The proverb, known as “ andha golA~NgUla nyAya” in Sanskrit, forms the basis of this story. A brat, let’s call him Devadatta, born to wealthy parents was being brought up in luxury ; he was bedecked in rich jewelry and other trappings of opulence. He was inordinately fond of rich foods and and was garrulous and cantankerous. Erotic scenes and exotic perfumes excited him; beautiful soft maidens, delighted him no end - and to cut a long story short, he was ensnared by his passions and sense pleasures became his intimate friends. One fine morning, he invited his friends for a game hunting expedition to the forest. When the orgy of pleasures reached their zenith, his ” friends” drugged him unconscious and after denuding him of his valuables, blinded him by plucking out his eyes. They, then, abandoned him in the trackless woods, to fend for himself. Gathering himself up somehow, the wretch roamed much in the forest to find his way back home, but in vain. Then, as ill-luck would have it, a rogue, pretending to be a pious man, chanced upon the hapless boy. Assuring the desperate fool, that he was a sovereign guide to lead him home, the sanctimonious humbug led him to a wild bull. He guided the boy’s hands to its tail and told him “my dear boy! Hold on fast to the tail of this bull. It will lead you to your home” The gullible idiot held on to the bull’s tail with great resolve. The crook then whipped the wild bull hard to make it run berserk. Even after getting buffeted and knocked about all around the forest, the boy could get nowhere near his home and yet he would not loosen his grip on the tail a wee bit, out of his unbounded faith in his false “saviour”. He was eventually lost to the world. That was the saga and the tragicomedy of his reckless career.
“It’s all a very well- spun yarn and an old granny’s tale”, you might exclaim, “but what is the allegory in all this”?
Here it is, sir, and unlike the ludicrous story, it is quite serious andthought-provoking stuff, considering that this tale, illustrative of the proverb occurs, as an inset in the Advaita classic vichAra sAgara (ocean of enquiry) by the saint nishchala dAsa. The spoilt youth in the story is the jIva or the individual soul. Though born in the image of the Almighty, partaking of His Existence-Knowledge-Bliss’, the soul in forgetting its divine nature, falls easy prey to the temptations of the flesh and gets robbed of his wisdom by the ten enemies, the sensual pleasures viz. exciting pleasures of the eyes, the pleasing and titillating sounds of the ears. the sensuous olfactory scents of smell, mouth-watering tastes the tongue, and the tactile pleasures of the skin; Add to them the five motor pleasures, particularly those of the sexual and tongue-lashings. These ten marauding knaves of sensuous over indulgence. are the highway robbers on the road of his ”pïlgrim’s progress” .They are broadly grouped as the twain of kAma and krodha, sensual cravings and anger borne of frustration, consequent on their non-fulfillment.
The victim’s valuables. which his sensuality divested him of, were his innate virtues. The plucking out of his eyes was the deprivation of his viveka discriminatory faculty of distinguishing between the passing and the enduring elements of his existence.The hypocritical guide he bumps in to, in the forest is a false prophet. A true preceptor is defined by the scriptures as one, well-versed in scriptural lore (shrotriya), and firmly established in direct apprehension of the Supreme (brahma niShTha),The wild bull’s tail is the false doctrine of his imposter guide, which is a sure recipe for plunging in to bottomless perdition.The moral of the story is two-fold.
One is, “Beware of the guiles of the senses”. Spiritual literature abounds in warnings of this danger: the senses are compared to lurking sharks, to stormy gales that blow your wisdom away, as they do a boat in a tempest etc.They are deadlier than the most venomous serpent, the black cobra, says the following verse from the viveka chUdamaNi of Sri Sankara
दोषेण तीव्रो विषयः कृष्णसर्पविषादपि।
विषं निहन्ति भोक्तारं द्रष्टारंचक्षुषाप्ययम्॥
doSheNa tIvro viShayaH.kRRiShNasarpaviShAdapi.
viShaM nihanti bhoktAraM. draShtAraM chaxuShApyayam..
The meaning is that sensual indulgence is more lethal than the most dreaded black cobra. The latter kills only after it bites, but the former kills its victim by mere contemplating on it.
The next moral of this story is “Beware of false religious teachers”. They soell your doom and not your weal, They talk glibly about religion and philosophy, but they are devoid of the Brahman- experience.
The following verse, again from Sankara, brings out this truth strikingly:
वाग्वैखरी शवब्दझरी शास्त्रव्याख्यानकोशलम्।.
वैदुष्यं विदुषां तद्वत् भुक्तये न तु मुक्तये॥
vaiduShyaM viduShAMtadvat bhuktaye na tu muktaye..
Meaning of the verse is that their gift of the gab, their interpretative skils and their erudition, alike, make only for their comfortable passage through life (bhukti) and not for Liberation (mukti), of either themselves or their hapless disciples. As Swami Vivekananda once remarked “—blind leading the blind, they both fall in the ditch”