The Impetus for Sense Gratification
by Çréla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvämé Mahäräja
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here) for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English. Click here for a version without Balarama font.]
Categories of Jévas
We observe many types of jévas around us. A jéva is a conscious being: “jévati iti jévaù – that which has life is a jéva.” They have been divided into five categories, namely, those whose consciousness is (a) covered, (b) stunted, (c) budding, (d) blossoming and (e) fully blossomed.
Non-moving beings such as trees and stones have covered consciousness: they are able to feel, but not act. Animals and birds have stunted consciousness because, unlike stationary beings, they can move from one place to another and have a more evolved level of awareness. Nonetheless, they lack the ability to differentiate between good and bad. Being ignorant and unable to discriminate, they live fully under the direction and control of material nature.
The consciousness of jévas in the human species of life is either budding, blossoming or fully blossomed. Such jévas can be further divided into three groups: immoral atheists, moral atheists and moral theists. Immoral atheists lack faith in either moral principles or
the Supreme Lord. Moral atheists do not accept that God exists independently of morality. In other words, they consider Him to be subject to the rules of ethical conduct.
Moral theists, by contrast, fall into two categories: hypothetical theists and true theists. The hypothetical theist tries to understand the Supreme Lord by speculation, as illustrated by the statement sädhakänäà hitärthäya brahmaëo rüpa-kalpanaù. In other words, he believes that God has no form or qualities and tries to meditate upon Him solely by relying on his own imagination. The true theist, however, is quite different. He knows that God’s form and qualities are eternal, and he performs his sädhana, or practices to attain perfection, with that conception.
1 The Sanskrit terms for these five levels of consciousness are (a) äcchädita-cetana, (b) sankucita-cetana,(c) mukulita-cetana, (d) vikasita-cetana and (e) pürëavikasita-cetana
What Are the Sense Objects?
A conscious entity will have a basic tendency of the heart that is either material or transcendental. Çré Prema-vivarta outlines the history of our material proclivity, which is extremely difficult to rid oneself of:
kåñëa-bahirmukha haiyä bhoga-väïchä kare
nikaöa-stha mäyä täre jäpatiyä dhare
As soon as the living entity misuses his independence by becoming indifferent to Çré Kåñëa and desiring to enjoy the objects of the senses, then the illusory energy, which is very nearby, ensnares him.
The root cause of our material tendency is forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord, Çré Hari. This forgetfulness awakens within us the impetus to enjoy our senses, thus dragging us very far from the Supreme Lord. The sense objects do not consist of money, a large house and so on, but of (a) form, (b) taste, (c) smell, (d) sound and (e) touch. Our five knowledge-acquiring senses – namely, the eyes, tongue, nose, ears and skin – are engrossed in form, taste, smell, sound and touch, respectively. Thus they are intimately connected with these five functions.
When combined together, these five objects of sense gratification manifest for a man as the form of a woman and, for a woman, as the figure of a man. The mutual desire between a man and woman is insatiable.
Çrémad-Bhägavatam (9.19.14) states, “na jätu kämaù kämänäm upabhogena çäàyati – lusty desires can never be purged through continued enjoyment.” Lust is not satiated by engaging in sense gratification; it only burns more fiercely.
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Antya-lélä 6.199) states:
tathäpi viñayera svabhäva – kare mahä-andha
sei karma karäya, yäte haya bhava-bandha
Those who are attached to materialistic life become
blind to spiritual life, and they thus bind themselves
to the cycle of repeated birth and death by the
actions and reactions of their activities.
The living entity’s plight, which arises from his natural affinity for sense enjoyment, is like that of a man tirelessly pursuing a mirage he has come to cherish deeply. Such living entities who chase the objects of the senses cannot judge whether the mirage they are pursuing will actually fulfill them or merely end up deceiving them. In this world, everyone is actively furthering his own selfish motives. But the society of intellectuals should ask itself whether or not perfect happiness can in fact be found when both they who seek it and they who claim to be able to offer it are themselves unfulfilled. By seeking mutual sense gratification in this world, people only suffer misery:
kåñëa bhuli’ sei jéva anädi-bahirmukha
a taeva mäyä täre deya saàsära-duùkha
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya-lélä 20.117)
Çré Kåñëa, the living entity has been
captivated by material nature from a time without
beginning. Therefore, the illusory energy inflicts upon
him all kinds of suffering in his material existence.
Curing the Fever of Material Existence
The living entity who is indifferent to the Supreme Lord is so tightly bound by mäyä, the illusory energy, that he can never free himself. Therefore, Çré Bhagavän has said (Bhagavad-gétä 7.14):
mäm eva ye prapadyante
mäyäm etäà taranti te
Only by surrendering unto the Supreme Lord can one remain aloof from mäyä, which blinds one with the passion for sense enjoyment. Clouded by mäyä, the living entity becomes so influenced by the modes of material nature that he considers sense gratification to be the most desirable goal, even though it brings him only distress. He is unable to find any happiness despite his pains:
sukhavan manyate gåhé
The living entity considers the mere absence of distress to be bliss. Real happiness cannot be found in this material world, as it does not lie in sense gratification.
