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The power of kama (lust) PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

tasmat tvam indriyany adau
niyamya bharatarsabha
papmanam prajahi hy enam


So, Arjuna 
You first be the master 
Of the sense organs (indriyas) and then 
Know the mechanism 
By which the kaama works 
That is the way to win over 
The kaama energy, which is 
The enemy of all kind of real knowing 
(by simply covering and hiding the real) ||3:41|| 

indriyani parany ahur 
indriyebhyah param manah 
manasas tu para buddhir 
yo buddheh paratas tu sah

The outermost and the closest we know 
Is the physical body that we see, 
Beyond that are the sense organs (indriyas), 
Still further and beyond is the intellect 
And the furthest in one sense 
And closest in another is 
The center that we call Atma (soul or self) 
(That we have yet to really perceive) ||3:42|| 

evam buddheh param buddhva 
samstabhyatmanam atmana 
jahi satrum maha-baho 
kama-rupam durasadam

So reverse the role 
Use your intellect (buddhi) 
After knowing the ultimate 
That is minutest of the minute 
The Atma, the soul or call it self 
Make Buddhi your master and 
Control the wishing mind (mun) 
Which thereby can destroy the basic source 
That we know is kaama. ||3:43||


These are some of the most beautiful shlokas in the Gita. We have to understand one thing very clearly. Krishna has a ‘system’ approach and not a ‘finger pointing’ approach. Let me explain it a little before going forward. Quality improvement is a buzz word in health care these days. The hospitals want to make sure that there are no mishaps. A wrong leg gets amputated. This is a major complication. The patient suffers in misery all his life. This should not have happened and should never happen again. When a major complication occurs two approaches are possible. One is to put blame on some one and get rid of that person, be it a doctor or a nurse. The other is to look into the system and see what precipitated the complication to happen and then work to improve the system. One such measure is to mark the leg that needs to be amputated in presence of two persons.

Krishna uses some harsh words against the energy of kama. At the same time he realizes its existence and discusses its origin and momentum to Arjun. We need to know the system. We need to understand the basics of kama, where it originates, how it works, what are its downfalls and how it can be tamed. It is not a question so much of whether kama is good or bad. The fact remains that it does exist. It is forceful when we live on the periphery and follow what the sense organs (indriyas) desire. So long as we live with our indriyas, we will be bound to follow the forces of kama.

Me and my wife were invited locally for a dinner by one our internist colleagues. It was a great dinner conversation. There were four teachers, three doctors and one psychologist. Lekha, my wife, raised a question, “Can people change?” There were many differing views. We learn most of what we become by the age of four. Gardiner talks about the fact that we can change up to the age of 24 and this is related to development of emotional quotient. The psychologist explained his point by telling a puzzle:

Q: How many psychologist it takes to change a light bulb?
A: One, but the light bulb needs to want to change.

This conversation is true for those living at the level of the indriyas and that is majority of us. As long as we live on the periphery, it is not easy to change. Krishna is also talking to Arjun and he knows that Arjun can change. Arjun has to move to the center before a change is possible at his age. In fact the change Krishna is talking about can only happen by moving to the center at any age. As long as the sense organs (indriyas) are the master, they will run the show. My taste bud wants me to eat sweets. I have diabetes. My taste buds will love to have sweets. The intellect comes to rescue of the sense organs. I am feeling fine. What will one kala jamun do? I will take another dose of my diabetes medicine. How can I not eat sweets all my life? I will start control from tomorrow and so on. I end up eating that kala jamun, not one but about five.

It is important to re-establish the role of indriyas and me. Krishna says that there is someone inside you who is the real master. The indriyas do not want us to discover that master. They are happy running the show. The drama is going on well.Arjun’s question was as to why we do things that we know are wrong. This is the final answer. We have lost our master-hood. We have become used to working with our desires as our masters. Krishna wants us to find our center and then reverse the role. We shall continue this topic in our next column.

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