On mind control

The method of mind and sense control finds clear elucidation in the masterly commentary of Saint Chandrashekara Bharati of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham on Adi Shankaracharya’s magnum opus, the Vivekachudamani.

Quoting extensively from the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and various other ancient literature, Sri Chandrashekara Bharati weaves a magnificent tapestry while explaining each stanza, deftly using the aforementioned sources. What follows is an attempt to share some of these thoughts with readers. The Guru commences by quoting the ancient text, the Yoga Vasistha.

“Every man is born with latent tendencies, that are carried over from his previous births, being the impressions of his actions, both good and bad. These inborn tendencies are verily like a river, which tend to carry man along the good and evil paths.

“While continuing along the good paths, it is necessary to stifle the evil tendencies by conscious effort and turn them towards the desirable traits. The mind of a man is like that of a baby. It must be gently, but firmly led along the good path. This cannot be done overnight, but must be achieved by coaxing and cajoling over a period of time, just as a recalcitrant child needs to be”.

This coaxing of the mind is a sort of preconditioning to achieving control over it. Now, the means to achieve this mind control.

Firstly, it is necessary to understand the transience of all material pleasures. What is everlasting is the truth of the Supreme Power that controls the universe. Once this discrimination between the ephemeral and the everlasting is understood, mind control follows.

The mind must be controlled from straying in all directions towards excessive sense pleasures. The sense organs, by their very nature tend to go after sources of pleasure and enjoyment. They need to be reined in properly.

The sage here gives a beautiful quotation from the Kathopanishad. The body is like a chariot. The soul or the self is the owner of the chariot. The intellect is the charioteer. The mind is the reins. The senses are the horses.

The sense objects are the roads. The horses, if not controlled properly will run towards the pleasures. This control can be achieved only by properly handling the reins. The sense organs by themselves cannot do anything. The mind is the controller.  Once this control is achieved, a sense of balance and detachment arises. Man can objectively view the world. With these aids of mind and sense control and proper reasoning and discrimination , man can concentrate his energies on the goal he has set out to achieve.

The concentration may be directed towards spiritual attainments, which is admittedly the purport of the Vivekachudamani, but the discerning reader can draw many a useful lesson from it to guide him in his daily affairs.  Thus is explained lucidly the importance of mind control.

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