Spiritually speaking, when we talk about wild elephants, their three main aspects come to light: (1) elephants’ lustful urges, (2) its conduct, which is like a drunkard being, and (3) its enormous size and fat belly. The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) compares all these aspects of an elephant with the human ego-mind (the consciousness of time-space-causation). The ego-mind sees infinite diversity in Unity. Although the ego-sense (Haume) seems real to us, but in reality it’s a long dream. The ego-mind heads us to calamity, first creating delusion and wickedness (corruption or falsehood), and these later expand into sorrow (Dukh).
- ਮਨੁ ਕੁੰਚਰੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਉਦਿਆਨੈ ॥: Manu kunchar kaaiaa oudiaanai (sggs 221).
- ਮਨੁ ਮੈ ਮਤੁ ਮੈਗਲ ਮਿਕਦਾਰਾ ॥: Manu mai matu maigal mikadaaraa (sggs 159).
- ਮਨ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਮਤਾਗਲੁ ਮਤਾ ॥: Man kee matu mataagal mataa (sggs 351).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਕਾਇਆ ਕਜਲੀ ਬਨੁ ਭਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਕੁੰਚਰੁ ਮਯ ਮੰਤੁ ॥: Kabeer kaaiaa kajalee ban bhaiaa manu kunchar may mant (sggs 1376).
- ਕਾਲਬੂਤ ਕੀ ਹਸਤਨੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਚਲਤੁ ਰਚਿਓ ਜਗਦੀਸ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਸੁਆਇ ਗਜ ਬਸਿ ਪਰੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਅੰਕਸੁ ਸਹਿਓ ਸੀਸ ॥੧॥ ਬਿਖੈ ਬਾਚੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਚੁ ਸਮਝੁ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ॥: Kaalaboot kee hasatanee manu bouraa re chalat rachio jagadees. Kaam suaai gaj bas pare mann bouraa re ankas sahiou sees. Bikhai baach har raach samajh mann bouraa re. bikhai baach har raach samajh man bouraa re (sggs 335-336).
First aspect (elephant’s lustful nature): this can better be understood by knowing as to how elephants are captured (at least this is how they used to be caught in older days, May be it’s done differently these days!). Several methods are used to this end. One of these methods include using decoys of straw or trained female elephants to sexually attract or lure the wild beast for capture. Large pits are dug in/near pathways just behind the decoys. Once lured by lust, the elephant rushes towards the decoys and fall into the pit. Thus, it gets trapped there in the pit and captured. In this way, attracted by the lure of lust, the elephant loses its world and freedom. Similarly, the deluded ego-mind is enticed by the enchanting and mirage-like world appearance and its gross objects (Maya). The material world is a snare, like the pit if the senses are defiled.
Second aspect (its drunkard conduct): if we let lose a drunkard elephant in the banana forest, it will go crazy and create havoc. Similarly, as asserted by the Gurbani, the ego-mind is like the drunkard elephant that constantly creates havoc in the forest of the body, day in and day out. That is why we are told to be sleeping unconsciously in an unending slumber, from which we do not want to be awakened. The deluded or ego-mind is like a mirage. When the mind rests in false ego-sense, the consciousness becomes conditioned and reflects through the defiled senses, from which arises the illusion of self-limitation of the consciousness (body-consciousness). When thus repeatedly experienced and thought of, the false ego-sense and the illusion of the self-limitation acquire a false validity. Thus, egoism is self-created, an idea based on a false association of the Soul with the physical elements.
Third aspect (iIts inflated, fat size): on account of the inflated ego, the mind has become fat, like the elephant. False ego associated with the body-consciousness is the foremost evil, and over 99.9 percent beings in this world are afflicted with this evil. In body-consciousness, worldly relationships become bondage; worldly enjoyments turn into great diseases; one’s own senses and mind become his worst enemy; man’s wisdom goes weak; all actions performed in ignorance lead to unhappiness and mental restlessness; untruthful living becomes the norm; selfless love and compassion are not to be found in people’s heart; in envy, people display unhappiness at the prosperity and happiness of others; weakness overtakes strength; cowardice overpowers courage; Kusang (bad association) becomes easily available while the true Saadh-sangat (Holy Company) is hard to come by, and so on. In body-consciousness, the Reality thus becomes unreal and unknown.