Where Desire Resides

Chapter III, Verse 40

Sri Nerode’s Translation:


The senses, the mind, and the intellect are said to be channels of its operation. It – the desire of the flesh – deludes the man by veiling his wisdom through the misdirected senses, mind, reason, and intellect.

Helpful Translation:

Desire destroys wisdom and intuition through the mind, the intellect and the five senses powers and their objects.


A materialistic man can always justify his desires. The more intelligent, the more elaborate is his justification.

This series of verses are all connected. In verse 36, Arjuna asked, “What compels a man to sin?” In verse 37, Krishna stated that the Neutral Quality (Rajas Guna) is the origin of sin because this quality creates desire. In verse 38, Krishna notes that desire hides wisdom. In verse 39, Krishna states that unchecked desire is like the flame that consumes everything given to it. The more fuel a fire receives, the hotter it becomes. The hottest flames can consume anything and so it is with desire. Here, in verse 40, Krishna states where desire resides.

Desire resides in the physical senses. Desire resides in the human mind (for example emotions). Desire resides in the intellect (relative rationalization). Since desire obstructs wisdom and soul-expression, the senses, the little mind and the intellect also obstruct wisdom and intuition.

As a wise person becomes more enlightened, the physical senses, limitations posed by emotions and thoughts, and the reasoning posed by the intellect become unimportant. Krishna answers Arjuna’s question with absolutes. He does not condescend to explain these concepts in the relative experience that Arjuna currently faces. For example, Krishna does not tell Arjuna “Your aversion to pain will limit your courage in battle. Your memories of the past good times with your enemies will prevent you from killing them. Your rationalization that there must be a peaceful resolution will not save you from the death your enemies will inflict.”

Instead Krishna defines the instruments of the desires that are born from the neutral quality. Next, Krishna offers the method of salvation from desire.

In the coming verses, Krishna explains how to combat these obstacles to wisdom. In verse 41: control the senses. In verse 42: the hierarchy of progression in the battle. In verse 43: the necessity of “killing” desire in order to achieve a state of wisdom.

“I want,” “I need” and “I deserve” are the beginning of ignorance and the end of understanding.

Easter Eggs:

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

Manas – in this verse manas refers to the limited human mind that is constrained by both the ego and the intellect.

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Ancient History

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