Indulgence and repression

Wed Aug 20 10:10:56 CDT 1997

   Some serious doubts have been raised about control of the senses. Do not
   mistake controlling the senses with the unnatural repression of the
   senses. Control of the senses has also been dealt with in detail in the
   Giitaa; I dont have to go into the details. The senses are so strong
   that they lead the mind of even a learned man, a scholar astray as
   Krishna says, yatato hyapi kaunteya purushhasya vipashchitaH|
   How true this statement rings in this day and age!

   The solution to this problem of being constantly attacked by desires
   is _not_ indulgence, but control of them. For Krishna again says,
   taani sarvaaNi samyamya yukta aasiita matparaH, conquering/controlling
   all those senses, one should be concentrated in Me as the Supreme.
   Shankara, in commenting on this, says that one should establish control
   over the senses by constant practice and thinking of oneself as
   Vaasudeva, na anyo .aham tasmaat.h, ie. "I am not different from Him",
    taani sarvaaNi samyamya yukta aasiit matparaH |

   Suffice it to say that control of the senses has been praised  and
   indulgence in the senses has been condemned in the Giitaa.

   aghaayurindriyaaraamo moghaM paartha sa jiivati

    A sinner, he who takes pleasure in the (enjoyment arising from) the
    senses, lives in vain, O Partha! (3.16)

   At the same time Bhagavaan Krishna says :

   dharma-aviruddho bhuuteshhu kaamo .asmi bharatarshhabha  (7.11)

   In all beings, I am desire that is NOT opposed to Dharma, O Best of the

   Mark the word dharma here. Also the word Kaama is here interpreted by
   Shankara as desire in general, not necessarily sex-desire.
   So Krishna is not opposed to satisfying desires such as eating, drinking,
   etc. which are not opposed to Dharma. And what is this Dharma? This is
   dealt with  in detail in our Smritis, such the Manu and the Yajnavalkya.
   More specifically, regarding sex desire, it is stated that sex may be
   had _only_ with one's lawfully wedded wife/husband and that too mostly
   for the purpose of having children.

   The idea here is very subtle. Desire is hard, but not impossible, to
   control. For those who find it impossible to control their desires,
   the Smriti allows them to have sense enjoyment in a _regulated_ way.
   For example, getting married allows one to, among other things, satisfy
   his or her sex desire. But this permission to get married should not be
   used to indiscrimately indulge in sex and become a victim of sex.

   By regulating the desires, one should ultimately be able to conquer
   those desires. There is absolutely no question of "repression" here.
   Also, there are people who have perfect control over their desires. They
   do not _have_ to get married. They may take up sannyaasa directly. It all
   depends on the capability of the person.

   So you see that dharma  allows neither indulgence nor repression. For
   those who cannot control their senses right away, they may regulate
   sense enjoyment and ultimately get full control. But this is not by any
   means a license for indulgence.


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