The Shadow

The Shadow

The Shadow

The rainy season had begun in the month of July here in Bangalore when it poured down almost everyday crazily. Although the arrival of the monsoon adds a lot of joy and excitement in everyone’s heart, it no doubt adds on problems in our already problematic lives. Dark gloomy sky, slippery and cracked roads, people walking around with umbrellas and raincoats trying to protect their clothes from the splashing of muddy water, leaky rooftops, mosses and weeds grown all around, broken trees on the roads causing traffic jams were the commonest scenes everywhere. Last but not the least, one of the major household concerns for all the ladies is drying of wet clothes in monsoon. The sight of piled up wet clothes over the grills and hangers, moisture filled bedrooms and bathrooms,  the flourishing moulds in wardrobes causing musty smell almost curbs away the charm of rainy season.While I was cribbing about these things and trying to sort out the problem of undried clothes, it was 8 O’clock in the night. My two years old son was playing in the living room. All of a sudden the weather changed, wind started blowing harshly, and fat raindrops slashed at the windows. There was a flash of lighting and a loud noise of thunder. Lights got switched off due to power cut and a complete darkness prevailed all around the house. I somehow managed to walk. stealthily around the house and found my mobile at last. I immediately switched on the mobile torch light and kept the mobile on the table against a box. It was then that a big dark shadow of mine was formed on the opposite wall. My son though was excited to see the shadow for the first time, he was still afraid to see my dark silhouette with ungroomed curly hairs that gave a weird appearance indeed and within no time tears rolled down his cheeks….!!!
I tried to divert his mind by creating some of the interesting shadows like that of a barking dog, a galloping deer, a crocodile with its wide open mouth and so on……. He started enjoying those shadow images, smiled whole-heartedly and also tried re-creating some on his own. The entire scene hovered in my mind for few weeks. I wondered how many of us would have spent time in our busy lives to watch our own shadows??? I am sure most of us wouldn’t have made an attempt to do so. This might be because we rarely walk in a sunny day even for a short distance or we rarely face power cuts these days due to availability of UPS at almost every home or we are too pre-occupied in our daily chores!!!

Having said that, did I just mean to say about an ordinary SHADOW???
No, definitely not. A shadow is a multifaceted phenomenon experienced by everyone in everyday life with a spectra of meanings hidden within. But we often tend to ignore it. A shadow is the true representation of oneself. According to Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, shadow is “all of the parts of ourselves that we despise or loathe and therefore hide and avoid.”

A shadow is generally used to reflect the dark, hidden, weak and negative aspects of one’s life. But I personally feel that when a shadow can bring smile on a child’s face it can definitely be used to reflect the strong personality, high morals, ideals, principles and dreams of a person which he hasn’t chosen yet to incorporate in his everyday life. Remember that, it is a darkroom which is used to process the photographic films to get the adorable images. Theatre is also a dark room which projects amazing movies on to the screens. The shadow of a tree serves as the shade for people standing beneath it. The shadows have been mentioned in various fields each with their own meanings –mythology, astrology, history, folklore, psychology, cartoon movies, holy books, photography, poetry, prose etc………

The Bhagavad –Gita (09.33) encourages us to get rid of all the temporary materialistic miseries of life by practicing bhakti. The light-shadow metaphor is used to make one understand that if one remains in light, he cannot be disturbed by the darkness of shadow and if one remains in shadow, he cannot enjoy the gifts offered by light.
“Rather than expecting the absence of shadow, we should learn to accept the presence of light”.
The idea of shadow is also mentioned frequently in Bible, usually as God’s protective presence.”He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadows of the Almighty” (Isaiah 51:16). In astrology, Rahu and Ketu are referred to as the “shadow planets” and they do not correspond to a physical planet. The period of time under the influence of Rahu is called “Rahukala” and is considered inauspicious. Rahu is also responsible for causing the solar eclipse when it almost entirely covers the sun.
In the ancient times, tools like shadow stick, sun-dials or even the shadow cast by a tall building were used to determine the time when the battery operated clocks were not invented. The famous sun clock at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi is used for calculation of time using the shadow caused by sun.
In Hindu mythology, “Chhaya or Chaya” is considered as the Hindu personification and goddess of shadow. In Greek mythology, “Erebus” was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness and is devoted as the “Greek god of shadows”.In psychology, shadow is that “hidden or unconscious aspect of oneself, both good and bad, which the ego has either repressed or never recognized”- Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon.
In the famous Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, shadows have been utilized as a powerful tool to create special effects in the dramatic scene where the Huntsman tries to stab Snow White and she sees his threatening shadow appearing over her. The same has been used in Pinocchio, Peter Pan, The Princess and the Frog and many other cartoons and animated series.
Last but not the least, I just can’t forget the shadow art of the wonderful “Punyakoti” story by Mr. Prahlad Aacharya who uses a mesmerizing world of hand shadows weaving highly entertaining and interactive tales from animal and human world. The form though limited to shadows doesn’t lack any emotional appeal in its presentation.

After deep diving into all these meanings and usages of shadows in various fields of life, I now really feel that SHADOW is definitely not something to be despised or loathed about. It is not only the dark side of the personality. It also consists of one’s capabilities, strong desires, lessons, ideologies, positive moral qualities that have been deep buried or never been uplifted or never been incorporated. At the same time, it is never possible to run away from your own shadow as it is the true representation of yourself. Seeing our shadow on the walls or roads gives us a cue to pay attention to those parts of ourselves which we dislike and have a chance to change it. “No shadow exists without a source of light”.
“Even though the eyes are seized by light, the shadows have more to utter”.
It means that we are sometimes carried away by the comfort of warm sun, unknowingly or purposely, denying the fact that it is actually blinding us and burning us, distracting us from discovering and resonating with the truth. The truth is that we have all the answers hidden within ourselves- our purpose, our passion, our potential, our dreams, our impact. We should choose whether to face the sun or turn around and face our shadows.
“The shadows formed are always deep, when the quantum of light is more”. So both symbolically and metaphorically, the brightest individuals possess the darkest shadows.

About the Author

Dr. Shubha. H. V
Consultant psychologist.

MBBS from Sri Siddhartha medical college,Tumkur MD (in pathology) from Bangalore medical college and research Institute (BMCRI) Worked as Assistant

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