Raja Puranjan had a fast friend, named Avigyat. Nobody knew that Avigyat took good care of the king’s comfort and of what the king ate and wore.One day,Puranjan left his palace for another land without telling Avigyat. After wandering from place to place in search of a good place to stay, he arrived in the South to discover a beautiful fort-like mansion of nine ornate doors, surrounded by a pool of crystal clear water and gardens rich with flower and fruit trees. Birds of diverse colours dwelt in the garden singing sweet songs.
Suman K Sharma
The king walked up to the main door with the intention of residing there. A beautiful damsel, adorned with precious jewellery and resplendent clothes was strolling about with ten of her female attendants. The king got enamoured of her at the first sight. ‘O beautiful one, you look like a daughter of celestial beings, nay, Goddess Lakshmi herself. Who your parents are? The arrows you shoot from your eyes wound men’s hearts. Whose mansion is this, who got it built and who lives in it?’ The young lady smiled and said, ‘O king, I know neither the name of my father or the mother. My marriage has not taken place as yet and I want to marry. I do not know who made this house but I do live in it and whoever marries me will also stay here. This five-headed serpent is here to protect me.’ Puranjan proposed to her with courtesy and the maid agreed readily.
The king and the beautiful maid got married and started living in luxury and comfort. The king abided by her commands and did nothing which did not find her approval. But one day, he took out her chariot for hunt without seeking her permission. When he returned home, his consort was red with rage. King Puranjan begged her to pardon, assuring her obsequiously that he would never commit such an indiscretion again. Thereafter, the two lived together happily.
In the ancient times, as at present, wives did have the authority to curb the waywardness of their husbands! But this one is a parable. King Puranjan is soul, Aatma, detached from his friend Avigyat, Parmatma. Aatma wanders about in the splendid world of mortals in which exists the beautiful mansion of nine gates, the body. The nine gates of the mansion represent the nine orifices of the body – two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one pudendum and one anus. The body’s external organs, ten in number – payu (anus), upasta (sex organs), pada (legs), pani (hands), vacha (tongue), chakshu (eyes), srota (ears), ghraana (nose), rasna (tongue) and tvacha (skin) – are the female friends of the body that attend to its needs.
Last, but not the least, the body is protected by consciousness, the awareness of self that is five-headed snake (shesha) of the story. The five heads are the five senses which not only make the body aware of itself and the world at large, but also protect it from harm. Incidentally, shesha in Sanskrit stands both for the mythical serpent on which reposes Vishnu and what ‘remains’ after subtraction from a sum. The adorable princess of the story and the mansion in which she lives are one and the same.
What does the parable mean?Puranjan may be the king, free to go anywhere. But once wedded to the beautiful princess, he can be happy only if he respects her ownership rights. Soul and body are distinct but wedded to each other. For happiness in life, the body has to be consciously kept in good shape with self-discipline. Infringement of body’s rights can cause illness and disease.