dislikes. Just as stocks in the market rise and fall, so too our attachments turn to rejections and vice versa. If a child listens to the parents and fulfils their expectations, the child’s stock rises. If and when the same child does not listen or fails to perform, the family tends to dislike every small thing that is done. Obviously, the price of the child’s stock has now fallen.
When we love someone, we equally hate that person subconsciously. We are unaware of this because at that point in time, the love is seen and the hatred unseen. For instance, after six months of being together, love and hatred exchange places. Now, we start hating the very person we loved, and complain that he/she is not the same person anymore. Likewise, all our emotions are subject to the law of opposites and our being keeps swinging between these opposites. Real love does not have any opposites; it can neither change to hatred, nor can it increase or decrease with likes or dislikes.
Real love cannot attach to anyone and hence, is not bound. As we purify the emotional centre, we light the lamp of real love within us. This light falls on everyone we relate with, just like the light of a lamp falls on everyone in front of it. A lamp burns brighter as the intensity of the flame increases; as the intensity of real love increases, so does its sensitivity. This sensitivity fills our whole being with a kind of joy and ecstasy independent of the phenomenal world. That is why perhaps Jesus said that Love is God.
In the Mahabharata, Arjuna alone had to go into an exile, leaving Draupadi and the other Pandavas in Indraprastha. He started his exile from Gangadwar, literally, door of Ganga. While bathing in the river, a snake-maiden princess (nagakanya) pulls him to her father’s palace beneath the waters. Here, Arjuna sights the sacrificial fire he was to light up after his holy dip. She is full of desire to embrace Arjuna. Arjuna initially declines the relationship, but she refuses to listen and Arjuna has to spend a night there. In the morning, as Arjuna was leaving, she gives him a boon that no creature of the watery worlds would ever be able to harm him.
Nagaloka, or the region of the snakes, symbolises our deep unconscious, full of passive desires waiting to become active. Snakes symbolise these desires; water represents emotions having roots in the deep unconscious. Sighting of the sacrificial fire shows that Arjuna had brought the fire of consciousness into depths of the unconscious mind. Arjuna initially refusing the snake-maiden princess shows that he was free of excitement. His consent unravels that to be free of all desires, the most powerful desire must be fulfilled by higher yoga practices of yoganidra, i.e. entering the unconscious consciously and fulfilling our deepest desire.
Arjuna, then, goes southward and comes to a place of five temples, each located on five different lakes. All the priests have run away, leaving the area desolate, because each lake has a dangerous crocodile. Arjuna finds out that these crocodiles were actually five fairies (apsaras), cursed to become crocodiles. Since Arjuna now has the boon of not being harmed by creatures of the watery world, he dives into the waters and as the crocodile get hold of him, he pulls it ashore. Immediately the crocodile transforms back to a fairy. He does this with all the five crocodiles.
Crocodiles lurk just below the surface of water and thus depict our subconscious, which is just below the conscious. These are five potent patterns or emotions within us that are a barrier to increasing our level of consciousness. These are novelty (desire of new sources of excitement), memory (desire for repetition of past pleasures), fantasy (desire for excitement in the future), stimulus from within, and touch or stimulus from the outside. Any of these can seduce our energy. Being crocodiles, these are false emotions that can be transformed into something higher. Apsaras or fairies are symbols of the latent powers which manifest through the transformation of negative emotions. These powers are insight, intuition, perception, and the ability to sense and feel the divine.
To sum up, by practicing yoganidra, if we can enter our unconscious and subconscious minds, we can free our souls of the many patterns that keep it bound in captivity of the seductions and indulgences of the senses. Once this is done, we can work to transform our negativities into higher energies.