The Mahabharata Home
"The Brahmana said, 'In this connection is cited the ancient story, O blessed one, of what the institution is of the seven sacrificing priests. The nose, the eye, the tongue, the skin, and the ear numbering the fifth, the mind, and the understanding,--these are the seven sacrificing priests standing distinctly from one another. Dwelling in subtle space, they do not perceive one another. Do thou, O beautiful one, know these sacrificing priests that are seven by their nature.'"
"The Brahmana's wife said, 'How is it that dwelling in subtle space, these do not perceive one another? What are their (respective) natures, O holy one? Do thou tell me this, O lord.'"
"The Brahmana said, 'Not knowing the qualities (of any object) is ignorance (of that object); while knowledge of the qualities is (called) knowledge (of the object which possesses those qualities). These seven never succeed in apprehending or knowing the qualities of one another. The tongue, the eye, the ear too, the skin, the mind, and the understanding, do not succeed in apprehending smells. It is the nose alone that apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the ear also, the skin, the mind, and the understanding, never succeed in apprehending colours. It is the eye alone that apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the eye too, the ear, the understanding, and the mind, never succeed in apprehending sensations of touch It is the skin alone that apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the eye, the skin, the mind, and the understanding, never succeed in apprehending sounds. It is the ear alone that apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the eye, the skin, the ear, and the understanding never succeed in apprehending doubt. It is the mind that apprehends it. The nose, the tongue, the eye, the skin, the ear, and the mind, never succeed in apprehending determination (certainty in respect of knowledge). It is the understanding alone that apprehends it. In this connection, is cited, O beautiful lady, this ancient narrative of a discourse between the senses and the mind.'
"The mind said, 'The nose does not smell without me. (Without me) the tongue does not apprehend taste. The eye does not seize colour, the skin does not feel touch, the ear does not apprehend sound, when deprived of me. I am the eternal and foremost one among all the elements. It always happens that destitute of myself, the senses never shine, like habitations empty of inmates or fires whose flames have been quenched. Without me, all creatures fail to apprehend qualities and objects, with even the senses exerting themselves, even as fuel that is wet and dry (failing to ignite a fire).'
"Hearing these words, the Senses said, 'Even this would be true as thou thinkest in this matter, if, indeed, thou couldst enjoy pleasures without either ourselves or our objects. 1 What thou thinkest, would be true, if, when we are
extinct, there be gratification and support of life, and a continuation of thy enjoyments, or, if, when we are absorbed and objects are existing, thou canst have thy enjoyments by thy desire alone, as truly as thou hast them with our aid. If, again, thou deemest thy power over our objects to be always complete, do thou then seize colour by the nose, and taste by the eye. Do thou also take smell by the ear, and sensations of touch by the tongue. Do thou also take sounds by the skin, and likewise touch by the understanding. They that are powerful do not own the dominion of any rules. Rules exist for those only that are weak. Do thou seize enjoyments unenjoyed before; it behoves thee not to enjoy what has been tasted before (by others). As a disciple repairs to a preceptor for the sake of (acquiring) the Srutis, and then, having acquired the Srutis, dwells on their import (by obeying their injunctions), even so dost thou regard as thine those objects which are shown by us, past or future, in sleep or in wakefulness. Of creatures, again, that are of little intelligence, when their mind becomes distracted and cheerless, life is seen to be upheld upon our objects discharging their functions. 1 It is seen also that a creature, after having formed even innumerable purposes and indulged in dreams, when afflicted by the desire to enjoy, runs to objects of sense at once. 2 One entering upon enjoyments depending on mental purposes alone and unconnected with actual objects of sense, always meets with death upon the exhaustion of the life-breaths, like an enkindled fire upon the exhaustion of fuel. True it is that we have connections with our respective attributes; true it is, we have no knowledge of one another's attributes. But without us thou canst have no perception. Without us no happiness can come to thee.'"
41:1 The correct reading is cha after arthan and not twam after it. Hence, the Senses say that, without ourselves and without those which are our objects, thou canst not have thy enjoyments.'
42:1 Thus creatures may exist through us, even though mind may be out of order.
42:2 Both mental purposes and dreams having failed to gratify him.
Next: Section XXIII