Controlling the mind with intelligence as per Vedic literatures

Controlling the mind as per Bhagavad Gita

Just imagine a scenario where you are in complete control of your mind. You instruct the mind and mind faithfully obeys you. How pleasurable the life will become! 

The Vedic literatures have always emphasized the importance of controlling the mind. So, we find yogis and ascetics going to the forest and meditating for several years to gain control over their mind.

Because they know that real happiness does not come from worldly positions and possessions. But it completely depends on our ability to calm and control our agitated mind.

A multi-millionaire in his skyrise building may be completely miserable if his mind is agitated. He may be gulping down sleeping pills to get few hours of sleep.  This is why we see many materially successful people become so frustrated with their life that they even commit suicide.

But a man living in a humble house with little possession will be celebrating his life if he has succeeded in subduing his mind.

One who conquers the mind conquers the world

Once a king who had conquered many kingdoms was passing through a forest. He saw a sage sitting in meditation. The king ordered his soldiers to ask the sage to move from his way.

The soldiers asked the sage to give the way.  The sage did not respond. The king had the option to choose another path. But he was the world conqueror. How can a frail ascetic residing in a forest wearing tattered cloth disobey him? In his kingdom, his words were the law. No one could disobey him.

But the saint had disobeyed him today. The king decided to confront the sage on his own.

“Who are you? Why are you not moving from my way?”

The sage again did not say anything. With his handle gesture, he requested the king to choose the other path.

The king became agitated.

“How could you disobey me? Probably you do not know who I am. I have defeated great armies. I am today the undisputed king of the whole world.” 

The sage with his handle gesture again requested the king to choose the other path.

The king took out his sword. He laughed uncontrollably and angrily.

Before I sever your head from your body, I ask you again, who are you?

The sage with all calmness not fearing death replied, “I am the greatest conquer in this world, more powerful than you.”

The king laughed. His soldiers numbering in thousands also could not control their grin.

“Old man, are you insane? You are the greatest conqueror? What have you conquered in your life till now?”

The sage remained indifferent to the king’s sarcastic comment.

He replied with same calmness, “You have conquered the world. I have conquered my mind. Tell me who is the greatest conqueror?

The king did not say anything. He took another path.

Some say the king was Alexander. And who was the sage? No one knows because he had no desire that others should know him. Unlike lesser mortals of this world, he had no desire for name and fame.

A man who has mastered the art of controlling the mind lives like a king. But a man who fails to free himself from the clutches of mind always lives like a slave of his unchaste mind.

So, as long as we remain under the control of our mind peace will elude us and anxiety will overwhelm us.

But if we succeed in taking control of our mind, we will enjoy every moment of our life.

Mind is the cause of our pleasure and pain

How we suffer or enjoy because of our mind is explained in Katha Upanisad 1.3.3–4,

“ātmānaṁ rathinaṁ viddhi
śarīraṁ ratham eva ca
buddhiṁ tu sārathiṁ viddhi
manaḥ pragraham eva ca

indriyāṇi hayān āhur
viṣayāṁs teṣu gocarān
ātmendriya-mano-yuktaṁ
bhoktety āhur manīṣiṇaḥ”

Katha Upanisad 1.3.3–4

Srila Prabhupada explains, “The individual is the passenger in the car of the material body, and intelligence is the driver. Mind is the driving instrument, and the senses are the horses. The self is thus the enjoyer or sufferer in the association of the mind and senses. So, it is understood by great thinkers.”

Katha Upanisad 1.3.3–4, which is the part of the Vedic literature, compares our body with a chariot. It further says that you and I are the passenger of the chariot. Intelligence is compared to the driver of the chariot. The five horses are driving this chariot. These five horses are our five senses. Mind is compared to the rope which controls the horses.

It is the responsibility of the charioteer to drive the chariot in a way so that the journey is smooth, and it takes the passenger to the desired destination.

Now suppose that the driver is too weak. What will happen? He won’t be able to properly control the reins of the chariot. If his grip on the reins is weak, the horses will go berserk. The passenger sitting in the chariot will become utterly miserable.

Now suppose that the reins are too fragile. In that scenario too the driver won’t be able to properly control the horses. Here again the passenger will have tough time during the journey.

In both the cases the passenger will suffer and most probably, he won’t reach his desired destination.

But if the driver is strong, he has the skill to control the reins of the chariot and the horses then the journey will be smooth. The passenger will enjoy the ride and will also reach his destination.

How intelligence can help to control our mind

Let us see how the chariot example can help us to control our mind.

If the intelligence (driver) is weak then the mind and the senses start behaving whimsically. And we the passenger (soul) sitting inside the chariot of the body become miserable. 

But if our intelligence is very strong then we will have strong hold over our mind, we will have the strength to control our senses. And in that scenario, we will always enjoy the journey of our life.

So, it is important that we properly nourish our intelligence else our mind and senses will overpower the intelligence.

Bhagavad Gits 3.42 explains that mind is superior to the senses and intelligence is superior to the mind.

The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.” Bhagavad Gita 3.42

So, if we have purified intelligence, we can give proper direction to our mind. And our mind will too properly direct the senses in the right direction.

The below allegorical story will help us understand how we can control the mind with intelligence.

Story of a husband & an unchaste wife

A husband came to know that his wife has many paramours. They come to visit her when he is not at home. In fact, he came to know that some of them are even planning to murder him so that they can always be with his wife.

His wife in front of him would behave in a nice way. She would project herself as a chaste and committed wife.  But the man had understood that she is cheating him.

He loved his wife, so he did not want to lose her. He did not even want to harm her. In fact, as a husband he thought it his responsibility to save her from those lusty miscreants.

So, he decided to recruit a security guard.

