Tasmaattvamindriyaanyaadua niyamya bharatarsabha
paapmaanam prajahihyenam jnaanavigyaananaashanam
Therefore, O best of Bharatas (Arjuna), first and the foremost bring the senses under control, then without any doubt, with full force, kill desire the most sinful destroyer of wisdom and realization. 41
`Tasmaattvamindriyaanyaadua niyamya bharatarsabha— Senses, are said to be in control when they are restrained from engaging in sense-enjoyments, and are instead engaged in activity only with the objective of sustaining the body or in attaining spiritual goal. It means, that let the senses neither be engaged out of inclination due to attraction to agreeable actions (Gîtâ 18/10) nor out of disinclination due to aversion to disagreeable actions. Actions performed with likes and dislikes, strengthen attachment and aversion and these unwillingly drive a man to ruin. Therefore, let the scriptures be the authority for determining what should be done and what should not be done (Gîtâ 16/24).Thus, by following scriptural injunction, pertaining to the performance of prescribed actions, and non-performance of forbidden actions senses are controlled.
To kill “desire: first and the foremost the senses must be regulated. This has been emphasized because so long as a man remains under the sway of his senses, till then he cannot have an eye on the goal of life, on divinity, on essense. And without having an eye on the goal of life (tattva, essence) i.e., without attaining it, desire cannot be totally wiped out. So, first the Lord urges to control the senses in order to kill desire.
First, the senses get entangled in their objects. therefore first and the foremost he gets trapped under the sway of the senses, by which desire for those objects is born. When a man performs actions with desire, he comes under the full sway of senses and has a downfall. But, he who performs his duty by controlling the senses, without expecting any fruit, quickly attains salvation.
`enam jnaanavigyaananaashanam’—The term `Jnaana’ also stands for the knowledge of the scriptures (Gîtâ 18/42). But in this context the term, stands for discrimination (what should be done and what should not be done). The term, `vijnaan’ stands for Self-realization.
Discrimination and Self-realization—both are axiomatic. All have not realized the self, but discrimination has been bestowed upon all of them. The term `Anicchannapi’, used by Arjuna, in the thirty-sixth verse of this chapter, also proves that every human being possesses this faculty of discrimination. It is by discrimination that he knows, what is virtue and what is vice (sin). So, it is by discrimination that he does not want to commit a sin. But when discrimination is veiled by desire, this desire does not let the discrimination be awakened. When veiled he commits sin without thinking of the consequences. When discrimination is aroused, he performs actions, having thought of the consequences.
In this manner this discrimination that all experience, when it is veiled by desires, and does not let discrimination be awakened, then how can that which all have not experienced, that knowledge of divinity (tattva gyaan) how will it ever be awakened or revealed? So it has been called, the sinful destroyer. In fact it does not destroy them, but it hides them. In other words, it does not allow it to manifest. This `Veiling’ has been called destroying, here Discrimination and Self-realization, are never destroyed, while desire is destroyed. If clouds appear before the eyes, it is said that the clouds have hidden the sun. But in fact the sun is not hidden, rather it is the eyes that are covered. Similarly, when it is said that desire has veiled discrimination and Self-realization, it means that these are not veiled, but it is the intellect that is concealed.
`paapmaanam prajahihyenam’—Desire, is the root of all sins. Having veiled discrimination, it makes a man blind. So he cannot recognize the distinction between virtues and sins, and thus indulges in sins, which lead him to ruin. So the Lord orders to slay desire by declaring it sinful.
Householder life in not good, let me become an ascetic, let me go to a solitary (secluded) place, by doing so a man desires to change his activity but he does not renounce desire; he does not even think of renouncing it. If desires are renounced, everything will be set right automatically. When a man dies with many unfulfilled desires, these lead him to the next birth. It means, that desires lead him to the bondage of birth and death. Thus, desires do nothing, except bind him.
When a man is attracted towards worldly objects, desire is born. This desire veils discrimination and he indulges in sense-pleasure. The pleasure of birds and beasts is confined to the joy born of the contact of senses with objects. But a man desires objects and money and indulges in hoarding these. He adopts foul means such as falsehood, fraud, stealing and and robbery etc. for hoarding. Moreover, he becomes proud of himself. This pride is a demoniac trait. Thus, he is totally damned. Therefore the Lord orders Arjuna, to slay sinful desire.
From “The Bhagavadgita – Sadhak Sanjivani” in English by Swami Ramsukhdasji