Analogies have always come in handy in explaining difficult concepts. Our scriptures are replete with analogies which even the simplest minds can comprehend. The fine arts are another medium to carry difficult concepts both to the intellectual and the rustic. Poetry’s imagery, symbols in paintings, themes in dance, village narrations with the help of painted screens like ‘Bababji ka Phad’ folk songs devotional Bhajans, the myths and the Puranas convey what a sermon or lecture may fail to do, and a written treatise may make even more difficult to comprehend.

It is all very simple really, what our scriptures tell us about our selves. There are basically three elements that constitute our being. The gross body, its ego,  and the mysterious Soul that inhabits us.  The first two perish after a lifetime is over at death, whereas the third carries on being eternal.

An apt analogy we can use is that of the first, our gross body being a vehicle ( whether a Benz, Maruti, Rolls Toyota or even a Tonga or a Bullock cart, it does not matter). The Ego is the chauffeur or  driver or even the master of the vehicle and has full control over it, to serve its various purposes. 

In literature and religions this entity has been for good reason been much maligned. But without it the vehicle would be no more than a corpse. In fact the ego is to the body what gravity is to the earth. Without gravity the earth would lose all valuable assets it possesses like a barren planet. Gravity helps it hold together all its elements like the ocean, the atmosphere, living beings etc. It gives the earth its personality as the blue planet. The ego too holds the gross body together helping to protect it against external threats, and to enhance its ability to survive and thrive. Of course in the process it may exceed the basic needs it serves and become more than an element in survival. Whatever its manner of working it is the driver of the vehicle and takes it where it wants at the speed it wants and even risking destruction.

The third element is the Soul, which we can describe as the distinguished Passenger in the back seat. It witnesses the journey but cannot interfere with the driver’s wishes beyond occasionally whispering caution, temperance and wisdom, observing the right from the wrong as the journey proceeds. This is done in the most unobtrusive manner possible, as would a house guest. He refrains from interfering with the will of the driver or host after quiet counselling, and as a passenger, politely witnesses the goings on.

The backseat of the vehicle may be likened to our conscience or sub conscious mind where the Soul’s voice can be heard if the driver cares to listen (absolutely no compulsion or dictation – totally free will of the driver). Here too arise intuition, creative inspiration and genius. This is the area where the visiting soul brings its great assets from another world, whether it is employed by the ego or simply ignored on account of its own preoccupations like pleasure, survival, dominance ( a form of survival) aggression ( yet another facet of the same) exploitation, aggrandizement at the expense of others, pursuit of wealth, power and distinction and stature ( again related to survival)  even criminal activity like murder, war, usurpation, degrading others as inferior and regarding oneself as superior. In all this the Passenger plays no role beyond cautioning and barely audible above the ego’s roaring purposes. The journey sometimes reckless continues and the passenger willy nilly joins in the journey whether pleasant or horrific.

The Passenger is not unlike an Ambassador from another world sent to observe witness and report to his superiors there but never interfering directly beyond quiet counsel in the actions of the ego on this other world. In this foreign land there must be no interference in its ‘internal affairs’.  When there is a fatal accident or total breakdown of the vehicle  the ego and the vehicle the gross body perish and cease to be. The passenger then has to return to his world and is assigned another vehicle. He is like the eternal tourist, witnessing observing learning without interference. It is not a pleasant experience trying to influence ( but mostly failing) all manner of drivers and vehicles but it is a command from his world he cannot fail to comply with.

When a unique driver and vehicle are assigned to him,  a fortunate occurrence when the driver is given to listening with respect the voice from the back seat and complying with the advice rendered, the journey concludes with all round joy and understanding and the passenger returns to his world fulfilled, never needing to go again on tours in the other world on the back seat.

In the Bhagwat Gita the analogy can be reversed where the “driver” is in the back seat and the passenger now becomes the Driver and is called Parthsarthi or Driver of Partha, and He then takes him on a journey revealing what Partha could never have imagined.