A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

There's only one sure way to control the mind's desires.

A lecture given in Bombay, January 4, 1975

vaikarikad vikurvanan
manas-tattvam ajayata
vartate kama-sambhavah

From the false ego of goodness, another transformation takes place. From this evolves the mind, whose thoughts and reflections give rise to desire. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.27)

THE MIND is material because it is a product of the transformation of the mode of goodness. Gradually, being contaminated by different kinds of material desires, the mind becomes degraded. Kama esa krodha esa rajo-guna-samudbhavah. When the mind deteriorates, from the standard of goodness it comes to rajo-guna. Rajo-guna means lusty desires, unending desires. And if desires are not fulfilled, then there is krodha, anger. In this way, kama krodha lobha moha matsarya lust, anger, greed, illusion, and envy become prominent, and we become the servant of these propensities.

This gradual degradation of the mind is called illusion. The business of the mind is sankalpa and vikalpa. Sankalpa means to decide to do something, and vikalpa means to reject something. Everyone desires peacefulness of mind, but the nature of the material mind is sankalpa and vikalpa restlessness.

If you can control the senses by the mystic yogic process, the mechanical endeavor to control the mind, then you can again be placed in the original spiritual status. That is the purpose of the yoga system. The yoga system is recommended for a person whose mind is very restless.

Actually, everyone's mind is restless. To bring the mind into a peaceful status is difficult. As long as desires are there, to bring the mind to complete peace and tranquility is impossible. It is impossible because of sankalpa-vikalpa. Therefore Kaviraja Gosvami writes in the Caitanya-caritamrta that even persons who act piously are not peaceful. There is no question of peace of mind for the sinful. But even those who act piously cannot control the mind. And those who desire to stop material activities completely, pious or impious, also cannot control the mind.

The first group, those interested in pious activities, are karmis. And those interested in neither pious activities nor impious activities want to stop all kinds of activities. The Buddhist philosophy, for example, speaks of nirvana: "Stop the activities of the mind, or desires." But in that status, also, it is not possible to control the mind, though one may try to meditate. Finally, the yogis also cannot control the mind. So what to speak of the ordinary man, who is interested in neither pious activities nor liberation nor yogic perfection?

Controlling the Mind

When Krsna advised Arjuna, in the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, to practice yoga for controlling the mind, Arjuna refused. Arjuna said, "My dear Krsna, You are advising me to control the mind by practicing yoga, but I have no such opportunity, because I am a family man. I am also a politician, a member of the royal family. I have to see to the administration of the kingdom. And besides that, in family life I have to seek my material interest. So how is it possible for me to control the mind?" Arjuna flatly said:

cancalam hi manah krsna
pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye
vayor iva suduskaram

"My dear Krsna, I think the mind is very, very restless." Cancalam hi manah krsna. "Like a madman." Pramathi. "And it is very strong. I want to control the mind, but it does not come under my control. That is my position. Therefore, although You are asking me to control the mind, I think that is more difficult than controlling the wind." Tasyaham nigraham manye vayor iva suduskaram.

Suppose there is a very strong wind, a cyclone. If you want to stop it, that will not be not possible. Arjuna compared the mind to a cyclone. How can such a mind be controlled? So Arjuna rejected Krsna's proposal that Arjuna should control his mind. But to encourage Arjuna, Krsna said that Arjuna should not be disappointed: Because Arjuna's mind was always engaged in the lotus feet of Krsna, Arjuna is the best of all yogis.

yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah

Krsna encouraged Arjuna: "Don't be disappointed, because your mind is always engaged in Me." Arjuna might be anything, but he was always thinking of Krsna. He was always associating with Krsna. He did not know anything else but Krsna. That is the position of the first-class yogi. Otherwise, to control the mind from kama, krodha, lobha, moha, matsarya is not possible. You have to change the position of such activities.

Here it is said kama-sambhavah. Kama means "desire." The mind is restless, always desiring something. So the best policy to control the mind is to desire to spread Krsna consciousness. Narottama Dasa Thakura has said, kamah krsna-karmarpane:engage your desires by working for Krsna.

You cannot be free from desire. That is not possible. Some teachers say, "Become desireless." No, that is not possible. How can I? If I become desireless I die. As long as I am a living entity, I must desire. I cannot check desiring. At present we desire to become happy in the material world, to acquire so much money, to acquire this, to acquire that that is kama, desire. But if you engage your mind in Krsna's service by thinking of how to spread Krsna consciousness, how to convince people about Krsna, how to take them to Krsna's desire if you go on making plans for spreading Krsna consciousness then your mind is controlled.

You cannot stop desire. That is not possible. The mind's position is to desire. I desire something, and if I find it not very palatable, then I reject it. And I accept another desire.

You cannot keep the mind vacant even for a single moment. If by force you try to do that, you are simply laboring. Therefore Lord Krsna says, kleso 'dhikataras tesam avyaktasakta-cetasam: to engage your mind in the impersonal or void is very, very difficult.

Busy Making Plans

Everyone is making plans based on desires. In our central government, in India, there is a planning commission. For the last twenty years they are simply making plans, and no plan has become successful; every plan fails. One result, for example, is that rice, our staple food, has risen dramatically to eight rupees per kilogram.

As long as you are materially affected and making plans to get free, material nature is so strong that it will baffle all your plans and you will have to remain perpetually restless. You make a plan, and it is baffled by the stringent laws of nature. And at last making plans, making plans, making plans one day Time comes and orders, "Please vacate your presidency, your prime ministership."

A man will try to make successful plans up to the point of death pralayanta. And then he will entrust everything to his family. He'll say, "My dear son, my dear daughter, I could not fulfill this plan, so you do it. Now I hand it over to you." And the son also goes on making plans, plans, plans. But the plans will never be fulfilled.

That is the verdict of the sastra, scripture: durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah. Durasaya means "success is impossible." Therefore sankalpa-vikalpa accepting some plan and then rejecting it is going on perpetually. The plans will never be fulfilled, but for making plans I perpetually give up one body and accept another. I give up residence on one planet and go to another:

urdhvam gacchanti sattva-stha
madhye tisthanti rajasah
adho gacchanti tamasah

There are plans in the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Different plans give different kinds of body and different residential quarters in different planets.

We have experience even in Bombay. If a man is living here in Bombay for fifty years, how many plans he has made and how many apartments he has changed. And still, his plan-making business is going on.

Just as this plan-making business is going on in this span of life, it is going on life after life. Intelligent persons should understand how to stop this unlimited plan-making business. Athato brahma-jijnasa. That is life when one is inquisitive to know the broader plan, the Brahman plan. Brahman means "the biggest." If one becomes inquisitive about the biggest plan, one's real life begins.

With ordinary inquisitiveness we ask, "What is the price of rice today?" or "What is the situation of the strike? What is the situation of this, that?" That you can ask from the newspaper or from anyone. But for brahma-jijnasa, inquiry about Brahman, the greatest, where shall you inquire? Will you go to the exchange market or some other market? No. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. That is the injunction of the Vedas: You must find a guru. Samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham. The guru's qualification is brahma-nistham, "fixed in Brahman." And srotriyam: one who has heard from the disciplic succession is guru, not just any magician.

Krsna is the original guru. He is the guru of Brahma, the first created being. Who can be a better guru than Krsna? Tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. He instructed Brahma, Brahma instructed Narada, and Narada instructed Vyasadeva. And Vyasadeva has given us so many books of Vedic literature. That is called the parampara system, disciplic succession.

Vyasadeva gave us four Vedas: Sama, Yajur, Rg, and Atharva. He then explained them in the 108 Puranas and summarized them in the Vedanta-sutra. Then he explained the Vedanta-sutra by writing Srimad-Bhagavatam. In every chapter ofSrimad-Bhagavatam you will find Vyasadeva's statement brahma-sutra-bhasya, "commentary on Brahma-sutra, or Vedanta-sutra."

Brahma-sutra-bhasya, the commentary on Vedanta-sutra, is not Sankaracarya's bhasya, known as Sariraka-bhasya. That commentary is artificial. Brahma-sutra was written by Vyasadeva, and because he knew that in the future so many rascals would misinterpret the Brahma-sutra, he personally compiled the bhasya on Brahma-sutra. That is Srimad-Bhagavatam. Bhasyam brahma-sutranam vedartha-paribrmhitam: "The meaning of the Vedas is completely described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the original commentary on Brahma-sutra."

Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the words of Brahma-sutra: jivasya tattva-jijnasa. As the Brahma-sutra says athato brahma-jijnasa, the Bhagavatam says jivasya tattva-jijnasa: "The living entity's only business is to inquire about the Absolute Truth." Nartho yas ceha karmabhih: "No other business."

Real Dharma

Generally people think, "By becoming religious we shall become economically developed." If you actually follow dharma, or religious principles, economic development will come. There is no doubt. But we do not know what dharma is. That is the difficulty. That we have to learn from Krsna athato brahma-jijnasa from the guru. And what does the guru say? What does Krsna say? Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up all so-called religion and just surrender unto Me." That is dharma. Anything else is all cheating.

Dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra. Kaitava means "cheating." And Sridhara Svami, the original commentator on the Bhagavatam, says, "Moksa is also cheating." Moksa means thinking, "I shall make myself void. I shall finish my individual existence. I shall merge into the existence of the Absolute." Sridhara Svami says that such thinking is cheating because you cannot become one with the Supreme. As it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah: you are part and parcel of the Supreme. How can you become one?

Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "My dear Arjuna, I, you, and all the soldiers and kings assembled on this battlefield were the same individuals in the past, are individuals now, and will continue to remain individuals." So where is there oneness? In the past, present, and future the individuality is there.

Snuffing out individuality is a concoction. It is called spiritual suicide. If a man becomes disappointed and cuts his own throat or hangs himself or takes poison, does that mean he is finished? By putting an end to the body does he put an end to himself? No, that is not possible. He is a rascal, because he does not know na hanyate hanyamane sarire: "The self is not slain when the body is slain." The result of his suicide is that because he violated the rules of nature he becomes a ghost. That is his life. One who commits suicide becomes a ghost. He does not get a gross material body; he remains in the subtle body of mind and intelligence.

Therefore a ghost can go anywhere very quickly because he is in the mind. Mind speed is very swift. If you have a gross material body you cannot go at once a hundred miles off. But if you are in the mental body, you can go a thousand miles within a second. So ghosts can do wonderful things. But they are not happy, because they have no gross body. They want to enjoy. The ghost is a materialist. He has committed suicide for some material want. He could not fulfill that want in his body, so he committed suicide. But the desire is still there, and he cannot fulfill it. He becomes perplexed. Therefore ghosts sometimes create disturbances.

Engaging the Mind

Desires cannot be finished. Kama-sambhavah. Therefore the best thing is to fix your mind on Krsna, in Krsna consciousness. Then you will be happy, the mind always engaged in Krsna's business, planning how to satisfy Krsna.

That is intelligence. Krsna wants everyone to surrender unto Him. When Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja, He does not speak only to Arjuna; He speaks to everyone. So that is Krsna's desire, and if you want to serve Krsna, to fulfill His desire, that means you canvass everyone to surrender to Krsna. That is preaching. Krsna wants it. He has declared so.

Your business is to satisfy Krsna. Why don't you do it? Why are you aspiring after mukti, siddhi, and bhukti liberation, mystic perfection, and material enjoyment?

Anyone executing pious activities, acquiring punya, will go to the heavenly planets. That is sense gratification. In the heavenly planets you live for many thousands of years, many millions of years, and get the association of apsaras, or celestial dancing girls, a very nice standard of life, and so on. These are all personal comforts, bhukti. To go to the heavenly planet means to achieve a standard of life millions of times better than on this planet. This planet is Bhurloka. As you go up and up you come to Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Janaloka, Maharloka, Tapoloka, Brahmaloka so many lokas, or planets. Urdhvam gacchanti sattva-sthah. If you increase your mode of goodness, then you are gradually promoted to a more and more comfortable situation.

