The word ‘Shikha’ means epitome or the highest point at the top. The word ‘Shikhandin’ means one who has reached the highest point, the one who has risen beyond male and female. At the top, one is free of opposites.
In our world we are bound by the opposites. Every moment we either like or dislike something and our whole lives we swing from one end to the other, hypnotised by events, trying to avoid pain and running after pleasure. Shikhandin has swung between the two opposites and has freed himself from them, whereas we keep swinging between the opposites. Our brains are wired such that we can see only one pole.
When we fall in love, we think that the love will last forever. We do not see that everybody has a hidden side, and in that hidden side there always is the opposite of love, that is hatred. Life is a polarity but in our normal way of thinking, we see only one pole (of the polarity) and we try to make that one part the whole.
What is the significance of Arjuna standing behind Shikhandin in the chariot? Bhishma represents the ego in all of us. Whenever the ego expresses itself in any way, the keyword is aggressiveness; many a time this is hidden below a cover of humility. Deep down all of us want our way, all the time. Man represents the aggressiveness or macho behavior, whereas woman represents the receptive energy. Shikhandin, from a woman has become a man; thus, representing the female surrender in the form of man. This is the art of dropping aggressiveness and this can only be done by shifting from aggressiveness to acceptance and surrender.
Surrender is not something we do just to a teacher, but something which as students of spirituality we try to live every moment of our lives. As we practice dissolving the ego in every situation of life, there comes a moment – a moment within an event, which we would have disliked and run away from, and yet the dislike does not manifest. We remain calm and stable; this is the moment of equanimity which we have practiced for. This balance, or as Krishna calls it ‘samatvam’, is the highest form of yoga.