Namaskaar. Another brilliant explanation in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse #64 in Part 10 of our ongoing series “Sthitaprajna – Person of Perfection” with commentary by Smt. Jaya Row. Brilliant explanation by her. So systematic and logical, so well laid out for our understanding.
Here He gives the technique of sense control. He has actually spelt out what sense control is. People speak about the need for sense control but nobody knows what it is. Here he gives us the mechanism of sense control in which there are two distinct ways by which you can control the senses.
You do not need to physically distance yourself from sense objects to exercise control. Sense control is not physical control; it is control at the mental level. You do not need to unnecessarily deny enjoyment of the senses. Sense objects are meant for you to enjoy. Only make sure that they do not enjoy you!
Why is He asking us to control? Because when you function without control, you accumulate desires. This takes us further away from the goal of Realisation and ironically desires interfere even with material success.
The technique of sense control has two distinct parts as suggested by the use of two words – atmavasyaih (one who is self-controlled) and vidheyatma (one who has achieved self-mastery). Moreover, these two can be interpreted at two different levels.
Level A Part I: Every one of us has inherent desires, attraction and repulsion towards objects. In fact, you are born with them and during your lifetime you cultivate many more such likes and dislikes. When the intellect gets marginalised and the mind takes over your activity you lose control. To become a controlled person, you should ensure that the likes or dislikes do not directly fuel action. Likes and dislikes should be scanned by the intellect and acted upon only if the intellect sanctions it. This does not mean that everything you like should be denied and that you should court all the things you dislike. That would be frustrating. In fact the intellect may allow many of your likes. There would be only a few things that the intellect would disallow because they are detrimental to you. In such cases, act in accordance with the judgement of the intellect.
Part II Fresh contact with a sense object should not create a new wave of desire in your system. The world consists of five sense objects that enter you through the five sense organs. Sight enters through the eye, sound through the ear, smell through the nose, taste through the tongue and touch through the skin. Having entered your system the sensation is transmitted to the sense registry in the mind. Only then is the perception complete. If the mind is preoccupied elsewhere, the stimulus will go to the sense registry. But there is no registration of the perception. You cannot enjoy it. A busy, stressed-out executive goes home and finds a delectable meal spread before him. But his mind is on problems at work. So he goes through the meal without enjoying it.
The Gita says you need to go through the entire process till the registration in the mind is effected. There is no enjoyment until this happens. The Gita only cautions against the mind continuing in the thought of the experience after the enjoyment is over. Do not let the mind loiter in past enjoyments. If you tarry there, you create a fresh wave of desire. Thereafter, when the body moves to the next experience you are not able to enjoy it. Your mind is still lingering in the previous experience. Enjoyment is possible only when there is contact of the sense organ with the object. If you are lingering in the past experience, it is not enjoyment. It only leads to frustration. Let the enjoyment be complete but do not persist in its thought. Linger and you will languish.
On a visit to Delhi, someone offers you a delicious sweet that is not available in your city. You enquire about it and your host tells you it is from the renowned Haldiram’s. Even after you return home, your mind retains the thought of that taste. Thereafter, every time someone visits Delhi, you request for the sweet to be brought back for you. Instead of enjoying the speciality your city offers you, you linger in the thought of a bygone enjoyment.
All the while the mind is engaged in past revelry and at no point of time are you enjoying the present experience. So the Bhagavad Gita, in advocating sense control, is giving back the enjoyment you have lost.
Thus, 1. Existing desires should not directly fuel actions. 2. A fresh experience should not spark off a new trajectory of craving. If you practise these two you can move about freely among sense objects and you can have any quantum of sense enjoyment. Control does not lie in restricted contact.
To highlight this there is a story in the scriptures. Durvasa, the great sage, once set up camp on the banks of a river. On the opposite bank was Krsna’s home. Durvasa was legendarily known as ‘nitya upavasi‘ (perpetual faster). He was always on fast. But he ate enormous quantities of food. People failed to understand this and laughed at the paradox. Krsna heard about this and decided to teach the people a lesson. He asked His subjects to take food for Durvasa. Loaded with huge amounts of food they went to the river which was in spate. They could not cross over and returned to Krsna. Krsna told them to pray aloud to the river, “If Durvasa is a nitya upavasi, please show us the way”. Highly amused, they followed the instructions. Lo and behold the river parted! They walked through, went to the other side and offered the food to Durvasa. Durvasa ate every morsel and they carried the empty trays back to the river. They found that the river was in spate again. They went to Durvasa for help. He told them to go to the river and pray, “If Krsna is a nitya brahmacari, show us the way’. Brahmacari is celibate, nitya eternal. The people were even more amused because Krsna had 16,000 wives! But they followed Durvasa’s instructions. Miraculously, the river parted.
Control has no reference to the amount of contact with the sense object. Control only means intellectual governance. Never should you allow even one thought to go to the sense object without the specific approval of the intellect.
Level B The subtler interpretation of the two words atmavasyaih and vidheyatma is as follows. Part I The intellect screens the thoughts in the mind so that no activity goes ungoverned. This is Parts I and II of Level A put together.
But as long as you have value for sense enjoyment you can never really control the senses. What is required is growth to a higher dimension.
Part II Humanity is in its infancy when it revels in bhoga, sense enjoyment. You achieve sense control when there is a paradigm shift from bhoga to yoga – higher levels of enjoyment culminating in Atman. If you do not rise from bhoga to yoga, you will be afflicted by roga – disease at body level and dis-ease at mind level. Moreover you will not be able to effectively control the senses.
Yoga is achieved when you escalate from visayananda (sense enjoyment) through bhajanananda (emotional and intellectual delights) to Brahmananda (spiritual ecstasy). As you rise to the emotional and intellectual planes, sense enjoyment loses its charm. The senses no longer have a hold over you. Thus control becomes easy. Finally when you access the infinite joy of the Spirit even emotional and intellectual delights become meaningless. Nothing in the world tempts you. The mind becomes free to focus on the goal of Realisation.
Thus in summary, the two methods to control are 1. Use your intellect to supervise and guide sense contact. 2. Escalate to higher realms of enjoyment as a result of which the lower no longer tempts you.
The result of leading a life of self-control is peace. That elusive sense of serenity. This is depicted by the sweet (prasada) distributed after a puja or spiritual worship. People have not been educated on subtler levels of gratification. Sense enjoyment is all they know. Thus the senses are powerful and the intellect is weak. The sensory system holds sway over the intellect. As a result you fall for every passing fancy. And the battle with the senses is lost. Hence, the whole world is in a state of disquiet and disturbance. Internal strife manifests as external conflict between people, communities and nations. Peace is the need of the hour which can come only through self-control. Thus, development of the intellect is of paramount importance.
To be continued …..
Pranaam from Kamal Kothari