Continuing the Notes from Jivanmukti Vivekah's VasanakShaya prakaraNa...
In the earlier post, we saw the three types of mAnasa vAsanAs. Now we will try and look at the five vAsanAs related to the five senses. They are called vishaya vAsanAs.
II. vishaya vAsanaAs: These are the vasanas related to the 5 sense objects – shabda, sparsha, roopa, rasa and ga~ndha..
Desire for nice pleasing sounds, words etc.
Understand that pleasing words and the like are temporary and can’t be always obtained and will lead to pain
Desire for touch, soft, silken clothes etc.
Know that the sparsha by itself is not intrinsically joy giving. We like hot water in cold weather and cold water in hot weather. If this order is reversed it does not give any joy but pain and irritation only. Thus the same object produces pain at another time showing that its nature is not one of joy
Desire to behold nice forms
All forms decay and die, its very ephemeral and impermanent
Desire to taste different food items
Sweets that produce joy gives rise to nausea and vomiting when one is sick. Thus food by itself is not of the nature of joy, the desire to taste food is impure and food should only be treated as medicine to the keep the body fit for sadhana
Desire for exotic smells
Know that the intrinsic smell of the body cannot be wiped out by external smells
One of the pre-requisites for entering into vedanta vichAra is the sAdhanachatuShtaya sampattih. In that, when we talk about the hexad of qualities, the quality damah finds an important position. It refers to sense control. Sans sense control, the other five qualities (shamah, uparama, titikShA, shraddhA, samAdhAna) cannot be attained. Hence sense control is a key aspect for the seeker. Our scriptures in many places show the importance of eschewing the desire for sense objects.
Here are a few selected verses from Bhagavadpada's Vivekachudamani that highlight the importance of sense control and being vigilant against falling to the temptations of sense objects:
शब्दादिभिः पञ्चभिरवे पञ्च पञ्चत्वमापुः स्वगुणेन बद्धाः
कुरङ्ग-मातङ्ग-पतङ्ग-मीन-भृङ्गा नरः पञ्चभिरञ्चितः किम् ।७८।
shabdAdibhiH pa~nchabhirave pa~ncha pa~nchatvamApuH svaguNena baddhAH
kura~Nga-mAta~Nga-pata~Nga-mIna-bhRRi~NgA naraH pa~nchabhira~nchitaH kim |78
The deer, the elephant, the moth, the fish and the black bee meet with death, each by one of these five senses. What then needs to be said of man in whom all these five are active?
The deer falls pray to attractive smell, the elephant to touch etc. Each of these animals meet their death (or fall into the hunter's trap) due a weakness that manifests through one sense organ. In the case of man, all his five senses are hyperactive! His problem is then five-fold! How much more must he be careful & alert?
दोषेण तीव्रो विषयः कृष्णसर्पविषादपि
विषं निहन्ति भोक्तारं द्रष्टारं चक्षुषाऽप्ययम् ।७९।
doSheNa tIvro viShayaH kRRiShNasarpaviShAdapi
viShaM nihanti bhoktAraM draShTAraM chakShuShA~pyayam |79|
A sense object is more virulent than the poison of a king cobra. The latter kills only him who swallows it; the former brings about the death of him who merely looks at it.
The poison of the king cobra is extremely dangerous. It is said a mere drop of it is capable of killing many men. But for that deadly poison to work, it must have been swallowed. A cup full of king cobra poison kept on a dinner table in the front will do no damage! The revered Guru poetically points out that the sense objects are more dangerous that the cobra's poison because it impels a person to run after it and eventually destroys him.
The Gita 2nd Chapter shloka comes to mind:
dhyAyato viShayAn pumsaH sangasteShu upajAyate
sangAt sanjAyate kAmaH kAmAt krodhobhijAyate
krodhAh bhavati sammohaH sammohAt smRRitivibhramaH
smRRitibhRRimshAd buddhinAsho buddhinAshAt praNAShyati
Merely thinking about the objects leads to attachment. From attachment comes desire. Desire leads to anger. From anger stems delusion which in turns leads to loss of memory of what has been learnt as right and wrong, dharmA & adharmA. From this loss of memory, one's intellect is lost and from there on, he perishes. This is the ladder of fall that Bhagavan clearly shows. And the fall started with what?
It started with dhyAyato viShayAn...thinking about sense objects!
