Who blinked first?

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The story of the great King Nimi and the royal Rishi Vasishta starts in an eyeblink!

The cornea of the eye is an interesting organ whose top layer forms as early as 5-6 weeks into gestation. The thin tear film next to the cornea is almost an integral part of the cornea. This is so because it supplies oxygen to cornea which has no blood vessels. For a long time, scientists understood the eyeblink to be an ocular lubrication mechanism. However, a spontaneous blink is more powerful than that. For example, it provides the brain a “moment” of rest, according to a 2012 study.

Vasishta Nimi story relates to the eyeblink
Vasishta Nimi story relates to the blink of the eye

There is a spike in the activity in certain regions of the brain during an eyeblink. Scientists associate these regions with the state of “restful awakening”. The mind, in this state, can disengage from the outside world. An eyeblink connects us with meditative state of consciousness! This is true! especially based on the fact that the dopamine, an important chemical in the brain, controls the rate of eyeblink.

An adult blink fifteen times a minute whereas infants blink 2-3 times a minute. Some newborns blink as slow as once a minute. According to Vedic literature a baby remains in meditative state or Samadhi, while in the womb. Therefore, the brain of a newborn does not have to seek moments of rest like an adult brain does. Puranas, a subset of Vedic literature, acknowledge the immense power behind an eyeblink through the story of Rishi Vasishta and Nimi.

Nimi and Vasishta

Great Kings and Royal sages had the ability to contact Devas or celestials in the earliest era of humans. Rishi Vasishta, the royal sage departed to perform a Yajna, upon the invitation of Indra, the ruler of the celestials. Simultaneously, a desire arose in King Nimi to begin a Yajna when the Rishis was ready to depart. But Vasishta, his family priest, had asked the King to await his return. King Nimi was spiritual. He believed truly in the transient nature of human existence. The mere memory of his desire to perform the Yajna made him more anxious. He remembered the fleeting nature of the body and consciousness staying together. Surely, Consciousness could drop the body any moment. This notion bothered and coaxed the king to start the Yajna right away. He could not wait for the return of his royal priest!

Vasishta returned and was surprised to see a Yagna in progress. A tinge of disappointment arose in Vasishta’s mind. This turned into a negative omen for King Nimi. Consequently, King Nimi’s consciousness dropped its body, immediately! The Karma of disrespecting a Guru is potent indeed! Additionally, the fruit of a Karma can manifest more easily through a charged notion in a person’s psyche.

A Yagja has to complete!

A substitute priest at the Yajna had the obligation to complete the important Yajna. However, he could not do this without the presence of Nimi. Therefore, the priest prayed to the Devas. Consequentially, The Devas requested Nimi’s consciousness to remain in the earth plane. However, they accommodated one caveat. King Nimi had sought enlightenment. Nimi’s consciousness turned into the drive behind the human eyeblink, with the blessings of the Devas. An eyeblink inherited the name of the great king Nimi. The duration of one eyeblink is a Nimisha.

Is the Vasishta Nimi story real?

The authors of the Puranas conveyed wisdom in the form of stories. The Rishis, the authors of these texts, were great meditators. They discovered many secrets about the human psyche and the functioning of the body as stories. This was their way of keeping the knowledge alive for future generations.

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