There is an interesting incident in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata.
One day, towards the end of their twelve years of exile, the Pandavas were pursuing a stag which had run off with some sticks needed by a Brahmin for a ritual. They could not catch the stag and found themselves in the woods, tired and thirsty.
Climbing a tree, Nakula discovered that there was a pond nearby. He went to fetch some water, but did not return for a long time. Sahadev went to find him, he too did not return. One by one, the brothers went, until only Yudhishthira was left.
Finally, Yudhishthira went in search of his brothers. Reaching the pond, he saw all four brothers lying by the pond, apparently dead!
Overcome with grief, he went to fetch some water to conduct the last rites for his brothers.
Suddenly he heard a voice commanding him to stop. “I am a Yaksha, and the cause of the death of your brothers. Until you answer my questions, I will not allow you to touch the water. Your brothers went to take water from my pond without answering my questions. If you do the same, then you will join them in death”
Yudhishthira agreed to answer the questions asked by the Yaksha. Ultimately he answered all the questions correctly and his brothers were brought to life again.
One of the questions the Yaksha asked was ” What is faster than the wind?”
And Yudhishthira gave the correct answer, saying that the mind is faster than the wind.
It is another matter that Shrirambhakta Hanuman is considered to be as swift as both the mind and the wind-
‘manojavam marut tulyavegam’ !
Other than Shri Hanuman though, there is probably nothing that is as swift as the mind.
The mind can race to the farthest corners of the earth and back, in the time it takes to blink an eye. It can travel through our past and through the future with equal ease.
The Rig Veda [10-58-12] tells us-
Thy mind goes far awayTo all that occurred in the pastAnd will occur in the future,Call it back to thyselfSo that it may remainUnder thy control..
And it does not always travel in the realm of reality, either. If we are worried about something, our mind will fly away to the land of “what may or may not happen” and show us all the dire probable eventualities.
Any parent has experienced this many a time when a child is late coming home in the evening!
Though one begins to doubt that the mind is still the swiftest of all, in this Kalyug. It is likely that speech has overtaken thought in the speed department.
How else can we explain the phenomenon we see all around us, of people speaking before they think?
Particularly in public life. Making statements, and then withdrawing them after thinking them over, is all too common nowadays. Politicians make outrageous accusations and then retract them. Activists, and media professionals do this frequently, too!
If the mind were faster than speech, people could think before they speak, couldn’t they?