indriyaani mano buddhirasyaadhishthaanamuchyate |
etairvimohayatyesha jnyaanamaavritya dehinam || 40 ||

The senses, mind and intellect are said to be its residence. Through them, this (desire) covers the body-dweller’s wisdom.

indriyaani : senses
manah : mind
buddhih : intellect
asya : this
adhishthaanam : residence
uchyate: it is said
etaih : these
vimohayati : delude
eshah : this (desire)
jnyaanam : wisdom
aavritya : cover
dehinam : body-dweller

Like a military strategist reveals the location of the enemy to the warrior, Shri Krishna in this shloka reveals the location of the karmayogi’s enemy. The enemy in the form of desire has three residences. The first residence is the senses, the second is the mind, and the third is the intellect. Note that he uses the term “body-dweller” to remind us that the body, mind and intellect are separate than the eternal essence.

In the senses, desire and anger manifest as likes and dislikes, as we have seen before. Now, each sense organ has its own likes and dislikes. For example, the ear may find some sounds pleasing and others harsh. These likes and dislikes come from our natural tendencies or prakriti. You can see likes and dislikes in animals as well. Your pet dog may prefer one kind of food over another.

There is not much that we can do about our natural tendencies. We just need to ensure that they do not obstruct us from our goals. But when we feed them by giving them time and attention, they get charged by our emotions and take residence in our mind. Our mind is the faculty that gathers data from the senses and creates a coherent picture of what is being senses. It also generates thoughts based on current and past impressions.

Our language will give us an indication of whether a like is residing in our senses or in our mind. If we say, “I like to eat fries” or “I prefer fries”, it is still at the level of senses. But if we say, “I absolutely love fries, I cannot do without them”, it means that the like has now gone into the mind.

There is another indication that a desire has penetrated into the mind. A desire can be active even if the object of the desire is not perceived by the senses. If we dislike a person only when we meet him, then that dislike is at the level of the senses. But if we keep thinking “I hate that person” even when he is not in front of us, then that dislike has become hatred and has penetrated our mind.

The last and most dangerous place for a desire to reside is in our intellect, which is the faculty that takes decisions based on analysis and rationality. If we begin to justify and rationalize our loves and hates, it means that the desire has penetrated into our intellect. It is extremely difficult to tackle such desires, because they have completely taken hold of us: our senses, our mind and our intellect. Someone who resorts to violence and is utterly convinced of his position will even quote from scriptures to justify his actions, for instance.

So therefore, Shri Krishna provided Arjuna with the location and nature of the enemy that he needed to tackle. He explains the technique of tacking the enemy in the next shloka.