Curbing Our Passions

Dasharatha and Kaikeyi “Being under the control of passion and lust, Rama’s father, Maharaja Dasharatha, wanted to fulfill Kaikeyi’s cherished desire, thus he did not go through with Rama’s installation ceremony.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.12)

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Being under the control of our passions is not a good thing. Rather, we are supposed to be the controllers of our senses and our actions; hence the living entities are described as ishvara, or controllers. God is the supreme controller, thus He is also known as Ishvara and also as Parameshvara. Param means great or supreme, so when it is added as a prefix to ishvara, it means that God is the greatest of controllers. The Lord has two separate energies, the superior and the inferior. The modes of nature, which include passion, are part of the material energy. The spirit soul is meant to associate with the spiritual, or superior, energy since that affords one the protections offered by God. The inferior energy offers no such protections, thus it only brings misery, chaos, and despair.

“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)

Lord Krishna Associating with the material energy leaves us subject to the dangers which lurk around every corner. We see evidence of this in our day-to-day lives. People can die at any moment. Even Olympic athletes can meet with accidents and lose their life, so what does that say about others who take part in higher risk behavior. In fact, something as simple as driving a car can be a very dangerous activity, for thousands of people die each year in traffic related accidents. Aside from the dangers that are caused by Mother Nature, there are others that come about through our own activities. Uncontrolled sex life is considered very dangerous because it causes misery through our interactions with others, and also self-inflicted wounds coming from our mind and psyche.

Sometimes people wonder why romantic love is so difficult. Especially around the holiday season or Valentine’s Day, those who are single wonder what it will take to find their soul mate or their perfect match. In reality, God intentionally made sex life difficult for human beings. This is because He has higher goals for us. The human form of life represents the most elevated of species because human beings have the highest level of intelligence. There can be many debates about who or what we consider to be intelligent, but the Vedas tell us that the truly wise among us are those who understand the difference between matter and spirit. Knowing that spirit is different from matter is one thing, but knowing who is the origin of both is another.

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.8)

The Vedas tell us that Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the origin of everything. His impersonal feature of Brahman represents the sum and substance of everything in the world, including both matter and spirit. God’s Paramatma feature goes one better because it serves as the Supersoul residing within the heart of every living entity. In His original feature, God is Bhagavan, or the Supreme Lord as a person, i.e. an individual just like us. The point of human life is to reconnect with God in His Bhagavan feature. Those people who know how to reconnect with Krishna are thus considered intelligent. Book smarts and street smarts can only take us so far. Even having a good speaking ability really can only provide us limited success. If anything, such personality traits only serve to fool others into thinking that we’re smart. Real intelligence is that which brings us to serving Krishna.

Sex life is extremely painstaking because God wants us to engage in His service. If He wanted us to engage in unlimited amounts of sex with multiple partners, He would have put us in a different species. The monkeys and dogs have insatiable appetites for sex. They don’t even have to worry about seduction. They don’t think, “Ok, how do I get this girl to like me? I will try to compliment her, or I will send her flowers.” No, the dogs just go up to whoever they want to fornicate with and start their business. Sex life is more complicated for us humans. Every person has different desires and different things that attract them to others. Even when people do get together, there is more difficulty in trying to keep the romantic spark, hence the concept of “the chase is better than the catch”.

The Vedas tell us to not become slaves to our passions, especially sex life. God is the creator of this universe and millions of others. His creating powers are in essence a form of sex life. The romantic love we experience here is actually a perverted form of the pure love that exists in the spiritual world. Our pursuit of domination over women and our desires to enjoy illicit sex stem from our inherent desire to imitate God. God is God, meaning that no one else can be Him no matter how hard they try. God has always been and will always continue to be God. The natural order of things is for us spirit souls to act as His servants. When we become ruled by our passions, we become servants of the inferior energy. In a sense, this is slavery of the worst kind, and it can lead to disastrous results.

