In Chapter Six of Bhagavad Gita, Lord Sri Krishna describes in detail about the importance of controlling the mind. He tells Arjuna that by controlling the mind he can attain complete perfection in life. He makes it clear that without mind control, no one can attain peace and bliss in life.
Let us see the verses related to mind control spoken by Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Six.
Bhagavad Gita quotes on mind control
- “One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.” Bhagavad Gita 6.5
- “For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.” Bhagavad Gita 6.6
- “For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.”Bhagavad Gita 6.7
- “A transcendentalist should always engage his body, mind and self in relationship with the Supreme; he should live alone in a secluded place and should always carefully control his mind. He should be free from desires and feelings of possessiveness.” Bhagavad Gita 6.10
- “Thus practicing constant control of the body, mind and activities, the mystic transcendentalist, his mind regulated, attains to the kingdom of God [or the abode of Kṛṣṇa] by cessation of material existence.” Bhagavad Gita 6.15
- “When the yogī, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence – devoid of all material desires – he is said to be well established in yoga.” Bhagavad Gita 6.18
- “As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent Self.” Bhagavad Gita 6.19
- “Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the Self alone and should think of nothing else.” Bhagavad Gita 6.25
- “From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.” Bhagavad Gita 6.26
- “The yogī whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness. He is beyond the mode of passion, he realizes his qualitative identity with the Supreme, and thus he is freed from all reactions to past deeds.” Bhagavad Gita 6.27
Why Arjuna says it is extremely difficult to control the mind?
Arjuna was hearing Krishna patiently. But at one point of time he looked confused. Krishna understood Arjuna had some doubts. So, he paused. Without wasting a moment Arjuna said, “O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.” Bhagavad Gita 6.33
It is true that one who has controlled his mind can attain anything in his life. But our mind is most of the time unsteady, uncooperative, and restless.
Arjuna goes to the extent of saying that if you instruct me, I will conquer all the enemies. If you order me, I can even control the wind. But if you tell me to control the mind then it won’t be possible.
“The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Kṛṣṇa, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.” Bhagavad Gita 6.34
We are completely helpless in front of our mind. Just like a lamb is helpless in front of the tiger.
Many yogis and mystics have tried in the past to gain control over their mind, but they failed. Sage Viswamitra renounced everything, retired to the forest, and did penance(tapasya) for several years. But he too failed to control his mind. As soon as he saw Menaka, he could not resist himself and got allured.
There are innumerable such examples. Even great personalities face so difficulty in controlling the mind.
You suffer because of your uncontrolled mind
You and I too face so many challenges in life because of our restless mind. Whether it be your personal life or professional life, you face difficulties because your mind does not allow you to act wisely. It compels you to indulge in certain activities for which you regret later.
You easily get distracted because of your uncontrolled mind.
Your restless mind does not allow you to focus on your work.
A student knows that if he studies hard, he will get good grades. But as soon as he opens his books within few minutes his mind takes him to some other world. His attention span is so short.
This is why we see many students who may be sitting with their books for hours but does not get good grades. Because they never studied.
Working professionals too face similar problem. You may be sitting at your work desk trying to complete your task, but you are not able to focus. It is not that you do not know how to do your work, but your mind does not allow you to concentrate. You are not able to sit for long hours and work. You easily get distracted.
After every few minutes, you begin checking your emails knowing very well that no important email is going to come. But you check because you are not able to focus on your task.
Again, you start working but after few minutes you start browsing internet. You look for some breaking news. You again and again check Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. You take breaks which are not required. You chitchat with colleagues to kill time.
So, a piece of work which you could have easily completed with few hours of focussed work, you take several hours or even days to complete it.
Just before an important meeting you frantically try to complete your presentation or status report. It is only after repeated reminder emails that you complete internal trainings. You keep on procrastinating.
You do not work proactively. You work only when an external force is applied. Just like a horse does not pull the cart unless it is whipped.
It is not because of lack of knowledge or talent that you do not grow in your professional life. But it is due to lack of self-discipline and commitment.
You remain mediocre because your mind remains distracted. It always overpowers you.
What advice Krishna gives in Bhagavad Gita to control the mind?
Arjuna, 5000 years ago was facing similar problem. Arjuna was not an ordinary personality. He was a formidable warrior. The best archer of his time. He had defeated many enemies. Had won many battles. But he too appeared helpless in front of his mind.
Krishna completely agreed with Arjuna. He too said that controlling mind is indeed difficult.
But he did not stop there. He immediately said that “It is not impossible!”
Krishna gave Arjuna hope. In fact, he is giving hope to you and me.
Arjuna is not asking questions for himself only. He knew that everyone in this world face similar challenges. So, he is asking questions on behalf of you and me.
And Krishna is not answering only to Arjuna. But he is even answering to us.
He is asking us not to get disheartened. He is assuring us that there is a way by which we can control our restless mind.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna, “O mighty-armed son of Kuntī, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment.” Bhagavad Gita 6.35
So, he recommends two process:
Controlling the mind by practice (abhyāsena)
Practice means to do something repeatedly till we become proficient.
