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Symbolism of 14 year Exile in Hindu Scriptures


Patanjali has laid down three conditions for getting established in the practice of self control:
‘It must be done for a long time without break and with dedication.’ 
Once having attained stability or perfection in practice with these three conditions, the yogi does not get unsettled even unknowingly.

It is quite understandable that one has to practice a task, be it meditation, singing, dancing or even playing cricket for a long time to become an expert, to get established. Here Patanjali has not mentioned any specific time, but it is generally understood that unless practice is done for at least 12 years, one cannot get established in it.

It is significant in this context to note that Rama was banished for 14 years and the Pandavas were asked to live in the forest for 12 years. The idea was that if they did so, they would no more remain in essence princes and would become for all practical purposes forest dwellers. (Incidentally, it may be mentioned here that according to human physiology, the whole of the human body, including the bones, undergoes complete change in 12 years).

Likewise, if one practices such values like truth, non-violence, non-stealing etc. in thought, word and deed for 12 years, he attains perfection in it and gets the specific merit associated with that particular virtue.

Yet, Patanjali has, in this aphorism, not mentioned any specific time, for the simple reason that the time can be shortened with intense practice or may get prolonged by dullness. If we are lazy, we may take ages to control the mind.

Control of mind is like controlling the flowing wind, as Arjuna had complained to Sri Krishna or, worse still, like emptying the ocean drop by drop, with the tip of a straw as stated in the Mandukya-Karika:
‘The mind can be brought under control only by an unrelenting effort like that which is required to empty an ocean drop by drop with the help of a blade of a Kush grass with a heart which becomes neither depressed nor tired."
Source - Excerpts from Vedanta Kesari March 2018 issue...