Our bodies may be male or female but psychologically, we are both male energy and female energy. Energies that ‘do’ are male and energies that ‘receive’ are female. Even Yudhisthira was left wondering how to obtain the female energy on the field of doing. Our egos are the epitome of male energy. The only time the ego manifests as female energy is when the ego itself decides that it has had enough and wants to consciously dissolve. This is called surrender or ichcha mrityu. Shikhandin symbolises the female energy in a male form. Bhishma’s whole life has been a play of male energy. For the first time on the battlefield, when he sees Shikhandin, he realises the time of surrender has come and that the ego is now tired. Here, Bhishma is referred to as ‘kuruvriddh’ or the one who is tired of doing.
To surrender is the essence of our spiritual journey. A point comes when our egos decide they have had enough of doing and want to surrender. Initially, we look for an external teacher and surrender to him, but in every event of life, we must be able to recognise the Bhishma within us. This becomes apparent whenever we are aggressive or obstinate. This obstinacy or aggressiveness manifests in the way we relate with our wives, children, and friends. If we sense this, we can shift away from the male energy of aggressiveness towards the female energy of surrender. This is the point where Bhishma is unarmed, allowing (the inner) Arjuna to shoot an arrow wounding the mighty ego. This is a long process over a lifetime. At some point, we will experience the ego dissolving, and will witness flashes of freedom and joy. Once we have felt the joy beyond the ego, the pleasures that we have sought till now become insignificant.
In the Mahabharata, when the war has ended, Bhishma’s death symbolises the final dissolution of the ego. The inner soul has awakened and this consciousness is symbolised by Sri Krishna. This is the greatest moment of grace in the disciple’s journey and is shown by Sri Krishna applying the soil of the ‘field of doing’ on Bhishma’s forehead. The disciple is now free of all bondage and his consciousness soars high like the eagle.