We shall continue with our story of the third disciple whose name was Veda. The guru made him work like an ox, oblivious of heat, cold, hunger, or thirst. Veda remained positive; one day truth dawned and the guru asked him to go ahead on his own. Let us look into the story of Veda, and his disciple Uttanka, over two weeks.
Veda started a household with disciples of his own; he looked after them with great love and care. One day the king requested Veda to officiate a ceremony. He left his household in the care of Uttanka instructing him to fulfil the household’s every need.
Veda’s wife was in the fertile phase of her monthly cycle and asked Uttanka to fulfil her need. Uttanka refused, saying that the guru had not explicitly instructed him on such matters. When Veda returned, he heard about the incident and was very pleased that Uttanka’s inner light had dawned. Veda knew that the light would now guide Uttanka along the path, and that he was free to go. Uttanka requested Veda’s permission to allow him to perform some task to express his gratitude. Veda told Uttanka to ask his wife what she wanted. Veda’s wife instructed Uttanka to get the two earrings worn by the king’s wife, as she wanted to wear them to a ceremony.
Uttanka went to the king and begged for the earrings. The king explained that it was for the queen to decide. Uttanka went into the inner chambers of the palace to request the queen but he could not find her. The king, on being informed, told Uttanka that he must have been holding on to some impure thought and hence could not see the queen, who was the epitome of purity. Uttanka sat in meditation and realised the truth in the king’s words, and by deep observation his attachment to that thought dropped. He then went back into the queen’s chamber and found her sitting there. He begged her for the two earrings. She was pleased with him, said that he was a worthy person, and willingly gave him the earrings.
Nonetheless, she warned him that the powerful naga, Thakshak, too desired the earrings and would do anything for them. Uttanka reassured her that Thakshak could do him no harm and that he must leave immediately as he wanted to give the earrings to his guru’s wife for a ceremony due in two days.
Let us try and understand the hidden meaning behind the story thus far.
Even though Veda (Uttanka’s guru) had instructed Uttanka to fulfil every need of his family, Uttanka refused to enter into union with his guru’s wife. The most important point in the life of a disciple is when he starts walking on his own. In yoga, this inner light is called ‘viveka’; it brings the capacity to discriminate between what to do and what not to, leading to right action. By caste, the guru and Uttanka are Brahmins, which symbolises expanding consciousness. They represent the thinking centre, together with its higher qualities, within us. The king and queen are Kshatriya, which symbolises the emotion centre within us. The higher qualities of the emotion centre are faith and love, represented by the two earrings of the queen, which the Veda’s wife longs for.
Uttanka is sent to get these earrings. ‘Utt’ means water, which symbolises emotions and ‘anka’ means to hook; meaning, to hold on to higher emotions. Uttanka represents the one who goes in search of these qualities so as to balance the emotional and thinking centre. When Uttanka first tried, he could not see the queen. This incident reveals that to witness certain higher qualities of life requires a specific vision and the power of impartial observation. Our observation is tainted by desires, prejudices, attitudes, and grudges that we hold on to. To enter into the higher chambers of our heart, where the higher emotional qualities lie, we must first learn to observe impartially.
Further, this story shows that even after the inner vision is awakened, the process of purification must go on. The experience of truth and the dissolution of ego are two separate happenings. Truth is seen in a flash while the ego dissolves over a long period of time. The experience of truth is like trying to see the mountain peak hidden by clouds; for a moment, the clouds disappear and we get a glimpse of the snow-covered mountain peak reflecting sunlight as if spun in gold. With this glimpse, the quest of many a lifetime ends. This does not imply the dissolution of the ego. The ego is dissolved by leading a normal householders’ life, wherein, every time it tries to appear, it has to be sent back to its source, i.e. the process of evolution in reverse. Egoism was present in animals even before man. This process of sending the ego back to the source is called ‘pratiprasav’ in Yoga.
Thakshak means the one who does, the doer, or the ego within us. The queen had warned Uttanka that Thakshak desired the earrings. The ego always wants to destroy love, even the normal sentimental love. The ego hides behind our love and prompts us to quickly possess a person, and in that very act, we lose the powerful and pure energy of love. Here, Uttanka saying that he does not fear Thakshak (or the ego) is an ego by itself. Next week, we shall see and interpret how Uttanka falls a victim to this subtle deception.