He instructed the guard not to allow anyone inside the house without his permission. And not even allow his wife to go out without permission.

The security guard was very strong. He was armed with weapons.

Next time when the miscreants came to visit the lady in the absence of her husband then the guard stopped them. They got thrashed by the guard when they tried to force themselves into the house. When they tried to sneak into the house through the backdoor, the alert guard caught and beat them up. 

They again tried to enter the house in the night but again they were kicked out.

They tried again and again but every time they failed. They were not just unsuccessful in their attempt but were even thoroughly beaten by the guard every time they tried to get in.

The lady desperately wanted to meet her paramours but was helpless. Neither she was allowed to go out and nor her paramours were able to come inside.

After trying for several days her paramours understood that there is no use in trying to enter the house. They now even feared to be near the house.

The wife eventually gave up all the hope to meet them. And slowly she started realizing that how foolish she was. She was destroying her life. She saw her husband was so caring and loving. He was her best well-wisher.

She fell on her husband’s feet and begged forgiveness.  Husband became so happy. Both started living happily.

And what about the security personnel? The husband was so grateful to him. He continued with his service as he did not want to take any risk.  The security guard with same alertness continued guarding the house.

How this story is relevant in our life?

Now let us see how this story is relevant in our life.

  • Here the wife is compared to our mind.
  • The paramours are compared to different vices (anarthas) like lust, anger, greed, pride, envy, illusion which keeps on attacking us again and again.
  • The husband is compared to the soul
  • And the security guard is the intelligence.

Just like the wife, our mind is always vulnerable. Lust, anger, greed, and other vices keep on attacking our mind again and again.

Sometimes we get exposed to lusty environment. Sometimes anger attacks us and make us insane. Sometimes pride and envy overpower us. Sometimes impatience and greed torment us. And most of the time we are put in illusion.

Not just external situations and circumstances trouble us but many past impressions of our mind to haunt us. Mind initially acts in a wrong way and when suffering comes it laments.

Mind is like a blotting paper. It captures all the impressions. On its own it cannot decide what is good for it and what is harmful for it.

Intelligence helps to make right choices

But the intelligence can discriminate. Srila Prabhupada explains, “Intelligence refers to the power to analyze things in their proper perspective.” Bhagavad Gita 10.4-5 purport.

It can decide what is good for our life and what can destroy our life. Intelligence like a security guard should always guard the mind. 

  • When mind gets attacked by lust, greed, pride, anger, envy, illusion then intelligence should shield the mind from these vices.
  • When mind gets overwhelmed with negativity and wants to act in a harmful way then intelligence with all its might should not allow the mind to act in an unrighteous way.  
  • When past impressions of our mind surfaces then intelligence should not allow those impressions to overpower our mind.

Mind will try to work independently but the intelligence should skillfully control the mind.  

When mind starts acting righteously it starts understanding the dangerous consequences of acting as per its whims and past impressions.

Mind sees that it has been successful in avoiding many sufferings.

Since the intelligence stops the vices to enter the mind, the mind gets purified.

Mind slowly stops troubling us. It becomes obedient. It stops acting on its own. A calm and controlled and pure mind experiences bliss.

Mind starts understanding that intelligence is its best friend, best well – wisher and best adviser. 

Before doing anything, it consults the intelligence.

Intelligence keeps on giving good advice to the mind.  It continues guarding the mind and make sure that no vices enter the mind.

3 steps to improve the intelligence

Intelligence plays an extremely important role in our life. With intelligence we can subjugate our uncontrolled mind. Once our mind is controlled, we can lead a happy life. So, let us discuss the 3 important activities which can help us to improve our intelligence

1. Taking the association of saintly people who have mastered the art of self-control

We should associate with saintly personalities who have mastered the art of controlling the mind with intelligence.

Such saintly personalities do not get distracted by temptations. They are always in complete control of themselves. Even in provoking situations they remain calm and composed.

Just be being in their presence we can learn a lot from their life.

Their life will teach us:

  • How to not succumb to the demands of our mind.
  • How to always utilize our discriminatory ability to make decisions.
  • How to not get carried away by momentarily pleasures.

Chaitanya Charitamrita (Caitanya-caritāmṛta) 22.54 sings the glories of saintly association.

“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.”

Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 22.54

So it is advised that we should always seek the association of saintly people, sadhu sanga.

Merely by being in their presence we can learn lots of tips to improve our intelligence.

2. Nourishing intelligence by reading wisdom literature

As we nourish our physical body for a healthy life. Similarly, we should nourish our intelligence by reading literatures like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. These sacred books contain pearls of wisdom.

When we read such literatures, we get enlightened. Our ignorance is gone.

We get to know what is good for us and what is not. It teaches us that we are suffering because we are making wrong choices in our life.

These wisdom literatures explain in detail how this material world works, how our body works, how our mind works. It further tells us about the types of activities which becomes the cause of our suffering. And tell us about the activities which bring joy in our life.

These holy books give guidelines to always make right choices. It teaches us the art of saying no to the mind. If we take shelter of these books, we will always remain enlightened and always make right choices in our life.

3. Purifying our mind with Mantra meditation

We should also regularly meditate on the holy names of the Lord. Mantra meditation especially chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is of great help.

When we chant, we get connected to Krishna, the Supreme Lord. Krishna in Bhagavad Gita tells that he is the source of all the intelligence. So, when we chant Krishna awards us intelligence which helps us to control the mind.

In the association of the holy names of Krishna our intelligence gets purified.  Our intelligence becomes strong. And it becomes so easy to control our uncontrolled mind. Mind becomes our best friend.

Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, “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

Our controlled mind and purified intelligence bring unlimited joy in our life.

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