[Advaita-l] Karmayoga-PartVIII: The Two Great Enemies

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 8 02:13:12 CST 2006

Karma Yoga: Part VIII: The two great enemies

After discussing elaborately the Karma yoga, Krishna gives a stern
warning to humanity. Those who follow my advise and do karma yoga, they
ultimately reach Me, enjoying the eternal unlimited happiness.  But
those who disrespect Me and do not follow My advise, they get more and
more deluded and perish engulfed by their own extreme stupidity.  They
go down the drain buried in samsaara. Here, disrespecting Him means
disrespecting the totality by catering only for one’s egocentric desires
even at the expense of the rest.  

ye tvetad abhyasuuyanto naanutishhTanti me matam|
sarvajnaana vimuuDhaastaan viddhi nashhTaanacetasaH||

Obviously, Arjuna wants to know what makes the people commit such sins,
even after knowing very well that it would ultimately hurt them. 
Arjuna’s question is very pertinent to all of us.  We see ourselves
doing things we know that we should not be doing and we even advise
others not do, yet we cannot stop ourselves from doing.  It is like a
cardiologist who is himself overweight and a chain smoker advises his
patients not to overeat and not to smoke, since they are bad for the

There was interesting episode attributed to Shree Ramakrishna
Paramahamsa.  Once a disciple of Shree Ramakrishna brought his son to
his guru and requested him to talk to his son.  The son was eating too
many sweets, and the father knew that if Paramahamsa instructs his son
not to eat sweets, out of respect, his son would listen and follow. 
Paramahamsa asked him to come back after a month with his son, and at
that time he can instruct the boy.  The disciple wondering why he had to
wait for one month for such a simple instruction,  returned with his son
after a month.  Paramahamsa called his son aside and said “My child, do
not eat sweets.  They are not good for you”.  The boy hesitatingly
agreed but promised that he would not eat sweets anymore.  The disciple
asked Paramahamsa, “Sir, this simple instruction could have been given
earlier.  Why did you wait for a month?” Paramahamsa, smilingly replied,
“I could have given at that time, but that would not be meaningful.  I
could not instruct the boy not to eat sweets earlier, since I myself was
eating sweets that are not good for me.  It took a month for me to stop
the craving for sweets.  Now, only I could give such an instruction”.
yadyat aacharati shreshhTah 
” whatever the elders do the children also
follow.  For parents, it is important to learn that the only way the
children will learn is by setting themselves as an example.  Not only
will they learn, they themselves will teach their children by their own
example.  For example, it will be meaningless to ask a child not to
watch TV while the parents themselves keep watching.  Unfortunately, we
find ourselves doing things we know that they are not good for us.  We
essentially compromise our values, while at the same time insist that
others should follow them.  It is like the lawmakers violating the law
that they passed.  Krishna calls us mithyaachari-s or hypocrites.  What
Arjuna asked was a universal problem. 

Krishna answers: 
kaama yeshha krodha yeshha rajoguNasamudbhavaH|
mahaashano mahaapaapmaa viddhyenamiha vairiNam||

Desire and anger born out of rajoguNa are the two powerful forces that
propel an individual to engage in inappropriate or adhaarmic action. 
Desire is a reflection of a sense of incompleteness, apuurNatvam.  Even
though the scripture says, I am puurnaH or complete or an adequate
person, I feel I am incomplete and inadequate.  Hence, I go after
objects, places and/or people to make myself an adequate person or full.
 When I go after the objects or people, the enjoyment leaves subtler
impressions in the mind called vaasanaas, which manifest as raga-dveshas
or likes and dislikes. These vaasanaas subsequently manifest as desires
at the intellect level, causing agitations at mental level and actions
at the body level.  The very presence of desires disturbs the mind by
creating a sense of incompleteness or inadequacy.  In addition, the
desires have ingenious capacity to multiply themselves.  Someone has
defined the peace of mind as the ratio of number of desires fulfilled to
number of desires one has.  By this equation, as one gets older, one
should be peaceful, since with age the number of desires fulfilled
should increase. The problem, however, is that the denominator i.e. the
number of desires that one has does not remain constant, since with each
desire fulfilled there will be mushroom of many desires that germinate. 
Hence, attempt to get happiness by fulfilling desires is a loosing
battle.  Krishna calls it as mahaashanaH, the one whose hunger increases
with each feed like the fire being put out by pouring gasoline.  

Another problem is intense desire is slowly converted to greed (lobha),
since one cannot satiate by fulfilling the desire.  A greedy person
tends to violate dharma, since a greedy person cannot fulfill his desire
by legitimate means.  In addition, a greedy person does not like to part
with whatever he/she has, nor would like to share with others.  The
immediate result is he fails to perform the panca mahaayagnas that
involve sharing with those who are less fortunate.  Only solution is to
eliminate the desires not by suppressing but by sublimating them.  This
can be done by snipping them in the bud when they first arise in the
intellect using the very intellect.  If I have desires for sweets and am
diabetic, then I have to sublimate the desire for sweets by
intellectually convincing that it is not good for my health.  Since
total elimination of all desires is difficult proposition, as we
discussed earlier, we can neutralize those by bringing Iswara and
offering them to Him as naivedyam.  However, once offered to the Lord,
they  come back from the Lord as prasaadam, which has to be shared with
everybody. One cannot be greedy with prasaadam.  In the process, the
desires are neutralized by Lord’s touch and they become vehicles to
share with everyone, thus contributing to pancha yagnas.  

