Teachings of the various philosophical systems of Indian thought, got reduced to a mnemonic form of literature called sUtra’’s or aphorisms. Of these, the ’samkhya’ system is famous and fascinating for its teachings by means of parables; a whole chapter of the Sutras is devoted for this purpose. In the sAMkhya sUtra. It is the view of some Western scholars, that the Buddhistic tales of a later period were a continuation of this trend.
The first parable is meant to illustrate the complete transformation that comes over an individual from the moment he realizes his true spiritual nature as distinct from his material constituents.
The parable of the abandoned prince.
To the royal couple of a kingdom was born a charming prince and there was great jubilation everywhere. But the royal astrologers discovered that that the star under which the prince was born was an unlucky one and would bode ill for the royal house. It was suggested that the astrological antidote to the impending evil was the prince’s banishment from the kingdom. Accordingly the baby was abandoned in the forest where it was providentially picked up by a shabara, a wild man of the woods who brought the child up as his own son – as a sabara youth, with not a vestige of his royalty clinging to him.
In the meantime, a wise old minister of the king got scent of the abandoned prince, being reared up as a savage youth, and located the “prince” in his wild ambience. The long and short of it, is that the minister revealed to the boy the truth of his real nature – of his being a prince and disabused his mind of the false notion imposed on him by his nurture in the wild.
From that moment onwards, there was a complete metamorphosis in the youth and his every thought, word and deed began to reflect his true blue-blood. Spirit (purusha) has triumphed completely over matter ( prakRRiti )
The parable of the ‘frog princess’ :
This is meant to illustrate the truth, that a spiritual aspirant must be eternally vigilant against even accidental ‘lapses’ in his exertions. As it has been said, in another context, spiritual effort is like winding a ball of thread; One accidental slip of the ball from the hands will unwind many times the windings of a day.
Once upon a time a king, while on a hunting expedition in the forest, rested for a while, under a tree on the banks of a lake, after slaking his thirst with its cool waters. He thought he was in a kind of reverie, when he saw a beautiful damsel of extraordinary charm was loitering in the sylvan surroundings of the lake in the lovely woods.
Enchanted by her ethereal charm, the king approached her and after exchanging pleasantries, proposed to marry her. She coyly demurred for a while and finally agreed to marry the king, on the strict condition that she must under no circumstances be allowed access to water. The king thought the ‘condition’ was rather queer, and yet he was loath to lose the maiden,
They got married and led a long and happy life together , but on a certain fateful day, the frog-queen, after a somewhat tiring sport asked the king to fetch her some water to drink. The king momentarily forgot his promise and brought her a pail of water. No sooner than she put her mouth to the water, than she turned in to a frog and leapt in to the lake and was irretrievably lost to the king, for she was by her basic nature a bhekI- a frog-princess and daughter of the Frog King.
The lesson seeks to inculcate the truth that spiritual endeavor brooks no let-up. Vedanta Sutra (IV.i.12) A prAyaNAt ---- declares that meditations have to be continued till one’s last breath. Sankara in his viveka chUdAmaNi compares avidya to the moss gathering on the clear potable waters in a well; the moss needs to be contantly cleared away if the life-giving waters of the well of Brahman are to be relished.