Senses - Self-discipline




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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Senses – Self-discipline

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Senses- self-discipline From The Bhagavad Gita
(Of steady wisdom, of stable mind)

Senses – Self-discipline
Vana Parva, Section CCIX
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Addressing the fowler

The Brahmana again enquired: O thou most eminent in virtue and constant in the performance of the religious obligations, you talk of senses. What are they? How may they be subdued? What is the good of subduing them and how does a creature reap the fruits thereof? O pious man, I beg to acquaint myself with the truth of this matter.

Markendeya continued: Hear. O king Yudhishthira what the virtuous fowler, thus interrogated by that Brahmana, said to him in reply.

The fowler said: Men’s minds are at first bent on the acquisition of knowledge. That acquired, O good Brahmana, they indulge in their passions and desires, and for that end, they labour and set about tasks of great magnitude and indulge in much-desired pleasures of beauty, flavour, etc. Then follows fondness, then envy, then avarice and then extinction of all spiritual light. And men are thus influenced by avarice, and overcome by envy and fondness, their intellect ceases to be guided by righteousness and they practise the very mockery of virtue. Practising virtue with hypocrisy, they are content to acquire wealth by dishonourable means with the wealth thus acquired the intelligent principle in them becomes enamoured of those evil ways, and they are filled with a desire to commit sins.

And when, O good Brahmana, their friends and men of wisdom remonstrate with them, they are ready with specious answers, which are neither sound nor convincing. From their being addicted to evil ways, they are guilty of a threefold sin. They commit sin in thought, in word, as also in action. They being addicted to wicked ways, all their good qualities die out, and these men of wicked deeds cultivate the friendship of men of similar character, and consequently they suffer misery in this world as well as in the next. The sinful man is of this nature, and now hear of the man of virtue.

The man of virtue discerns these evils by means of his spiritual insight, and is able to discriminate between happiness and misery, and is full of respectful attention to men of virtue, and from practising virtues, his mind becomes inclined to righteousness.

The Brahmana replied: Thou hast given a true exposition of religion which none else is able to expound. Thy spiritual power is great, and thou dost appear to me to be like a great Rishi.

The fowler replied: The great Brahmanas are worshipped with the same honours as our ancestors and they are always propitiated with offerings of food before others. Wise men in this world do what is pleasing to them, with all their heart. And I shall, O good Brahmana, describe to thee what is pleasing to them, after having bowed down to Brahmanas as a class. Do thou learn from me the Brahmanic philosophy.

This whole universe unconquerable everywhere and abounding in great elements, is Brahman (God) and there is nothing higher than this. The earth, air, water, fire and sky are the great elements. And form, odour, sound, touch and taste are their characteristic properties. These latter too have their properties, which are correlated to each other. And of the three qualities, which are gradually characterized by each, in order of priority is consciousness which is called the mind. The seventh is intelligence and after that comes egoism; and then the five senses, then the soul, then the moral qualities called Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. These seventeen are said to be the unknown or incomprehensible qualities. I have described all this to thee, what else dost thou wish to know?

Markendeya continued: O Bharata, the Brahmana, thus interrogated by the virtuous fowler, resumed again this discourse so pleasing to the mind.

The Brahmana said: O best of the cherishers of religion, it is said that there are five great elements. Do thou describe to me in full the properties of any one of the five.

The fowler replied: The earth, water, fire, air and sky all have properties interlapping each other. I shall describe them to thee. The earth, O Brahmana, has five qualities, water four, fire three and the air and sky together three also. Sound, touch, form, odour and taste- these five qualities belong to earth, and sound, touch, form and taste, O austere Brahmana, have been described to thee as the properties of water, and sound, touch and form are the three properties of fire and air has two properties sound and touch, and sound is the property of sky.

And, O Brahmana, these fifteen properties inherent in five elements, exist in all substances of which this universe is composed. And they are not opposed to one another; they exist, O Brahmana, in proper combination. When this whole universe is thrown into a state of confusion, then every corporeal being in the fullness of time assumes another corpus. It arises and perishes in due order. And there are present the five elementary substances of which the entire mobile and immobile world is composed. Whatever is perceptible by the senses, is called Vyakta (knowable or comprehensible) and whatever is beyond the reach of the senses and can only be perceived by guesses, is known to be Avyakta (not Vyakta).

When a person engages in the discipline of self-examination, after having subdued the senses which have of their own proper objective play in the external conditions of sound, form, etc., then he beholds his own spirit pervading the universe reflected in itself. He who is wedded to his previous Karma, although skilled in the highest spiritual wisdom, is cognisant only of his soul’s objective existence, but the person whose soul is never affected by the objective conditions around, is never subject to ills, owing to its absorption in the elementary spirit of Brahman.

