Similes and Metaphors on Mind

Aadi Sankaraacharya is as good a poet as he is a vedantin. He has equally fascinatingly described path of knowledge (jnaana marga), path of devotion (bhakti maarga) and path of action (karma maarga) of spirituality. He is a beautiful poet full of romanticism and imagination, the gifts of many a poet.

In this series, the similes and metaphors on mind enchantingly presented by him in Sivaanandalahari (The Wave of Siva’s Bliss) will be dealt with.


Maa gacha! Twam itastataha, Girisa!
Bho, mayi eva vaasam kuru Swamin!
Adi Kiraata!
Maamaka manaha kaantaara seemaantare
Vartante bahuso mrugaaha madajusho maatsarya mohaadayaha
Taan hatwaa mrugayaa vinodaruchitaa laabham cha sampraapyasi


In this Sloka Adi Sankaraacharya is comparing the mind to a wild forest (maamaka manaha kaantaara seemaantare). He is luring Lord Siva, the Girisaa (Lord of the mountains - Himaalayas) and Adi Kirataa - the primordial hunter (the story of encounter between Lord Siva as Kiraata and Arjuna of Pandavaas as ‘Kiraataarjuneeyam” is highly famous and popular), urging him not to go here and there and to reside in his heart (maa gacha itaha tataha, mayi eve vaasam kuru) to have the pleasure of hunting the wild animals – the shadwargas (maatsyarya mohaadayaha) - lust, anger, misery, longing, pride and avarice – available there in him, assuring Lord Siva that He, the Lord and Primordial Hunter, gets the joy and fun of hunting (taan hatwaa mrugaya vinodaruchitaa laabham cha samprayasyasi).

As we all know it is an irresistible invitation and offer to the professional hunter. And when the Lord hunts all the shadwargas in us, we automatically become peaceful, blissful and will always be worshiping the Lord and chanting the name of the Lord and thus will be in communion with the Lord continuously. In this the “intelligence’ of Adi Sankaraachaarya is evident. He is here ‘luring’ even the Lord by knowing Lord’s love for hunting as Adi Kiraata. But that is the most beautiful and profound relation and nearness a devotee feels with the Lord. This nearness as reflected in Sivaanandalahari will also be presented as another series.


Sadaa mohaatavyaam charati yuvateeenaam kucha girau
Natati atyyaasaa saakhaa swatiti jhatiti swairamabhitha
Kapalin! Bhiksho! Me hrudaya kapim atyanta chapalam
Drudham bhaktyaa badhwaa Siva! bhavadadheenam kuru vibho!


In this sloka mind is compared with monkey. That monkey always wanders in the forest of moha (passion and attraction to things and persons), plays on the mountains of the breasts of youthful women (yuvateenaam kucha girau), immediately climbs the branches of greed (atyaasaa saakhaa); behaves in gay abandon without any control (swairamabhitaha). [The places normally a monkey visits are used to compare the mind and its visits (the forest, the mountains, tree branches etc)]

Then Sankaraacharya addresses Lord Siva as Kapalin (a type of Sanyasin) and Bhikshuka (Beggar)! And asks Siva to bind his fickle mind tightly to the Lord with the rope of Bhakti (devotion) (bhaktyaa badhwaa) and make him Lord’s Own (bhavadadheenam kuru vibho!). [It is a normal sight that beggars tame monkeys and bring them with them while begging].

In this Sloka Sankaraacharyaa’s poetic skills for the use of similes and metaphors and his observations of the secular world around to frame his similes and metaphors, is very enchanting here.

Note: The English word mind is a collective word for which there are four parts in Indian philosophy. Samkhya system of philosophy named four types of functions of mind and called them separately as manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaaram. These are called antahakaranas (inner mental tools). Manas takes care of all cognitions, their sensing being a medium of cognitions to sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin), storing and retrieval as thoughts or feelings and also the medium of action to action organs (movements relating to hands, legs, vocal chords, reproductive organ and bowels). Buddhi takes care of all intellectual functions such as logic, reasoning, induction, deduction etc., Chittam simultaneously stores and later retrieves the experiences caused by cognitions. Ahamkaaram is collection of thoughts and feelings about I, me mine, the form of ego and self-consciousness relating to body, social status, profession and mental traits of the individual.


More by :  Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam

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