Ch 3, VERSE 43

एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना

जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम् ॥४३॥

evaṁ buddheḥ paraṁ buddhvā

saṁstabhyātmānam ātmanā

jahi śatruṁ mahā-bāho

kāma-rūpaṁ durāsadam

—thus; buddheḥ—of intelligence; param—superior; buddhvā—so knowing; saṁstabhya—by steadying; ātmānam—the mind; ātmanā—by deliberate intelligence; jahi—conquer; śatrum—the enemy; mahā-bāho—O mighty-armed one; kāma-rūpam—the form of lust; durāsadam—formidable.

Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to material senses, mind and intelligence, one should control the lower self by the higher self and thus–by spiritual strength–conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.


evaṁ buddheḥ paraṁ buddhvā

saṁstabhyātmānam ātmanā

jahi śatruṁ mahā-bāho

kāma-rūpaṁ durāsadam


“Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to material senses, mind and intelligence, one should control the lower self by the higher self and thus—by spiritual strength—conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.”

So it was, I think, four verses back, the second chapter, verse 62, where we learned about this process. By contemplation of the objects of the senses one develops attachment, and from that attachment comes lust, lust meaning this intense selfishness, this—the greed to possess, to enjoy, to experience. The process is part of the process for keeping the living being perpetually entangled in material existence. And so, this term kama, or lust, is categorized as being the great enemy of the living being, this consciousness.

A few verses prior to this one, back in the 36th verse, or sloka, of the third chapter, Arjuna had asked Krishna this question.

“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrsni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?”

So, I think it’s important to hear some of these, and I’ll read out a couple of these verses that follow from this, because it sets up the—it helps us understand the significance. This verse that we’ve chosen as one of the 40 that we’re studying, deals with the solution, the solution to overcoming the material condition and conquering this, what was defined here as a great enemy, lust.

So Arjuna began by asking the question, so what is it that—you know the difference between impelling and propelling? Propelling pushes and impelling draws you in. And it’s sort of like, “By what is a…” I’ll read the verse:

“…by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly as if engaged by force?”

It’s like, “I shouldn’t do it! No, no! I shou… No! No… I can’t help it. I can’t…” and you’re just going for it.

So in the next verse, verse 37, Krishna responds:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of the world.”

So, I’ll draw your attention to a couple of the synonyms in this verse. One is maha-asanah, “all-devouring.” This word asanah means to eat, or to consume, and when you put maha in front of it, it means all-consuming. It’s overwhelmingly powerful.

And then the second word following that is papma which means sinful activity, and again the adjective maha, this great sinfulness.

So He says that the underlying issue for everyone that engages in activity that is harmful and destructive—and we’re speaking about that not just from a spiritual perspective but from a material perspective—I mean one may engage in activity that seems to be sensually stimulating and delightful but it can lead one on a course of destruction.

And so one has to look at things always longer-term: So where does this all lead? This is what’s termed in psychology as consequential thinking. Okay, I may do this, and it may be cool right now, but where does it go from there? Where does it lead? And if it’s going to lead to a bad place, then even this initial stimulation or thrill is not intelligent to do this, because it will lead to my eventual suffering. And so, this type of thinking is what has been encouraged for anybody that wants to undertake this spiritual journey. I have to step back and look at things in a little bit more detached way.

It’s like we speak about sometimes, with mindfulness, that I always advise people, when you’re in a state of heightened emotions, whether considered positive or negative, don’t speak, don’t make a decision, don’t act. You need to calm down, detach, step back from things, calm down; and then when you’re on an even keel, you have to think what is in your best interest, what’s in the other person’s best interest. But that becomes difficult to do when one is overwhelmed.

This verse, it really—it speaks to this subject very clearly, by introducing the idea that you have a lower self and a higher self. The higher self is the actual soul, the atma; the lower self is the material body, the senses and the mind. If you give free reign to these things, it will invariably end up in a very bad place, whereas if the higher self is the one in control, is the one making the decision and directing, then one can live a very wonderful life and actually experience true happiness.

So then just jumping ahead a little from that last verse that we read, which is verse 37, we’re going to jump to verse 39, where it states:

“Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied, and which burns like fire.”

So part of the reason I was reading this, yeah, it’s important to help us understand and appreciate the verse that we’re reading, but there was a reference in the translation to this great enemy known as—this insatiable enemy known as lust. And in looking at these synonyms one may not find any Sanskrit word that could be translated as “insatiable,” an insatiable enemy. “Enemy” is there, but not “insatiable.” And so, when you read the previous verses you understand the context, where these words are actually used, the idea of lust being all-devouring, maha-asanah, all-devouring, this is like in—this speaks to “insatiable,” never satisfied, and just needing more, more, more.