For example, when a child for the first time tries to ride a bicycle, he falls. He may start thinking that it is impossible for him to ride a bicycle. During the process of learning he fails many times. But by trying again and again he learns the skill. He then fearlessly enjoys his bicycle ride.
It is true that controlling mind is more difficult than learning a bicycle.
But think when you were a child. You also initially thought riding a bicycle is impossible. You envied when you saw your elder brother or sister riding the cycle. You desperately wanted to be like them. And one day you succeeded.
Similarly, with practice you should try your best to gain control over your mind.
When you were a kid, you had enthusiasm. You had hope. You had a strong desire to learn something new. Now when you grow old, you lack enthusiasm, hope and a desire to take up challenges.
But you need to nurture childlike enthusiasm. You should have hope in the words of Krishna. And a strong desire to subdue the mind.
What practice to do to control the mind?
You should practice focusing the mind on the activities you are doing currently. You should not allow the mind to get distracted. You should bring back the mind to the present state as soon as it wanders.
Will you succeed immediately. Definitely Not. Will you fail initially. Definitely Yes.
But you have to keep on trying.
And by repeated practice, you will ultimately attain victory over your mind.
The great Vedic sages practiced meditation to control the mind.
They meditated on the holy names and transcendental forms of the Lord. When their mind got distracted, they would force their mind to focus on their object of meditation.
Mantra meditation is the best way to gain control over your mind
In the present age mantra meditation is the recommended process to gain control over our restless mind.
You should chant the holy names of Krishna. While chanting you should focus on the words of the Mahamantra (Hare, Krishna & Rama) and simultaneously try to hear the transcendental sound.
We all who chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra have the experience that during chanting, our mind wanders many times. It is not unexpected.
But immediately we should bring back the mind from wherever it has gone and focus on chanting.
Initially when one starts chanting, mind wanders frequently. I remember during my college days when first time I held the beads in my hand and began chanting it was impossible to chant. I was not even able to chant for 5 minutes.
But by constant practice today I can chant for around 2 hours daily. I have spoken to many devotees and almost everyone has similar experience.
So, when we start chanting, our uncontrolled mind does not allow us to chant. But you should not give up. You should force yourself to chant. After repeated practice for few weeks, you will find that mind is not giving the same trouble as it was giving earlier.
It takes several years of repeated practice to attain complete control over the mind. But during your initial days also, you will experience that you are in a much better situation. The mind is now not wandering a lot.
Mind has become more controlled. And if with patience you continue the process of practicing mantra mediation then eventually you will win over the mind.
The mantra which you will say are not ordinary words. When you chant ‘Hare Krishna’ it means you are praying to Srimati Radharani (Hare) and Krishna, the Supreme Lord. When we chant ‘Hare Rama’ you are calling the names of mother Sita and Lord Rama.
So, when you chant these holy names your mind gets purified of all bad thoughts and harmful impressions. You start getting freedom from negativity, freedom from lamentation and hankering.
As mind starts getting pure it becomes less restless. It becomes easy to control the mind.
How detachment (vairāgyeṇa) helps to gain control over the mind?
Vairagya or detachment means freeing your mind from those material activities which is harmful for the mind. When your mind associates with matter it becomes impure. And an impure mind troubles a lot.
So, you should not expose your mind to those environments which aggravates lust, anger, and greed.
But you should always expose your mind to such environment where it becomes peaceful and calm. Where it gets filled with positivity.
Chanting the holy names of Krishna, reading literatures like Bhagavad Gita, being in association of sincere devotees of Krishna will help a lot in purifying the mind of all impurities.
Srila Prabhupada explains, “The more one hears about Krishna, the more one becomes enlightened and detached from everything that draws the mind away from Krishna. By detaching the mind from activities not devoted to the Lord, one can very easily learn vairāgya. Vairāgya means detachment from matter and engagement of the mind in spirit.”
Also, you should not do any activity which is not authorized in the Vedic scriptures like Bhagavad Gita.
When you spend significant time in practicing Krishna consciousness then gradually your mind will get free from all the impurities which is the root cause of your uncontrolled mind. A purified mind is easy to control.
And a controlled mind becomes your best friend. You are then able to accomplish great results.
Controlling mind is a herculean task. But by following the formula given by Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, you can gain control over your mind. Krishna is teaching that by practice and detachment it is possible to control the mind. And a controlled mind will become your best friend.
Once your mind becomes your best friend, it will assist you in whatever activities you will do.
If you are a student, then you will be able to study hard with single minded attention. You will no longer face failure but will always get very good grades in exam.
If you are a working professional then you will be able to do your work with sincerity, with complete attention. You won’t get distracted. You will be able to complete your work in time and even before time. No last minute hurry. No stress. No fear of being reprimanded by the boss. No fear of being laid off because of poor performance.
One of the most important point you need to remember is that all activities should be done by keeping Lord Krishna in the centre.
If you do your duty sincerely by keeping Krishna in the centre, then it will become a spiritual activity. It will please Krishna. When Krishna gets pleased by your endeavour your life becomes successful.
In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives an invaluable tip as how to gain control over the mind.
You should follow it as it is and enrich your life.
You will surely attain success and enjoy a peaceful and blissful life.
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