A Story from Chhandogya Upanishad – Part III

A Dispute among the Senses and Faculties of a Human Being

Once there was a dispute between all the senses and several faculties of a human being.   Each one, the eyes, the ears, the hands, the legs, the mind and others started to claim, “I am the best.”

The eyes said that if one cannot see, one could not do anything. The ears said that without listening one would face many problems in life; the legs said that without being able to move, one’s life was doomed. 

The question was raised, who could decide which one of these senses was superior to the rest?

They all went to their creator Brahma.  Lord Brahma listened to them and thought about a solution.  He advised that each one of the senses and the faculties of the body, one at a time, go on vacation for a year.  In whose absence the body becomes most crippled, that sense or a faculty is the best among all.

First, speech went on vacation for a year.

Speech sketch
Speech going to vacation

Then, speech came back and asked all the senses and the faculties of the body how they lived their life without talking.

In reply, all the senses and faculties of the body said that they lived life as a mute person lives.  Mute people can see with their eyes, listen with their ears, think with their minds and thus they lived.

After that, the eyes went on vacation for a year.

Eyes sketch
Eyes going on vacation

Then, the eyes came back and asked all the senses and the faculties of the body how they lived their life without the ability to see.

In reply, all the senses and the faculties of the body said that they lived as a blind person lives.  Blind people can speak with their mouths, listen with their ears, think with their minds, and thus they live their life.

Next, the ears went on vacation for a year.

Ear sketch
Ears going on vacation

Then, the ears came back and asked all the senses and the faculties of the body how they lived without the ability to hear.

In reply, all the senses and the faculties of the body said that they lived as a deaf person lives.  Deaf people can speak with their mouths, see with their eyes, think with their minds, and thus they lived their life.

Then, the mind went on vacation for a year.

Mind sketch
Mind going on vacation

The mind came back and asked all the senses and the faculties of the body how they lived without thinking.

In reply, all the senses and the faculties of the body said that they lived as babies live whose minds have not been fully developed.  Babies speak with their mouths, see with their eyes and listen with their ears.

Finally, Prana (the vital forces including breathing) started going on vacation.

As soon as the Prana started leaving the body, all the sense started losing their power.  All felt as if a powerful wild horse was pulling out all the nails that have tied it with ropes.

Then, all the senses went to the Prana and said, “Please do not leave.  You are the best among all of us.”  The eyes, the ears, speech, and the mind said to the Prana that they are all powerful because of the Prana.  That is why, in the scriptures all the senses are referred to as Prana.

– Chhandogya Upanishad: Chapter 5, section 1

(Thanks to Sneha Shah for illustrations and Nisha Parikh for editing the post.)

7 thoughts on “A Story from Chhandogya Upanishad – Part III

  1. Wonderful story. Very interesting illustrations. Thank you to Uncle, Sneha and Nisha. This should be included in Sapling.

  2. Nice way of explaining with illustrations. Very interesting and inspiring. Today I gave link of your blog to my cousin Bhargav Adhyaru as he also had some material on Shri Rang Avadhootji and wanted to explore more. I see you already have a big archive and thought if you start a good work you find time. You are a great example of that.

      1. गुरु महिमा:

        कलितारक गुरुनाम छे , गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्म ;
        एकभक्तिथि जो भजे तो कयांथी रहे भ्रम .
        कलिकाल पीडे नहीं , मोत न आवे पास ;
        दैन्य दुरित नासे सहु , थाय सिद्धिओ दास .

        देव रुष्ट थता गुरु रक्षे निज परिजन ;
        रुष्ट थता श्री गुरु कदि , त्राता कोऊ न क्षण .

        दिलरुबा दिलकी सुनावु सुननेवाला कौन है ?
        जामे हक़ भर भर पिलावु पीनेवाला कौन है ?
        : श्री रंग अवधूत महाराज

  3. Hi Uncle,
    I remember you telling this story to us once in class. I love how even if I heard it before, the message stays strong. Thank you for sharing this with us again.
    – Rashmi Ketha

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