The second enemy that Krishna mentions is anger.  The desire itself
transforms into anger when the object desire is obstructed by something
or some other person.  Anger makes a person to act impulsively.  It
suppresses the discriminative faculty and creates a turbulent mind.  In
anger one is even ready to abuse one’s own mother or teacher. In the
second chapter Krishna discussed exhaustively how desires germinate and
grow in an individual and how it could contribute to one’s downfall
(dhyaayato vishhayaan 
.).  In essence, by constant thinking of an
object causes desires for the object, desire can lead to anger,  anger
to delusion, delusion to loss of memory, loss of memory to loss of
discriminative intellect and ultimately falls down into a whirlpool of
samsaara.  One can use the mechanism to reverse the process, to help
saadhak in his evolution.  By constant thinking of the Lord, one
develops love for the Lord, which provides a quiet mind (this is where
love for an object differs from love for the Lord since the later lifts
ones mind higher). Shankara provides this evolution process beautifully
in Bhajagovindam:
sat sanghatve nissanghatvam nissanghatve nirmohatvam|
nirmohatve niscala tatvam niscalatatve jiivanmuktaH||
Association with sat sangh or noble people or thoughts will lead to
detachment, detachment leads to lack of delusion and lack of delusion
leads to steady mind and steady mind will lead to liberation.  Thus,
desire for the higher sublimates all other desires and contributes one’s

While discussing that desire (kaama) and krodha (anger) are two enemies,
Krishna uses a singular word, vairiNam rather than vairiNou.  The
implication is that desire and anger are not two separate forces since
one leads to the other.  Hence, controlling one is as good as
controlling the other.  Krishna says later that one who can manage to
control the onslaught of these two, desire and anger, is the person who
is really a yogi and is the person who will attain the absolute
happiness (shaknotii haivayashhoDum


Since both are related, Krishna discusses further how to manage the
desires since managing desires would also help managing anger. Three
methods are suggested which are based on the hierarchical structure of
the human psychology.  In the body-mind-intellect complex, the mind is
superior to body and intellect is superior to the mind.  Superior of all
is the self.  Thus, Krishna says:

indriyaaNi paraaNyaahuH indriyebhyaH param manaH|
manastu paraa buddhiH yobuddheH parastu saH||

In this hierarchical structure, one can think of intellect as the
officer, mind as the chief clerk, and the sense organs and organs of
action as workers.  A proper management of the whole system involves a
proper chain of command with intellect to mind to sense organs.  Such a
chain of command result in ‘aarjavam’ or straight forwardness, a value
that Krishna says needed for spiritual growth.  Yoga integrates the
individual and establishes this chain of command.  For a yogi, what he
thinks, what he feels, what he says and what he does are all aligned. 
If mind overpowers the intellect, this chain of command becomes crooked
resulting in crooked personality. That person does as he feels like
rather than what is right (which his intellect knows). When the mind and
intellect diverges, the actions become irrational and that is what is
defined as sin.  Sin is the degree of divergence of mind and intellect. 
Karma yoga helps to integrate the personality of the individual so that
proper chain of command is established by aligning the mind and
intellect so that there is no split personality or crookedness.  For
spiritual growth, the discipline is very important – this is stated in
terms of yama and niyama, which are essentially do-s and don’t-s. This
involves a three-prong approach. The first is control at the level of
sense organs (indriya nigraha), next at the control of the mind (mano
nigraha) and finally at the intellect level using viveka, using the
discriminative faculty.  These are also discussed in term of shamaadi
shat sampatti – the group of six starting from shama, considered also as
diavii sampatti. Thus at sense level, avoidance of situations that tempt
illegitimate or unhealthy desires – this is also called dama. At the
mind level, controlling the mental indulgence so that they do not
develop into vasanaas (shama).  Thus, undesirable (adhaarmic) thoughts
are discouraged by substituting with noble thoughts (dhaarmic). At the
intellect level one needs to perform critical analysis of the purpose
and goal of human life and redirecting the mind away from dissipating
pursuits .  This in management techniques is called prioritizing ones
goals and synchronizing the actions towards the goals.  If one cannot
manage oneself as an integrated personality, the management outside
becomes even more difficult.  It is like marriage councilors trying to
council the other married couple while his own marriage is in turmoil. 
Hence, Vedic management techniques start at an individual level.  They
start at child hood or brahmachaari level than at later stages when it
becomes even more difficult to control.   

Depending on the degree of the intensity of the desires, to that degree
discriminative intellect is empowered.  We need to decrease the
quantity, quality and the direction of desires.  The desires rob one’s
mind away from oneself.  Hence, Krishna says the shitaprajnaa is the one
who has shunned away all desires from his mind (sarvaan kamaan
prajahaati) and finds happiness in himself.  Karma yoga helps in
neutralizing all the desires by surrendering to the Lord. They become
like snakes whose poison has been removed. Lord Shiva uses them as
ornaments (phannaga bhuushhaNa) and Lord Vishnu uses as a bed (phannaga
shaayi). With the saadhana the desire is neutralized and the mind
becomes purer and purer.  Krishna compares the covering of the intellect
by the desires just as the smoke covering the fire, or dust covering the
mirror or the placenta covering the fetus.  Just blowing wind is
sufficient to remove the smoke, where as one has to do little bit more
work to remove the dust from the mirror to see oneself clearly.  Finally
one has to wait for 9 to 10 months for the placenta to drop off. Thus
depending on the degree of the intensity of the desires one has to make
an effort to purge them out of the system. 
Thus Krishna identifies who are the real enemies for humanity and how to
get rid of them. The saadhana is not meant for realization, but for
purification of the mind.  ‘cittasya shuddhaye karma na tu
vastuupalabdhaye’.  Karma yoga helps in purifying the mind and thus
prepares the mind for jnaana yoga. 

In the next post we discuss how a jnaani acts. 

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