Human Desire

Chapter III, Verse 6

Sri Nerode’s Translation:


He who sitteth suppressing all organs of action but in his hidden heart pondering over the objects of senses, that bewildered man is called a hypocrite.

Helpful Translation:

One who suppresses his own desires and oppresses the desires of others while entertaining a prurient fascination with the same is a slave to the senses. Actions do not rule one’s thoughts. One’s thoughts are the origins of all actions.


Most English translations of this verse call this person a hypocrite. There is no Sanskrit equivalent for “hypocrite” and it carries too many negative connotations to be used in any Gita translation. Every person who has a modicum of conscience is doing their best in life. If they were not doing their best, they’d choose to do something else. Rather than labeling another as being a hypocrite, it is better to encourage others to be true to themselves.

“This above all: to thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Polonious in Act 1, Scene III of Hamlet by William Shakespeare.


Never accept a negative label from yourself. You are doing your best, if not, then change.

The overall consciousness of humanity is a consciousness of denial. Most deny the responsibility for their own thoughts and many deny the responsibility for their actions. Denial is the surest way to pain, suffering and unending cycles of misery.

Understanding comes from first understanding oneself. A period of daily contemplation is necessary to begin the process to reclaim joyful and harmonious living.

The ancients divided desires into three categories, “wine, women, and gold”. These monikers were easy to remember symbols for their male-only students.

“Wine” symbolizes intoxicants – literally any product ingested or inhaled or absorbed or injected that distorts one’s sensory perceptions and makes one forgetful of the immediate place and time. Typically, intoxicants include alcoholic beverages, smokes like tobacco and marijuana, and drugs. However, an extreme definition could include items like caffeine and refined sugars. Intoxicants are an inner and personal experience.

“Women” symbolizes sensuality overall and sexual intercourse specifically. Sensuality focuses one’s consciousness on external experiences. Sensuality increases attachment to people and environment. Sensuality makes one forgetful of their unique and important role – a role that progresses their own development and provides something of use to others. Sensuality is usually expressed as a shared experience.

“Gold” symbolizes material possessions. Material possessions are separate from the ego self and desire for them heightens attachment to the outcome of work and effort. Material possessiveness is a solitary and external experience. Material possessiveness makes one forgetful of the need to serve a larger “self.” Material greed is the most harmful (though often the least criticized) desire. Greed by a few prevents easy access to the material resources the majority needs to fulfill their purpose and complete a “heaven on earth” experience for all.

In their extreme all three categories of desire: intoxicants, sensuality and material greed lead to physical illness, emotional disturbances, intellectual forgetfulness and a pre-mature death.

Without daily introspection, without the contemplation of one’s actions, people judge themselves based on societal expectations and peer pressure. The billionaire intent on increasing his wealth has little concern for the community he must impoverish to realize his goal, even as the drug addict will steal from his family and friends to support his habit and the sensual spouse will justify the violation of a marriage commitment.

Daily contemplation gives the individual the perspective to evaluate (and hopefully then take responsibility for) their actions. Rather than “forgetting”, the introspective person “remembers” their personal impact on both their community and the world. If internal desires do not align with happiness producing actions, then only honesty will provide the awareness necessary to improve desires.

Rather than suppressing desires, have the courage and integrity to acknowledge them and bring them into alignment with the life you wish to lead.

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

When a Sanskrit mantra is used without the proper verbalization and not activated by the appropriate energy channels of both thought (nadis) and gross vibration (nerves) then the mantra is ineffective.

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Ancient History

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