The first instruction which Srila Rupa Goswami gives in Nectar of Instruction (NOI) Text 1 is that we should control the six urges: urge to speak, urges of the mind, urges of the anger, and urges of the tongue, belly, and genitals.
Srila Prabhupada has elaborately explained as how we can control all these urges and make our life successful. If these urges are not controlled, then they become the cause of our downfall in our spiritual journey.
How to control the urge to speak (vaco vegam)?
Vaco means speech and vegam means force. Rupa Goswami’s first instruction is to control our urge to speak.
So, should we stop speaking? Should we take a vow of silence i.e. maunvrat?
Controlling the urge to speak means controlling the urge to speak on subject matters not related to Krishna. Srila Prabhupada compares the speech of a materialistic person with the croaking of a toad. When a toad speaks, it is not aware that its sound is inviting snakes. Its croaking becomes the cause of its death.
Similarly, the materialistic people invite death by speaking non sensical stuffs. How is it so? As his talks are full of politics, sports, movies, world affairs he wastes his invaluable time and precious human life. The agents of death will finally snatch away his human body and he will again have to transmigrate through different species of life. He may even get a non-human body.
Even the talk of the Mayavadis who wrongly interpret the Vedic literatures and think that they can become God is categorized as materialistic talk. Mayavadis desire to become God because they want to enjoy like God. No one can ever become God. God is always God and we are fortunate servants of God.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that those who write novels and those who read them are wasting their life. These days people waste tonnes of time on social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, twitter, tiktok, Instagram, Pinterest etc. Even devotees should be careful not to waste their time on these platforms in the name of preaching.
Tukaram Maharaj had even declined to meet Shivaji Maharaj because he thought why to waste even a fraction of second in meeting a king.
Steps to control the urge to speak (vaco – vegam)
- We should engage our speech in chanting the holy names of Krishna like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
- We should always try our best to glorify Krishna’s name, forms, transcendental qualities, and his sweet pastimes which are pleasing to the heart.
- In fact, we should also always glorify devotees of Krishna who are full of divine qualities.
- We should read Krishna conscious literature like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita. Srila Prabhupada and many prominent Vaisnava acharyas have worked very hard to write many Krishna Conscious literature for our benefit and we should make best use of it.
How to control the urges of the mind (mansa vegam)?
Mind is the reservoir of all the impressions and experiences.
Srila Rupa Goswami says that the urges of the mind should be controlled. If we become a puppet of our mind, then mind will make us dance to its tune.
Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves that “are we in control of our mind or is the mind controlling us?” Many of us have the experience that mind compels us to do certain things which we know we should not do.
“I do not want to watch a YouTube video.” But mind forces us to watch.
“I want to stop scrolling Facebook pages for hours.” But mind compels us to do.
Why is it so?
Externally we may portray that we are in complete control of ourselves but internally we may be torn apart by the dictum of our mind. We have become so accustomed to follow the commands of our mind that most of us do not even dare to say no to the mind.
Yes, it is true that mind is extremely powerful, and we find ourselves helpless in front of our mind. But if we take Krishna’s shelter then Krishna will surely help us. Controlling the mind does not mean emptying the mind because we cannot create a vacuum in our mind.
Controlling the mind basically means purifying the mind
We can purify the mind by inundating it with spiritual thoughts. As soon as the mind gets flooded with positive spiritual thoughts it will not drag us towards self – destructive habits. In fact, the mind will cooperate with us and with the help of our mind we can succeed in our life. If our mind is controlled, we can even succeed in our material life and be happy in this world too.
And the best way to purify the mind is by chanting the holy names of Krishna like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
Steps to control the urges of the mind (mansa vegam)
- Associating with people who have good control over their mind and who are serious and sincere in their devotional practice.
- Reading good literatures like Bhagavad Gita and not reading literature filled with materialistic subject matters like politics, movies, sports etc. because such literature aggravate lust, greed, and anger.
- Similarly, we should avoid watching sexual and sensual entertainment channels or videos. Watching such programs degrade our consciousness. Our mind gets stuffed with nasty images and impressions. In fact, the people who have watched horror movies earlier have the experience that they get lots of dream of ghosts and they struggle to sleep peacefully.
- We should eat sattvic or pure food. The best food is the one which is offered first to Krishna and then eaten. The kind of food we eat, the consciousness with which the food has been cooked affects our mind and our thought process. So, we should eat carefully.
