विषस्य विषयाणाञ्च दूरमत्यन्तमन्तरम्. ।
उपभुक्तं विषं हन्ति विषयाः . स्मरणादपि ॥
( Source – बहिरंगयोग – पृ. ४९ )
The difference between ( the meaning of the ) word ‘ Visha विष ‘ (poison) and ‘ ‘ Vishaya ‘ विषय ‘ (object of sense) is substantial. ‘ Visha’ विष kills after consumption; ‘ Vishaya ‘ विषय kills just by remembering or thinking ( of it ) .
This Shloka is from the work ‘ Bahirang Yoga बहिरंग योग ‘. It is one of renowned scriptural treatise along with Maharshi Patanjali’s ‘ Patanjali Yoga Pradeep पातञ्जलयोगप्रदीप ‘ on ‘ Ashtang yoga ( अष्ंटान्ग योग ). While explaining ‘ Yam, Niyam यम, नियम ‘ etc, relating to ‘ Ashtang yoga,’ the ‘ granthakar ग्रन्थकार ‘ says that Visha (Poison) and ‘ Vishaya ‘ ( Objects of the sense organs), though sound similar, are vastly different in their meanings. One is required to consume poison for it to be fatal, whereas even just thinking constantly about the object of the senses, can lead to one’s destruction.
The word ‘ Visha विष ‘ means poison whereas the word ‘ vishay विषय ‘ means object of senses. Both the words ‘ Visha ‘ and ‘ Vishaya ‘ are almost similar sounding when pronounced. The difference in pronunciation is after all of only one syllable. But their attributes have a ginormous divergence. They couldn’t have differed more from each other.
The word ‘ Visha ‘ meaning poison is understood easily. But what exactly is ‘ Vishaya ‘ when we say that they are object of one’s sense organs. They are , for example could be beautiful or desirable sights for the eyes, enchanting sounds/ music for the ears, delicious taste for the tongue, pleasing smell for the nose and lovable touch for the skin. Now that the meanings of Visha and Vishaya which are similar sounding words is clear, it will be easier to appreciate the meaning of the ‘ subhashita ‘.
A person may succumb to death on consuming ‘ Visha ‘. However, there is no harm to have a look at it, or to hold in his hands , or to hear from others about it, without consuming it. As long as it is not tasted, i.e. consumed internally, it doesn’t act upon him. But that is not the case with ‘ Vishaya ‘. On the contrary, it affects the person, at the very recollection or thought of it. For example, if one thinks of a piece of jewelry, he does not have to touch it, see it, hold it, hear the details about it and obviously, smell or taste it either. The very thought can entrap the person in its grasp. If his ‘ vasanas ‘ i.e. inherent tendencies are such, then his entire day, week or years can go by, because he is caught up in acquiring that article. Some people go miles together to reach a particular eating joint because of the taste of some speciality food items that food joint serves. The person travels that distance not to satisfy his hunger but to yield to his cravings. In recent days, we have seen people crowd outside the wine shops to get a bottle or two of their favourite drink, inspite of threat of being affected by Corona virus in the crowded place. How desperate one can become by yielding to ‘ Vishaya ‘? The mind of such person will be fully preoccupied with the thought of acquiring the object of his desire. Such is the power of a sense object. Even without being physically present before that person, it can take him through a vicious trap with barely any outlet. Hence, the ‘ Granth kar ‘ says, Vishayas are far more hazardous than even poison.
Spiritually speaking, a thing which is animate should not hanker after or fall prey to any inanimate, i.e. चेतन वस्तु should not be after जड वस्तु. Let’s not be possessed by material objects in our quest to possess them. All of us know for sure that there is no end in one’s desire to acquire worldly objects. Is not ‘ Vishaya ‘ the only form of distraction from true bliss? Let’s keep control over it at least, if not totally shun it.