Puranic stories are external metaphors for internal realities. The names chosen for characters and places hold the key for decoding. Of course, the stories may have indeed happened in distant past, but that is not so important. What’s more important is that those stories can unfold within us internally any time!
Take the story of Bhargava Rama. Raama comes from the root “ram”, which means “to enjoy” or “to stop”. Within us, he stands for the bliss that comes when all mental activity is stopped.
Bhargava Rama’s father was Jamadagni. Jamat+agni means “brightly burning fire”. His mother was Renuka. It means “a particle”. Renuka stands for being rooted in the material world. Jamadagni stands for the burning fire of spiritual aspiration. When they combine, bliss is born.
But, when Bhargava Rama became an adult, he had to behead his mother. In other words, when the bliss within grows and matures, it cuts off being rooted in the material world. But Bhargava Rama makes Renuka alive again, without impurities that made her fascinated with Chitraratha before. Chitraratha means “variety of attachments”. Renuka’s fascination with Chitratha shows that being rooted in material world comes with an inherent tendency towards various attachments.
After the bliss of cessation of mental activities matures, one may still be rooted in the material world and yet not have any attachments and desires. That is the hidden meaning of Renuka being beheaded and becoming alive again without any impurities.
When Bhargava Rama is away, king Kartavirya Arjuna kills his father Jamadagni. That makes him angry and he kills all kshatriyas. What does that symbolize?
Kartavirya means “born from an achievement”. Arjuna means “strength and firmness”. Within us, this king represents the sense of strength and pride that comes from having done something great. If such pride arises in one during a moment of absence of the bliss of cessation of mental activity (i.e. Bhargava Rama is away), that pride can extinguish the burning fire of sadhana.
When the bliss of cessation of mental activity returns it will not only kill that pride, but kill any sense of power and entitlement that may be in any corner of one’s consciousness. That is what Rama killing all kshatriyas on earth stands for.
Take the story of Chandra eloping with Brihaspati’s wife and Budha being born. Brihaspati forgave his wife, accepted her back and treated Budha as his own son & sishya.
Within us, Moon stands for manas (mind). Jupiter stands for dhee (intellect, which discriminates between right and wrong). While male deities show various aspects of potential energy that are present in the universe, their consorts show the kinetic energy form of the same! Thus, Jupiter’s wife stands for the application of intellect to judge things. Mind is naturally fascinated by it.
When mind combines with the application of intellect to judge things, the learning ability (Mercury within us) is born! Discriminating intellect (Jupiter) treated learning ability (Mercury) as a son & sishya and brought him up lovingly!
Take the story of Urvashi & Pururava. The great king Pururava was the son of Ida/Ila. He saw celestial nymph Urvashi and fell in love. She agreed to be with him if he is never seen naked by anyone other than her. After they spent many years, Indra wanted her back. His trick exposed Pururava and Urvashi left him. He was lovelorn for the rest of his life.
Urvashi means “widely expanding”. Within us, she symbolizes the excitement and sense of brilliance that expands in our mind, accompanying any deep insight. While Pingala nadi is the solar channel of logic and structured analysis, Ida/Ila nadi is the lunar channel of emotion and unstructured intuition. Pururava means “many voices”. Within us, he stands for multitude of notions arising from intuition. Mental notions arising from intuition obviously seek the fashes of excitement/brilliance represented by Urvashi! However, these flashes of intuiton should not be shared with the world in their raw form and some packaging/interpretation/dressing up is needed. If they are shared in their raw form, the flash of brilliance/excitement will leave them.
These are just some samples. EVERY story in Puranas and other scriptures has a deeper metaphorical meaning, which explains how various forces within our consciousness work and interact. Irrespective of one’s current life situation, there may be a Puranic story that explains what is unfolding within one’s consciousness right now.