Bhima, our inner strength

Bhima is the second son of Pandu and Kunti, younger only to Yudhisthira. The word ‘Bhima’ means the sentiment of fear. There are two types of fear. The first, instinctive or positive fear arises from a direct sensory impression of danger. This can be channelized by a student to sharpen his/her attention and make it more powerful. The second, imaginative or negative fear arises from always worrying about what the future beholds; simply put, from negative imagination. Of all that lives, only man suffers from this kind of fear. For instance, if rabbits lived in imaginative fear of dogs, they would only stay in their burrows, never to come to the ground.  

Bhima is the sex centre within us. This is the centre which has an unlimited source of vital energy (after adolescence, called sex energy).  Desire uses this centre to manifest, and so every desire we have acts as a leakage point of this centre. The irony is that we desire something new every moment and that our unconscious mind is full of unfulfilled desires. The student of spirituality must work hard to be free of both, the leakages of negative fear, and of desire. The character of Bhima holds the key towards this aim. Let us see how Bhima does this. 

Bhima is the son of vayu or wind. He is the prana (vital energy) that manifests as breath. Our breathing is chaotic and follows our thoughts and emotions. By practising three step rhythmic breathing, we can slowly bring our thoughts and emotions into rhythm and over a period of time, even our sex energy. If we can, like Bhima, use vayu or breath to transform our sex energy then the biggest obstacle on the spiritual journey has been surmounted. 

When young, Bhima enjoyed bullying Duryodhana and his brothers (the Kauravas). Once, Duryodhana poisoned him, tied him up, and threw him in the river. The river was full of poisonous snakes; their bites neutralised the poison of the food and Bhima survived. The eating of poisonous food is symbolic of not expressing our negative emotions. Going in deep water and getting bitten by snakes depicts going into the deep unconscious mind and being free from the deeply embedded patterns or samskaras, which is the source of all our negativity. First, he eats the apparent poison in the conscious mind and then, goes into the unconscious and swallows the causes of all poison. 

Duryodhana and his evil uncle Shakuni built a palace of lac for the Pandavas and planned to burn them inside, but they escape by digging a tunnel. We must see within ourselves how much inflammable substance we carry. We are all filled with lac which catches fire at the slightest pretext. We get angered at the smallest instance – someone insults us, life goes against us, or something even more trivial, such as a car crossing our path.  Like Bhima, we must build a tunnel into our hearts which we slowly train to absorb all the hurts of life. Bhima sets fire to the palace himself after the Pandavas have escaped.  

The Pandavas then pass through a forest where there is a man-eating rakshasa or a giant demon. His name is Hidimb, meaning the one who flies in the sky or also, the power of imagination. After we have freed ourselves of all inflammable emotions within us, it is time to be free of negative imagination and worrying. Bhima kills the rakshasa and then marries his sister, Hidimba, symbolising that we kill negative imagination but marry the positive use of it. They have a son, Ghatotkacha; the power to hold a thought. Patanjali calls this as dharna, which can later lead to dhyana and samadhi, the highest aspects in yoga. 

After killing Hidimb, the Pandavas go to a town called Ekchakra meaning one wheel or repetition. Here, Bhima kills another rakshasa called Bakasura, meaning baka-baka or inner chatter, or monologue. Within our minds we keep on chattering and talking. This inner talk or Bakasura is a cause of continuous leakage of our energy. It takes many years of patient practice to be free of this weakness. Both these monsters drank human blood, which shows that worrying and inner chatter eat our subtle blood or vital energy. 

Everything is made up of five elements, each governed by different centres within the body-brain system. Bhima represents the anahata chakra, the centre for vayu. This chakra has a positive and a negative part. The yogi purifies the chakra to make both the parts positive. We have seen how Bhima did this. Draupadi or sex energy marries all the five Pandavas and rises up the five chakras as kundalini. With the marriage of Bhima and Draupadi, the heart chakra gets charged and opens up, bringing about a kind of joyous softness in life. Despite being physically very strong, Bhima had a beautiful softness about him. Throughout their years in exile, Bhima looked after Draupadi with much care and devotion. He tried to fulfil her every desire, even going to collect divine flowers for her.  Softness of touch, speech, and vision are the progressions on our path. If we become hard and dry, then we have taken a wrong turn. 

A purified sex centre brings creativity in our lives. We could write poetry or a novel, or become an artist or a sculptor, or even design a garden. The very sensitivity of the flow of this energy brings a unique happiness and ecstasy in our lives. 

(Edited by Chintu Gandhi. Illustration by Siddharth Ramanuj.) 

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