15. The king said: 'When those conditions (whose marks you have just specified) have run together, is it possible, by bending them apart one to one side and one to the other 1, to make the distinction between them clear, so that one can say:,' This is contact, and this sensation, and this idea, and this intention, and this perception, and this reflection, and this investigation 2"?'
'No: that cannot be done.'
'Give me an illustration.'
'Suppose, O king, the cook in the royal household were to make a syrup or a sauce, and were to put into it curds, and salt, and ginger, and cummin seed 3, and pepper, and other ingredients. And suppose the king were to say to him: "Pick out for me the flavour of the curds, and of the salt, and of the ginger, and of the cummin seed, and of the pepper, and of all the things you have put into it." Now would it be possible, great king, separating off one from another those flavours that had thus run together, to pick out each one, so that one could say: "Here is the sourness, and here the saltness, and here the pungency, and here the acidity, and here the astringency, and here the sweetness 4"?'
'No, that would not be possible . But each flavour would nevertheless be distinctly present by its characteristic sign.'
'And just so, great king, with respect to those conditions we were discussing.'
'Very good, Nâgasena!'
16. The Elder said: 'Is salt, O king, recognisable by the eye?'
'Yes, Sir, it is.'
'But be careful, O king.'
'Well then, Sir, is it perceptible by the tongue?'
'Yes, that is right.'
'But, Sir, is it only by the tongue that every kind of salt is distinguished?'
'Yes, every kind.'
'If that be so, Sir, why do bullocks bring whole cart-loads of it? Is it not salt and nothing else that ought to be so brought?'
'It is impossible to bring salt by itself. But all these conditions 1 have run together into one, and produced the distinctive thing called salt 2. (For instance): salt is heavy, too. But is it possible, O king, to weigh salt?'
Nay, great king, it is not the salt you weigh, it is the weight.'
'You are ready, Nâgasena, in argument.'
Here ends the questioning of Nâgasena by Milinda 1.
97:1 Vinibbhugitvâ vinibbhugitvâ. This question is identical with the one asked of the Buddha at Magghima Nikâya 43, p. 293. Compare also p. 233 and Tela Katâha Gâthâ 59.
97:2 This list differs from that in II, 3, 8, by the addition of viññâna.
97:3 Gîraka. Compare Gâtaka I, 244; II, 181, 363. Hînati-kumburê translates it by duru, and Hardy by "onions' (p. 439).
97:4 This is the same list as is found above, II, 3, 6; and below, III, 4, 2, and the items are not intended to correspond with the condiments in the list above.
98:1 Not saltness only, but white colour, &c. &c.
98:2 He means the king to draw the conclusion that that distinct thing is only recognisable by the tongue; so the senses are not interchangeable. In other words it is true that salt seems to be recognised by the sight, as when people load it into carts they do not stop to taste it. But what they see is not salt, what they weigh is not salt, it is whiteness and weight. And the fact of its being salt is an inference they draw. So, great king, your simile of the soul being inside the body, and using the five senses, as a man inside a house uses windows, does not hold good. See the conclusion above of II, 3, 6, p. 88.
99:1 This is again most odd. One would expect, 'Here ends the questioning as to characteristic signs.' See the note at the end of last chapter.