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Sikhandini

Updated on July 29, 2017

Sikhandini though not an orthodox Hindu Goddess is an intriguing character that first appears in the Mahabharata. She is the reincarnation of Amba, one of the three daughters of the King of Kasi that were spirited away by Bhisma during or just after a Swayamvara (a test of strength held to find a suitable husband for a bride, usually a princess) and the route or that path that she took to gain her revenge is intriguing. One is left wondering if it is possible to emulate the steps that she took to gain the powers that she eventually acquired i.e. meditate on the rakshashas (race of giants).

We have to keep in mind that she eventually defeated a warrior that even the great Parashurama couldn’t defeat, Devavrata or as he was later known, Bhisma of the Gods.

Bhisma by spiriting Amba, had caused her to be spurned by the person that she had set her heart on, the Prince of Saubala, Salva, and a distraught Amba, pleaded with Bhisma, to reunite her with the person that she loved most and despite Bhisma’s attempts to do so, Salva wouldn’t have her back and her unrequited love eventually turned to anger and hate that was, not as expected directed at Salva, but was instead directed at Bhisma, whose actions had precipitated the whole affair.

An angry Amba sought her revenge by first looking for suitable warriors to take on Bhisma but no warrior was brave enough to test his mettle against the son of Ganga, the daughter of Brahma. Bhisma just by his lineage alone, without taking into account his own accomplishments, was destined to be great and was almost impossible to defeat.

Brahma however was equaled in power by the other two divinities in the Hindu trinity, Vishnu and Shiva, and it was ultimately Shiva or those that came from the line of Shiva that were able to provide her with the means to exact her revenge and that was by drawing on the powers of others who came from the line of Brahma and the seven saptarishis.

She undertook severe austerities and gained the friendship of Lord Subrahmanya who was in fact the son of Shiva. He took kindly to Amba and gave her a garland of flowers promising her that anyone who wore the garland of flowers around his neck would be able to defeat Bhisma.

Amba searched high and low for a champion but no warrior was game enough to take on Bhisma, even with the garland of flowers around his neck, and a distraught Amba left the garland hanging on the palace gates of King Drupada and went into the forest to retreat.

There she befriended the hermits and sages who resided in the forest. They took kindly to her and advised her to seek the aid of Parashurama, the Vishnu incarnate who had defeated every warrior in the Kysastria clan.

Amba soon after started meditating and in time Parashurama appeared before her and promised to grant her anything that her heart desired. Amba wished for the defeat of Bhisma and Parashurama accordingly took to the battlefield but was eventually forced to admit that even he could not defeat the son of Ganga of the Gods.

A distraught Amba then fled to the Himalayas and there she meditated upon the mountain mendicant Shiva who appeared before her in time and assured her that she would defeat Bhisma in her next birth.

Unable to restrain herself Amba built a fire and threw herself into the flames and in her next birth she found the garland hanging on King Drupada’s palace gates and retreated into the forest to meditate.

She called upon the powers of the rakshashas and acquired not only their strengths but also the ability to shape-shift and she eventually became the man who defeated Bhisma in Kurukshetra.

The story is intriguing from the perspective that it tells us that it is possible to obtain the powers of the rakshashas. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that people should throw themselves into a funeral pyre, no, not by a long-shot, but while we are on the subject self-immolation has long been regarded as the highest form of sacrifice and the next birth will be in accordance with the deal that was struck just prior to death.

When in the meditative state, it is difficult to ascertain the nature of the “powers” one comes in contact with. Obviously this type of meditation has to be done in isolation or in seclusion and sages in the past have acquired tremendous powers from practicing this type of meditation and the source of their powers has never been identified.

Is it possible to drawn upon the power of the rakshashas via the meditative process? …. the answer in short would be yes because it is impossible to ascertain what happens when the unexplored channels of the mind are opened or the type of energies that pass through the body when that happens.

© 2017 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward

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