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