Yasodhara Kavyam is one of the five minor epics in Tamil literature, but it gives us many philosophical lessons. It has portions which talk about the soul and philosophical knowledge, said Malayaman in a discourse.
One of the characters in the story is a king by name Yasomathi. His General is Sandakaruman. One day, when the king and his queen are enjoying music and dance performances, Sandakaruman goes to the forest, where a sage by name Agambana is doing penance.
Sandakaruman has many doubts relating to gnana and to the soul, and he puts these questions to the sage. He tells the sage that he has been particularly interested in finding out what one’s soul means. He had tried in many ways to understand it and see it, but had failed.
He had weighed a person before and after his death, but that had given him no clue to the soul. Nor could he tell how the soul departed when a person died. He had often wondered if the soul exited through some part of the body and was not sure if this were true.
The sage clarifies Sandakaruman’s doubts. If we have a piece of wood, chopped into many pieces, would we find fire in any of the pieces? The answer is in the negative. Yet, if we rub two pieces of wood for a long time, we can ignite them.
Thus it is with the soul. It is there, but you cannot see it in any part of the body.
If you are inside a building and happen to blow a conch, the sound will be heard outside, but can you tell what path the sound has taken? In the same way, when a person breathes his last, the soul departs from the body, but you cannot tell the path of its exit. Weighing a person before or after his death is not going to help you locate the soul or understand it, explains the sage to Sandakaruman.
The sage had been doing yoga and penance and he says to Sandakaruman that yoga will yield important results. The purpose of yoga is to help a person develop discipline, good conduct and pave the way for gnana.