Verse 34: What do the organs-of-sense do?

buddhi indriyāṇi teṣāṃ pañca viśeṣa aviśeṣa viṣayāṇi |
vāk bhavati śabda viṣayā śeṣāṇi tu pañca viṣayāṇi ||

viśeṣa – special distinguishing property
aviśeṣa – lacking distinction
viṣaya – a sensed object

They are sensitized to and resonate with specific kinds of elements.

  1. The ten external sense organs are divided into five knowing sense organs and five action sense organs (see verse 26).
  2. The five knowing objects-of-sense correlate to five elements.
    1. Each knowing organ-of-sense sense correlates to a specific element-of-sense:
      1. There are objects-of-sound that the “ear” can hear.
      2. There are elements-of-form that the “eye” can see.
      3. There are elements-of-touch which the“skin” can sense.
      4. There are elements-of-smell which the “nose” can smell.
      5. There are elements-of-taste which the “tongue” can taste.
    2. Each of these five elements-of-sense has both a specific (gross) and a non-specific (subtle) aspect.
      1. The specific gross aspect which I can experience, such as scent which is unique to objects-of-smell, or color which is unique to objects-of-form. It is specific because it distinctly differentiates one kind of element from the other kinds of elements (the quality of that which is heard is distinctly different from that which is smelled or seen).
      2. Each element also has a non-specific subtle aspect which I cannot perceive directly. This is non-specific because it does not allow me to differentiate between the different kinds of elements.
    3. “Realized” people can perceive both the subtle and the gross aspects of the elements.
  3. The five action organs-of-sense correlate with elements in a different way:
    1. Of the five action organs-of-sense, speech is unique because it directly produces the gross element-of-sound (but is incapable of producing the subtle element-of-sound).
    2. The other four action organs-of-sense(hands, feet, anus and regenerative organ) relate to objects that have all five qualities of the elements-of-sense. For example: the objects that a hand grasps, the earth upon which feet walk, and excretions from the anus and generative organ all combine the qualities of sound, form, touch, smell and taste.

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