In Mahabharath symbolism, I am curious what role Shikandi plays to slay Bhishma, the ego?
Appreciate your insight.
—Paramhansa Dasa, USA
Shikhandi/Shikhandin is, as you point out, a central figure in putting an end to Bhishma’s involvement in the Battle of Kurukshetra.
Shikhandin acted as a shield as Arjuna attacked Bhishma, who refused to fight back because Shikhandin’s true nature was female. Interestingly, the Mahabharata vacillates between giving Shikhandin primary credit for Bhishma’s demise, and giving Arjuna primary credit. Suffice it to say that both played key roles.
In Paramhansa Yogananda’s commentary on the Gita, as conveyed by Nayaswami Kriyananda, Bhishma represents ego, Arjuna represents self-control, and Shikhandin represents the will to perform uplifting actions. So you see that the qualities represented by Arjuna and Shikhandin are very similar. Self-control is not always self-deprivation; it is simply the will to do that which is in our own highest interests, the willingness to make an investment in our own highest good.
This quality is a key factor in overcoming the ego. Without it, even the guru cannot free us from ego, for we won’t be doing our part, and thus we won’t have the openness and magnetism to receive God’s grace.
I hope you find this helpful. If you are interested in exploring the symbolism of other characters, you can consult The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, by Nayaswami Kriyananda, or my booklet, Guide to the Mahabharata and Life of Sri Krishna.