Conquer Your Mind - Lessons from Bhagavad Gita
In the last article, we saw how do we fall in our bad habits. In this article we’ll find out how to conquer the mind and get rid of the bad habits. We’ll take reference from the Srimad Bhagavad Gita and try to solve the issue.
Arjuna, in chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita, asks Krishna how is it that we are forced to in sinful ways even if we do not want.
atha kena prayukto ’yaṁ pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ
anicchann api vārṣṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ (BG 3.36)
Translation: Arjuna said: O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?
Hearing such question from his devotee, the Supreme Lord answered in the next verse.
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā viddhy enam iha vairiṇam (BG 3.37)
Translation: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.
In the above verse, the Lord speaks of lust. By lust he means, our desire sense gratification, i.e, we enjoying independently from the Lord. Our tendency to enjoy for the self is lust. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also says, “atmendriya-priti-vancha – tare bali kama, krisnendriya priti ichha dhare ‘prema’ nama.” This means, ‘The desire to satisfy one’s own senses is called kama (lust) but the desire to satisfy Krishna’s senses is called prema (love).’ We have forgotten this that if we render our senses to the service of the Lord, then we can enjoy even more. Due to this lack of knowledg, we have been conditioned by lust (in the mode of passion).
Krishna in the subsequent verses also tells us how does this happen and how to control and conquer our mind. He first reveals the enemy to us, the reason we fall in our bad habits. Next, He tells us, where in our body this enemy resides and finally how to conquer the enemy.
āvṛtaṁ jñānam etena jñānino nitya-vairiṇā
kāma-rūpeṇa kaunteya duṣpūreṇānalena ca (BG 3.39)
Translation: Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire.
In this verse, Lord mentions again that lust is the cause of all these ill habits. It is the lust which covers our memory and bewilders it and make us do something unfavourable. We perform the activity in the hope of quenching the thirst, but the fire of lust is such that it never extinguishes. The more we keep doing, the heavy the fire of lust gets over us. For example, if someone has bad habits of smoking, then quitting is difficult because, lust covers our determination to quit it. It provokes the mind to smoke the last cigarette but the last one never comes. This how mind tricks us.
In the next verse, the Supreme Lord informs us the address of this lust in the body.
indriyāṇi mano buddhir asyādhiṣṭhānam ucyate
etair vimohayaty eṣa jñānam āvṛtya dehinam (BG 3.40)
Translation: The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.
Now, we know the address of this enemy, lust. The very next verse, Krishna tells us how to tackle with it.
tasmāt tvam indriyāṇy ādau niyamya bharatarṣabha
pāpmānaṁ prajahi hy enaṁ jñāna-vijñāna-nāśanam (BG 3.41)
Translation: Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bhāratas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.
The Lord advised Arjuna to regulate the senses from the very beginning so that he could curb the greatest sinful enemy, lust, which destroys the urge for self-realization and specific knowledge of the self. Jñāna refers to knowledge of self as distinguished from non-self, or in other words, knowledge that the spirit soul is not the body. Vijñāna refers to specific knowledge of the spirit soul’s constitutional position and his relationship to the Supreme Soul. It is explained thus in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.9.31):
jñānaṁ parama-guhyaṁ me yad vijñāna-samanvitam
sa-rahasyaṁ tad-aṅgaṁ ca gṛhāṇa gaditaṁ mayā
“The knowledge of the self and Supreme Self is very confidential and mysterious, but such knowledge and specific realization can be understood if explained with their various aspects by the Lord Himself.” Bhagavad-Gītā gives us that general and specific knowledge of the self. The living entities are parts and parcels of the Lord, and therefore they are simply meant to serve the Lord. This consciousness is called Krishna consciousness. So, from the very beginning of life one has to learn this Krishna consciousness, and thereby one may become fully Krishna conscious and act accordingly. (Purport by Srila Prabhupada)
Conquering the Mind
After getting this above information, we might think how is it possible for us to control our mind. We know our mind is very over powering and flickering. It is not in our control. Even sometimes great personalities fall prey to their mind. And the nature of mind is such that it will put us in troubles at the end, though it makes the same thing look very glamorous in the beginning.
Arjuna also felt the same, he also inquired the same to Krishna in chapter 6.
cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ Krishna pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye vāyor iva su-duṣkaram (BG 6.34)
Translation: The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.
The mind is so strong and obstinate that it sometimes overcomes the intelligence, although the mind is supposed to be subservient to the intelligence. For a man in the practical world who has to fight so many opposing elements, it is certainly very difficult to control the mind. Artificially, one may establish a mental equilibrium toward both friend and enemy, but ultimately no worldly man can do so, for this is more difficult than controlling the raging wind. (Purport by Srila Prabhupada)
Krishna also agrees for the same. He accepts that the mind is very difficult to control the mind. Specially in this age, Kali Yuga, the mind is very flickering and our cheating propensity increases. Thus it is very difficult for us to control. Though it is difficult, the Supreme Lord assures that is possible.
asaṁśayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ calam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate (BG 6.35)
Translation: Lord Śrī Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kuntī, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment.
The difficulty of controlling the obstinate mind, as expressed by Arjuna, is accepted by the Personality of Godhead. But at the same time He suggests that by practice and detachment it is possible. What is that practice? In the present age no one can observe the strict rules and regulations of placing oneself in a sacred place, focusing the mind on the Supersoul, restraining the senses and mind, observing celibacy, remaining alone, etc. By the practice of Krishna consciousness, however, one engages in nine types of devotional service to the Lord.
The first and foremost of such devotional engagements is hearing about Krishna. This is a very powerful transcendental method for purging the mind of all misgivings. The more one hears about Krishna, the more one becomes enlightened and detached from everything that draws the mind away from Krishna. By detaching the mind from activities not devoted to the Lord, one can very easily learn vairāgya. Vairāgya means detachment from matter and engagement of the mind in spirit. Impersonal spiritual detachment is more difficult than attaching the mind to the activities of Krishna. This is practical because by hearing about Krishna one becomes automatically attached to the Supreme Spirit.
This attachment is called pareśānubhava, spiritual satisfaction. It is just like the feeling of satisfaction a hungry man has for every morsel of food he eats. The more one eats while hungry, the more one feels satisfaction and strength. Similarly, by discharge of devotional service one feels transcendental satisfaction as the mind becomes detached from material objectives. It is something like curing a disease by expert treatment and appropriate diet. Hearing of the transcendental activities of Lord Krishna is therefore expert treatment for the mad mind, and eating the foodstuff offered to Krishna is the appropriate diet for the suffering patient. This treatment is the process of Krishna consciousness. (Purport by Srila Prabhupada).
Therefore, we find that the mind is difficult to subdue but not impossible as stated by the Supreme Lord. Therefore, to subdue our mind, we should render devotional service to the Lord, by engaging our senses in devotional service. For example, if we are studying, we should study for the pleasure of the Lord. If one is providing some food for charity, the person should offer it to the Lord first. This is how we can do our prescribed duties and serve the Lord simultaneously. The chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare, is also very effective in controlling the mind.
I hope readers have understood the above points and felt the message provided. Please do put your feed back in the comments below.
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Thank You for reading the article. The above translations and purports are taken from Bhagavad Gita as it is by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Hare Krishna.
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