(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)
In the following verses of Bhaja Govindam, Shankara and his disciples talk about Desire. Why did they give so much stress on ‘Desire’?
Verse 2: Oh fool! Give up (here, in this world) the greed for amassing wealth.
Verse 12: In the play of time, life goes away. Even then the storm of desires does not go.
Verse 15: Body has weakened, the hair has turned grey. The teeth have been lost, and the old man needs a stick to walk. Even then he is not able to drop the lump of desires.
Verse 16: A person, even though has done renunciation externally, can still have desires internally.
Verse 28: Even though he knows these pleasures will kill him slowly, still he commits such wrong actions.
How is a desire born? Repeated thinking over an object creates desire for the object. Suppose, every day a man watches an advertisement of the latest mobile handset which has a lot of advanced features. After repeatedly seeing the Ad, he gets a Desire of buying that mobile. Since he has the capacity, he goes to the shop and purchases it. On satisfying the Desire he is happy. He puts a nice cover to it, keeps it always safely, is very cautious while travelling, cleans it with a nice cloth very often and also flaunts it in his office. He is now so Attached to his phone that he is always glued to it most of the time. After a week or so, his neighbour’s son accidentally pushes the wife who’s standing in the balcony and using that phone. The phone slips from her hand and falls down from his fifth storied apartment. Within a fraction of a second, the man’s face turns exactly into the colour of a tomato. He is now so Angry at his wife that he accuses her of being so careless and starts yelling at her. Being a woman of today’s age, she cannot tolerate this and shouts back. The argument gets more heated. Both of them start pointing out flaws in each other’s nature. Till this time they were a happily married couple but this argument created a Delusion in their minds about each other. There’s a total Loss of Memory. They forget how they fell in love and with what great efforts they convinced their parents for their marriage. The fight goes on to such an extent that he hits her. Thus he Falls from his true nature.
Since we are not interested in their personal lives, we end the story here. The happiness he experienced lasted only for a short while. In the process of he lost his money, peace of mind, behaved so badly with his wife and caused a lot of stress for both of them. What could have saved him from this situation? When he saw the Ad, had he questioned himself if he really needed a new mobile, this problem wouldn’t arise if the answer was No. If the answer was yes, he could have bought it. Had he accepted the fact that ‘Nothing in this world is permanent / Even This Will Pass Away’, he wouldn’t have got Attached to it. When he’s Detached, he wouldn’t be angry at the loss. The scenario could have been different in both cases – with or without the mobile.
Desire – Attachment – Anger – Delusion – Loss of memory – Fall of man
Isn’t this the story of everyone? How miserable our lives become when we lose something that we are so attached to? How can we prevent such a situation? How is it possible that a person can have no Desires? Having such a thought is itself a Desire. Let’s try to analyse this to get better clarity.
Q: How do Desires arise?
A: Repetition of same thoughts. So, repetition of good thoughts lead to good desires and repetition of bad thoughts lead to bad desires.
Q: How a Thought is born?
A: If Thought is the Cause and Desire is the Effect, then Thought must be the Effect of something else? Thoughts are the results of the food that we taken in…not just through our mouth but also through our eyes, nose, ears & skin. Thoughts arise in our mind as a result of the materials that we supply to it. Once we give in the materials through our sense organs, we cannot have much control over our mind or thoughts. But we do have a choice for choosing our food for thought. The type (Satvik – noble, Rajasic – stimulating & Tamasic – lethargic) of food we eat, the type of programs we watch, the type of discussions we engage in, etc. decide the quality of our thoughts and actions.
Desires by themselves don’t cause sorrow. It’s the motive behind the desires that causes the problem. When my desires are of a lower nature (only to satisfy my needs and wants) then those desires start ruling my Mind. But if the Desire is directed towards a Higher Ideal, then it is no longer a selfish desire to acquire wealth, fame, etc. It becomes a selfless desire born out of Detachment. Such a desire helps a person to Evolve.
Many people think being spiritual means running away from family duties, going to Himalayas and staying there or stopping all his actions. To them, 16th Verse of Bhaja Govindam explains that Detachment is not external but internal. If renunciation comes at the thought-level, then the actions will follow accordingly. Such a person, even if he is amidst all wealth and comforts, will not be the least affected by the changes in his surroundings. And for those who fail to understand the nature of Desires, they become a victim of their own Desires and suffer terribly in this world (as explained in Verse 15 & 28).
We can escape the miseries caused by Desires if –
• We keep a check on the quality of food we feed our mind through our sense organs.
• We ask ourselves the four questions (when we get a desire) we discussed in Verse 26 (Do I need it? If I get it how long will I be happy with it? What will happen if I don’t get it? Do I have the capacity to get the desired object?)
• We always have a Higher Ideal in life towards which all our actions are intended to.
• We always keep in mind – Even This Will Pass Away.
• We spend some time regularly for our spiritual studies, contemplation & Satsang.