Vivekachoodamani, a master piece of Shri Adi Sankaracharya, provides a cream of the Upanishads and Bahagavad Gita. I have been fortunate enough to read some of the verses from this great literature. The following is one of my all time favorite verse:
"Sabdhaathibi: panchapireva pancha panchathvamaabu: swagunena baththaa:
Kuranga – maathanga – pathanga – meena – brungaa: nara: panchapiranjitha kim"
In this verse, Shri Adi Sankara gives examples from the animals on how they are doomed to their own destruction because of their own addiction to one of the five senses and tries to educate the most advanced animal as in human.
Kuranga – means the Deer. Deer has the tendency to get attracted by good music (Sabdha). It tends to get mesmerized by good music and hence gets distracted from its usual vigilant self – it can be caught easily.
Maathanga – is the ‘Elephant’. Elephant is addicted to ‘touch’ (Sparsha). Elephants are commonly attracted by its own clan’s touch. It is a common practice to use one ‘tamed elephant’ to catch the untamed ones. Because of its addiction to the sparsa from its opposite sex, the elephants with its mammoth size & stamina could be easily tamed.
Pathanga – is the Moth or Fly. These are mesmerized by the ‘light’ that they see. There is no food for the Moth or Fly in the ‘light’ – but still they get attracted by the image (Roopa) and lose their lives.
Meena – is the Fish. Fish lose their lives because of their addiction to ‘taste’ (Rasa). Fish have no real reason to jump for the food shown to them. They have enough vegetation to feed them in the water. But still they tend to search for a different taste and lose their lives.
Brunga – is the honey bee. Honey bees are the hardest workers. They are attracted to deadly flowers by their beautiful smell (Gandha). Even after collecting the honey from such flowers, the bees tend to sit for some more time on such flowers as they get mesmerized by their scent only to lose their lives. The flowers close their petals to ensure their end.
Each of these animals loses their lives because of their addiction to one of the five senses. But as humans, the most intelligent animals, most of us are addicted to all the five senses. What would be the status of us if we fail to control our senses?
By this verse, Shri Adi Shankara drives the point that human kind should not give it over to the five senses via, Sabdha, Sparsha, Roopa, Rasa and Gandha.
Why is this one of my favorites? It is simple, gives great examples, and kindles you to think but very hard to practice. Like all those animals, we are all still controlled by our senses, only to face our own ultimatum…