karmendriyaani saiyamya ya aaste manasaa smaran |
indriyaarthaanvimoodhaatmaa mithyaachaarah sa ucchchyate || 6 ||

One who sits, forcibly restraining his organs of action, yet keeps thinking about objects, that foolish individual is known as a hypocrite.

karmendriyaani : (sense and action oriented) organs
saiyamya : forcibly restrain
yah : one who
aaste : sits
manasaa : in the mind
smaran : thinks
indriyaarthaan : (sense) objects
vimoodhaatmaa : foolish individual
mithyaachaarah : hypocrite
sah : that
ucchchyate : known as

The second chapter of the Gita informed us that the way to achieve the ultimate spiritual goal is by eliminating our vaasanaas, because they are the source of selfish desires. But this message has the potential to be dangerous if it is misinterpreted.

Under the banner of becoming more spiritual, some people put their bodies through extreme fasting, while some forcibly repress their urges. We see a milder version of this behaviour when individuals are trying to rid themselves of addictions by simply cutting off the supply or going “cold-turkey”.

For example, if one has an addiction to alcohol, one tries not to keep alcohol in the house to avoid temptation. That may work in the short term, but an addiction is not in the body, it is in the mind. It is like any other vasanaa and will come up as a desire when one sees alcohol the next time.

So in this shloka, Shri Krishna issues a strong warning to anyone who thinks that they can advance on the spiritual path through extreme repression of the body or of the mind. He uses a strong term to admonish such individuals by calling them hypocrites.

Let’s connect this shloka to the previous one. It informed us that the body, mind and intellect comprise the three gunaas. These gunaas born of prakriti will always compel us to perform actions. But the current shloka tells us that repression of action will not lead to elimination of desires. We have no choice but to perform action, yet we need clear up our desires and vasanaas.

So what’s the conclusion? We have to find a way to eliminate vasanaas WHILE we are performing actions. That technique is karma yoga.

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