The Rigveda refers to the ‘ant’ as ‘wamri’ and the anthill as ‘wamrikut’. The ant has an extraordinary talent of building a highly complex home for her family. Indeed, the creator of Ramayana, Rishi Valmiki, was named so because he was so engrossed in chanting Lord Rama’s name, he lost all awareness that ‘wamrikut’ was built around his body.
Saints have always been fascinated by the ant. They have used the ant as a metaphor to teach many of life’s valuable lessons. For example, Sant Tukaram asks the Lord to grant him the boon to always remain as small as an ant.” Here the ant is used as a metaphor for humility. “Just as the ant is completely content with only a single grain of sugar, we should be content with whatever the Lord gives us and be grateful” he says. Sant Nivrittinath says, “A single grain of food, carried by an ant nourishes her entire family.” Here the ant is used to explain the importance of food conservation and how it is a sin to waste food when thousands around the world are malnourished.
The ant has also been used to explain how Paramatman can be experienced in the subtlest of ways. For example, Sant Namdev describes, “Through my Guru’s grace, I have experienced that which is as subtle as an ant.” In his doha, Sant Kabir has explained the boundless love Paramatman confers on us. He says, “The Lord hears the melodious sound of the ankle bells on the feet of the tiny little ant. He will surely be able to hear our ardent cries.” Only, we must have ‘Faith’ in Him. Complete surrender, faith and true devotion are the only things the Lord truly desires.
Sant Kabira has composed a beautiful doha, the gist of which is as follows –
“Saints in the mosque are calling out,
‘Why are you unable to hear?
The Universal Lord hears all,
Even the tinkling ankle bells of an ant.
You are chanting on your beads,
But there is something happening,
O! wake up, listen right here,
The Lord’s calls reverberate within you so near.”