Continuing with the Vivekachudamani verses...
विषयाशा-महापाशाद्यो विमुक्तः सुदुस्त्यजात्
स एव कल्पते मुक्त्यै नान्यः षट्च्छास्त्रवेद्यपि ।८०।
viShayAshA-mahApAshAdyo vimuktaH sudustyajAt
sa eva kalpate muktyai nAnyaH ShaTcChAstravedyapi |80|
It is only he who is free from the chord of sense attachment so difficult to discard that has the capacity for liberation; not any other though he may be a scholar in the six shastras.
On account of lack of right discrimination, a person gets firmly attached to sense objects though they are fraught with great dangers. Due to his foolishness, he is not aware of the defects in them. So he fails to attain moksha. He who seeks liberation must completely cast out of his mind the desire for sense objects. Else, though he may be an adept in the six shastras, he cannot gain mukti.
The baneful consequence of the absence of absolute detachment from sense objects is thus shown here:
आपात वैराग्यवतो मुमुक्षून् भवाब्धिपारं प्रति यातुमुद्यतान्
आशाग्रहो मज्जयतेऽन्तराले निगृह्य कण्ठे विनिवर्त्य वेगात् ।८१।
ApAta vairAgyavato mumukShUn bhavAbdhipAraM prati yAtumudyatAn
AshAgraho majjayate.antarAle nigRRihya kaNThe vinivartya vegAt |81|
The sea monster of desire catches hold of those who have only smashaana vairagya – that vairagya which arises in the mind when one, being subject to the suffering of life, condemns samsara. That is, those whose vairagya is neither total nor everlasting.
The word smashaana refers to the crematorium. When there is a death of a know person, a temporary state of dispassion takes over and one feels that everything is life is ephemeral and that there is no real essence in anything. However, this dispassion is only fleeting and disappears very soon. Desires continue to easily assail the mind of such persons who get this fleeting dispassion born from witnessing pain for a while.
विषयाख्यग्रहो येन सुविरक्त्यसिना हतः
स गच्छति भवाम्भोधेः पारं प्रत्यूहवार्जितः ।८२।
viShayAkhyagraho yena suviraktyasinA hataH
sa gacChati bhavAmbhodheH pAraM pratyUhavArjitaH |82|
He who has killed the monster of vishaya with the sword of vairagya reaches the other shores of samsara freed from all obstacles.
How is the monstrosity of desires of objects to be killed? With the sword of vairagya, dispassion. The revered Acharya Himself says in verse 21
dehAdi brahmaparyante hyanitye bhogyavastuni...
Meaning, the need to give up every thing right from this mortal body that we possess all the way up to the exalted position of Brahma, the creator, because they are anityam, impermanent – this is vairagya or dispassion. Such intense detachment is the sword with which the monster of objects is felled.
विषमविषयमार्गे गच्छतोऽनच्छबुद्धेः प्रतिपदमभिघातो मृत्युरप्येष सिद्धः
हितसुजनगुरूक्त्या गच्छतः स्वस्य युक्त्या प्रभवति फलसिद्धिः सत्यमित्येव विद्धि ।८३।
viShamaviShayamArge gacChato.anacChabuddheH pratipadamabhighAto mRRityurapyeSha siddhaH
hitasujanagurUktyA gacChataH svasya yuktyA prabhavati phalasiddhiH satyamityeva viddhi |83|
Know that obstacle and death haunt at every step a man of impure mind who travels on the road of sense pleasure beset with dangers and difficulties. But he, who leads his life by the advice of well meaning friends and of the Guru and by his own reasoning, attains the fruition of his purpose. Know this to be the truth.
That the vishaya marga – the path of running after sensory pleasures - is itself viSham or poison is brought out repeatedly. The verse below reiterates that again!
And what must be done if one desires liberation?
मोक्षस्य कांक्षा यदि वै तवास्ति
mokShasya kA.nkShA yadi vai tavAsti
If you desire liberation, fling away all desires as if they were poison. Drink daily with great eagerness the nectar of contentment, compassion, forbearance, truth, straightforwardness, calmness and self control (control of the mind and external senses.)
Thus Sri Bhagavatpadal confirms detachment from sense objects and their assumed pleasures as the stepping stones to attain mokSha. He then shows that the non-attachment should begin with the gross body. The idea is that if the attachment to the gross body is given up, vairagya from sense objects will be easy.