Bhagavad Gita explains how to control the senses by practicing Krishna Consciousness. For a devotee of Krishna controlling the senses is easy.
Sense control is very much required if you want to lead a peaceful, successful and happy life. If you do not try to control your senses, senses will control you. And will compel you to act whimsically and keep you disturbed most of the time.
Let us see how it happens.
How uncontrolled senses leads to a person’s fall down and suffering?
- First a person begins contemplating on the objects of the senses. Contemplating on the objects of the senses means developing material desires and hoping to fulfil it. A person thinks that if the material desires are fulfilled, he will become happy.
- By constantly contemplating on sensual objects, he slowly develops attachment for them.
- Attachment gradually transforms into lust.
- It is not easy to satisfy the lusty desires. So, when lust is not fulfilled the person becomes upset and angry and many times even wild.
- Anger leads to delusion.
- In delusion memory is bewildered. Person forgets all the good advice of the past and all the bad experiences of the past.
- Bewildered memory leads to loss of intelligence.
- And when intelligence is lost, the person starts acting foolishly, even indulge in sinful activities.
- This leads to his fall down and brings suffering.
So, everything starts with contemplation on the sensual objects. It is not that only when all your senses focus on sense objects then only you will fall down. Even one of your uncontrolled senses have the capability to destroy our life.
Krishna says so this in Bhagavad Gita 2.67, “As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.”
Can we completely stop the activities of the senses?
So, if you do not want to fall down and do not want to suffer then the first and the most important thing you should do is to stop contemplating on the objects of the senses. And stop getting allured by material desires.
Material desires cannot make us happy. Even if we fulfil our material desires, still we will remain dissatisfied. You and I have already experienced it many times. Things of this world cannot satisfy us because we are “spirit souls” and not “material souls.”
So, what to do with our senses? Should we stop the activities of the senses? Definitely Not. Senses always need engagement. Its activities cannot be stopped. So, we need to give engagement to the senses.
Scripture says that if we want to lead a peaceful and happy life then we should engage all our senses in spiritual activities. And instead of contemplating on material desires, contemplate on spiritual activities which will help us to grow in our spiritual life.
When our senses are spiritualized, we, the spiritual beings, begin experiencing happiness in life which we always look for in this world.
How to always engage the senses in spiritual activities?
Engaging the senses in constant spiritual activities is not difficult.
Srimad Bhagavatam gives the example of a great devotee called Ambarish Maharaj. The great king would always engage all his senses in Krishna Conscious activities. Let us see how he did it.
“Mahārāja Ambarīṣa always engaged his mind in meditating upon the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, his words in describing the glories of the Lord, his hands in cleansing the Lord’s temple, and his ears in hearing the words spoken by Kṛṣṇa or about Kṛṣṇa.
He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’s temples and Kṛṣṇa’s places like Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, he engaged his sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord’s devotees, he engaged his sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasī offered to the Lord, and he engaged his tongue in tasting the Lord’s prasāda.
He engaged his legs in walking to the holy places and temples of the Lord, his head in bowing down before the Lord, and all his desires in serving the Lord, twenty-four hours a day. Indeed, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa never desired anything for his own sense gratification.
He engaged all his senses in devotional service, in various engagements related to the Lord. This is the way to increase attachment for the Lord and be completely free from all material desires.” Srimad Bhagavatam
By these spiritual activities, Ambarish Maharaj’s senses had become completely pure. So, he always remained peaceful and happy. The great king has shown us the process to control the senses by practicing Krishna Consciousness.
Why Krishna helps a devotee to control the senses?
Once our senses are engaged in Krishna Conscious activities, it will become easy to control the senses. It is because we won’t be fighting alone with our senses. By our own endeavour to control the senses is a herculean task.
But since we engage in the service of Krishna, so Krishna who is the master of the senses, Hrsikesa, helps us to control our senses.
Srila Prabhupada explains, “As enemies are curbed by superior force, the senses can similarly be curbed, not by any human endeavor, but only by keeping them engaged in the service of the Lord.” BG 2.68 purport
If we practice Krishna Consciousness, it becomes easy to control the senses.
To control the senses, do we need to give up worldly responsibilities?
It is not that to control our senses by Krishna Consciousness we have to run away from our worldly responsibilities and became a renunciate. Many people have a false notion that renunciation means giving up material duties. Arjuna also thought so. So, he also wanted to give up his duty of fighting. He said to Krishna, “Instead of fighting it is better for me to retire to a forest and live by begging.” Arjuna thought that Krishna will appreciate him for his desire for renunciation.
But to his surprise, Krishna wasn’t amused. He disapproved Arjuna’s idea of renunciation of work.
Krishna said to Arjuna, “What do you mean by renouncing the work? You cannot live without working in this world. Even to maintain your physical body you have to work.”
One may externally give up one’s duty, but his mind and senses will keep on dwelling on it. Arjuna may give up his kshatriya duty of fighting, but in his mind, he will continue thinking about his enemies and will remain disturbed. If he goes for begging and someone refuses to give him alms, he will become angry. As a kshatriya warrior his psycho-physical nature is not to beg and live. Begging and living is ideal for a brahmana who dedicates his life in the service of God.
So, Krishna wanted Arjuna to follow his nature and do his prescribed duty as per the scriptures. Krishna advised Arjuna to practice karma – yoga [in Kṛṣṇa consciousness] without attachment. It will help him to engage his mind and senses positively in the service of the Lord.
What is Krishna’s advice to us?
Through Arjuna, Krishna is also giving us an important lesson in life. We should not give up our responsibilities but instead we should work in this world as per the directive of the scriptures.
In my personal life also, I find that my nature is to work in the outside world and earn livelihood. Initially I was thinking that working outside means indulging in sense gratification. But after reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and discussing with senior devotees I understood that it is not that I have to give up my work, but instead I have to do my work in proper consciousness.
The money which I get is also because of the mercy of Krishna and it should be utilized in practicing Krishna consciousness, helping my family members to practice Krishna Consciousness and helping Iskcon in spreading Krishna consciousness. This is the best way to engage the senses and purify the senses.
So, to control the senses it is important that we practice Krishna Consciousness sincerely.