ye hi samsparshajaa bhogaa duhkkhayonaya eva te |
aadyantavantaha kaunteyane teshu ramate budhaha || 22 ||

For, the pleasures born out of sense contact are only wombs of sorrow. They have a beginning and ending, O son of Kunti. The wise person does not revel in them.

ye : he
hi : for
samsparshajaa : born from sense contact
bhogaa : pleasures
duhkhkhayonaya : wombs of sorrow
eva : only
te : they
aadyantavantaha : have a beginning and ending
kaunteyane : O son of Kunti
teshu : in them
ramate : revel
budhaha : the wise person

Previously, we saw the need for the seeker to turn inward, away from the sense pleasures of the material world. Here, Shri Krishna provides another compelling reason to turn away from sense pleasures. He says, in no uncertain terms, that pleasures born out of sense contact are not really pleasures at all. They are not just sorrow disguised as pleasure, they are “wombs” of sorrow. Which means, a single experience of sense contact sows the seed for multiple sorrows.

For many of us, the period of transition between academic life and work life is when a lot of these seeds are sown. As we start earning money, we automatically seem to find outlets to spend this money. Some develop an attachment to high-end coffee. Some develop an attachment to going to clubs. Some develop a taste for vehicles and so on. If we introspect, we realize that the pleasure obtained by any of these objects is not just fleeting, but results in a chain of sorrow later. Take high-end coffee for instance. The first few times it is quite pleasurable. But later, you cannot do without it.

But then, where does the pleasure arise in the first place? The mind is restless without constant sense contact. Depending upon the strength of the vaasanaas that we have cultivated, it experiences a vacuum and rushes out into the material world towards an object in order to fill that vacuum. At the same time, the eternal essence present within us, having identified with the mind, also rushes out into the world. When the sense contact happens, the mind temporarily ceases to move outside and comes into contact with the eternal essence. This results in joy.

So, here is where the mix-up happens. The joy was already inside us, the mind causes us to believe that it is outside us. Furthermore, this joy is short-lived because the mind will again go out into the material world. Then the cycle of sorrow (vacuum) and joy (sense contact) will repeat itself. This is called “samsaara”.

Therefore, Shri Krishna urges us to become wise people and realize that sense contact is not the true source of joy. Next, Shri Krishna goes into the root cause of the mind rushing out into the world.