WHY WAS I BORN: Ancient Hindu Story of the 5 Ants


People often wonder Why was I born or What is the purpose of Life. Hinduism explains this question by a story.

Why was I born
Why was I born?

Hinduism encourages one to think about the question “Why was i Born or What is the purpose of Life” in the quest of self realization. There is a story mentioned in the Hindu Philosphical Scripture “Yoga Vasistha” that mentions an interesting anecdote in an attempt to answer the question Why was I born.

Why was I born: The story of 5 ants in Hinduism

At the beginning of creation, there were five ants who became fascinated by the vastness and diversity of the world. These 5 ants decided to investigate the whole world by visiting all the parts and corners of the earth. They desired to travel in all the directions and have different experiences. The consciousness in them manifested their desire and granted their wish to travel all over the world and have different experiences.

The ants are still roaming the corners of the earth. They keep taking repeated births in their quest to explore different places and have diverse experiences.  When they die upon covering a part of the journey, they come back on the earth and resume their journey from the point they had covered last.

In each birth, the ants are confident that they will get to the end of the  journey this time. The five ants start crawling as soon as they are born, running towards the promised destination. Time, the eternal stealth thief, steals their youth and vitality during this endless journey. Death overcomes them during their relentless running and their breath returns to the wind, the eyes into the sun, the mind into the moon, the hearing into the quarters of heaven and their body merges with the earth.

In Vedanta, The 5 ants represent the 5 sense organs/ Indriyas and the journey is represented by the insatibale desires of the 5 senses.

By the law of creation, consciouness ensures that as per the unfulfilled desires of a person upon his or her death, the 5 elements integrate and the person takes birth again.  The unfulfilled desires and the past actions in the last journey, limit the pure consciousnesses into a physical body and the ants start crawling again.  For some of us, the ants have been crawling since  the starting of creation now!

The story leads to conclude that the 5 ants are the 5 senses, and their insatiable desire to conquer the earth represents the immortal attraction of the senses for the transient pleasures. As long as the senses will drive one’s consciousness, he or she will be born on this earth as sentient as the ants. The senses driven body will travel a distance of miles in their journey on this earth, and take birth again to continue the journey.



WHAT IS THE SELF: Ancient Upanishad Story

SAMSARA: The Story of the Boat-Ride


WHO AM I? Sage Vasistha answers the question



CASTEISM IN INDIA: Meeting of Lord Shiva and Adi Shankara


Caste system in India. An ancient story about Hindu caste system. Lord Shiva meets Adi Shankaracharya.

hindu caste systemIn Advait Vedanta, the Hindu caste system is explained  by a meeting between Lord Shiva and Adi Shankara.


While there are many schools of thought, the underlying teachings of all thoughts in Hinduism lead to one truth – Consiousness, or Brahman, is one. For creation, the one consciousness or Brahman deludes itself and becomes many due to the illusion of differentiating between the seer and the seenthe body and the mindI and them.

When consciousness has convinced itself of this diversity, it can take birth and death as a being of any species or (in an ignorant human form) any caste.

Meeting of Lord Shiva and Adi Shankara charya- Explaining Hindu caste system

One day Adi Shankaracharya took a bath on the ghats of the Holy Ganga in Varanasi and proceeded towards the  Vishwanath Temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva.

As he was walking towards the temple from Manikarnika Ghat, a cremation worker (lowest social class of that time) approached him along with four dogs from the opposite direction.

Adi Sankara realizing that the cremation worker, an outcaste, was approaching him, stopped and said, “Step aside and let me pass.”

The outcaste continued to move forwards and Adi Sankara spoke excitedly in a loud voice, “Stop! Move away and let me pass.”
The cremation worker stopped a few feet away and smiled. He asked Adi Sankara, “Whom are you asking to move away, sir? Are you demanding the self to do so or the body to do so? For this body is built up of food. Is it your wish to keep it at a distance from that body which is also built up of  food? Or do you wish to separate the pure Awareness which is present here from the same Awareness present there?”

Adi Sankara was amazed at these words of the outcaste who continued speaking,  “Sir, Does it make any difference to the sun when it is  reflected in the waters of Ganga or in the dirty waters of the puddles in the streets of outcastes? Does space change if it remains in a golden pot or in a mud pot? Is there any difference between the outcaste and the Brahmin from the viewpoint of the knower of the Truth? Is your knowledge of the Brahman so bounded?”

Hearing these words of the outcaste, Adi Shankara was amazed. He realized he was in the presence of divinity. He folded his palms in adoration and spoke , “He who perceives all beings with an awareness of same-sightedness, he who acts in accordance with the perception of one consciousness in all and respects every being, he indeed is my Guru. You  are my Guru. I bow down at your holy feet a million times”.

As Adi Sankara bowed before the cremation worker, the man and  his canine company disappeared. In its place appeared Lord Shiva. Shankara’s mind was filled with intense devotion. He bowed down at the feet of the Great Guru of the Universe and then composed the profound five verses entitled “Maneesha Panchakam” which define the true stance of Hinduism on the caste system.


SHIVA LINGA: True meaning 


WHAT IS PEACE OF MIND: Brihaspati instructs his son

WHAT IS KARMA: The Bow-man analogy