Çrémad-Bhägavatam (9.4.20) states, “kämaà ca däsye na tu käma-kämyayä – Mahäräja Ambaréña desired only to serve the Supreme Lord, without any self-interest.” One should similarly aspire to be the eternal servant of Çré Kåñëa, without using this position as a means to satisfy one’s material ends. Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura writes:
ämi to’ tomära, tumi to’ ämära
ki käja apara dhane
I am indeed Yours, and You are truly mine. What
need is there of any other treasure?
Unless we attain such a realization, we remain intoxicated by the desire to enjoy the objects of the senses, a condition that is extremely difficult to cure. Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura says:
viñaye je préti ebe ächaye amara
sei-mata préti hauk caraëe tomära
Gétävalé (Prabhu Tava Pada Yuge)
I pray that I may develop as much attachment for
Your auspicious feet as I now have for worldly affairs.
If by good fortune we develop as much attachment for the Supreme Lord as we now have for the objects of the senses, our desire for sense enjoyment will be eradicated and we will cross the ocean of birth and death. Our state of bondage has existed since a time without beginning, and is quite impossible for human intelligence to undo. It can be unravelled only by associating with sädhus, realised souls:
Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya-lélä 22.54)
The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that even a
moment’s association with a sädhu can award all
Although such sädhus are our greatest well wishers, we prefer to keep our distance from them, let alone actually associate with them. We know that their association will subdue our desire for sense enjoyment, making it impossible for us to enjoy the objects of the senses.
Renouncing Lust for Love
Everyone is controlled by the desire for sense enjoyment, whether he be a householder or a renunciant. If a person has not yet clearly defined his ultimate goal, accepting household life and renouncing the world are both quite useless. We must become one-pointed in trying to attain the Supreme Lord. This is indeed the sädhana, spiritual practice, of a devotee.
In Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya-lélä 8.69), it is said:
yävat kñud asti jaöhare jaraöhä pipäsä
tävat sukhäya bhavato nanu bhakñya-peye
Varieties of food and drink make one feel very happy
as long as there is hunger and thirst within the
We find that we are unable to relish food if we are not hungry or thirsty. Similarly, if the hunger to attain love for the Supreme Lord has not arisen in our hearts, how can we become inclined to engage in activities that lead us to Him. In any case, our one-pointed objective must be to make sincere endeavours to accept what the community of saintly persons has given us and is giving us still. Indeed, it has been said:
sädhu-saìge kåñëa-näma ei mätra cäi
saàsära jinite ära kauna vastu näi
Besides sädhu-saìga and kåñëa-näma I do not need
anything to live in this world.
Çré Gaurahari has instructed the living entities through His own life’s example that the holy name is our only objective (sädhya) and our only practice to achieve that objective (sädhana). He has shown us that all our desires can be fulfilled by taking shelter of the Lord’s holy names.
Those whose minds are deeply engrossed in the sense objects, who are uninterested in developing affection for Çré Hari and who wish to spend their lives solely in trying to enjoy their senses, can never find relief from the continual hankering for sense gratification.
ätmendriya-préti-väïchä täre bali ‘käma’
kåñëendriya-préti-icchä dhare ‘prema’ näma
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Ädi-lélä 4.165)
The desire to gratify one’s own senses is lust (käma),
but the desire to please the senses of Çré Kåñëa is love
Satisfying one’s lust is called sense gratification. Making sincere efforts to free oneself from this is called renouncing the desire for sense gratification.
About the Author
Çréla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvämé Mahäräja is one of the last disciples of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura Prabhupäda in the sannyäsa order present today.
Çréla Bhakti Hådaya Bon Gosvämé Mahäräja and Çréla Bhakti Pramoda Puré Gosvämé Mahäräja brought him to the lotus feet of his spiritual master at the tender age of eleven. Upon
initiating him, Çréla Sarasvaté Öhäkura named him Çré Rädhäramaëa däsa, and carefully arranged for his education.
After his disappearance from this manifest world, Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura Prabhupäda appeared to Çré Rädhä-ramaëa Brahmacäré in a dream and ordered him to accept the renounced order and preach the teachings of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu widely. Thus, in 1942 Çré Rädhä-ramaëa Brahmacäré accepted sannyäsa from Çréla Bhakti Vicära Yäyävara Mahäräja in Remuëä, Orissa. He later founded Çré Caitanya Äçrama, which has several branches in India.
Çréla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvämé Mahäräja would never refuse even the tiniest order of Çréla Prabhupäda or any of his disciples, and had utmost regard for anyone who had even brief contact with his spiritual master. To this day, Çréla Bhaktivedänta Näräyaëa Gosvämé Mahäräja regularly sends Çréla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Mahäräja letters to report on his preaching outside India, to which Çréla Santa Mahäräja replies with great pleasure, always bestowing his profuse blessings.
This exalted Vaiñëava, who joined Çréla Sarasvaté Öhäkura’s mission as a mere boy and quickly became renowned for his melodious singing, has just completed his ninety-first year in loving service to his divine master. ·