Young girl: Mommy! Can you solve this riddle for me?
Mommy: Well, my little darling, I can try.
Young Girl: What is it that can speak any language; does not speak until spoken to and it is sometimes strong and sometimes weak?
Mommy: It must be very clever. Can speak any language, did you say? And very polite too; does not speak until spoken to. I wonder! You can tell me the answer.
Young girl: It’s an Echo!
Mommy: That’s a very clever riddle. I enjoyed that.
Now it is my turn to ask you a riddle. Can I?
Young girl: Yes Mommy.
Mommy: What is it that weapons can not cut it; fire can not burn it; water can not make it wet and the air can not make it dry?
Young girl: Mommy, if weapons can not cut it and fire can not burn it then it is something indestructible, and waterproof on top of it! Mommy, please tell me what can it be? Now I am really curious to know.
Mommy: It’s the Soul also known as the Self or the Atman. This riddle is taken from the Bhagavad Gita, second chapter, verse 23. It is written in Sanskrit language and reads:
“Nainam chhindanti shastraani, nainam dahati paavakah,
Na cha enam kledayanti aapah, na shoshayati maarutah“.
Na=not, Enam=this (Soul or Self), Chhindanti=to cut,
Shastraani=by weapons, Na=not, Enam=this, Dahati=burns,
Paavakah=by fire, Na=not, Cha=and (even), Enam=this,
Kledayanti=wet, Aapah=(by) water, Na=not, Shoshayati=dries,
‘Enam’ refers to the Soul within the body (the embodied soul).
Young girl: If the Soul is indestructible, then what happens to it when a person dies? And what happens to the body when a person dies?
Mommy: In order to understand the relationship of the soul with the body, let me make it very simple by asking you to play the part of the wooden puppet Pinocchio. If we want Pinocchio, the wooden puppet, to be alive, and be able to behave like us, then Pinocchio will have to be provided with some highly specialised equipments.
Let us begin with the tongue. Pinocchio will have to have a tongue with which to experience different tastes such as sweet, bitter, sour, salty, pungent (hot) etc.
Going up the face from the tongue, we come to the nostrils. Pinocchio can smell different types of smells, fragrances and odours. When Pinocchio comes home from school, at times he can tell by the smell of the delicious food from the kitchen that his mommy has prepared his favourite dish.
Going further up the face , we come to the eyes. Pinocchio will acquire the power of vision that will enable him to see different types of shapes (forms), and different types of colours as well as intensity of light (bright or dark).
Next to the eyes are the ears. Without the ability to hear, Pinocchio will not be able to learn how to speak. His ability to communicate with people will be restricted. Without the hearing abilities of the ears, Pinocchio will not be able to listen to the sounds of musical instruments or hear songs. In the wilds, he will not be able to hear and thereby be warned of the presence of wild animals.
So far we have talked about the tongue, the nostrils, the eyes, and the ears. One more, from amongst the five highly specialised equipments is still to be considered. Can you tell me what it can be?
Young girl: Something to do with touch?
Mommy: You are absolutely right. Touching by the skin provides information such as cold or hot, sharp or blunt, hard or rough or soft etc.
These five equipments are known as organs of (sense) perception (Gnana indriya); Gnana = knowledge, indriya = organ.
These five organs of perception gather information or knowledge relating to taste,smells,vision,sounds and touch. The eyes are like the lenses of cameras, capturing the vista before the cameras; and the ears are like microphones capturing sound.
Young girl: Mommy, are there any more equipments besides these five organs of perception?
Mommy: Oh yes! Again, to make the explanations very simple, I will relate about an incident in the life of Pinocchio……
To be continued …….