Thursday, May 30, 2024

Why do we commit sin? How can we get rid of it? Bhagavad Gita provides simple answers. 

Amlan Shekhar Baruah

What makes us do the wrong things and hurt others unnecessarily? Can we ever get rid of that for good? If yes, then how? Well, the Bhagavad Gita provides brief, simple, yet precise answers to these questions.

In verse 36 of Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asked Shree Krishna:

Then why is a person impelled to commit sin, even unwillingly, as if by force, O Varshneya (Krishna)?

Then, in verses 37–43, Shree Krishna replied to Arjuna:

This kaama (desire), this anger, born of the rajo guna (the mode of passion among the 3 gunas), is all-devouring and greatly sinful. We know this to be the enemy here.

Similar to how smoke covers a fire, dust covers a mirror, and the womb covers an embryo, that desire also covers this knowledge.

O Kaunteya (Arjuna), knowledge is covered by this perpetual enemy of the wise ones in the form of desire, which is insatiable like fire.

The senses, the mind, and the intellect are said to be its abodes. By these means, it deludes the embodied soul by covering knowledge.

Therefore, O best of the Bharatas (Arjuna), by first bringing the senses under control, slay this sinful destroyer of knowledge and realisation.

It is said that the senses are superior to the body, the mind is superior to the senses, the intellect is even superior to the mind, and even superior to the intellect is that (the atman, soul, or self).

Thus, knowing the Atman to be superior to the intellect, subdue the lower self (senses, mind, and intellect) by the Higher Self and slay this enemy, which is in the form of desire and is formidable. 

Ideally, nobody really wants to do wrong or evil things. Everybody wants to be good and do good. By nature, nobody wants to hurt anybody else because it is not in their natural instinct to hurt anybody else without any reason. Then why do we see so many people doing so many kinds of wrong deeds and hurting innocents all over the world? It is all because of kaama (desire). Desire is the root cause of all evil. A person would do wrongdoing and hurt others only if he or she had some selfish motive or desire. Desire drives a person to chase after things in order to achieve them. And when a person cannot fulfil his or her desire, it transforms into anger. This anger impels him or her to do wrong, sinful, and evil deeds and hurt others.

Shree Krishna says that desire can make even knowledgeable people do wrong deeds. A person can do wrong things even when he or she knows that they are wrong. This is because desire has the potential to dominate a person’s knowledge if it is not controlled. Desire is such a powerful thing that it can never be satisfied or exhausted, like fire. When a person’s desire for something is fulfilled, he or she will not be satisfied but will desire more. Therefore, if a person cannot control his or her desire, it will keep on getting stronger and motivate him or her to continue chasing it forever. This will in turn motivate the person to try to fulfil his or her desire by whatever means necessary, thus driving him or her to do wrong or evil deeds to fulfil the desire. When desire dominates a person’s knowledge, he or she lives in delusion. 

In verses 40–43, Shree Krishna gives us the solution for controlling our desire. Our desire resides in three places: our senses, our mind, and our intellect. Therefore, if we can bring all three under control, we will be able to bring our desire under control. Since our mind is superior to our senses, we will first have to bring our senses under control by using our mind. Then, since our intellect is superior to our mind, we will have to use our intellect in order to bring our mind under control. Finally, since our Atman (Soul) is even superior to our intellect, we can use that to bring our intellect under control. This is how we can bring our insatiable desire under control.

Our Atman is our true self. It is pure, unalterable, and eternal. As a result, desire or anything else can never affect it. Rather, it can control and lead every part of our mind and body. And since our Atman is our true identity, it is always fully under our control. We just have to know how to connect with it. Connecting with our Atman basically means establishing a complete connection with ourselves. Therefore, if we are not always able to do the right thing, it is just because we have not been able to fully connect with ourselves. Whenever we connect with our Atman, we fully connect with ourselves, and we will get rid of all our desires and never have the tendency to do any kind of wrong deed.

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