- And one of the most important activity which plays an important role is chanting the holy names of Krishna like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
How to control the urges of the anger (krodha-vegaṁ)?
In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna’s say that lust, anger, and greed are three gateways to hell. People have destroyed their life by not being able to control their anger. Unfortunately, in the modern world anger is many times justified any many times even glorified.
But anger does more harm to us than to others. As soon as we become angry our whole consciousness changes. Our heart starts beating rapidly, we start sweating, we raise our voice. And sometimes when anger crosses the threshold limit then the person even resorts to physical violence. All these things ruin our life. So, anger at any cost should be curbed. Anger destroys relationships, anger brings disrepute and anger does irreparable damage to our life. So, we need to train ourselves to control our anger.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that devotees should always maintain a humble mood.
tṛṇād api su-nīcena
taror iva sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly. Sri Siksastakam Text 3
Using anger for a right cause
Sometimes anger can be used for a right cause.
For example, Hanuman and Arjuna used their anger to protect religious principles. But they did not use anger whimsically. Anger should be used only against a wrongdoer and not against any vulnerable person.
Before exhibiting anger, Hanuman tried his best to make Ravana understand that he should return mother Sita. He argued that how can he kidnap a woman and imprison her? But Ravana who was full of arrogance began blaspheming Lord Rama and mother Sita. He ordered to imprison Hanuman. Hanuman tolerated to a great extent but when he found that Ravana was unwilling to shun his arrogance and was not ready to return Sita he decided to burn Lanka. But while burning Lanka he made sure that none of the residents die.
Similarly, before waging a war against the Kauravas, Pandavas led by Lord Krishna tried their best to stop war. In fact, Lord Krishna even went to Kauravas as a peace messenger. But evil Duryodhana was not willing to listen to anyone. So, to establish righteousness Krishna finally ordered Arjuna to use his anger in the service of entire humanity.
Even Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed his anger when miscreants Jagai and Madhai were trying to harm Nityananda Prabhu.
But in all the cases we see that the anger was not used for any selfish purpose but was used to serve the Lord and the devotees of the Lord. Anger was always used for a right cause. And anger was used in rare circumstances only.
It should not happen that we yell, shout, and insult a person and later justify it saying that they deserved it. We can check for ourselves. If any of our actions are not helping us to be peaceful, happy, and more absorbed in devotional life it means that our anger is unreasonable.
At our level it is always better that we avoid anger and not try to create disturbance in our life and other’s life.
How to control the urges of the tongue(jihvā-vegam)?
Our tongue always wants to taste delicious food. And so, it drags us to different restaurants, forces us to munch on unlimited packets of lays, and compels us to eat more and more even though we are not hungry. We helplessly surrender to the demands of our tongue.
But Srila Rupa Goswami says that we should control the urges of the tongue. We should not allow our tongue to decide what it wants to eat. But we should conscientiously choose the food, which is healthy, nutritious, and fresh to eat.
But the most effective way by which the tongue can be controlled is by eating Krishna prasadam i.e. food which is offered to Krishna. When the food is offered to Krishna with love then Krishna showers his mercy upon it. It no longer remains an ordinary food. It becomes divine. And when our tongue touches such divine food then it gets purified. And in purified state it stops hankering for unhealthy food.
We should also eat at regulated time and not at any time of the day. Even if we are eating prasadam then also we should eat it at fixed time and should never overeat.
In one of the lectures Srila Prabhupada explains, “Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has taught that our tongue is very fastidious, wants to eat this thing, that thing, this thing, that thing. Even after… We have seen. He has eaten sumptuously at home but as soon as he comes out, “Let us go to the restaurant, let us have a cup of tea, a little this or that.” The tongue is always dictating. “You eat this, you eat that, you eat that, you like that.” That is going on. So if you want to control your tongue, then give him Kṛṣṇa prasādam. That “I’ll not accept anything which is not offered to Kṛṣṇa.” Then your tongue becomes controlled. And if you can control your tongue, your other senses will be automatically controlled.”
One of the biggest advantages of controlling the tongue is that if our tongue is controlled then all our other senses automatically is controlled.
How to control the urges of the belly (udara vegam)?
If we can control the urges of the tongue, then it becomes easy to control the urges of the belly.
We should never overeat. It is said that we should fill one-third of our belly with food, one-third with liquid and the remaining one-third should be empty so that our food gets properly digested.