It’s like the example is given, you have a fire that’s burning, and you want to put it out, and you pour petrol, or you pour kerosene on it, the fire simply grows bigger and burns hotter. And so, sometimes as a result of the effect of lustfulness and trying so hard to enjoy the senses in this world, one feels a growing emptiness, a growing void in their heart; and they come up with this conclusion that I have to turn up the volume. We’ve got to do it harder. We’ve got to go at it, and with more vigor and enthusiasm, and somehow that’s going to make everything okay.

So in this verse 3:39:

“Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied, and which burns like fire.”

And they use the term “eternal enemy,” this nitya-vairina. Vairina, in another form of the word, slight variation, means enemy, but in this form it means enmity, which is defined in English as the state or feeling of active or hostility; and the word nitya means eternal. So it’s like this condition of lust is considered an eternal enemy, that eternally it presents itself in active opposition and hostility to the atma itself.

And so Krishna advises Arjuna in the verses that follow it:

“Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning, curb this great symbol of sin [that is lust] by regulating the senses and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.”

It’s like, oh wow, that’s kind of like amazing! This condition of lust, when it overtakes the consciousness, it’s categorized as the destroyer of knowledge—and we see that a while back in the verse,

“By contemplating the objects of the senses one develops attachment. From attachment comes lust, from lust comes anger, from anger comes a loss of intelligence [This is what’s mentioned here: “the destroyer of knowledge”: a loss of intelligence] and one falls down into the hellish condition.”

So the prescription that Krishna has advised is to learn to “curb this great symbol of sin in the very beginning.” It’s an interesting term, to curb something. To curb means to direct something. It’s like on the road you have the curb which directs away the water when rain falls.

So I like to use the example of three or four little kids with a box of matches, and we know that’s not gonna work out—that’s not gonna go very well. And they’re out in the field somewhere, playing with the matches, long grass, and they make a little fire, and then they’re all laughing, and then somebody decides it’s getting too big, and they stomp it out. And somebody else wants a turn, and so they get the matches, and they’re going to light a fire, and they let it get a little bit bigger, and they stomp it out. They’re all laughing, and this is thrilling and exciting. And then the next one, he tries it, and he’s going to let it get even bigger. Then all of a sudden, the fire has got to a state where it’s big enough that you can’t just stamp it out if you’re a little kid. If you try to do it, you would be burned and hurt; and so they have to run for it. Then of course, somebody calls the fire brigade, and they come out and have to put out this fire in this field.

So it’s exactly like this, that in our life, when, as part of this sadhana, this process that we follow, that when we catch ourself or our mind beginning to head in a direction that’s not going to be helpful for us, that we must learn to stomp out the fire when it is still small. We need to curb it in the very beginning, because if you allow it to grow then you lose control of the situation and are unable to deal with it.

And then finally, the next verse, chapter 3, verse 42, which is the one that just precedes the one that we’re reading here in this lesson:

“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.”

So this is like the pecking order. And we’ve used the example with the chariot which is often used: the horses, the reins, the chariot being the body, the intelligence holding the mind or the reins, and controlling the horses, and doing so at the request of the passenger, which is the atma; that we have this faculty, we have this facility to learn how to exercise this control and to live a much more conscious and meaningful life, a compassionate life that produces good and happiness for our self, and for all others. But it’s important to understand how things are working and to, by the strength of engagement in this spiritual process, our sadhana, sadhana bhakti, that one learns to do, and to act, and to think in ways that produce these kinds of outcomes. You have more control of your life than you realize, just that we are not trained to be in the driver’s seat.

We are convinced by all of the forces around us, advertisers, people manufacturing goods, selling services, social media, society in general, we are constantly bombarded with this message to just let yourself go. I mean that was an actual ad for one, a pizza—it might have been Pizza Hut in America, “Let yourself go to Pizza Hut,” or some other pizza company maybe, but that, I mean they said it, “Let yourself go to—” “Just do it,” as Nike would direct us. But we are here advised that we need to be cultivating this constant awareness that I am a transcendental spiritual being, thus—and I’ll read this verse:

“Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, one should control the lower self by the higher self, and thus—by spiritual strength—conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.”

Practice makes perfect. The process of spiritual life is one of developing habits, good habits, spiritual habits, habits that help to make it so that we have a growing awareness until it comes to this condition of a constant awareness of my being an eternal spiritual being, this is who I am. And then it becomes easier to consider, what’s really in my interest? I can go in this direction, I can give unto the urges of the mind and the senses and just follow that, but I’ve been doing that for limitless lifetimes.

I have had so many mothers and fathers. I have had so many husbands and wives, so many children and grandparents. And as soon as this life comes to an end, meaning when the soul leaves when the body experiences death, I am instantly separated from all those I was attached to, and I just go on and do the whole thing over and over again. And the thing that’s impelling us, it’s dragging us around, is this condition known as lust, intense self-centeredness, selfishness to enjoy the mind and the senses, and I think that to be all important, whereas it’s not, and it is actually counter to my best interest.

Thank you very much.