Lord Rama In the above referenced statement, Sita Devi is explaining to Ravana how her husband, Lord Rama, ended up being exiled from the kingdom of Ayodhya. During the Treta Yuga, Lord Krishna advented on earth as a pious prince named Rama, born as the eldest son of the king of Ayodhya, Dasharatha. At the age of twenty-five, Rama was all set to be installed as the new king, but Dasharatha had to change his mind at the last minute. Dasharatha was an extremely pious king, a fact which should be quite obvious considering that God Himself appeared as his son. Still, on a previous occasion, the king had promised two boons of her choosing to his youngest wife, Kaikeyi. Not only had Kaikeyi helped Dasharatha out, but she was also his favorite wife. This was due to her beauty. Kings live in the mode of passion, thus the Vedas allowed them to have multiple wives, provided that they were well cared for and protected. Dasharatha had three wives, but Kaikeyi was the youngest and considered the most attractive.

Dasharatha didn’t need to grant her any boons, but he did so out of affection. When the time came for Rama’s installation, Kaikeyi decided to cash in on her boons. She insisted that Rama be sent to the forest for fourteen years and that her son, Bharata, be installed as king instead. Sita, being married to Rama at the time, insisted on accompanying her Lord, as did Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana. While the group was staying in the forest of Janasthana, the Rakshasa demon, Ravana, appeared in front of Sita. Assuming the guise of a mendicant, Ravana propositioned Sita. Rama and Lakshmana were away from the cottage due to a diversion that Ravana had created.

Sita immediately identified herself to the person she thought was a mendicant. She gave a description of her beloved husband Rama. In the above referenced statement, Sita is making sure that Ravana knows that Rama didn’t get exiled from His kingdom through any fault of His own. Rather, it was due to Dasharatha’s weakness, caused by his uncontrolled passions [kama-artah]. Essentially, Sita is giving a warning to all of us that we shouldn’t be too overly attached to sex life. Life is meant for serving God, as she so brilliantly exemplified through her actions.

Sita Devi Sita was a woman and therefore had no formal training in Vedic teachings. However, from the example set by her parents, and through her service to Rama, she picked up on all the major points. Her knowledge of dharma was perfect. Though she was a beautiful woman herself, she knew that it was man’s duty to curb his sexual impulses, and to remain steadfast on the path of dharma.

“I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O Lord of the Bharatas [Arjuna].” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.11)

So do the Vedas recommend that we completely abstain from sex? No. If we’re able to completely abstain then it’s good, but the Vedas tell us that we can have sex, provided that we follow religious principles. Actually this should be the mindset we have when we carry out any of our duties. The Vedas provide rules and regulations, but they are not there just to punish us. Rather, these regulations help us curb our senses so that we can better concentrate on learning about God, and use that knowledge to serve Him. Sex life is allowed, but only within the bounds of marriage, and then only for the purpose of having children. Any other kind of sex is considered illicit and sinful. And why is it sinful? Because it causes one to become further bound to the cycle of birth and death. Some religions believe that we only get one life, while the Vedas tell us that we get as many lives as we need to properly understand God. Regardless, if we have desires to associate with the Lord’s inferior energy, it’s safe to assume that we will go anywhere but the supreme abode after our current life is over.

So how do we curb our passions? The easiest way is to take a positive approach. When it comes to religious life, the dos are more important than the don’ts. It is recommended that we stay committed to performing the dos, and that through this commitment, the don’ts will eventually take care of themselves. So what are the dos? The aggregate sum of all prescriptions relating to positive spiritual activity is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. There are nine distinct processes, but the one most recommended for this age is the constant chanting of the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Rama Darbar Sita Devi was an expert practitioner of devotional service. She always thought of Rama, surrendered everything to Him, offered Him prayers, chanted His name, served His lotus feet, and so much more. Rama’s other close associates like Lakshmana and Hanuman were also perfect devotees. Therefore they are today worshiped together in what is known as the Rama Darbar. We certainly can’t imitate all the wonderful activities performed by Sita Devi, but we can follow the path she set. By keeping our minds fixed on her lotus feet and the path of devotion that she laid down, we can rest assured that our passions will always be under control.

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