“For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.34)
चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण
प्रमाथि बलवद् दृढम्
तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये
वायोर् इव सु-दुष्करम्
cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa
pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye
vāyor iva su-duṣkaram
“A person familiar with the culture of the science of self-realization, and particularly the bhakti tradition, notices the heavy use of analogies. I think there is even an analogy to explain the frequent use of analogies. Something about seeing the moon through the branches of a tree.
“First a child is shown the branches of a tree, and then he is shown the moon through the branches. This is called shakha-chandra-nyaya. The idea is that first one must be given a simpler example. Then the more difficult background is explained.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 21.30 Purport)
“I have no problem with it. Some of the analogies are brilliant. I love the one Arjuna uses when explaining the difficulty in controlling the mind. This is an integral aspect to yoga. If it works the other way around, where the mind pulls us in this direction and that, where is the chance for success? The mind is restless, fickle, and impossible to satisfy.
“Arjuna says controlling the mind is like trying to control the wind. This makes total sense to me. The wind is unbelievably powerful. No wonder sons of the wind-god in Vedic literature are Bhima and Hanuman. No one is stronger than them.
“The issue I have is with the general degradation of intelligence in the population at large. That is a rather harsh assessment, but I can’t reach any other conclusion. For instance, we see that this basic principle of nature, the power of wind, gets completely ignored.
“People think they can stop disease by covering their face. As if somehow that will stop the wind from penetrating. They can still smell the blueberry muffins baking in the kitchen downstairs. They can still experience the foul odor emitted by that not-so-thoughtful passenger in the elevator.
“Most importantly, they can still breathe! This means that air is able to penetrate. A firefighter entering a burning building cannot get by with one of these flimsy face-coverings. They need to completely seal the facial area, with a separate source of oxygen.
“If people can’t understand something basic like the power of air, how will they understand any of the concepts of genuine spiritual life? I think Krishna even references the same air when describing how reincarnation works. That is one of the central teachings to life, if you ask me.”
The air carries aromas, which explains the mystery of being able to smell something produced a significant distance away. The living entity carries the conceptions of life into the future, where the soul moves on to another meeting with the material nature.
शरीरं यद् अवाप्नोति
यच् चाप्य् उत्क्रामतीश्वरः
वायुर् गन्धान् इवाशयात्
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
In Shrimad Bhagavatam, the sense of smell is used to explain the concept of an avadhuta. This is an elevated soul, a person who is no longer bound by the strict rules and regulations of a disciplined engagement. The avadhuta stage represents completion; it is a sort of achievement.
“Just as the air or wind cannot be checked by anyone, the two nostrils, situated in one place, enjoy the sense of smell without impediment.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.29.11 Purport)
These analogies are brilliant in explaining complex subject matter, but if someone is too mired in ignorance, the instruction might not make an impact. Since Shri Krishna is the well-wishing friend of every living entity, even if their intelligence is lost for the time being there is still hope.
The chanting of the holy names is meant to awaken the individual struggling in a fog of ignorance. It is a transcendental sound meant to dispel the illusion and bring forth the light, which shines eternally from the spiritual realm.
My friend may have temporarily forgotten the potency of air. They may be living in fear of illness, as if they had never heard of disease before. They may be prepared to hide from the population for years on end, but there is always the chance to reach them through sound. The method of chanting the holy names arrives to us through a descending manner, flowing from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who loved the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Not of your face covering to care,
Unobstructed is the air.
Used by Arjuna to compare the mind,
How difficulty in controlling to find.
Basic principle for rebirth to understand,
How in current situation to land.
But even when in ignorance suffering,
Holy names deficiency buffering.