Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 15, Verse 9

श्रोत्रं चक्षु: स्पर्शनं च रसनं घ्राणमेव च |
अधिष्ठाय मनश्चायं विषयानुपसेवते || 9||

śhrotraṁ chakṣhuḥ sparśhanaṁ cha rasanaṁ ghrāṇam eva cha
adhiṣhṭhāya manaśh chāyaṁ viṣhayān upasevate

śhrotramears; chakṣhuḥeyes; sparśhanamthe sense of touch; chaand; rasanamtongue; ghrāṇamnose; evaalso; chaand; adhiṣhṭhāyagrouped around; manaḥmind; chaalso; ayamthey; viṣhayānsense objects; upasevatesavors


BG 15.9: Using the sense perceptions of the ears, eyes, skin, tongue, and nose, which are grouped around the mind, the embodied soul savors the objects of the senses.


Since the soul, being divine, cannot directly taste, touch, feel, smell, or hear, then how does it savor these perceptions? The answer is that the senses and the mind help it to do so. The senses and mind are actually insentient, but they are energized by consciousness of the soul and become lifelike. Hence, they perceive pleasure and pain from objects, situations, thoughts, and persons. Due to the ego, the soul identifies with the mind and senses, and vicariously perceives the same pleasures.

The problem is that while the soul itself is divine, the happiness it perceives in this manner is material. Thus, no matter how much pleasure the senses and mind bring to the soul, it remains dissatisfied. The feeling that it has still not reached its goal persists, and the search continues for perfect happiness that would truly satisfy it. The American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson put this very beautifully: “We grant that human life is mean. But how did we find out that it is mean? What is the ground of this uneasiness, of this old discontent? What is this universal sense of want and ignorance, but the fine innuendo by which the soul makes its enormous claim?” Another famous philosopher, Meister Eckhart writes: “There is something in the soul which is above the living being, divine and simple. This light is only satisfied with the supra essential essence.”

The infinite, eternal, and divine bliss that the soul seeks can only be attained from God. When one realizes this, the same senses and mind that were the cause of bondage can be turned in the direction of God and utilized as instruments of devotion. A wonderful example of this was Saint Tulsidas, who wrote the Hindi Ramayan. In his youth, he was deeply attached to his wife. Once, she had gone to stay at her parents’ home for a few days, when Tulsidas became eager to meet her. He set off on foot to his father-in-law’s house, but there was a stream on the way and no boatman was willing to take him across, since it was raining heavily. A dead body came floating by. Absorbed in the longing to meet his wife, Tulsidas thought it was a piece of log. He clung to it and went across. His desire to meet his wife, who was living on the second floor of the house, was overpowering him. A snake was hanging from the wall. Tulsidas did not see it carefully and thought it to be a rope. So, rather than waste time by knocking at the main door, he grabbed the snake and climbed up. When he came in through the window, his wife was astonished. She asked him how he came across the river and how he managed to climb up the wall. He pointed outside to what he had mistaken to be the log of wood and the rope. She was shocked to see the dead body and the snake. She exclaimed, “You have such desire for this body made of blood and flesh. If only you had desired God so intensely you would never again have to take birth in this world again.” The words of his wife hit him so hard that he realized his folly and became detached. He renounced his household and went to engage in devotion. He dovetailed toward God the desires of his same mind and senses that had troubled him in the past. Thus, by the process of devotion, he purified himself and became the great poet Saint Tulsidas. Later, he wrote:

kāmihi nāri piāri jimi lobhihi priya jimi dāma,

timi raghunātha nirantara priya lāgahu mohi rāma (Ramayan)[v11]

“As a lustful man desires a beautiful woman, and as an avaricious person desires wealth, may my mind and senses constantly desire Lord Ram.”