We have two ways of thinking – sensual and psychological. Similarly, we can say we have two bodies; the physical, which we see with our five senses, and the psychological, which we see with our mind. The object of all spiritual ‘sadhana’ is to awaken to our own psychological body and to become a witness to its working. The Mahabharata is a great scripture and to penetrate into its depth and understand its mystery, we must be able to think differently. We cannot take everything literally; the scriptures use words to indicate something beyond words. We are so habituated by our external world and our sensual thinking that when the shastra depicts Dhrithrashtra as blind, we take it to mean physical blindness, further accentuated by visual portrayal of Dhrithrashtra as a visually impaired king. Jesus spoke in parables; if we were to take each parable literally, we would arrive at a very ordinary meaning but wearing our psychological cap, we can penetrate into the heart of deeper mysteries. So we have two kinds of sight – eyesight and insight; similarly, two kinds of darkness – physical and spiritual.
The key to each character in the Mahabharata is the meaning of their names and their deeper Sanskrit roots. The word Dhrithrashtra comes from ‘dhrta’ meaning to hold on and ‘rashtra’ meaning kingdom. One who is holding on to the inner kingdom and because he is blind, his inner kingdom is ruled by the five senses or ordinary sensual thinking.
Now the question we must all ask here is, are we all not Dhrithrashtra in our psychological kingdom? The most valuable and most subtle substance in our lives is our attention. Attention is true divine light. It is the light of our inner kingdom. It allows the eyes to see, and the other senses to work. Attention can move both out and in and is governed by the law of attraction and repulsion. To free attention from the shackles of this law is the essence of our spiritual journey. This can only be done by taking our attention in to its source, which is our true divine nature.
What is it that always takes our attention out? It is desire and we keep on desiring every moment. We have a limited quantity of attention, which with every desire flows out and never comes back in by getting attached to things, people, and knowledge. This is called ‘mamta’ or attachment. At one point, there is no attention or light left in our lives and our inner psychic kingdom is flooded with an inner darkness; we have outsight but no more insight.
Sage Patanjali calls this the state of ‘avidya’ or absence of light. We are now internally blind and our state is that of Dhrithrashtra, who has a 100 sons. When we start trying to take our attention in, we encounter enumerable tendencies which again pull it out, there are a hundred such inclinations and these are the sons of Dhrithrashtra, foremost are Duryodhana and Dussashana, whom we shall discuss in articles to follow.
Again, what do we mean by inner blindness? It means we cannot see or observe the working of our own psychic nature.1) Can we see our inner demons such as pride and vanity? 2) Do we observe how we are always projecting to people “What a good boy am I?” 3) Are we awake to the inner urge that ‘I am right’ all the time? 4) Are we blind to the hurts we hold against others, and how we always account what we did for someone and how someone treated me? 5) How we are so violently offended and affected by what others say of us, and how restless we become? 6) When we are angry how totally in a state of hypnosis are we in? 7) How we keep judging and blaming others, and cannot take responsibility for everything that happens in our lives? 8) How sweet we find revenge, and how we harbour thoughts of revenge but show virtue outside. 9) How we react when someone insults us? 10) How in our minds we chatter all the time and become hypnotized by every single thought or emotion.
We are all of these and more, every event in life hypnotises us and we are totally unaware of this. This is our state – the state of Dhrithrashtra and when this becomes chronic, we fall down to the level of Duryodhana, who or rather, which is the fruit of blindness.(In the next article, we shall study Duryodhana. You can reach the author, Mr. Rajen Vakil at email@example.com)