Also, we should eat healthy food and not fast food. We should consume more fruits, green vegetables, and milk.
If we eat unhealthy food or overeat then we will suffer from stomach diseases. Also, if we eat in an unregulated way then too, we will suffer from stomach disease.
One of the prescribed ways by which we can control the urges of the belly is by observing fast during festivals like Janmashtami, Ram Navami, Gaur Purnima. We should always observe Ekadasi and fast on grains on that day.
Many times, we have the fear that if we do not stuff our belly completely with food, we will fall sick. But if we start observing fast then we experience that we do not require too much food for survival. If we observe fast with right attitude, we will feel rejuvenated the following day. Observing fast on holy days also purifies us and gives us determination to control our eating habits.
How to control the urges of the genitals(upastha vegam)?
We should put in our best efforts to control our sexual desires. Else it will create havoc in our life. Most of the people in this world is obsessed with the desire to enjoy with the opposite sex. Thousands of movies, television serials, YouTube videos are made about the relationship between a man and woman. And people love watching them.
But Rupa Goswami says that we should control our urge to enjoy with the opposite sex.
The desire to enjoy with the opposite sex is even in the animals. Animals are not expected to lead a regulated life, but we humans are expected to follow certain principles. At the present age we see that men and women are freely mixing with each other just like animals. The human form of life is a precious gift given to us but if we are behaving like animals then for sure we will get animal body in the next life and we will suffer terribly.
If we are not able to control our sexual urges, then we are bound to suffer terribly even in this life.
A True Story
In one of the class HG Radheshyam Prabhu narrated a true story about five friends whose life was ruined due to illicit relationship.
There were five friends from the same village. They studied hard and got a good job in Bangalore. All were earning good amount of money and living a good life in the city. One of the friends somehow got in contact with a call girl and he frequently started visiting her. To spend more time with her, he took a separate flat on rent for her. He was not disclosing this to his friends for obvious reasons.
He started spending lots of time with the call girl. He got very much attached to her.
The girl one day said that you are in office all day and I am getting bored here. I had many clients, but I left them for you. If you want me to stay here, then buy me a TV and other gadgets else I will leave. The man did not want to lose her at any cost. So, he promised to make all the arrangements. He had already spent lots of money on her. He did not have enough money to buy her the things.
So, he requested money from his friends. Initially they were surprised that why he suddenly needs that much amount of money. But anyway, they gave him the money. He promised to return the money as soon as possible.
But since he had to spend lots of money to maintain the girl, he was not able to save much and so was not able to return the money. Several months passed, he did not return the money. His friends were very angry with him. They demanded the money. But he was not able to return. His friends started threatening him that if he does not return the money then they will beat him.
Meanwhile all these friends too came to know that he visits a girl. So, they too started visiting her and the girl had no problem in entertaining his friends as she was getting money for it.
The man came to know that the girl is having relationship with his friends also. He felt cheated. He felt disgusted. He felt so humiliated by all these incidents that he committed suicide. Eventually the girl also ran away with all the money.
The other friends who were keeping illicit relationship with her got AIDS. There life too was ruined.
They had come to Iskcon temple in Pune and narrated all these incidents. They said that they have come here to collect chanting beads. Their parents had called them back to village. They said that we do not know how long we are going to live. It could be one year or five year or may be before that also we can die.
Therefore, scriptures warn us that we should never indulge in any kind of illicit relationship. The present society tries to normalise illicit relationship between man and woman and so we see today the families are breaking and the marriage does not last long.
Attraction towards the opposite sex is most difficult to give up. History is testimony to the fact that many mighty kings have fallen prey to the opposite sex and lost all dignity and power.
The genitals should only be used in a legal way. Sexual relationship is only allowed in married life. As per the scriptures husband and wife should come together so that they can give birth to a Krishna Conscious child.
Any sex outside marriage is illicit. Watching pornography or any such kinds of movies or videos also comes under the category of illicit sex.
Srila Prabhupada says, “When one indulges in illicit sex life, as defined by the śāstras, either by thinking, planning, talking about or actually having sexual intercourse, or by satisfying the genitals by artificial means, he is caught in the clutches of māyā.”
In the kingdom of Krishna there is no physical relationship between man and woman. So, if we are keen to be part of the spiritual world then we should put in our best efforts to free ourselves from the desire of enjoying with the opposite sex. Then our life will become perfect.