Overcome the greatest, all devouring enemy of all!
The Bhagavad Gita claims that ‘Lust’ is the greatest enemy of the living entity and it covers the living entity by different degrees. It is said that this lust is never satisfied and the more you feed it, the more it burns like fire, just like you cannot douse a fire by pouring more and more fuel into it, it only grows bigger. Vedic scriptures call this material world as maithunya-āgāra or the shackles of sex life. While one enjoys sense gratification, it may be that there is some feeling of happiness, but actually that so-called feeling of happiness is the ultimate enemy of the sense enjoy-er as it keeps him tied down to this miserable material existence birth after birth.
Radhanath Swami answers the question – what truth is? He reiterates that our true identity is that we’re eternal souls. We’re stranded like strangers in a foreign land. For the eternal souls to try to be happy with the cheap thrills of temporary pleasures of this material existence is really an embarrassment, he says. But, sometimes when a person is so intoxicated and consumed, he puts himself to do things that are so humiliating and embarrassing that he does not even know that he’s doing it. That’s the deluding potency of the material energy or maya. So, how do we get out of the shackles of this material energy? Radhanath Swami gives a simple answer. He says, all we have to do to get out of it is to choose to ‘get out of it.’
When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for the Lord is transformed into lust. His service unto the lord is transformed into the propensity for sense enjoyment. Bhagavad Gita gives in detail the process of how this lust develops in our minds. It says the starting point is when we contemplate on the sense object, desire/lust to enjoy it arises. The senses, mind and intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him. The cure is also given in the Gita, ‘In the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.’
Sense regulation has a great place in the lives of those who want to achieve higher spiritual goals. Human life is meant for tapasya i,e voluntarily acceptance of some inconvenience and regulation of senses is also tapasya. Eating in moderation and eating only sanctified food, sleeping in moderation (getting early to bed and rising before sunrise), sex only within marriage and for the purpose of begetting children according to vedic samskaras, help us develop cleaner habits. The subtle form of tapasya is to curb and control the habits of our mind. While regulation of external senses helps us develop cleaner habits externally, controlling the mind helps us clean up the corners of our dirty mind. Krishna tells Arjuna in the Gita, that one who has an uncontrolled mind, it is the worst of his enemies. So, our enemy is within us!
How do we regulate our mind? The example is given of a tortoise who uses his senses only when required and withdraws it whenever it is not required. Similarly, we need to regulate our mind by withdrawing it (in the very beginning) from wherever it is wandering. Now the point is where to fix it? Mind needs an object to rest on otherwise it becomes restless. If the mind rests on any material object, it eventually develops lust for it. The remedy is given by the Lord Himself- ‘Mayy Asakta manAh,’ He says, rest your mind in Me, develop attachment for Me by performing devotional service. ‘yoga-kshemam vahamy aham’- He also assures that those who worship Him with exclusive devotion, He will certainly come to their rescue in times of their need. Without the help of the Lord Himself, it is certainly impossible to overcome this greatest, all devouring sinful enemy!
Radhanath Swami narrates the story of Lord Rama killing lust personified Ravana. The goddess of Fortune, Sita devi is the wife of Lord Rama and she is eternally in loving service of Lord Rama but Ravana wanted to take Sita for himself. This is called kama or lust. In Caitanya Caritamrita, a holy scripture of the Lord, the author Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami describes love as the natural inclination of the soul wanting to give pleasure to God. But when that natural affection for God is misplaced, we are trying to enjoy the property of God for our own selfish desire, then that love is transformed into lust. Prema or love is when our energies are directed towards God. When it is directed anywhere else, it is called Kama or lust.
So, Ravana disguised himself and stole Sita. He was so powerful that no one could defeat him, demigods were living in utter fear of Ravana and he was unconquerable. Lord Rama shows us how powerful lust really is. Everytime He tried to cut off the heads of Ravana, another one grew. Doesn’t that sound like our own material desires? Everytime you perform some yajna or sacrifice to give up one material sinful desire, immediately another one shoots up. Those on the spiritual path know that as soon as you cut down one lusty desire, 10 more grow. It is seemingly an endless battle. Finally, Lord Rama shot His arrow into Ravana’s heart. When the arrow pierced the heart, Ravana fell to the ground.
Radhanath Swami concludes that the Lord is the only one who has this invincible arrow. The arrow cannot be obtained by any mortal, living entity. It is the exclusive power of the Lord. That is why Lord Krishna says in the Gita, that this material energy of mine is very very difficult to overcome. But one who surrenders unto Me, I fight their battles with My own hands, I will conquer lust. I will conquer Ravana within your heart. So, when we surrender our sinful desires and propensities to the Lord, the merciful Lord appears within our heart. Through the process of Bhakti i,e by remembering the Lord, by worshipping Him, by constantly chanting His holy names, by offering loving service unto Him, we make place for the Lord to appear within our heart and with His mighty arrows, He can shoot right into the heart of Ravana and make our sinful desires disappear forever from our hearts. That is the recommended process in the vedic scriptures.