Shree Bhagavaan uvaacha:
asamshayam mahaabaaho mano durnigraham chalam |
abhyaasena tu kaunteya vairagyena cha grihyate || 35 ||
Shree Bhagavaan said:
Indeed, the mind is hard to restrain and fickle, O Kaunteya. But through constant discipline and dispassion, O Kaunteya, it can be controlled.
asamshayam : indeed
mahaabaaho : O mighty armed
manaha : the mind
durnigraham : hard to restrain
chalam : fickle
abhyaasena : constant discipline
tu : but
kaunteya : O Kaunteya
vairagyena : dispassion
cha : and
grihyate : controlled
Having heard Arjuna’s question with regards to the difficulty of controlling the mind, Shri Krishna responded by first agreeing with Arjuna’s statement. This no doubt provided a dose of encouragement to the ever-diligent student Arjuna. By referring to Arjuna as the son of Kunti, Shri Krishna also hinted that a son of such a valiant mother is capable of undertaking the formidable challenge of taming the mind.
Shri Krishna then said that the mind, though hard to restrain, can be controlled through constant discipline and dispassion, it can be controlled. Shri Krishna provided a two-pronged approach to controlling the mind, and in doing so, summarized the entire spiritual technique of the Gita.
When we transition from college to the workplace, we have to learn new ways of doing things, and also, we have to unlearn some habits. Any transition requires learning new ways and dropping old ways. Abhyaasa or discipline is what we have to learn and practice. Materialistic and desire-oriented thinking is what we have to give up or unlearn through the practice of constant dispassion.
First, let us look at abhyaasa or discipline. It is the technique of constant hearing, contemplation and internalization of knowledge (shravanam, mananam and nidhidhyaasana) that reveals our true self. Due to ignorance inherent in the human condition, we forget our true self and think that we are this finite body, mind and intellect. We need to continually hear the knowledge of the eternal essence to remove this ignorance. But even before we can reach a stage where we can hear such knowledge, we first need to clear our mind of impurities in the form of selfish desires, and the notion of doership and enjoyership.
That is why Shri Krishna prescribed the practice of karma yoga in order to first clear the mind of selfish desires. Karma yoga slowly leads to karma sanyaasa, where we slowly give up the notion of doership and enjoyership. Only then will the mind be able to contemplate upon and internalize the knowledge of the self through meditation. This is abhyaasa or constant discipline.
But this is not enough. We have to give up our attachment to people, objects and situations so that our mind stops becoming agitated. This can only happen when we stop and check the mind each time it rushes out into the world, and examine whether we will truly get joy through the object that the target of the mind.
If the mind gets excited when it sees our favourite fried dish, we have to examine whether or not that dish has the capability to give us permanent joy, or whether it sows the seed for future sorrow, perhaps in the form of cholesterol or even indigestion. Such a constant, disciplined investigation automatically brings forth dispassion.
So therefore, with the two-pronged approach of constant discipline and dispassion, we can slowly purge the mind of unwanted desires, leaving room for contemplation and meditation. But what if someone attempts to meditate without controlling the mind? Shri Krishna answers this question in the next shloka.
Shree Bhagavaan uvaacha: