QUESTION: Arjuna said: 36. But, by what impelled does man commit sin,
though against his wishes, O Varshneya, constrained, as it
were, by force?
ANSWER: The Blessed Lord Said: 37. It is desire, it is anger born of the
"active, " all-devouring, all-sinful; know this as the foe here (in
this world) .
COMMENT by Chinmayananda :
IT IS DESIRE, IT IS WRATH --- Desire is the inner ‘Satan’
in the individual's bosom. We have seen earlier that desire
is nothing other than our own spiritual "ignorance,"
expressing itself in our intellectual personality. This
statement in the stanza is not to be understood as
enumerating two different things. "Desire" itself, under
certain circumstances, gains expression as "anger." A
constant agitation of the mind, expressing as an
uncontrollable impatience to gain something, is called
"desire." Desire is generally for something other than
ourselves. In the clash of existence, beings and
circumstances may come between ourselves and the
"object of our desire," and in such cases, our "desire" ---
impulses, striking at the obstacle, gain the ugly look of
Thus, whenever emotions for acquisition and possession
of an object flow incessantly towards that object, the
bundle of thoughts so flowing is called "desire;" while the
same emotions, when they get obstructed from reaching
their desired objects, and get refracted at an intermediate
obstacle, are called "anger."
This "desire-anger-emotion" is
the very ‘Satan’in us that compels us to compromise
with our own intellectually known Higher values of
existence, and tempts us to perpetrate sins. Greater the
desire, greater the power in the pull towards the sinful
and the low. Once desire has come to manifest itself in our
intellect, it enshrouds the wisdom in us.
Desire and anger, and their numberless children of sin
and sorrow, must ever come to breed upon the marshy
lands of our deluded intellect. To come under their sway
is "ignorance." To come to rule over them is "Wisdom."
The Blessed Lord Said: 38. As fire is enveloped by smoke,
as a mirror by dust, as anembryo by the womb, so this (wisdom)
is enveloped by that (desire or anger).
39. Enveloped, O Son of Kunti, is 'wisdom' by this constant
enemy of the wise in the form of 'desire, ' which is difficult to be
appeased, like fire.
COMMENT by Chinmayananda :
The discrimination in man is screened off and obstructed
in its exercise due to the attachment in his mind for the
ever-changing worldly-objects. We all know that our
attachments to things can fall under three distinct
categories. Our desires can either be low and vicious ---
mind for the flesh-fleshy carnal pleasures --- or our
ambitions may be for an active exertion in order to achieve
power and wealth, to gain strength and might, to win
fame and glory. There can also be a burning aspiration to
strive and to achieve a diviner perfection and a Godly
Self-illumination. Thus, our desires can fall under three
headings according to the quality of the attachment ---
inert (Tamasic), or active (Rajasic), or noble and divine
(Sattwic). The veilings that are created over our
discrimination by these different types of qualities (gunas)
are indicated here by the three different examples.
AS FIRE BY SMOKE --- A smoky fire-place, shrouded by
dark curling smoke can sometimes, if not totally, at least
partially, veil the brilliance of the light emitted by the
flames. A wick without a chimney is less bright than with
a chimney, proving the example under review. Even
Sattwic desires veil the infinite glory of the Spirit.
AS DUST ON A MIRROR --- This illustrates the veiling
caused by agitations that cover the purer intellect due to
our thick desires for glory and power (Rajasic). Compared
with the former, this is indeed more complete, and the
removal of it is, naturally, more difficult. The smoke rolls
off even at a passing whiff of breeze, while the mirror
cannot be cleaned even by a storm. It can be polished only
by our own efforts at dusting it clean with the help of a
clean, dry duster. Through the smoke, however thick it
might be, the fire can be perceived; through the dust, if it
be thick, no reflection at all can be seen in the mirror --- if
at all seen it will only be dim.
AS THE FOETUS IN THE WOMB --- This is an illustration
to show how completely the Diviner aspect in us is
screened off by the low animal appetites and the vulgar
desires for the sensuous. The foetus is covered by the
womb until it matures, and there is no method of
observing it as long as it is in the womb. The veiling is
complete, and it can drop off only after a definite period of
time. Similarly, the desires for the flesh-fleshy enjoyments
build, as it were, a womb around the discriminative
power in us, and such low mental pre-occupations
(Tamasic) can drop off only after a longer period of
evolutionary growth undergone by such a deluded mindand-
In the true scriptural style, Krishna thus distinguishes
between the different textures in the veils that come to
cover the soul when the individual is entertaining
different types of desires. In short, desire is that which
hides the Divine in us.
The Blessed Lord Said: 40. The senses, the mind, and the intellect
are said to be its seat; through these,
it deludes the embodied by veiling his wisdom.
COMMENT by Chinmayananda :
The sense-organs, functioning without restraint in the
world of sense-objects, are a very convenient theatre for
"desire" to function in. When the external stimuli reach the
mind through the sense-organs, the mind also becomes a
breeding centre of sorrows created by "desire." Lastly, the
intellect, working and playing with the memories of the
sense-enjoyments it had lived, and of the mental
attachments it had entertained, becomes yet another safe
den for "desire" to function from.
The deluded ego, foolishly identifying with the body,
desires sense enjoyments. Thoughtlessly identifying with
the mind, it thirsts to experience more and more
emotional satisfactions. And lastly, identifying with the
intellect, it plans to re-live the remembered experiences of
sense-enjoyments and mental-joys.
As the desires in us, so are our thoughts; thoughts
are the disturbances created in our mental zone by our desires.
At every moment, the texture and quality of our thoughts are
directly conditioned and controlled by our desires.
Thoughts in an individual, expressed in the outer world of
objects, become his actions; actions are nothing other
than the actor's thoughts projected and expressed in the
world. Thus, in this chain-of-'ignorance,' constituted of
desires, thoughts, and actions, each one of us is caught
THE BLESSING OF MAN is his divine faculty of discrimination.
When this instrument is destroyed, man comes to
behave in no better way than a biped animal;
The blessing, because of which man is considered superior
to animals, is his divine faculty of discrimination. An
intellect, strengthened by its own intrinsic capacity to
distinguish between the Real and the unreal, the right and
the wrong, is the mighty instrument of self-development
in man. When this instrument is destroyed, man comes to
behave in no better way than a biped animal; panting on
the path of existence, bullied by its own lower instincts of
miserable passions and low appetites. Naturally, he fails
to make any true gain out of his life's chances, and finally