The curse of Pandu

The king Pandu was roaming a jungle full of mrig (deer) and snakes where he saw a pair of deer mating. With arrows that had golden tips and beautiful tails, and with great speed, he shot out five arrows towards the mating deer. It turned out that he had not shot two deer but the young lustrous son of a great rishi and his wife who were mating in the jungle to have a child. The deer immediately fell to the ground and in a human voice, full of anguish, informed the king of his mistake.

He said “Even those who are full of anger and desire do not stoop to as low a level as you have. You are from a great race of kings, then why commit such heinous a sin.” To this, Pandu replied “It is well known that for kings the killing of enemies or the killing of deer is the same thing.” He further added that “You should not criticise me because the killing of deer is the duty of the king.”

The young sage explained to Pandu “I am not deriding you in any way but as king you should not have shot even deer when they are in the act of mating. Mating is the season of good fortune for animals, humans, and Mother Nature herself. I was in this act of union just to fulfil the dharma of giving birth to a son. You have left this desire of mine unfulfilled. This is a shameful act for someone born in a race of great kings, someone who has knowledge of the scriptures and their teachings. I have lived in this jungle eating just fruits and roots, and spent my time in deep contemplation of the truth. The sanctity of this place and the animals around has been nourished by my deep meditation; you have killed an innocent rishi and a human being. For this I curse you, that whenever you are in the influence of desire and go to have union with your wife, you will die. You brought me instant pain when I was in the deepest pleasures of sex; when you are also in the pleasures of sex, you too will experience the pain of death.” Saying so, the young sage died, and the king was thrown into gloom and depression.

Man is a three brained being. He has an intellectual centre represented by Pandu, a blind emotional centre that is Dhritarashtra, and an instinct/moving centre which is Vidura. When sage Vyasa came to Pandu’s mother for union, she shuddered in fear and so Pandu was born weak and suffered from anaemia. Pandu represents the lower aspects of our mind or ordinary logical thinking. He is that part of our intellectual centre which is full of thoughts and information but without any real understanding. When the mind is full of thoughts, the higher flashes of creativity and deep insights into the mysteries of life are prevented from being invoked. Whenever something from the higher descends into our minds we must look after it well, not kill it with our logical thinking. This logical thinking is called vrittis in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Patanjali says there are five vrittis, represented by the five arrows shot by Pandu.

The word mrig literally means deer, but the deeper meaning is ‘to seek’; the desire to know who am I. It means to keep searching till we get the answers. These answers come from a higher form of thinking. If we are too full of thoughts, we cannot receive what comes from such a higher dimension and even if it does, too many thoughts destroy it. Pandu is anaemic, signifying that he is full of thoughts that he has no energy or iron left. Still, he is keen to find the answers of life and therefore goes on a search or mrigaya.

We must try to understand the difference between fact and truth. What we see with our 5 senses are facts. For instance, I see that the child in front of me is my son, is a fact. But, I can only see so much; I know nothing of what or where he was when he was not my son. This truth lies in a higher dimension which is not accessible to our five senses. The effort to access this dimension is called mrigaya. When our thoughts are calm, some truth from that higher dimension comes to meet us, but if we are not ready to receive this truth, then we interpret it wrongly or destroy it altogether; this is what Pandu did.

In the ancient Indian philosophical system of ‘Sankhya’, this higher dimension is called Purusa, meaning the divine or male, or vibration. The lower dimension is called Prakriti or female, or energy. The whole science is about the meeting of vibration and energy. When the lower meets the higher, or the higher meets the lower, there is the orgasmic meeting of male and female; this meeting brings orgasmic joy in the body-brain system, and hence, it is symbolised by the act of sex/mating in the scriptures.

Pandu had gone on a search for the higher meaning in life. The higher appeared to him in the form of the rishi and his wife having sex in the guise of deer. Purusa and Prakriti were right there, playing in the jungle in the form of deer. But Pandu had not calmed his mind, his lower thinking did not allow him to hold and assimilate the higher, and he killed the deer with the five arrows of logical thinking or vrittis. Another revelation here is that if a person suppresses the sex energy, then he will always think about sex and this will make him lose energy and become anaemic. The higher is also called samadhi, and samadhi is symbolised by the sex act. Patanjali calls this state as ‘anavasthitatvami’ or failure to hold the meditative state, when achieved.

It is important for us, as seekers, to understand that the higher comes in a state of peace and quiet and we must develop the ‘dharna shakti’ or the strength to hold what comes from the higher. What comes from the higher is the truth and has nothing to do with logic, and we can easily destroy it with our lower and logical thinking.