If you go to Siddhaloka, at once you become a perfect yogi. The yogis try to get some material power, or siddhi. For example, if one gets prapti-siddhi, whatever he likes he can get at once. And people will come to him, "Oh, here is God. He is creatingrasagulla*." [Laughter.]

*A milk sweet.

A yogi in Benares will make two rasagullas appear in a pot when anyone comes to see him. And even big, big men become surprised "Oh, here is God." They don't ask, "What is the price of these rasagullas?" Say, four cents? So by jugglery of four cents he became God. This rascaldom is going on. By jugglery of four cents, eight cents, or four hundred, or four thousand if one can make some jugglery, then he becomes God. This is foolishness.

Therefore Krsna says that this kind of yoga practice is simply cheating. Krsna describes the first-class yogi: yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana. One who thinks always of Krsna "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna" is a first-class yogi.

Hear from a Devotee

Some foolish people are cheated by yogic jugglery, and the yogi gets some material position. But there are many ways to get some material position. Even a politician may attract many millions of people to hear him speak. But what is the benefit of such hearing? First of all we have to see what is the benefit. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh. If you are interested in hearing lectures, then sastra says, "Hear of Visnu," not of any rascal. Hear from a Vaisnava, a devotee of the Lord. Then you will be benefited. Otherwise you will not be benefited. Avaisnavo gurur na syat. That is the injunction of the sastra. One who is an avaisnava, a non-Vaisnava, cannot become guru.

Sat-karma-nipuno vipro mantra-tantra-visaradah. A brahmana may be very expert in sat-karma, six occupational duties: patana, patana, yajana, yajana, dana, and pratigraha. Pathana means that a brahmana must be a very, very learned scholar by reading Vedic literature. Pathana means that he must teach others the Vedic literature.

Formerly it was the custom that brahmanas not accept service under anyone. They would sit down anywhere and open a school to teach Vedic literature. And the students would go door to door for begging "Mother, give me some alms." Whatever they would bring would be cooked and offered to Krsna, and the prasadam would be distributed amongst themselves. That was the traditional process of education not paying some fee and giving some bribe to enter school and then receiving a rascal education. No. First-class education, without any fee, from the realized soul that was the educational system, varnasrama-dharma.

So we have to find out such a guru a Vaisnava. Sastra says, sat-karma-nipuno vipro mantra-tantra-visaradah. The brahmana must not only be expert in six kinds of occupational duty, but also mantra-tantra-visaradah: "He must know Vedic mantras and tantras chants and rituals perfectly well." Avaisnavo gurur na sa syat: "But if he is an avaisnava, he cannot be a guru." An avaisnava does not believe in the Supreme Personality of Godhead Visnu, or he believes that demigods, such as Lord Siva or Lord Brahma, the best of the demigods, are equal to Visnu. For example, Ravana was a very learned scholar and the son of a brahmana. And he was economically developed. His only fault was that he was an avaisnava: he did not care for Lord Rama. So he is designated a raksasa, an uncivilized atheist.

One who is not a devotee of Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, cannot become a guru. That is not possible. And vaisnavah sva-paco guruh. Sva-paca means the dog-eaters, candalas, the lowest of mankind. Candalo 'pi dvija-srestho hari-bhakti-parayanah. If somehow or other such a person has become a Vaisnava, then he can become guru. But the expert brahmana who is not a Vaisnava cannot.

Krsna says, "Anyone who takes shelter of Me, even if he belongs to the papa-yoni the candalas is eligible to go back home, back to Godhead."

One should not consider whether a Vaisnava is born of a low family, not a brahmana family. Such a consideration is naraki-buddhi, hellish. Sri Sanatana Gosvami says:

putam hari-kathamrtam
sravanam na kartavyam
sarpocchistam yatha payah

If an avaisnava, a Mayavadi, speaks about Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, one should not hear his speech. One should avoid it because it will create some misunderstanding. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has forbidden strongly mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa: "If one hears from a Mayavadi impersonalist about Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, then one is doomed." Therefore, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: one should approach a Vaisnava to accept him as guru and then take lessons from him and make one's life successful.

Thank you very much.