When a person has overcome the domination of illusion, his manly virtues consisting of the essence of spiritual wisdom, turn to the spiritual enlightenment which illumines the intelligence of sentient beings. Such a person is styled by the omnipotent, intelligent Spirit as one who is without beginning and without end, self-existent, immutable, incorporeal and incomparable. This, O Brahmana, that thou hast enquired of me is only the result of self-discipline. And this self-discipline can only be acquired by subduing the senses. It cannot be otherwise; heaven and hell are both dependent on our senses. When subdued, they lead to heaven; when indulged in, they lead to perdition.

This subjugation of the senses is the highest means of attaining spiritual light. Our senses are at the (cause) root of our spiritual advancement as also at the root of our spiritual degradation. By indulging in them, a person undoubtedly contracts vices, and by subduing these, he attains salvation. The self-restrained person, who acquires mastery over the six senses inherent in our nature, is never tainted with sin, and consequently evil has no power over him. Man’s corporeal self has been compared to a chariot, his soul to a charioteer and his senses to horses. A dexterous man drives about without confusion, like a quiet charioteer with well-broken horses. That man is an excellent driver, who knows how to patiently wield the reins of those wild horses- the six senses inherent in our nature. When our senses become ungovernable like horses on the high road, we must patiently rein them in; for with patience, we are sure to get the better of them.

When a man’s mind is overpowered by any one of these senses running wild, he loses his reason, and becomes like a ship tossed by storms upon the high ocean. Men are deceived by illusion in hoping to reap the fruits of those six things, whose effects are studied by persons of spiritual insight, who thereby reap the fruits of their clear perception.


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From The Bhagavad Gita

(of steady wisdom, of stable mind)

Arjuna said: Krsna, what is the definition (mark) of a God-realised soul, stable of mind and established in Samadhi (perfect tranquillity of mind)? How does a man of stable mind speak, how does he sit, how does he walk?
-Gita, Chapter 2, verse 54

The Blessed Lord said: Arjuna, when one thoroughly dismisses all cravings of the mind, and is satisfied in the Self through (the joy of) the self, then he is called Stithapragnya (stable of mind or of steady wisdom)
-Gita,Ch. 2, verse 55>

The sage, whose mind remains unperturbed amid sorrows, whose thirst for pleasures has altogether disappeared, and who is free from passion, fear and anger, is called Sthitapragnya (stable of mind).
-Gita ch. 2, verse 56

He who is unattached to everything, and meeting with good and evil, neither rejoices nor recoils, his mind is stable.
-Gita, Ch. 2, verse 57

When like a tortoise, which draws in its limbs from all directions, he withdraws his senses from the sense-objects, his mind is stable.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 58

Sense-objects turn away from him who does not enjoy them with his senses; but the taste for them persists. This relish also disappears in the case of the man of stable mind when he sees the Supreme.
- Gita,  Ch.2, verse 59

Turbulent by nature, the senses even of a wise man, who is practising self-control, forcibly carry away his mind, Arjuna.
-Gita,  Ch.2, verse 60

Therefore, having controlled them all and collecting his mind one should sit for meditation, devoting oneself heart and soul to Me, whose senses are mastered, is known to have a stable mind.
- Gita, Ch.2, verse 61

The man dwelling on sense-objects develops attachment for them; from attachment springs up desire, and from desire (unfulfilled) ensues anger.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 62

From anger arises infatuation; from infatuation, confusion of memory; from confusion of memory, loss of reason; and from loss of reason one goes to complete ruin.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 63

But the self-controlled Sadhak (devotee) while enjoying the various sense-objects through his senses, which are disciplined and free from likes and dislikes, attains placidity of mind.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 64

With the attainment of such placidity of mind, all his sorrows come to an end; and the intellect of such a person of tranquil mind soon withdrawing itself from all sides, becomes firmly established in God.
-Gita  ch.2, verse 65

He who has not controlled his mind and senses can have no reason; nor can such an undisciplined man think of God. The unthinking man can have no peace; and how can there be happiness for one lacking peace of mind?
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 66

As the wind carries away a boat upon the waters, even so of the senses moving among sense-objects, the one to which the mind is joined takes away his discrimination.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 67

Therefore, Arjuna, he, whose senses are completely restrained from their objects, is said to have a stable mind.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 68

That which is night to all beings, in that state (of Divine Knowledge and Supreme Bliss) the God realised Yogi keeps awake, and that (the ever changing, transient worldly happiness) in which all beings keep awake is night to the seer.
-Gita Ch.2, verse 69

As the waters of different rivers enter the ocean; which though full on all sides remains undisturbed, likewise he in whom all enjoyments merge themselves attains peace; not he who hankers after such enjoyments.
-Gita , Ch.2, verse 70

He who has given up all desires, and moves free from attachment, egoism and thirst for enjoyment attains peace.
-Gita, Ch. 2, verse 71.

Arjuna, such is the state of the God-realised soul; having reached this state, he overcomes delusion. And established in this state, even at the last moment, he attains Brahmic Bliss.
-Gita, Ch.2, verse 72
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