Those of you who read know; The protagonists of the Mahabharata are the kshatriyas (warriors) and the brahmins. The Bhagavad Gita is only a part of the Mahabharata, which contains over 100,000 shlokas. Studying only on Bhagavad Gita before studying Mahabharata is like considering the whole world as one country, Turkey for instance. The characters and their journeys, the tremendous math beneath the things that were lived would be remained unknown.
We often encounter the importance of physical practice as our main characters are kshatriyas.
Mahabharata tells how Bhishma, Bhima, Arjuna and many other warriors practice to make their asanas (postures) flawless. As a result of these practices they become masters of instruments such as hammers, swords and arrows. Those who have done martial arts and especially have worked with swords, meteor hammers and similar weapons before know that; stability, balance, effortlessness in the posture determine the cautiousness and usage of the weapon. Sometimes a form needs years of practice. Mahabharata narrates over and over how warriors awaken a tremendous power in their bodies and how their bodies gain competence that a regular warrior cannot have as a result of these practices. It tells that they were having intense practices on teachings along with their physical practices. So, the princes in Mahabharata are raised by tremendous gurus like Brihaspati.
For instance, Ekalavya chose Drona as his guru but Drona refused to teach him. So, he wanted Drona to bless him, he watched Drona’s asana (posture), which he performed only when he was shooting an arrow, and he memorized it. In order to work on this posture, he went into the forest to make a statue of him. He has observed every detail of the form so well that he has worked all over again and again until he performs this asana flawlessly. Ekalavya has found perfection in this asana years later, has been a better archer than Arjuna, but the continuation of this story is beyond our scope.
Arjuna has the weakness of being the best archer in the world. Not only he carries all the necessary qualifications for it also he follows the practice he supposes to. Arjuna is exposed to various physical practices by his guru Drona. As a result of all these practices, he has his famous posture, Akarna Dhanurasana, which we still use in yoga practices. It’s a simple stance with an arrow and bow. His stance is so stable that Arjuna pulls himself out, only arrow and bow remain. Such an arrow does not strike its target. He can stay in asana effortlessly for hours. In this way, he becomes one with his object. The only thing he sees is his target when he aims. This tells us about Ekagrata, which is explained by Yoga Sutras. Single point concentration. If the body is removed, there is no obstacle between the object and the person in such concentration. An indivisible concentration on the object is achieved.
Here in asana practice – applied asanas vary depending on the path and guru followed – a stable, comfortable and stable posture created in this way; eliminates the physical body that the person defines as “I”. As a result of the disappearance of the physical body, the person is liberated from the smrities (memories). Only the instrument and target remain. Steady stability will undoubtedly lead
to the goal.
I will complete this article with a famous story in Mahabharata:
Drona collects 5 pandas and 100 kauravali students in the practice area on a sunny day. Drona comes with a small wooden bird in his hand and says:
“Hello Students, I’d like to see who can shoot this wooden bird’s eye today.” He moves away from his students and places the bird in a branch of a tree.
All princes were sure that they will shoot this bird. They are all self-confident strong warriors and have not even doubted it.
First, he calls the eldest, Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira goes to Drona and takes his position and aims the target.
Drona: “Can you see the bird? Describe what you see.”
Yudhisthira: “I see the wooden bird on a branch of a big tree. The tree swings slightly and I see other branches. There are other birds on them. I see the sky and other trees around.”
While Yudhisthira was waiting for the order of his guru to shoot the arrow, Drona says: Leave the arrow and bow and retreat. You can’t shoot the wooden bird’s eye.
Yudhisthira was confused, but he wouldn’t question what his guru says, so he left his arrow and walked over to his brothers.
Then the other princes are called one by one, and Drona directs each question in the same way, and they give similar answers. Drona sends them all back one by one without letting them to shoot the arrow.
Finally, it comes to Drona’s favorite, Arjuna. Arjuna takes his famous posture, which we still use in yoga today. Stable, determined and effortless. Drona asks to Arjuna, who seems very confident, “Tell me what you see, Arjuna?”
Arjuna says, “I see the wooden bird’s eye” without leaving his eye from the target even for a second.
Drona asks “Can you see the tree, the branches, other birds, the sky?”
Arjuna holds the bow and arrow stable, without any hesitation and answers; “No master, all I see it the bird’s eye”.
Drona was satisfied with this answer. He turns his gaze to other princes, they took their lessons and shook their heads with approvals. Drona turns back to Arjuna with a rage and says, “Fire!” Arjuna releases the arrow. The arrow travels with great speed as if the eye of the bird attracts him and enters the bird’s eye.
In this test, Arjuna has demonstrated the flawless posture (asana), the ability to observe the object he is on (pranayama) and the strength of the ongoing concentration on this single point. Drona took Arjuna that day to further study and taught him all the secrets of archery.
As we mentioned in this story, the full concentration must be exactly on the target. If the eye starts to distinguish other things, the target is missed. When the person differentiates other objects, the energy is now transferred to each distinguishable object. Because it is necessary to transfer energy to objects in order to observe them. If energy is not transferred to the object (pranayama), then it is not observable. So, whatever the intent, the goal is anyway, all attention should be given to it in a flawless manner. The arrow can only hit its target by this way.
It is important to remember that; All steps of yoga except Samadhi (including Dhyana) are external. According to Nirbija Samadhi, all the steps of Sabija (Initial) Samadhi are external. Because each one is still not fine enough according to Nirbija Samadhi.