What in essence is this gross body? It is an admixture of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and space. They combine in a beautiful process called Panchikaranam or quintuplication. The Atma Bodha describes the process in detail. The process is also called pentamerous self-division by Swami Chinmayananda in his commentary on the Vivekachoodamani.
Sri Adisankaracharya says that while the gross body is a combination of the five elements, the subtle aspects of these elements become the objects of the five sense organs of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching.
In the Vivekachoodamani, the master goes directly to the problem of human beings who are bound by the sense objects. They are tied tightly to what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch by the rope called attachment and without self-control. As a result, they keep coming and going back from this earth of names and forms—living in higher and lower realms, spinning fast in the wheel of their own actions.
How does this bondage take place? The teacher explains with a beautiful simile. There is the deer which is attracted by sound —the object of the sense of hearing. The elephant is attracted by the skin—the object of the sense of touch. The moth is attracted by light—the object of sight. The fish is attracted by taste, the object of the tongue, and the bee is carried away by the sweet fragrance of honey, the object of the sense of smell. These five creatures get attracted by that particular sense organ and eventually meet with their death.
The deer is trapped by the hunter by the sound of drum beat; the elephant is trapped by keeping the female elephant in a camouflaged depression on the earth; the moth meets its death by its own attraction to fire; the bait for fish is tasty worms attracted to which it is caught; and the honey bee is so concentrated in sipping honey from the flower which closes in with the insect when the sun goes down.
The point that the master tries to convey is that when these creatures meet with their death for being attracted to one sense organ, what to say of man who is attracted to objects of all five senses?
That the destructive ability of sense objects is much more than the poison of a black serpent, is another comparison the Acharya draws. While the serpent poisons only that person who is bitten by it, the sense objects destroy the peace of mind by merely thinking about it.